Visits to the United States with the Prime Minister ain't what they used to be, but all that could change next year.

When New Zealand was leading the anti-nuclear fight and David Lange was smelling uranium in the air at Oxford University, the White House was off limits.

The last Tinsel town actor to occupy the big house on Pennsylvania Avenue, Ronnie Reagan, wouldn't give him the time of day - not that Reagan knew what it was half of the time anyway. So Lange occupied himself with other pursuits when he went Stateside.

Every time he visited the western seaboard he'd go AWOL, preferring the highs and lows of the roller coaster at Disney World rather than getting the lowdown of how the relationship with Uncle Sam could be repaired.


Four months before he suddenly decided he'd had enough of the Beehive's ninth floor in August 1989 he paid a visit to the Big Apple where he was seen as something of an anti-nuclear ambassador.

He may not have been able to have an at-home with the Reagans but he received an invitation from someone who liked the cut of his rather substantial cloth - John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono, who invited him up to the Dakota apartment building in Central Park for tea.

Pride of place on my wall is a signed photo he generously sent me of the both of us standing on the spot where Lennon had been shot nine years before, towering over the diminutive Ono standing, smiling between us.

But the American administration cold shoulder of those days has since become a warm embrace with the White House doors now wide open, ever since they were unlocked by Hillary's hubby Bill Clinton to Jim Bolger in the late nineties.

Even George W Bush seemed, against all ideological odds, to get on with Helen Clark and Barak Obama's positively effusive about his golfing buddy John Key, who he sees as an inspirational leader.

So we've come a long way, but where will we go to with a change in the occupants of the White House?

Why Hillary Clinton wants to occupy the Oval Office cigar club, is beyond me even if power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Just imagine if gaff prone Donald Trump makes the cut and gets to carry his missus Melania across the threshold, even if it's more likely this misogynist would expect her to carry the load. But the mind boggles as to what a Trump makeover of the big house would look like!

And what if John Key was to visit with Trump in situ, given his penchant for ponytails, he'd barely be able to contain himself confronted by the Presidential coiffure.

After an awful week, tomorrow Trump faces the big Wisconsin contest and an even bigger one, convincing the conservatives at the Republican convention in July. On the other hand Clinton looks almost certain to be on the Democrats' ticket.

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But neither Clinton nor Trump will be of much use to this country in opening their trade door, both are opposed to the Trans Pacific Partnership and we're well back in the queue when it comes getting a deal with the Americans of our own.

So the Chinese Presidential Palace, which is much more palatial than the White House, or even the Indian Prime Minister's official home, which is also much grander, could conceivably become the preferred pilgrimage for our Prime Minister - given that both countries, with combined populations of more than two and a half billion, are well and truly open for business.

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