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Barack Obama meets a real Kiwi on his first trip to NZ

The former leader of the free world encounters a NZ icon.

Former US President Barack Obama got up close and personal with New Zealand's native bird during his visit to Northland on Wednesday.

The Kiwi encounter was snapped by former US Ambassador to New Zealand and close friend of Obama Mark Gilbert, who is accompanying him on his trip to Aotearoa.

Obama spent much of his day in Northland yesterday playing golf with former prime minister Sir John Key and his son Max at the exclusive Kauri Cliffs resort.

Max shared a photo of the golfing buddies on his Instagram account.

Obama will the guest of honour tonight at an invite-only banquet dinner in Auckland. Some of New Zealand's highest-profile political, community and business leaders will be in attendance.