Former U.S. President Barack Obama was treated to a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony during the second day of his whirlwind New Zealand trip on Thursday.
Obama arrived in the country on Wednesday and took a helicopter straight to the Northland where he played golf with former Prime Minister Sir John Key at Kauri Cliffs, a golf course owned by American investor Julian Robertson.
He spent the night at The Landing, a resort consisting of several private houses where nightly rates range from $4,500 to $14,500. His helicopter was seen landing at the ‘Cooper Residence’ – the most expensive of the bunch.
The following morning, Obama played yet another round of golf at an even more exclusive course, Tara Iti, ranked the 29th best course in the world by GOLF magazine.
Obama then returned to Auckland where he was treated to a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony, called a powhiri, outside Government House.
During the ceremony, which was presided over by the Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei tribe, Obama was gifted two whale tooth pendants – one for him and one for his wife, who didn’t accompany him for the trip.
Obama wore the gift, which is usually given to gifted orators, over his suit.
At the end of the ceremony, he and members of the tribe engaged in a hongi, a greeting where they touched foreheads and noses.
Following the powhiri, Obama met with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for a closed door meeting at Government House.
After the meeting, Ardern reporters told reporters that the 44th American president imparted some parenting advice to her, since she is expecting her first child in June.
‘I asked him about parenthood and he had tips that I will probably long remember,’ Ardern said.
One thing she says she asked Obama was how to deal with the guilt of continuing to work while her child is growing up (Ardern plans to take six weeks off after giving birth, making her the first leader of a country to do so).
‘Because I have no doubt I’m going to experience some of that in the future as i juggle the roles that I have,’ she said, adding: ‘I’m sure his insights would be the same as what any parent would have.’
She says they also spoke about the future of progressive politics and the best ways to keep young people engaged.
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Source: Daily Mail