Friday, April 26, 2024

Incoming PM Christopher Luxon receives hero’s welcome during school visit

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Christopher Luxon, centre, is mobbed by pupils at Cockle Bay School on October 19. Times photo Chris Harrowell

Prime Minister-elect Christopher Luxon received a rapturous welcome from excited pupils during his first visit to his old school since winning this year’s general election.

The MP for Botany called into Cockle Bay School on October 19 after returning from Wellington, where he’s taken part in negotiations to form a new Government and welcome the National Party’s large number of new representatives.

Luxon was entertained by a spirited performance from the school’s kapa haka team before being taken on a tour of the school by pupils and its leadership team including principal Dorothy Bigwood.

He was shown its impressive art exhibition and popped into numerous classrooms to speak to pupils.

In one classroom three young boys delivered a short pre-prepared speech wishing him luck in his new role as prime minister and his task of getting the country “back on track,” which was the National Party’s slogan during the election campaign.

Christopher Luxon with the school’s talented kapa haka team. Times photo Chris Harrowell

While he was walking around the school Luxon was frequently approached by excited pupils who asked for his autograph on pieces of paper or on their hands.

Following the tour he did a stand-up press conference and told reporters he had fond memories of attending Cockle Bay School during his childhood growing up in east Auckland and it was great to receive such a warm reception.

“The kids are awesome. I’ve visited a lot of schools over the last year and a half and they’ve been really enthusiastic.

“It’s special to come back to your old school and I love this place. I learned so many things here and it set me up well.”

Christopher Luxon, centre, speaks to Cockle Bay School principal Dorothy Bigwood, right, during his visit. Times photo Chris Harrowell

Luxon was asked who his favourite teacher was during his time at Cockle Bay School.

He said he had a number of them and his principal at the time was Kevin Peterson, who the pupils had to refer to as “Sir”.

“I belonged to ‘Sir’s maths club’ because he had an extension class on Friday at lunchtimes for us in the staffroom to do extra maths, so he was great, but all the teachers were fantastic.”

Luxon said he was spending a day in Auckland because it was a chance to reconnect with his electorate.

“Being out here in Botany, it’s also a chance for me to go do some human hoardings to thank people as well, which is what I did after my last election as well.

“So it’s just a chance to catch up with what’s happening here in the electorate.

“It’s acknowledging I’ve been around the country a lot through the period of the campaign and I haven’t probably spent as much time here in Botany as I would like.”

Luxon declined to be drawn on the progress being made on negotiations to form a new coalition Government.

He said: “I know it’s different from how it’s been handled in the past but I want to make sure we have a very professional, constructive and positive negotiation and we are progressing relationships and arrangements with respect to parties.”

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