Wonks and water pistols at meeting
They might have been there for the water pistols, rather than the policies, but the voters of Aro Valley turned out in force on Monday night for a meet the candidates event.
The raucous crowd spilled outside the Aro Valley Community Centre and stood in the drizzle to listen to the seven Wellington Central candidates make their best pitches – and to silence them with water pistols if they spoke too long.
The candidates fielded serious questions about mental health support, housing and tax reform. As well as some more creative ones, such as infrastructure proposals to connect the North and South Islands.
Green Party leader James Shaw received rapturous applause, and looked at home - if rather wet - in front of his hometown audience.
Labour’s Grant Robertson, who has represented Wellington Central for the past nine years, also enjoyed a warm welcome from the crowd.
But the rookies gamely joined the fray, braving a face full of water to get their points across. Nicola Willis (National), Michael Warren (ACT), Andy Foster, (New Zealand First), Geoff Simmons (The Opportunities Party) and Gayaal Iddamalgoda (independent) all took part for the first time.
‘‘We will stick a stake through the heart of the vampire that is the housing market and send it back to the un-dead place that it belongs,’’ Simmons promised.
Iddamalgoda won cheers from the inner-city crowd with his message of welcoming migrants and ending capitalism.
A question about supporting te reo Maori in New Zealand, was accompanied by a request for the seven candidates to introduce themselves in te reo - leaving one candidate as the odd one out.
Warren of the ACT Party declined to introduce himself in te reo.
‘‘I’m sorry I went to Onslow College where we didn’t talk in te reo,’’ Warren said.
Two of the bigger cheers of the night were reserved for two women who were not there - Metiria Turei and Jacinda Ardern.
A gaggle of kids at the front kept the politicians on their toes, asking question after question and chanting ‘‘Spray them’’ when they weren’t happy.