It's not every day you get to have brunch with Barack Obama.

But that's the opportunity two Rotorua women had today as they sat down with the former United States President.

Gina Rangi, Rotorua Lakes Council kaiwhakahaere [Maori group manager], and Ana Morrison, Toi Ohomai's executive director of strategic partnerships and Maori success, were among the 25 women who attended the brunch in Auckland.

It was organised by Nancy Gilbert, the wife of the former US Ambassador Mark Gilbert.

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Rangi and Morrison are members of the Wahine Toa group set up by Mrs Gilbert.

Gina Rangi brushed shoulders with Barack Obama at an exclusive brunch in Auckland. PHOTO/FILE
Gina Rangi brushed shoulders with Barack Obama at an exclusive brunch in Auckland. PHOTO/FILE

Rangi told the Rotorua Daily Post the meal was relaxed and conversational, and she felt privileged to be there.

"We talked about leadership and what that means, about community and what that means. He asked questions, we asked questions, everyone had really good conversations," she said.

"It's not about the celebrity of his role, it's about the work he's trying to achieve and we're doing a similar thing at a community level."

Barack Obama's whirlwind trip to New Zealand included lunch with prominent Maori women. PHOTO/BRETT PHIBBS
Barack Obama's whirlwind trip to New Zealand included lunch with prominent Maori women. PHOTO/BRETT PHIBBS

She said the small group allowed the conversation to take place as a round table discussion rather than a series of speeches and she took a lot away from it.

"It's renewed my commitment and contribution to supporting others like young people and women to take their place," she said.

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"Obama talked a lot about his own approach, what he's trying to achieve now and about the importance of bringing young leaders through and supporting them."

She said she was eager to share what she had learned with the Rotorua community.

Rangi said Obama had asked to take photos with the group but those hadn't been shared with them at this stage.

Obama was gifted a handmade korowai made by Kiri Nathan, as well as a pounamu tiki.

Morrison could not be reached for comment. Other women at the brunch included the Moko Foundation chief executive Deidre Otene.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick was an invited guest at last night's dinner with Obama.