Ardern ‘effect’ turns into a tsunami
There was only one word to sum up Saturday on the campaign trail with Jacinda Ardern in South Auckland - loud.
The Pacific Island community does noise better than most and it’s the colourful version - song, dance and prayer.
Ardern kick-started the day at the Otara Markets, which coincidentally began in the 1970s after the local Labour Party set it up as a social service.
Today they’re a bustling metropolis of food, merchandise, gospel, politics and tonnes of flavour.
A group of Labour MPs are at those markets almost every Saturday - think Jenny Salesa and Peeni Henare - but their presence has never generated anything like the mayhem that descended on the place with the arrival of their new leader.
Everyone wants to touch her, get a photo with her, speak to her, ask a question of her - you name it, they want a piece of it. The moment that set the tone for the day though was when three-yearold Olivia approached Ardern with a huge colourful painting she’d drawn for her.
Ardern bent down and admired the painting commenting, ‘‘I’ll put this on my fridge, that’s where all my special things go like my paintings from my niece’’.
And then the moment came, where Olivia and her embraced in a hug so tight you would have thought Olivia was her own. Ardern’s in a league of her own when it comes to children - being a young woman who oozes warmth makes her a magnet for the younger generation and none of them are afraid to squeeze her as if she was part of the extended family.
Parents vote with their children in mind and when they see Ardern relate to their own it’s campaign gold. Two weeks ago political commentators were questioning how long the socalled Jacinda Effect would last. Four weeks out from the election and the ‘Effect’ has become a ‘Tsunami’ and doesn’t show any signs of steering off course.
As if Otara hadn’t been enough of a buzz, MangereMP Su’a William Sio seemed to have put a call out to his entire electorate to descend on the Mangere markets on Saturday and they answered that call, plus some. Incase there was any concern Ardern might not please the masses on arrival, they had her walk in with boxing legend David Tua - Mangere’s very own hero. The crowd roared to lines like, ‘‘if you feel like you’re going backwards it’s because collectively we are - but it doesn’t have to be that way’’.
Getting out of the Mangere market almost required Tua to box his way through - all signs pointed to the festivities continuing in South Auckland long after Ardern had headed back to Mt Albert.
With her Dad arriving from Niue to team up with Ardern’s mother who is already back in the country, it was her parents who were no doubt lining up for their own overdue hug.
Mangere turned out in force to see Jacinda Ardern.