6 AM: Woken by terrific pounding on my bedroom door. Groan and stumble across the room and open it. It’s Don, as usual, dressed in a grey suit with a housecoat over the top. He’s carrying a feather duster and his hair is in a curler with cold cream over his face, and right-away he starts in on me. ‘What time did I get home and why didn’t I take my shoes off at the front door and why is there left-over pizza sitting out on the bench where it could attract mice, and why should there be mandatory Te Reo instruction for teachers when Maori don’t even exist as a genetically separate ethnic group any more?’
Most mornings I just put up with this, but not today. I thunder, ‘Who the hell are you to make me take my shoes off in my own home?’
‘I work like a slave to keep this house clean,’ he wails back. ‘And you’re forbidden from tracking mud across the rug under article three of the treaty.’
I shout, ‘You’re worse than Adolf Hitler,’ and then I see a smile playing around the edges of Don’s mouth, and we burst out laughing and I give him a cuddle. I’m late for my first campaign appearance so Don pops a piece of toast in my mouth, straightens my tie and puts my briefcase in my hand. ‘Text me if you’re going to be late again,’ he calls from the front door. ‘Good luck! Also, under article three of the treaty your electorate shouldn’t even exist.’
9:23 AM: Arrive late to the Meet the Candidates powhiri with Nga Puhi. I slip through the door, trying not to make a sound but Kelvin sees me and taps his watch and says, ‘Tardy again I see Harawira.’ After the debate he makes me write, ‘I will be punctual’ a hundred times. Stink.
11 AM: Driving around Whangarei. There are thousands of red Labour Party signs everywhere saying, ‘Vote Kelvin Davis’, but it starts raining and the paint runs, and within minutes they all read, ‘Kris Fa’foi for Mana.’ Ka rawe!
2 PM: Meet the Candidates with Ngati Whatua. I’m on time but I forget to tie my tie and unroll my shirt sleeves. Kelvin gives me twenty minutes detention after the debate. In revenge I let the air out of his car tires. Awesome.
3 PM:Campaign strategy meeting with Mana Party Chair Matt McCarten and Horotiu the Taniwha, my strategy and communications director.
‘Why not just wait your enemies out?’, Horotiu rumbles. ‘Win victory over Davis through patience. Sink into the black depths of Lake Ohia for a hundred thousand years while this puny human dies and his civilisation crumbles to dust.’
Because ‘I’m a human too, you imbecile. In a hundred thousand years I’ll be dead. How many times do I have to explain this?’
Horotiu finds my reply hilarious. His massive pan-dimensional body shakes with laughter; his compound eyes boil with mirth and his tentacles flail about the room smearing dark, foetid ooze on the walls and ceilings and, to my secret delight, McCarten’s highly-prized black suit. Matt doesn’t even notice – he’s flipping through pages of his volume on electoral law. ‘Here’s an idea. Why don’t we declare you legally dead, and name Solomon Tipene as your successor. That way you’ll capture the Mana and Maori Party votes!’
‘Too gimmicky,’ replies Horotiu. ‘Why don’t I cause the volcanoes around Auckland Harbour to erupt, incinerating all the voters in high Labour turnout areas?’
‘They’ll just delay the by-election.’
Horotiu is getting annoyed with Matt. Clouds of methane pour from his ears and nostrils. ‘You’re not seeing the big picture,’ he growls. ‘Why during the last ice-age . . .’ ‘
‘Don’t tell me about ice-ages. I remember when the Alliance . . .’
I groan and sink lower in my chair.
4 PM: Door knocking in Kaitaia. Matt calls to tell me that Kris Fa’Foi is only one point behind me in the latest poll.
7 PM: Get text from Horotiu. He’s resigning as my communications director, withdrawing his support for the Mana Party and going to live in the inner core of the planet for a million years. Apparently there was a dispute about Mana Party policy and my mum threatened him and made him cry. Great. Just great.
9 PM: Get home to find dinner and a cold beer waiting for me in front of the TV. Don gets out of bed and puts on his kimono and talks to me while I eat. He had a bad day too, apparently. John Key suggested to him that ACT ‘focus on the Epsom by-election not the national election. ‘John said it was just friendly advice, but Stephen Joyce and Kevin Taylor were standing behind him chewing toothpicks and taking practise swings with baseball bats.’
I squeeze his hand. I know how tough it is out there – there’s no need for words. He’s MySky’d New Zealand’s Next Top Model, and we watch it together in a warm silence that makes me realise that no matter the outcome of our political fortunes, we’re already winners.