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We Asked New Zealanders How They Will Remember John Key

"I really can't get over the whole flag-changing debacle."

by Sasha Borissenko
05 December 2016, 3:56am

John Key and his cookie portrait. Image supplied. All images by the author unless otherwise stated.

Like a smack to the head, John Key has unexpectedly announced he will resign as Prime Minister next Monday.

In his official statement he said his wife Bronagh had made a significant sacrifice during his time in politics, "and now is the right time for me to take a step back in my career and spend more time at home. I do not believe that if I was asked to commit to serving out a full fourth term I could look the public in the eye and say yes".

The National Party caucus is holding a special meeting to elect a new leader on December 12. Key has endorsed Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, yet there've been rumblings that Paula Bennett, Gerry Brownlee and Judith Collins will fight for the leadership.

Elected to the role in 2008, Key has survived the global financial crisis, the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes, and the Pike River and Rena disasters.

VICE took to the streets to ask how people will remember Teflon John.

Image supplied.

Caitlin Ruske, 22

I, like John Key, went to Burnside High School. In my time there I remember him visiting the school at least twice. On one occasion two people in my year group decided to bake him a cookie and ice it to look like him. They managed to get it to him just for a photo. His security team said he wasn't allowed to eat it. Seeing him pose for a photo with this cookie [pictured above] while the two who made it are in tears laughing in the background is something I'll always remember. Aside from that some more classic things I'll remember Mr Key for include; ponytails, his terrible son and the World Cup three-way handshake. Thanks for the memories, John Key.

Callam Scott-Close, 24

I really can't get over the whole flag-changing debacle. He decided to change the flag even though most of New Zealanders didn't want it to be changed. I thought it was probably a waste of time and money. That's the main thing I'll remember him for. He was all right aside from that. I don't think he was that bad, just having a background in financials—the whole flag thing seemed to be ironic.

Matt Kendell, 22

I will remember him for being someone who said a lot but there was never any substance to what he was saying, like every politician I suppose. For me, he represented that typical neo-liberalism that's happening all around the world. He's really the face of it. And there was something about him and his family that really got traction. I mean no one knew anything about Helen Clark's family. John Key's son became famous, just because he was rich and privileged, and he gets flack for it. Funny, I was in one of Max Key's classes at uni and I didn't want to get to know him. It's so random that John Key resigned, but I guess he kind of turned into a New Zealand Donald Trump.

Wen-Juen Lee (left) and Lola Gorrell.

Wen-juenn Lee, 20

Ponytail gate, that's what I'll remember. His response to it was that it was all a bit of fun and banter, which really represents that lad culture. I don't think "just a bit of banter" is on, nor was it appropriate coming from your Prime Minister. He was always trying to please. His comments around Waitangi Day and the Foreshore and Seabed, again "just a laugh", were equally inappropriate. Then there was the whole "I don't want to get paid to be Prime Minister", much like what Trump has said, again, that was not on. I'm definitely not a fan.

Lola Gorrell, 21

I reckon a lot of the time in Parliament, Key would shoot down people who had ideas. If you're Prime Minister you should be the most respectful of everyone in the room. He was often patronising to people—like to the protestors and young people against the TPPA. He'd be like, "You don't know what you're talking about, leave it to the adults and we'll sort it". He didn't listen to the problems and issues of the people he was supposedly representing. He had a real glazing over, patronising attitude.

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