New PM realises `boyhood dream'

Last updated 23:50 19/11/2008
In power: Prime Minister John Key met his newly sworn Cabinet yesterday. One of his first official engagements will be to represent New Zealand at the Apec meeting, in Peru this week.

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There were hugs, hakas and a few first-time nerves as Prime Minister John Key's National-led Government was sworn in.

During a one-hour ceremony yesterday in Parliament's Grand Hall in Wellington, 28 new ministers five of them from minor parties pledged their oath of allegiance to the Queen in front of friends and family.

Earlier, there were emotional scenes as former Labour leader Helen Clark handed her prime-ministerial warrant to Governor-General Anand Satyanand, ending a nine-year term.

She was farewelled on the steps of Parliament by about 200 supporters and staff.

Key used his first speech as Prime Minister to acknowledge his administration took power against a backdrop of economic crisis.

However, he had "never felt more confident" that he had put together the right team to tackle the obstacles ahead.

Speaking later, he said winning the top job felt "wonderful" and was the realisation of a "boyhood dream".

Key said he and his team would be too busy to celebrate.

They headed into their first Cabinet meeting yesterday afternoon, with some ministers looking dazed and nervous as they got their first glimpse of the Cabinet room on the 10th floor of the Beehive.

Key travels to Peru today to attend his first Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) forum, where he will join world leaders seeking solutions to the global financial crisis.

He said he was looking forward to rubbing shoulders with the likes of the "President of the United States or the President of Japan", before quickly recognising the blooper and correctly identifying the Jap-anese leader as a prime minister.

Arriving at the swearing-in ceremony, Maori Party co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples were greeted with a rousing haka performed by fellow MPs Hone Harawira and Te Ururoa Flavell.

Key speedily formed a government within 11 days of the election by forging arrangements with ACT, United Future and the Maori Party.

He needed to be sworn in as prime minister to be eligible to attend Apec.

Key said yesterday marked the beginning of his "first 100 days" plan of action that was released during the election campaign.

Parliament will sit on December 8 for two weeks. Legislation to cut taxes, streamline the Resource Management Act and deal with law and order issues will be introduced.

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- Canterbury

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