The Dim-Post

September 9, 2014

The only election event that matters: Aro Valley Meet the Candidates

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 9:10 am

It was scheduled to begin at 7:30 PM, but by 6:45 all the seats in the humble Aro Valley community hall were taken. By 7:00 the crowd spilled out the doors into the brisk Wellington night. At 7:15 Kim Hill and Linda Clark appeared and prowled the crowded aisles, glowering at people with seats until a group of scruffy, bearded hipsters relinquished their chairs to them. I’m no good at estimating numbers but in a hall designed to accommodate about fifty people I’d guess there were around three hundred. The candidates arrived and chatted amongst themselves, looking nervous. Rows of people stood on the benches outside peering through the open windows, occasionally slapping their hands against the frames like hordes of ravenous zombies. At 7:30 sharp it began.

Community co-convenor Roland Sapsforth opened the event, welcoming us to the ‘Supermoon edition of the Aro Meet the Candidates evening’ but reassuring us that none of the candidates would come into direct contact with moonlight ‘for your own protection.’ He attempted to discuss fire safety but was drowned out by laughter from the audience, as it was obvious to everyone present that every exit was blockaded and in the event of an actual fire, death was certain.

Then MC Bryan Crump took over. He explained the rules of the debate: each candidate could speak for four minutes: then a bell would ring; then they had thirty more seconds to talk before they were drenched with water pistols. These rules were not rigorously enforced and candidates were randomly sprayed with water throughout the evening.

Speaking order was selected randomly with names drawn out of a plastic, rainbow-colored hat. The first speaker was Huimaono Karena Puhi, also known as Geoffrey, although he declared that Geoffrey was his slave name. He was standing as an independent ‘meaning he was number one on his party list’. He wore an elegant black suit and tie, black-thick rimmed glasses over a full-facial moko, and short neatly cut hair.

Geoffrey launched into a brief korero, then explained that ‘we have many policies’, ‘We’ meaning the Hui Independence Movement of which he was part, although, slightly confusingly, he reminded us that he wanted our electorate vote because he ain’t got no party. ‘Give your party vote to these other colonials,’ he gestured at the rest of the candidates.

Second speaker was Hugh Barr, number eighteen on the New Zealand First list. ‘Our party is not about looking after the rich,’ he said. ‘Just Winston,’ replied a heckler. ‘We’re not about looking after unions or the poor either,’ he continued, to which the crowd jeered and laughed for most of his allotted speaking time. ‘We will look after ALL New Zealanders, he eventually promised before urging the crowd to ‘Tell your grand-parents about the super-gold card.’

Third speaker was Alistair Gregory for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.  Gregory is a twenty-three year old chef with a bobbing tuft of straw-blonde hair who had possibly never worn a tie before tonight. Michael Appleby, the seemingly immortal goblin-like head of the ACLP is overseas, Crump explained, possibly arranging a deal or avoiding the police.

Gregory announced that cannabis is used for ‘medical, recreational, industrial and spiritual purposes’ and insisted that reform advocates are not wowsers because ‘they also like to drink’. ‘15% of New Zealanders smoke cannabis,’ he cried, ‘So at least fifty of you here tonight use cannabis.’ General laughter at this radical underestimation.

Next up was James Knuckey, a sorrowful bearded man standing for ‘Democrats for Social Credit’. ‘We are basically Social Credit,’ he explains, adding, ‘A lot of people in the party wonder about our own name.’ Social Credit wants a universal basic income. ‘Some countries use it. Well, this one state in Canada.’ He also advocated a financial transactions tax and welcomed his water-pistol drenching when he went one second over the time-limit talking about monetary policy.

Grant Robertson, Labour Party Machiavelli stands and dons a water-proof poncho. ‘That looks like an invitation to me,’ Bryan Crump told the water-pistol wielders. ‘The face is open!’ Called a heckler from the crowd.

National had released a rather vague tax policy earlier that day so Robertson told the crowd, ‘Tonight I’ll tell you about a speech I might give in three years time,’ adding that the only undecided voter in the hall was National candidate Paul Foster-Bell’s campaign manager. He mentioned dirty politics and the crowd hissed with fury. ‘I could go on a lot longer,’ he finished up, flourishing his poncho.

Greens candidate James Shaw was greeted with hall-shuddering applause, while a sea of Green Party placards fluttered above the audience. Wearing a tailored, shiny grey suit and perfectly cut black hair, standing before the crowd with his arms raised, drinking in their adulation, he looked more like a television evangelist than a politician. Shaw’s speech was stern. ‘The Green Party only won 44% of the vote here in Aro Valley last election,’ he rebuked the room. ‘The Onekaka town hall in Golden Bay gave us 51.2%. It’s time to beat the Onekaka town hall!’

Next Crump introduced Internet/Mana candidate Callum Valentine. ‘He’s number eighteen on the party list, so if his party gets about thirty percent he’ll be in.’ ‘At least I’ve got a seat tonight,’ Valentine replied, standing to take the microphone and gesturing back at his chair just as Grant Robertson stole it.

The crowd greeted Valentine with jeers of ‘Lil Kim!’ Lil Kim explained that Internet/Mana stood for unions, the poor and people who liked Game of Thrones. ‘Log off!’ Yelled a heckler. Valentine’s speech was interrupted by cries of ‘Tell us about Kim.’ When he finally sat down Crump observed, ‘He didn’t say ‘Fuck John Key’ once!’

When National candidate Paul Foster-Bells’ name was drawn a loud musical wail of pure sorrow came from a woman at the back of the room. Foster-Bell – a larger, cuddlier version of Labour’s Grant Robertson, who is already rather cuddly – stood and took the microphone to a rising chorus of boos and jeers.

