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Thursday, September 17, 1998 Published at 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK


Sign of the times?

The sign between the two NZ towns. (Photo: © Arthur Bremford)

Are President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore going their separate ways?

As America considers which way to go over the Starr report, a quiet road between two small New Zealand towns has taken on a certain timeliness.


[ image:  ]
For once, however, Gore is the senior partner, with a population of about 8,500. Clinton, 27 miles away, has just 50 homes, with a population of about 150.

"Clinton's a very small rural town," said Michael Allan, the editor of Gore's three-times-a-week newspaper, The Ensign.

"There are a few homes as you go in, and a few as you go out. They do have a hotel and a public toilet, situated in a park. There's also a primary school, but apart from that there's not much there," he said.

"It does have one outstanding feature, however. It has three large draught horses modelled in cement that stand by the main highway, marking the early pioneers. Gore has a trout, as it's the trout fishing capital, and a ram."

Retirement tour?

If President Clinton decided to spend his retirement - whenever that may start - travelling round the South Island in what New Zealanders would call "a tikki tour", he could do worse than visiting his namesake town. He could even reprise his visit to Ireland's Ballybunion.

"It does have a golf course, it's a small nine-hole course, but considering the size of the town it's an attractive community course," Mr Allan said.


[ image: US Ambassador Josiah Beeman presents the photograph to President Clinton]
US Ambassador Josiah Beeman presents the photograph to President Clinton
Six years after Bill Clinton and Al Gore were elected, the parallels have long since lost any surprise to local residents, and the sign no longer raises local eyebrows.

But it did gain some notoriety during a Presidential visit to New Zealand in 1995 when the American ambassador to New Zealand, Josiah Beeman, presented a photograph of the sign to Mr Clinton.

Mr Beeman later informed the photographer who had spotted the significance of the sign, Arthur Bremford, that Mr Clinton had hung the photograph outside the Oval Office, pointing to his and Al Gore's office doors.





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