"Shame on you, Fran O'Sullivan. Shame. Shame. Why have you paid $1500 for a ticket to Tony Blair? How would you like it, Fran O'Sullivan, if it was your kids being blown up by cluster bombs?"
Veteran protester John Minto must have known he was wasting his salvoes on me, when he stood outside Eden Park megaphone blaring, accusing Blair of being a "genocidal maniac" and claimed anyone attending the former British prime minister's speech was "complicit" in his actions. But it did make for good theatre.
For a fleeting moment I got a sense of just what it must feel like to be someone like a Blair having to run protesters' gauntlets around the world as activists try and get up close to serve him with an arrest warrant on charges of war crimes. But it is also very easy to see how politicians become inured to protesters' taunts.
Minto's crew hardly presented a clear and present danger to the former prime minister. But Blair was still whisked in through the back door to Eden Park; an integral part of British High Commissioner Vicki Treadwell's strategy to make sure that the former PM wasn't served with a warrant on her watch, which would have been a kiss of death to a promising diplomatic career.
Blair has aged considerably since he visited Auckland in 2006 as Helen Clark's guest. Back then he strongly defended his decision to send British troops to Iraq. He was facing strong internal pressure to hand over the prime ministerial baton to Gordon Brown - but still managed to confront the major issues du jour.
In Auckland on Thursday, Iraq barely got a mention until Labour MP Jacinda Ardern asked him: "Knowing what you know now, what would you have [done] differently in Iraq?"
Blair side-stepped the question by referencing the Arab Spring, saying when you remove a dictatorial regime you have to be prepared to be there for a long time.
Later he introduced Iran as a potential sticking point in the normalisation of Iraq. But there was no stepping back from his decision to go to war.
While in New Zealand and Australia this week, Blair covered the major issues du jour: Rupert Murdoch (not the only one in the UK to wield media power in such a way), the financial crisis (Obama is doing the right thing) and the impact of the Arab Spring (there must be social and economic change to ensure democracy prevails).
Neither Phil Goff nor John Key was present for the Blair lunch - which is a pity. Like him or loathe him, Blair displays a unique perspective as a committed internationalist. He believes the West risks losing its place of pre-eminence and faces a 21st century of much greater insecurity and uncertainty.
A conviction politician to his bones, he does not repudiate New Labour's free market reforms.
As a good deal of the Western world teeters on the brink of national bankruptcy, Blair urges fiscal restraint, getting debt down, facing up to pension reforms and continuing to introduce competition to the public sector. Putting the state back at the centre of everything is a major mistake.
Goff - a Rogernome under the fourth Labour Government - probably holds the same view. But he appears to have sold out his former principles and policy positions to maintain control of his caucus.
If Key had been present for Blair's rhetoric he would have learnt a useful lesson from a political master on managing change. Blair says that when political leaders first propose major change people "tell you it's a disaster". When leaders are in the process of making change it's "absolute hell". But after the change is made people assume it was always like that.
Blair may be a bit glib on this score, but it's a message Key could take on board if he wants to shake his opponents' taunts that he is a "Smile and Wave" leader.
Like Bill Clinton, who came to Auckland nearly a decade ago to speak at a $1000 seat black tie dinner, it was disconcerting to watch another talented politician debasing himself as a former world leader for hire.
In Clinton's case he had to pony up massive fees by speaking to groups to pay the legal bills he incurred staving off the Republicans' attempts to have him run out of US politics over various sexual misdemeanours.
Blair has to confront the unpalatable fact that his tour promoters had to slash ticket prices on both sides of the Tasman to fill venues. And that - because of his stance on Iraq - he can no longer presume to go in through the front door.
Minto and Co can chalk up a partial victory on that score.