Wonks and wa­ter pis­tols at meet­ing

The Wellingtonian - - Front Page - LUCY SWINNEN

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.

The Op­por­tu­ni­ties Party’s Ge­off Sim­mons gets sprayed from wa­ter pis­tols for go­ing over his al­lot­ted speak­ing time. PHOTO: ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.