Helen Clark's talk packs out Dunedin theatre

Former prime minister Helen Clark and Dame Dorothy Fraser share a laugh and a green tea at the...
Former prime minister Helen Clark and Dame Dorothy Fraser share a laugh and a green tea at the Dunedin Chinese Garden yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.

Former prime minister Helen Clark packed out a South Dunedin theatre last night with a talk on poverty, inequality and hope.

When the Mayfair Theatre reached capacity, the doors were locked, and some people hoping to attend Miss Clark's inaugural Dame Dorothy Fraser Lecture were turned away.

About 350 people heard about how the world's growing population will be absorbed in urban areas, putting pressure on governance systems, possibly bringing extreme poverty and inequality.

Miss Clark, who is the United Nations' development programme administrator, said more food would be needed.

But the world already had a billion obese people and another billion hungry people, so there was already a major food distribution problem.

Dealing with climate change needed urgent, radical transformation because climate change exacerbated inequalities, but talks "sputtered on".

However, she predicted US President Barak Obama would give more support to climate change in his second term.

Sustainable energy for all countries was achievable with a global climate agreement - and money, she said.

However, poorer countries needed to acquire the skill to gain grants from developed countries and the private sector.

All countries needed a system so people could pick themselves up after tough times: "Never underestimate the value of a basic security system."

Earlier yesterday, Miss Clark relaxed with a green tea in the Dunedin Chinese Garden.

Chinese Gardens Trust chairman Malcolm Wong gave Miss Clark a tour of the garden, stopping to clap hands to coax out the goldfish, before sharing Chinese tea and a joke in the tea house with a group of 10 people, including Dame Dorothy Fraser.

Before leaving, Miss Clark wrote a wish on a ribbon for the wishing tree.

She also visited Godfreys Dunedin, where she autographed two vacuum cleaners and two steam mops, which were given to Women's Refuge.

Godfreys Dunedin owner Hardeep Sodhi said beforehand he was excited Miss Clark was coming to his shop.

Women's Refuge residential service co-ordinator Kerri Oliver said the appliances were for cleaning two safe houses in Dunedin.

Another signed steam mop will be given to Halfway Bush Kindergarten to sell at its annual fundraiser.




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