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John Key opens electoral office with 106-year-old Hamilton resident

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Shopprice NZ

Rebekah Parsons-King

Mabel Jenkins, 106, was the oldest person Prime Minister John Key had met.

 The Prime Minister might have arrived to a Hamilton office opening in a Crown car but a guest of honour went one better and was carried up the stairs.

Mabel Jenkins, 106, was dressed in blue for the official opening of Hamilton West MP Tim Macindoe’s new Te Rapa office on Thursday.

She cut the ribbon along with Prime Minister John Key and junior Hamilton West constituent, year 8 student Alan Pruden.

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Mabel Jenkins, centre, has been around longer than the National party, Prime Minister John Key told her and niece Shirley Harris, left.

Jenkins and Pruden both helped Macindoe open his previous office in 2009.

This time, Jenkins had a reserved parking spot right beside the Crown car and four men carried her up to the first level on a chair.

“I just got the giggles,” she said.

She’s a staunch National supporter – gave them her first vote and every one since – but the opening was the first time she had met Key.

Her verdict: “very nice”.

And Key was impressed with her, too.

“I think you’re the oldest person I’ve met and you’re in better shape than most of our caucus,” he joked.

“You’ve been going longer than the National party.”

He also asked if she drank – she used to, but not now.

Jenkins didn’t have any suggestions for politicians when asked by stuff.co.nz but said they were trustworthy.

“If you can’t trust your own politician, what’s wrong with you? Tim Macindoe is a very nice chap, too… brought me a bunch of flowers on my birthday.”

And, if there are secrets to her longevity, she’s not sharing.

“That’s what everybody asks me, but I really don’t know,” she said.

“I was the eldest of six and the smallest.”

Macindoe said it was a “great thrill” to have Jenkins continue the tradition of opening his new offices.

“I anticipate, on this record, opening another office in 2021… if I can book you now, because I know you’ll have a heavy schedule.”

Macindoe’s new office will also serve as the Central North Island regional office for National.

Key said the regional offices were vital for the party.

“In reality all politics is local and if you have got hard-working local MPs that engage with the community, they can out-ride any kind of change in economic or political fortunes.”

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