As far as political fence-sitters go, Peter Dunne pioneered and mastered the art.
Perched in the middle of Labour to the Left of him, and National to the Right, the veteran Ohariu MPworked the system to his advantage.
But, in the most un-Dunne manner, he spectacularly called it quits on Monday, only weeks out from this year’s general election.
Dunne was first elected as an MP in 1984 as the Labour candidate for Ohariu. He was part of the Labour Party establishment before turning independent, and eventually becoming the name and face associated with minnow party UnitedFuture.
His cosy relationship towards the latter part of his career with National showed what a political chameleon he could be. Outside the cut and thrust of Parliament, and in his Ohariu electorate, Dunne was a throwback to a different age. There couldn’t be many MPs in the history of New Zealand politics who would have sat through more meetings and appointments at an electorate office. It was Dunne’s political lifeblood and kept him connected to his community.
The 63-year-old walks away from Parliament ‘‘undefeated’’. Just like the tying of one of Dunne’s bow ties, this election has plenty of twists and turns and a dash of extra colour.