Ar­dent sup­port for Ardern in visit

Otago Daily Times - - Front Page - MAR­GOT TAY­LOR

DUNEDIN res­i­dents opened their schools, homes and arms to Labour leader Jacinda Ardern yes­ter­day, dur­ing her sec­ond whirl­wind visit to the city.

The leader’s ‘‘star­dust’’ seemed to coat ev­ery place she vis­ited as she stopped for hun­dreds of self­ies and signed the oc­ca­sional au­to­graph.

The eyes of peo­ple watch­ing per­for­mances at Polyfest at the Edgar Cen­tre were di­verted from young per­form­ers on­stage as Ms Ardern and her en­tourage, in­clud­ing re­tir­ing Labour MP An­nette King, spent five min­utes field­ing the views and con­cerns of those there.

Pele Lolo­hea, of Dunedin, and her chil­dren posed for pho­tos with Ms Ardern.

Through a broad Labour­red lip­stick smile, Ms Lolo­hea said she would ‘‘def­i­nitely’’ be vot­ing for Labour.

Down the road from the Edgar Cen­tre, South Dunedin res­i­dent Lon­cey McCul­lum ner­vously waited at his door with daugh­ter Brook­lyn (9) for Ms Ardern to ar­rive for a tour of their flood­af­fected home.

The fam­ily had spent the pre­vi­ous two nights giv­ing the home ‘‘a bit of a spruce­up’’ in prepa­ra­tion for the visit, Mr McCul­lum said.

Two years on from the dev­as­tat­ing floods, he hoped Ms Ardern would of­fer some an­swers on how his home, which was riddled with rot­ting floor boards, would be re­paired, Mr McCul­lum said.

‘‘We have al­ways been a Labour­vot­ing fam­ily.

‘‘I wasn’t sure about Lit­tle, but I like Jacinda and I hope she will help things,’’ Mr McCul­lum said.

Brook­lyn found it ‘‘hard’’ to keep the news the pos­si­ble fu­ture prime min­is­ter was visit­ ing her house from her friends at St Clair School.

Word of Ms Ardern’s visit to the Univer­sity of Otago cam­pus was well and truly out, about 700 peo­ple pack­ing the univer­sity lawn and oth­ers cran­ing their necks from nearby build­ings and bal­conies to wel­come her.

Dunedin artist Sam Sharpe pa­raded a large art­work de­pict­ing Ms Ardern as David Bowie’s Ziggy Star­dust.

When he heard Ms Ardern ‘‘own’’ the name af­ter Na­tional leader Prime Min­is­ter Bill English said her ef­fect was like star­dust, he de­cided to cre­ate the work, he said.

‘‘Jacinda and I have a mu­tual friend and when he ar­rived in Welling­ton with no fur­ni­ture, she ar­rived with a cup, plate and bowl.

‘‘She is a gen­uinely good per­son.’’

Hun­dreds of oth­ers seemed to share the same view, and there were roars of ap­plause when Ms Ardern promised to com­bat cold flats and fight cli­mate change.

Among those want­ing hugs and self­ies with her was Ms Ardern’s cousin, Elle War­wick (18), of Auck­land.

The pair ex­changed a long hug be­fore Ms War­wick said she was ‘‘ex­tremely proud’’ of her cousin, but it still felt strange see­ing her mobbed by hun­dreds of sup­port­ers.

‘‘Jacin­da­ma­nia’’ had also reached Taieri Col­lege, and dur­ing Ms Ardern’s visit to the school, a group of year 7 and 8 pupils spon­ta­neously broke out in a chant of ‘‘let’s do this!’’ when pos­ing for a photo with her.

She later fielded ques­tions from pupils and staff, in­clud­ing one from a pupil who asked how she felt about Mr English’s per­for­mance in gov­ern­ment.

He had done ‘‘a pretty good job’’ as fi­nance min­is­ter, but his time was up, Ms Ardern told the young crowd.

De­spite most of them be­ing too young to vote, many pupils still chose to im­mor­talise the visit with a selfie with the Labour leader.


School­boy crush . . . Labour leader Jacinda Ardern is mobbed by Taieri Col­lege pupils dur­ing a visit to the school yes­ter­day.

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