PM earns comparison with Abe Lincoln

00:11, Jul 08 2011
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Prime Minister John Key has a Q & A session with the public.
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Prime Minister John Key has a Q & A session with the public.
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Tim Macindoe talks to a member of the audience during Prime Minister John Key's Q & A session.
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A question is asked during John Key's Q & A session with the public.
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Prime Minister John Key visited Hamilton Girls' High School for a question and answer session. From left, John Key, Kimberley Dainty, Olivia Ward-Dun and Rebekah Wirepo
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John Key, right, talks with Jenny Eastwood
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John Key answers students questions.
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Te Hine-ngaro Tuteranigwhi, left, and John Key walk in to the hall as they are welcomed with a Powhiri.
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Tasmyn Roach and John Key

Two women got up close and personal with John Key in Hamilton last night, but they left with very different emotions.

The prime minister had a whirlwind tour of the city yesterday, visiting a retirement village and a couple of high schools, and a question-and-answer session at Wintec's Atrium, organised by the Waikato Times.

A crowd of about 200 heard Mr Key give a typically polished performance but there were two moments when he was uncharacteristically caught off-guard.

Jenn Hooper said she was determined to get her say.

She told Mr Key about her five-year-old daughter Charley, who suffered a massive brain injury at birth because of negligent midwives, and was now predicted to cost the Government $20 million over the course of her life, a cost she said was a conservative estimate.

Not satisfied with making her point she confronted him at the lectern and gave him some information as well as an invitation to meet her group AIM (Action to Improve Maternity).

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Ms Hooper said she had spent 3 1/2 years fighting for a perinatal database, detailing the outcomes of adverse births rather than just mortality rates, so the maternity sector could be improved through solid evidence.

It was estimated such a database could be set up for $5 million, Ms Hooper said, and the prime minister assured her he would bring it up with Health Minister Tony Ryall on Monday.

She was supported by Robert Barlow, whose baby son Adam died and wife Linda almost died in Hamilton in 2009 after a botched birth.

Ms Hooper said she would see Mr Key again tomorrow in Auckland and do what she had done for the past few years  "question the hell out of everybody".

Nina Moore's encounter with the country's top man was less frosty but no less heartfelt.

With one of the last comments of the night she thanked Mr Key for replying to a letter she wrote to him and described him as a "wonderful person" as she fought back the tears.

She was too embarrassed to tell the Times why she was so grateful but she did admit she thought she would have a heart attack when he hugged her at the end of the night.

"His eyes are full of wisdom and compassion, I can only compare him to Abraham Lincoln," Mrs Moore said.
Originally from Poland, she had been in Hamilton for almost two years, and apparently that was enough.
"For me it was a small miracle ... I can die tomorrow I'm so happy," Mrs Moore said.

Waikato Times