"They were not breathtaking moments, they were profound moments."

Those are the words of Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick after attending the 1000-guest banquet with former US president Barack Obama at the Auckland Viaduct Event Centre.

She told the Rotorua Daily Post the first thing that stood out to her was how quiet and respectful the audience was.

"It was a very measured evening. We were all very humbled to see him on the stage so relaxed and frank."

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The 44th president of the United States of America avoided political discussions, and no photos of him were allowed, but Chadwick said she will not forget the key messages of his speech about leadership.

"He explained the importance of having talented people around you, having a shared vision and a diverse group around you. He said you need diversity or you will miss the point of what people want to see and hear.

"It did not matter whether people were from NGOs or businesses or elsewhere, they were all nodding in agreement."

From left: Sir Matiu Rei, Peter Gordon, Steve Chadwick and Jamie Tuuta at the Obama dinner. Photo/Supplied
From left: Sir Matiu Rei, Peter Gordon, Steve Chadwick and Jamie Tuuta at the Obama dinner. Photo/Supplied

Chadwick said the former President also reinforced the importance of women in leadership.

She said he linked that to the large impact his wife and daughters had on his decision making.

The mayor said Obama also discussed the loneliness of being a leader.

ROTORUA DAILY POST
22 Mar, 2018 6:43am
2 minutes to read

"He covered how hard it is to make calls when the final decision stops with you. A prime example he used was when Osama bin Laden was found."

Chef Peter Gordon and Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick at the Obama dinner. Photo/Supplied
Chef Peter Gordon and Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick at the Obama dinner. Photo/Supplied

Chadwick said there were also light moments.

"He reflected on the fact that even though he was President, his daughters would still rib him if he did not come to watch their sport."

She said he also talked about how much he had enjoyed life since getting out of the bubble at the White House.

Overall, Chadwick said she was encouraged about Rotorua and New Zealand's future after the dinner.

"It was a wonderful evening. The sponsors took great care to get a mix of people."

The dinner was organised by the NZ-US Council and paid for by Air NZ, Mastercard, and Westpac.

Those companies paid for Obama's appearance fee, which has not been divulged.

An extensive media ban covered the event.

Air NZ flew New Zealand-born chef Peter Gordon from London to oversee the dinner.

Obama was interviewed by actor Sam Neill and the MC for the evening was poet laureate, Selina Tusitala Marsh.