It's just 'John' when the PM calls in

By MORGAN TAIT

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An ex-bodyguard and a 5-year-old fan were special stops for Prime Minister John Key when he visited several Hawke's Bay businesses and schools yesterday.

Mr Key also faced questions from local high school students about the economic climate, nuclear-free policies and boosting employment for university graduates.


 


Mr Key stopped for an afternoon coffee at Streetwise Coffee Cart in Heretaunga St, an enterprise run by his ex-bodyguard Stewart Brodie.

Mr Brodie was a member of the New Zealand Police for 18 years and the Diplomatic Protection Squad for 10 years, before retiring this year and moving to Hawke's Bay with wife Nikki.

"I was with him the whole time, from when he was leader of the opposition through to Prime Minister," said Mr Brodie. "Before that I was with Helen Clark."

However, yesterday was the first time he was able to call his old boss by his first name.

"I've been waiting eight years to say 'John'," he said.

Mr Brodie said guarding Mr Key had many travel perks - including Anzac ceremonies in Gallipoli, a royal wedding and trips to the White House - but required a lot of preparation and risk management.

"A lot of stuff goes on behind the scenes that the public are never really aware of. We would have our fair share of people that have got issues, if that's the right word, but it's about preparations and the idea is to put things to bed before they escalate."

In Havelock North the Prime Minister visited Te Mata Primary School and Havelock North High School to speak with students.

He was greeted at Te Mata by 5-year-old student Luke McKinnel who had written a fan letter to Mr Key, who replied and organised the meeting.

"I like him because he had dinner with my dad and I really want to meet him," said Luke.

His mum Megan said Luke was fascinated by the PM, and set up his own election booth in his bedroom last year.

"They studied elections at kindy and for some reason he took a liking to John Key. He actually set up little election booths in his bedroom and every time you walked past you had to vote and you had to vote for John Key."

Mr Key spoke to students about chasing their dreams, and even joined the school's orchestra on the cymbals before addressing students around the corner at Havelock North High School.

Year 12 students asked thoughtful questions about the state of the economy and their prospects of gainful employment post-university, as well as the country's nuclear-free policies.

Havelock North Intermediate School students were also invited to the talk, and asked Mr Key what his most valuable life lesson was.

"Always be yourself," he told students. "You have got to live your dreams, if you don't believe in yourself no one else is going to."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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