A mo­ment in time on elec­tion trail

The Press - - Politics - VER­NON SMALL

Some­times cam­paign­ing can end in tears. Baby Kaea was clearly not in a prime min­is­ter-cud­dling mood when Bill English zoomed in to say hi to him and his par­ents at Auck­land’s Botany mall yes­ter­day.

With a screwed-up face, he quickly dived back into dad Ta­mati Thomp­son’s arms. It re­mains to be seen if the prime min­is­ter had much more luck with Kaea’s par­ents, Ta­mati, 26, and univer­sity stu­dent Lianna Thomp­son, 23. He just might.

But it was one of those mo­ments in the whirl­wind of self­ies and mall ‘‘walk­a­bouts’’ that brings into fo­cus why politi­cians do it. And it was also one of those mo­ments that high­lights some of the defin­ing is­sues of this elec­tion, es­pe­cially for young fam­i­lies strug­gling to get a toe­hold in the Auck­land hous­ing mar­ket – whether prices are plateau­ing or not.

The young cou­ple are gen­uine float­ing vot­ers, toss­ing up be­tween Labour, Na­tional and NZ First. Meet­ing English did make a dif­fer­ence, but though they plan to join the flood of peo­ple vot­ing be­fore Saturday, they are yet to make up their minds – even af­ter meet­ing the man him­self.

Ta­mati, a crane op­er­a­tor, said English seemed like a re­ally nice bloke. They had given him a wave and he came over.

‘‘He gave us a lot of time, he ap­proached us on his own – I didn’t ex­pect that. He re­ally came out of his way, which made you feel re­ally spe­cial.’’

But, for them, hous­ing is the main is­sue and it’s the politi­cian with a so­lu­tion to that will who will get their ticks on the bal­lot.

‘‘It’s so hard in Auck­land [to buy] and we are think­ing of mov­ing to Gis­borne,’’ Ta­mati said.

They had come back to New Zealand from Aus­tralia be­cause they wanted Kaea to have the great child­hood they had here.

‘‘I loved my child­hood,’’ he says with real feel­ing. ‘‘But, those house prices ... I’m not so wor­ried about the here and now. I think we are al­right. It’s just that now hav­ing a baby and be­ing a fa­ther ... who­ever’s got the best for this young lad here.’’

Baby Kaea meets the prime min­is­ter.

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