26 Feb 2018

Obama's NZ visit: What's on the agenda?

10:48 am on 26 February 2018

It's been confirmed that former US President Barack Obama will spend three days in New Zealand.

US President Barack Obama and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.

Barack Obama is reportedly going to get in a round of golf with former PM John Key. Photo: AFP

He will speak at an invite-only event organised by New Zealand-United States Council on 22 March in Auckland.

During the visit Obama will meet with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and reportedly have a round of golf with former Prime Minister John Key.

New Zealand-United States Council chairman Liam Grice told Morning Report that Obama's talk is likely to focus on youth development.

"If you look at the majority of his focus in the US and around the world, it's on youth leadership and particularly diversity issues around leadership and pushing those agendas," he said.

"Those are the things that I think are important to him and those are the things we will try and identify opportunities for him to engage with while he's here."

Watch Leon Grice speak on Morning Report about plans for Obama's visit:

Mr Grice said he wants a broad section of New Zealand society to be present at the invite-only talk.

Obama's speaking fee is estimated to around $400,000. Mr Grice said the full cost of the visit is completely confidential but has been covered by sponsors, Air New Zealand, Mastercard, and Westpac.

Air New Zealand is majority owned by the New Zealand taxpayer, but Mr Grice said they've made a commercial decision.

"He has 100 million Twitter followers, it's going to be good for Tourism New Zealand, and I think those are the sorts of criteria on which they've made their decision."

"He was the most powerful person on the planet until very recently," he said.

Mr Grice said that in terms of Obama's programme, three days is quite a long time.

"He really is packing a lot in his post-presidency and he's travelling all over the place so we needed to find a window. We pushed for as long as we could get and three days is pretty good."

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