This is taking secrecy to an extreme level. Something to hide, Mr. Obama?
Former US President Barack Obama will enforce an extensive ban on media and publicity during his visit to New Zealand this week.
There will be no interviews and media cannot report from inside his event.
Newshub has learned the secrecy extends to those invited to his event, who are set to be prohibited from posting to their own social media.
A bit like movie Fight Club, “the first rule of seeing Barack Obama is don’t talk about seeing Barack Obama”.
At his most recent event this year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the rules were that “photography, video recording, streaming and social media posting, including on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other platforms will not be permitted without exception”.
The New Zealand organisers from Air New Zealand and the NZ Council effectively confirmed those rules applied here, by saying: “Whenever President Obama undertakes private engagements, one of the conditions is that they’re closed to public reporting.”
Mr Obama’s office – those lucky enough to get invited – have been advised told to keep quiet as well, saying “participants can confirm they are invited to an event with the former President if they want to, but they should decline interviews until after the event by referring any press enquiries to the Obama Foundation”.
During his trip he might play at Tara Iti golf course, rated by golf bible Golfer’s Digest as the sixth best course in the world. It is just outside of Mangawhai in Northland, and is extremely private – the perfect place for a Commander-in Chief turned ‘Golfer-in-Chief’.
One golf partner is certain – Sir John Key, perhaps alongside his son, Max.
Mr Obama has time for two rounds of golf when he visits, with all day on Wednesday and up until Thursday afternoon free.
But while it is a special – it does not come cheap. Mr Obama’s speaking fee is said to be US$400,000 (NZ$550,000).
Despite this, when it comes to Mr Obama – it’s not so much yes we can – but “no we can’t”.
The other likely spot to be visited is the Kauri Cliffs near Matauri Bay – and the perfect place to stay, The Landing, is the definition of luxury accomodation.
Most of the Obama visit is in the “neither confirm ofdeny” category.
He will meet the Prime Minister, but there will be no questions allowed – and there will be no media coverage at his event for the US-NZ Council and major sponsor Air New Zealand on Thursday night.
It is not a speech, but what is called a “moderated conversation” – the format favoured by both him and wife Michelle Obama.
One group will get direct access on Friday morning – some young Māori women from a group called Wahine Toa – or “women of power”, which fits the Obama Foundation’s mission to develop young leaders.
It is organised by Nancy Gilbert, the wife of former Ambassador Mark Gilbert, who is a personal friend of Mr Obama.