(Published in Savvy Magazine, March 2014)
I lived in the UK for 35 years and, do you know, I never once met a Prime Minister.
It makes sense, in a country of 63 million people, that one person manages to keep missing another, and I never actively sought him out.
In New Zealand, where there are 59 million less people cluttering up the country, it seems it’s impossible not to meet the Prime Minister. In fact, this Waitangi Day, I had to ask John Key, very politely, to stop stalking me.
Three years ago we went to the Waitangi Day ceremonies as newcomers to these gorgeous green isles. We decided to do the whole thing – camped out in the middle of everything and clocked up twenty minutes sleep, got up for the dawn karakia, listened to the protestors, sleep-walked to the flagpole for the Navy band, ate mussel fritters, watched wonderful wakas gliding across the bay (including one that sank). Had dinner with the Prime Minister of New Zealand…
Sorry, what was that? Go back to that last one? Okay.
Well, yes, we ended up sitting very close the PM in the Thai restaurant. His security men, complete with black suits and curly wires in their ears, made for a Matrix-style atmosphere. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Keanu Reeves walk past, dodging bullets. After dinner the security guys queued up to pay for their meal separately. That would never have happened in the Matrix.
Fast forward to this year.
Another trip to Waitangi, this time for the benefit of our visitors, Ian and Wendy from Warrington, England. We watched the Navy band, listened to the Maori singers, craned our necks as the flag went up. Had dinner with the Prime Minister again…
This time, it was different venue. We thought we were safe. But then a Matrix man walked in and scanned the diners suspiciously with his x-ray vision. Ten minutes later, here comes John Key, and sits right next to us, much to the delight of Ian and Wendy (who also had never met a Prime Minister before).
I was brave that evening (a rare event). “John,” I said, “Please stop following us.” I explained. He laughed, and had photos and a long chat with my youngest. The Matrix guys stood poised at the ready, perhaps in case I tried to nick his chips.
So, until next year, Mr Key…