If you were invited to attend an invitation dinner with former US President Barack Obama, would you go?

Just writing that question astounds me because I couldn't imagine anyone turning such an invitation down because ... Barack Obama.

For me, Obama is the epitome of a leader and is someone I'd love to be able to hear speak. His presence oozes respect and his words are motivating and captivating.

For these reasons, I couldn't imagine anyone turning down a once in a lifetime chance to listen to what he has to say.


Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless however, has turned down such an experience.

The 44th President of America is on his first visit to New Zealand, landing in a private Gulfstream jet to a heavy police presence at Auckland International Airport this morning after a few days in Singapore.

During his visit, Obama will be hosting a 1000-guest banquet today and Brownless was among a selection of mayors invited.

Brownless said he was "honoured to be invited" but had to turn down the invitation because of a prior commitment on Thursday night.

That commitment is a citizenship ceremony for 60 people and their families and friends, and Brownless said if he had attended tonight, he would be letting hundreds of people down.

In all fairness, this loyalty and dedication is a tad admirable and just a bit sweet.

I'd love to be able to say if I was in Brownless' fashionable shoes I'd do the same thing, but it's very highly unlikely I would.

In all honesty, I'd probably pull out of just about any commitment to be there - but this is probably why I'm never going to be mayor of this city, or any other.