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The best and worst moments of the 2017 election

Friday 22nd September 2017

It’s almost over!


Photo: RNZ/Chris Bramwell
Bill English goes for the cat lovers vote.

Photo: RNZ/Chris Bramwell

Like a Rugby World Cup or a James Cameron film, this election campaign feels like it’s gone on too damn long.

In saying that, it’s probably been the most intriguing in memory, buoyed by the surge of a new condition known as Jacinda-mania. Things went from dull to Rocky IV almost overnight.

As the Labour and Green parties and United Future switched up their leaders, unpredictable polls and outbreaks of dirty politics kept headline writers sweating.

With hours remaining until the first results start trickling through, we’ve put together a rundown of the best and worst moments of the election.


What wonders does Winston Peters keep in his car boot? All 16 Suzi Quatro albums on cassette? Gwyneth Paltrow’s head? A signed photo of Mickey Rooney in 'Breakfast at Tiffany’s'? A nine-year-old letter from Helen Clark? Absolutely, to the last one.

In perhaps the election’s most entertaining interview, the NZ First leader and Morning Report host Guyon Espiner clashed six minutes in when the latter suggested Peters had been sacked three times. Not true, apparently. Just twice, and there’s a letter to prove it, Peters retorted. “I’ll ask my colleague to go and get it out of the back of the car right now, it’s in the back folder, you know what it is,” he said. Fifteen minutes later, the holy document appeared in the studio and Peters was apparently vindicated.

“Can I have a copy?” asked Espiner. “No you can’t,” said Peters.


This one goes to a nameless National Party volunteer, who, earlier this week sent a very inadvisable group text to 140 potential voters. The message, sent by “Paula Bennett”, allowed some of its recipients to see the phone number of others on the list. “Paula” claimed, “I got your number from the electoral roll”.

The Electoral Commission is investigating the privacy breach. National has admitted the message was "poorly worded". FYI, the electoral roll doesn’t include people’s contact numbers.

The text in question.


This one is easy. Whether or not you agree with The Opportunities Party leader Gareth Morgan calling Jacinda Ardern and the Labour Party “lipstick on a pig” (you probably shouldn’t), the reaction on social media was pure gold and made international news.

Hilary Barry was among those who took to social media to post selfies of themselves applying lipstick. Morgan doubled-down with a billboard, but he had already lost the war.


While attending a Bill English speech at a GreyPower meeting in Nelson, I had the distinct pleasure of watching National MP Nick Smith attempt one of the worst parking jobs in election history.

As his back tyre climbed the curb, Smith took a look at his bemused passenger (fellow MP Simon Bridges), shrugged, and turned off the engine and headed into the meeting alongside boss, Bill English.


Metiria Turei’s admission of historic benefit fraud was one of the biggest talking points of the campaign. Her intention was to provoke positive kōrero regarding New Zealand’s welfare system, and to some degree, that happened. Others spoke openly about their treatment and experiences, while the need for more compassion was urged.


However, for many, the focal point became the fact that a major political leader committed a crime. Turei eventually resigned under the weight of criticism and media attention, and a lot of the positive kōrero was forgotten. Whether or not Turei deserved to go isn’t the point, it’s that we, as a country, do all we can to support those who are struggling the most.

Metiria Turei after announcing she was resigning.
Metiria Turei after announcing she was resigning as Green co-leader.

Photo: RNZ/Rebekah Parsons-King


Basically, tell them they’re all going to die in a nuclear war. Shrewd move, Winston Peters.

It will surprise no one to see Winston make another appearance on this list. Just this week, the NZ First leader took part in TVNZ's Face The Classroom, and told a group of 8-12 year olds, “If we had a third world war that was nuclear, I don't think that you could be honest and hope that anyone would survive”. Damn, that’s cold.

Photo: Giff Johnson
See ya, kids.

Photo: Giff Johnson


As soon as Jacinda Ardern became Labour leader, she faced a grilling from media. But it was one question asked of the potential Prime Minister that provoked an epic backlash: “ARE YOU GONNA HAVE BABIES AND QUIT?” essentially. Mark Richardson, on the AM Show, asked it, as did Jesse Mulligan on TV3's The Project.

Ardern told the former she expected to be asked about her future family plans, but snapped-back, “For other women, it is totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace. That is unacceptable in 2017”.


For all of the borderline-boring leader debates, the zinger of the election came from a political newcomer who has left commentators scrambling for umlauts - Chlöe Swarbrick. Tinder may be so 2014, but the young Green Party candidate’s climate change gag still destroyed ACT Party leader, David Seymour, during 1 NEWS’ recent Young Voters Debate.

FYI Seymour’s response, “You might just be looking,” wasn’t bad either.


As every good politician knows, food is the way to a voter’s heart. And so Bill English, on his scheduled meal stops during his nationwide tours, has been snapped eating pies, candyfloss, donuts, burgers and bacon sandwiches, among other culinary delights. Not to mention his predilection for canned spaghetti and pineapple pizza.

As a junk food connoisseur, I would personally have had this as ‘best diet’, but at least nine out of 10 doctors would tell me I’m a pig.


This prestigious award goes to Bill English, who, a week ago absolutely nailed a photo opp at Lower Hutt's Kitten Inn. "I'm usually a dog man, but I'm undergoing a conversion," English told reporters as he cradled Sweet Chilli, the cat. Sweet Chilli may not know it, but he became one of the biggest pawns of the campaign. Still … awww.

Photo: RNZ/Chris Bramwell
Bill English goes for the cat lovers vote.

Photo: RNZ/Chris Bramwell


Finance Minister Steven Joyce is still standing by his claim of a massive $11.7 billion fiscal hole in the Labour Party’s budget, despite almost every economist in the country saying “um nah”. Labour’s finance spokesman, Grant Robertson, explained that Joyce had misinterpreted the party's operating allowance.

Still, in the modern age of politics, it isn’t so much about truth, but what people believe.


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“Once against NZs voting public has been shown to be a greedy bunch of twats” — Ryan Evison

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Max is a journalist who has worked for The Star, Bleacher Report and RNZ News.
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