Prime minister calls into Feilding childcare centre

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 13:06 24/01/2014
John key
FAITH SUTHERLAND/FAIRFAX NZ

KEY IN A TREE: Children asked questions of Prime Minister John Key while checking out a tree house.

John Key
CHILD'S PLAY: Prime minister John Key meets children from he Secret Garden Childcare in Feilding.

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The prime minister's yearly pilgrimage to Ratana took a detour this morning as he called into a Manawatu early childcare centre for a chat and some cookies.

En route to the annual gathering of the political elite at the Ratana Pa today, John Key stopped at The Secret Garden Childcare in Feilding.

He was greeted at the gate by more than twenty pint-sized preschoolers and their parents before being shown around the centre.

It was a morning of activities where he taste-tested the children's home baking, as well as sour apples in the centre's orchard.

He climbed into a tree house, checked on the centre's kunekune pig Rosie, joking she was destined for the breakfast table in the form of bacon.

He even shared banter with a few teenagers about his meeting with boy band One Direction.

He answered questions whether the Beehive was yellow, posed for photos with babies and did a quick phone interview with a radio station before heading on his way to Ratana.

''It's great to meet the kids and their families, and it's great to see the high quality of early childhood education [in action],'' Key said.

''It was good fun. There were some hard questions there and I've been assured that Rosie is safe.''

Childcare co-founder Lorelei Dekker said the children have been prepping for the prime minister's visit all week, learning the 101 of New Zealand politics, preparing questions and baking biscuits.

''Their confidence was incredible,'' she said.

''He was great at interacting with the kids, he made it all about them and he wasn't afraid to get down and get dirty, even eating an apple with the children.

''He provides a good role model for our children and at the end of it he was just a normal guy that can talk to kids and that's just fantastic.''

It was the first time the kindergarten have hosted a prime minister and marked the occasion by making a concrete cast of Key's handprints.

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- Manawatu Standard

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