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.
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.
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.
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¯ .
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.