Bay protest for Key all banners with manners


Protesters, a spot of taekwondo, a look at Plunket, a chat with firefighters and a tour of one of the most advanced new businesses in the country - another day in the life of Prime Minister John Key, who was in Napier for a whistlestop tour yesterday.

For his personal security crew and police, it was a low-key affair as Mr Key greeted and chatted his way through the day in the company of Napier MP Chris Tremain and Tukituki MP Craig Foss.

The only animated reception he got was when he arrived for lunch, and a National Party meeting, at the East Pier in Ahuriri just after noon.

About 60 anti-fracking and asset-sales protesters, brightly dressed and bearing placards, were there to greet him under the watchful eyes of about six police officers.

Guests arriving for the lunch were also greeted with chants of "don't frack the Bay" - but the biggest greeting was for Mr Key.

The placards were waved and the voices raised.

"Come and talk to us," one of the protesters called out, but Mr Key declined and was quickly inside the venue to have lunch and a drink.

"Don't Frack the Bay" group spokesman Paul Bailey said the group stuck to the "bring your banners and your manners" philosophy.

"The oil and gas industry is short-term thinking - we need fresh ideas for the economy," Mr Bailey said.

Mr Key started the six-hour visit to Napier with a tour of the ABB advanced electronics company at the Hawke's Bay Airport business park.

He said he was impressed with the level of sophistication and the growing potential of the business, which had been open for only a month.

ABB Napier general manager John Penny and New Zealand managing director Grant Gillard showed Mr Key around the plant.

He took in morning tea with staff and said businesses such as ABB were a valuable part of the country's economy.

Science and innovation were paramount and he said the country was well-placed for the future, and on track to be back in surplus in 2014/15.

As he left, he said "keep up the good work" and received a strong round of applause.

Plenty of applause greeted him at Rowan House in Taradale during his visit there later in the morning, as well a couple of surprised residents.

Mr Key chatted with residents and was delighted with the efforts of the Rowan taekwondo group, which had been sparked and taught by well-known taekwondo instructor Ben Evans.

"This was a really good opportunity to be able to show what great things we have going here," Rowan manager Ross Boniface said.

Mr Key shook the hands of the taekwondo brigade and a little later he was exchanging a few hugs ... with babies at the Plunket Hub in Onekawa.

He toured the facility with Plunket's Sarah Mulcahy and said that such centres played a vital part in getting New Zealanders on to their feet from day one.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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