MPs eager to get votes stitched up
As a general election looms, politicians take a break from kissing babies to find new ways of winning your vote, writes Jono Galuszka.
Elections will almost always bring controversy, bickering and that orange man interrupting your favourite soap opera.
But one tradition is guaranteed – politicians will do nearly anything to win your vote.
New Zealand politicians have a long history of oddball activities on the campaign trail, including former prime minister Sir John Key derping with university students in 2014.
Another former National Party leader, Don Brash, was pictured walking the plank from boat to wharf during the 2005 campaign. The party lost that election, and Brash was thrown overboard by his party members.
This week, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei used a campaign visit to Palmerston North to hold a ‘‘knit-in’’ at a local cafe.
The avid knitter has also been known to show off her ukulele skills on the campaign trail.
She said it was all about herself.
‘‘The first rule of politics, beyond not telling lies, is that you need to authentically be you.
‘‘The whole point of representative politics is that there’s people like me, as well as people talking in long words and wearing really flash clothes.’’
She felt politicians had to be careful about cultivating a cult of personality.
‘‘We are seen as being flash in politics, but we are also ordinary people who get embarrassed.’’
ACT leader David Seymour arguably offered up the weirdest moment of the 2014 campaign – an extremely awkward video of himself, shot around Epsom.
It ended up clocking more than 40,000 views on YouTube, was parodied by student media, and got him priceless airtime.
The video was never supposed to be awkward – Seymour was simply trying to be himself.
‘‘Every day people are getting on with their lives outside of the beltway and they saw a guy giving it a good Kiwi try,’’ he said.
One of his plans for this election is much more old-school – his second book.
Politicians such as Sir Rob Muldoon wrote multiple books while in office but the practice has largely died out.
Seymour said ACT politicians had a long record of publication. being I think people respond if you are prepared to get out there. ‘‘Every movement scripture.’’
While Turei is going for the party vote and Seymour had a free ride into the Epsom seat, Josie Pagani had to do everything she could to stand out when running for Labour in the National Party stronghold of Rangitikei in the 2011 election.
She took to riding into towns on horseback with a megaphone in hand, before holding street corner meetings.
There were awkward moments, such as being upstaged by a bolting racehorse, and a different horse deciding to ‘‘flood the needs a holy street’’ with meeting.
Now a political commentator and public affairs consultant, she said her campaign tactic was about gaining attention which she could then use to spread the Labour message.
Campaigners in Europe had told her politicians should talk directly to voters.
She offered Jeremy Corbyn, the UK Labour leader who nearly overthrew the Conservative government despite being written off by pundits, as an example.
‘‘He got outside and did something pretty old-fashioned but effective – rallies and street corner meetings – with the risk of people turning up and throwing things at him.
‘‘I think people respond if you are prepared to get out there.
‘‘People respond to the gimmicky stuff, like pineapple on pizza or planking, but if you do too much of it it’s not natural.’’ urine during a corner
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei, left, joins Anne Spring at a "knit-in" Turei held while campaigning in Palmerston North.