Kingswood tour heads home

Re­porter Martin van Beynen and vis­ual jour­nal­ist Alden Wil­liams are head­ing home af­ter 14 days on the road in a Holden Kingswood tun­ing in to reg­u­lar folks about the elec­tion. It’s time to wrap things up.

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The tour’s last elec­tion in­ter­view is Jes­sica Lin, whose Rich­mond Su­perette in Taupo¯ sold Saturday’s win­ning $30m Lotto ticket.

Lin and hus­band John­nie Zhuang, orig­i­nally from south China, have been in New Zealand since 2010. The shop is open 13 hours a day, seven days a week.

They will def­i­nitely be vot­ing but haven’t de­cided for whom, Lin says.

Her main is­sue is im­mi­gra­tion. She is hop­ing to bring her par­ents to New Zealand so they can help with her four chil­dren, aged 9 to 13.

Elec­tion crys­tal ball

I’m stick­ing with my ear­lier pre­dic­tion that Labour will get more party votes than Na­tional. I’m even more con­vinced hav­ing in­ter­viewed Jacinda Ardern. How­ever, as she points out, the re­sult will ride on turnout. If the young and the strug­glers get their back­sides into gear and bother to en­rol and vote, there could well be a change of gov­ern­ment.

As for the mi­nor par­ties I pre­dict that NZ First will prob­a­bly get over the thresh­hold but not by much. It’s a one man party and peo­ple are a bit sick of Winston.

The Greens will sur­vive. Me­tiria Turei’s ben­e­fit dis­as­ter seems like years ago and the tra­di­tional Green sup­port is still there. James Shaw has done a tremen­dous job of bring­ing the party back from the brink.

The Op­por­tu­ni­ties Party could do sur­pris­ingly well. It ap­peals es­pe­cially to think­ing young peo­ple and was men­tioned on the tour about as much as Winston Peters.


No sur­prises here. The main is­sues peo­ple talked about in both is­lands were hous­ing, wa­ter and poverty.

Tax was also a big­gie but Labour kicked that into touch.

Reg­u­lar folks will not be vot­ing over cli­mate change. Hardly a sin­gle per­son we spoke to men­tioned the is­sue. But like the nu­clear-free pol­icy of David Lange’s gov­ern­ment – it could catch on with reg­u­lar folks if Labour is elected.

The rea­sons peo­ple vote for dif­fer­ent par­ties are many and var­ied.

My 88-year-old mum, for in­stance, will vote for Bill English be­cause he is a good Catholic bloke and a fam­ily man. One voter said she went for the best smile.

We were struck with how many peo­ple said they avoided talk­ing about pol­i­tics. As a coun­try we need to over­come our reser­va­tions about ar­gu­ing the toss about poli­cies and par­ties.


We need to re­mem­ber that 80 per cent of vot­ers are not that en­gaged with the de­tail of pol­i­tics so com­pli­cated pol­icy mixes don’t seem to reg­is­ter. Labour’s free ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion plat­form and its tax poli­cies were the poli­cies most fre­quently men­tioned. Im­mi­gra­tion is the sleeper is­sue that peo­ple are un­com­fort­able talk­ing about but could be the clincher.

As was al­ways go­ing to be the case, the elec­tion is a com­pe­ti­tion be­tween the English and Ardern brands.

English stands for sta­bil­ity and fi­nan­cial nous and Ardern for change and more equal­ity. The brands can be read an­other way. English for more of the bloody same and Ardern for risk and in­ex­pe­ri­ence.

Kingswood ad­vice

With six days to go the elec­tion is still any­body’s. Labour’s wa­ter tax and cap­i­tal gains tax are off the table de­priv­ing Na­tional of its main at­tack plat­form.

English and Ardern have es­tab­lished their brands but now need to work hard on over­com­ing ob­jec­tions.

Ardern needs to show her in­ex­pe­ri­ence is a virtue rather than a li­a­bil­ity and that Labour will be a vig­or­ous, go-ahead gov­ern­ment that also rep­re­sents hard work­ing achiev­ers and strivers.

English needs to con­vince vot­ers Na­tional is lis­ten­ing to vot­ers about wa­ter and dis­ad­van­tage, and that un­der him Na­tional is ca­pa­ble of a fresh ap­proach.

Favourite town

Prob­a­bly Dar­gav­ille. On a sunny morn­ing with a gen­tle breeze the river town seemed like a refuge from the rat race.

Best meal, etc

Like an army, the Kingswood Elec­tion Tour trav­els on its stom­ach.

As part of tun­ing in to the mood of the na­tion we found it nec­es­sary to eat in some of the coun­try’s finest restau­rants. Well not quite.

The best meal we had was a sim­ple one at the River Cafe in Murchi­son.

The best cof­fee was at Blah Blah Blah cafe in Dar­gav­ille. The best pie was a chicken curry, ku­mara and cashew con­coc­tion made by the Eas­tend Cafe in Wairoa.

We can also rec­om­mend the Caffe Cozy in Wells­ford.

Best break­fast at Cafe Baku in Taupo¯ .

Cli­mate change

We cer­tainly no­ticed the dif­fer­ence be­tween a sim­i­lar tour in 2005 and this voy­age.

In 2005, we had sun­shine for al­most the whole tour.

For our 2017 lark it rained every day but thank­fully not at cru­cial times.

For in­stance, a down­pour doused ev­ery­thing min­utes af­ter we in­ter­viewed Jacinda Ardern.

The star of the show

If the Kingswood was a po­lit­i­cal party fight­ing this elec­tion, it would win hands down.

The old favourite was par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar with Labour vot­ers in the North Is­land.

The 45-year-old ve­hi­cle did not let us down and thanks again to Black­wells Holden in Christchurch for get­ting it ready and Tony Gi­b­lin in Murchi­son who un­locked the gears for us.

Thanks to every­one who talked to us and ap­peared in our videos. Happy vot­ing.


Labour leader Jacinda Ardern talks to Martin van Beynen in the front seat of the Holden Kingswood at the Otara mar­ket on Saturday.


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