op-ed by Barry Soper in the NZ Herald

It brought new meaning to the term “flying visit”.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s first return in almost three months to the city she loves to call her home town was virtually over before it began.

And the carbon footprint of the whistlestop trip would surely have sent shudders through the COP26 climate change talkfest in Glasgow.

She flew to and from Auckland on the Air Force’s 757. Her office says she flew north with troops on Tuesday night who had to be relocated for MIQ duties, and headed back on the big jet because it had to be returned to Wellington. Strange that, given the jet’s home base is Whenuapai.

Yeah, well, the plane apparently then flew out of the capital for Auckland again.

It was a token drop-in by a Prime Minister who seems clearly paranoid about catching Covid [has she decided the Pfizer substance is useless? —Eds].

At her chat with the media at a Pacific youth vaccination event yesterday she unusually chose to keep her mask on, saying she did it because she was indoors. With the media well out of spitting distance, I wondered what the caution was all about.

Getting to know what the misery’s been like for the city edging out of a three-month lockdown would most certainly have escaped her on this visit.

The only company she visited, JMP Engineering, continued to operate during the lockdown. Its boss Michael Thornton had earlier tweeted a shot of him wearing a MAGA cap saying he had joined the movement – that’s Make Ardern Go Away.

He got his wish on that front, she wasn’t there for long – probably because she got an earful about the broken MIQ system and how international businesses could operate when their workers couldn’t get back into the country.

Perhaps more likely it was because she was told that those at the company weren’t big Labour supporters!

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