Obama was 'hungover, sunburnt and really tired' - Patrick Gower

Barack Obama wowed the crowd at Auckland's Viaduct Events Centre despite being "hungover, sunburnt and really tired from playing so much golf".

Newshub's Patrick Gower told The AM Show on Friday morning the former US President cast a spell on the 900 attendees regardless.

"Incredible to see him so close... We were about 15m away from Barack Obama," he told host Duncan Garner, who was there with him.

"Barack Obama was exhausted... John Key was exhausted and Duncan Garner was exhausted."

Mr Obama spoke fondly of New Zealand's record on women's rights, being the first country in the world to give women the vote in 1893.

"He said he'd like to do an experiment where women run the world every two years. No war, no conflict he said - that was a direct quote. I thought there wasn't a big enough clap last night when he raised women's rights."

Mr Obama also had kinds words for Mr Key, whose time as Prime Minister of New Zealand ran alongside Mr Obama's reign in the US.

"He really talked John Key up last night. That was huge for John Key. John Key's an international brand - that's what Barack Obama's helped make him."

The first African-American President of the US wasn't so kind to China.

"He had a real decent whack at China," said Gower. "He said China are not a responsible superpower, they don't know how to do the bizzo out there on the world stage."

Sam Neill, star of Jurassic Park and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, was MC. Garner said he was shaking throughout, clearly in awe of being on the same stage as Mr Obama.

"I thought Sam Neill did a great job, but maybe you would have been better," said Gower.

Mr Obama reportedly didn't mention his successor Donald Trump even once.

National MP Judith Collins said Mr Obama was "very discreet" and an "utterly class act".

"He has huge empathy, he was incredibly professional, massively likeable and he held us all in his hand for about 80 minutes. That's a huge feat. I thought he was really, really professional and came across as a thoroughly nice person."

Labour MP Phil Twyford says he didn't make the event bcause he was "busy".

"My ministerial duties kept me in the House. I was invited."

The AM Show
Phil Twyford and Judith Collins. Photo credit: The AM Show

He holds a sceptical view of Mr Obama's accomplishments, but thinks the world would be better off if he didn't have to give up the reins to Mr Trump.

"From a left perspective, it's very poignant. He's this incredibly decent, enlightened guy, but actually I don't think he really advanced a genuine economic reform agenda from a left perspective during his presidency.

"He's such an amazing and decent guy, and I think most of the world misses him terribly. By contrast, his successor doesn't make the world feel as good as Obama does."

Mr Obama departs New Zealand, Australia-bound, later on Friday.