Friday, July 25, 2008

Do You Come From A Land Down Under?

Have you hugged your President today?
Yes I have.

Long before we moved to New Zealand, I became a fan of Helen Clark, their Prime Minister.

20 years ago a "No Nukes" law was implemented here and Helen has been a staunch supporter of this throughout her 9 years in office. She has prevented the law from being overturned in spite of heavy pressure from the United States, who want to put nuclear subs off our shores, and many Kiwi voters who feel it is the more efficient energy choice.

Another reason Miss Clark stole my heart is that she had the cohones to stand up to W. et al saying "F- you and the Camel you rode in on George". Absolutely refusing to participate in his Iraqi debacle.
Our troops are in Afghanistan however, and sadly, we have lost a few.

I have read and heard that Helen Clark is a very approachable leader. It would not be uncommon to find yourself traveling on the very same plane as she. No Air Force One type luxury's here. I am sure she would not turn down a private jet if offered, who would? But they are generally not in the PM's budget or one of her perks.

She has visited Nelson several times since our move here, but I have always found out after the fact and missed my chance to give her the infamous "Kimberly Hug". In this week's Nelson Mail I read she would be in town for the day participating in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for our new Environmental Center.

My sweet hubby, knowing my wish to experience a warm and fuzzy with Helen, and needing a blog for this week, did a reconnaissance for me this morning. He found the new center and spoke with the woman in charge who told him it was by invitation only. Normally I'm a person who follows the rules, but hey this is NZ where you could end up sitting next to the PM on a plane,


I knew she was to show up at 1:00pm and that Kiwis are very prompt. I arrived at the location to a small crowd of ~ 50, of which two were police.

No Secret Service, no streets closed off, the entire city not left paralyzed until her departure.

Every person there did have a name tag however, except me. I was approached by a man with a clipboard whom I promptly told he would not find me on his list. After Karen, main organizer for the event (and my yoga student), vouched for me, I was allowed to hang around.

Up pull two new sedans, no limo, no bodyguards. Helen steps out and FOB, talks to the local news station, gets that out of the way.

Next she is greeted by the Nelson Mayor and head of the new Environmental Center who updates her with a litany of their current projects. The Prime Minister gives Nelson many kudos for always having been on the cutting edge regarding environmental issues and supporting her initiative to have NZ be completely sustainable by 2020. This includes research and development for sustainable homes, bio-fuels, and solar heating.

I maneuvered my way to the front of crowd and took heaps of pictures. No one approached her for a personal photo-op or autograph so I honored this as well.

Happy to at least have photos and somewhat of a story for Mike,I left.

Later in the day I decided to go into town for a little shopping. Returning home I spotted, stopped in the middle of our main street, the same two sedans escorting the PM. I knew she must be close by. Determined to get that hug, I parked the car and began my own reconnaissance. Within two minutes I spied her walking into Taylor's Shoe Store.

Lauren, you bought a pair of $300.00, really cute shoes there!!

There was a policeman outside the door who was not deterring anyone from entering. I approached her, she smiled and said "Ah, hello, I saw you earlier today". We shook hands as I told her I was not a stalker but there to say thank you and keep up the good work. She asked where I was from.

"I'm from the U.S. , but I moved here two years ago to be with you".
I hugged her and she said "I should use you as my veneer". What does that mean? I don't know, but I am sure it's a compliment.

Is Helen my most famous brush with greatness? No, that would still be shaking hands with Muhammad Ali at L.A.X. That encounter left me starstruck for 24 hours, like I'd met Zeus himself.

But hugging Helen Clark left me feeling warm and fuzzy and proud of this tiny country with a big ideals.


At 2:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely. If I got that close to "Still President Bush" (as Jon Stewart refers to him) a hug would not be what he would receive. love robin

At 4:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so lucky to achieve some of your personal goals before they fade away.
Talking to people you respect and having them acknowledge you in return is priceless.
Happy you had the opportunity to share this experience with your devoted blog readers.
When we see each other I feel the same enthusiasm when we hug. The last hug included a pinch on my bottom. Thank yo so much.

At 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

did you lip lock, i mean helen is a looker?

At 8:40 PM, Blogger butterflies said...

Helens the best.

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