When Foster-Bell spoke at this event last election he was totally drowned out by the crowd, and he’d crafted a clever plan to prevent this, opening his speech in fluent te reo. The crowd fell silent again, confused, torn between its hatred of National and instinctive respect for the Maori language. Foster-Bell continued to speak for about thirty-seconds, grinning, until he uttered the words ‘Ko John Key te rangatira,’ and the crowd gasped with sudden comprehension. He was using te reo to say secret right-wing National stuff! The rest of the speech was drowned out by heckling and hissing and boos, although the tide of hatred ebbed every minute or so admitting fragments of Foster-Bell’s speech. ‘Healthcare targets . . . roads . . . hard-working kiwis.’ Eventually he finished and sat down, having endured what must be the most hostile audience of any candidate in the country .

Bryan Crump took a pause to acknowledge the hard-working party activists running around the electorate knocking down all the billboards and the other hard-working activists putting them all back up again. He questioned Grant Robertson on the mysterious lack of vandalised Labour Party billboards when everyone else’s was knocked down every night. ‘It’s a conundrum,’ Robertson replied.

The next speaker was the most mysterious. Peter Franklin Robinson was an independent candidate. A soft-voiced, gaunt, hunched man in a tan anorak, Robertson announced he was standing to fix the economy of New Zealand which was ‘dictated to by earthquake fault-lines.’ ‘All government departments as of the 31st of March 1975 will be reinstated,’ he mumbled. ‘And there will be an inquiry into substandard medical apparatus. And the Local Bodies Act 31st of March 1984 will be revisited. Also, the current New Zealand flag will remain the ensign of New Zealand because there’s nothing wrong with it.’ The crowd applauded.

The final speaker, Conservative Party candidate Dr Brian Hooper was a tiny, friendly man with a child-like face beneath a shock of white hair. He was eighty years old, he announced, with twenty-seven grandchildren. ‘I dreaded coming here tonight,’ he confessed, ‘And my wife offered to come as my substitute.’

‘At least we’d have had one woman candidate,’ called a heckler from the crowd, and Hooper rounded on her, beaming with delight. ‘You’ve stolen my joke,’ he marveled. Hooper then flicked through a Conservative Party pamphlet while the crowd called out questions and insults, which Hooper parried and threw back at them. Then he tucked the pamphlet under his arm and announced, ‘I’m not going to talk about the Conservatives. I’ll tell you about myself.’ He was trying to say something about water when he was soaked with the water-pistols.

That bought the candidate statements section of the evening to an end. The remaining half hour of the event consisted of questions from the audience.

Would you support a Prime Minister who doesn’t know what’s going on in his own office? Hypothetically? Everyone said ‘No,’ except the Conservative candidate who replied, ‘Absolutely.’

Would you support a price on water and would power prices rise as a result? Yes, replied the Green candidate, but water costs were not a significant component of power prices. The independent candidate who thought that our economy was an earthquake faultline gave a long, complicated answer, interrupted by an audience member calling out ‘For fucks sake!’  The hall was so crowded it was impossible to identify individual hecklers by voice, unless they were, say, a famous, award-winning Saturday morning radio host. The Conservative Party announced they had ‘no plans’. The New Zealand First candidate was laughing too hard to answer the question because someone had made a joke about ”squirting’. Legalise Cannabis replied that we should legalise cannabis.

What is the role of NGOs and non-profits in the economy? ‘WhaleOil doesn’t count as a non-profit,’ shouted a heckler. Legalise Cannabis wanted to build a convention centre.

Why aren’t there any female candidates standing? ‘Why don’t you stand?’ Asked a heckler. ‘I’d bloody love to,’ replied the questioner. Second part to that question: ‘What will your party do about domestic violence?’ Grant Robertson urged an end to violence and was spontaneously sprayed with the water-pistol. Paul Foster-Bell explained that we needed to work together to end violence and he too was sprayed. ‘Keep shooting him,’ chanted the crowd. Legalise Cannabis said that he wanted a woman to stand up because that would look ‘Soooo good.’ Admited his party does not have a domestic violence policy.

What about the rights of young people in New Zealand? Green candidate James Shaw asked ‘Did you have any particular rights in mind?’ The questioner replied, ‘We have a lot of interests.’ Shaw looks suspicious. ‘Who is ‘we’?’

Asked by a red-faced man in a suit with a Yorkshire accent: ‘On the west coast does your party support workers or slugs and snails? ‘The Greens support ALL the residents of the west coast.’

Wellington’s swimming places are too polluted. Whaddya all gonna do about it? The Greens will clean them up. The Social Democrat candidate alleged that the Greens stole their environmental policies back in the 1970s. Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis loves Oriental Bay beach!

The final question is an Aro Valley tradition. If you couldn’t vote for yourself who would you vote for? Most of the candidates endorse Grant Robertson or James Shaw. Grant Robertson supports Alistair, the ACLP candidate. The Social Credit candidate pleads for our party vote. ‘We want to get 1%,’ he explains. ‘That would lift us up out of that ‘other’ category.’ The crowd cheered and called out comments endorsing their support of otherness.

And on that note it was over, the crowd applauded the candidates, water-pistol shooters and themselves and milled out into the valley.


  1. “For fucks sake!’ The hall was so crowded it was impossible to identify individual hecklers by voice, unless they were, say, famous, award-winning Saturday morning radio hosts.”

    Fantastic review. You should write a book.


    Comment by Former neighbour of Aro Valley — September 9, 2014 @ 9:25 am

  2. As a Wellington business that sells pretentious second hand books, over priced craft beer (actually just Lion Brown with “essence of hops” added) and beard cream, my shop was completely empty last night. It’s weird because usually we are full of dicks on a Monday night.

    Comment by King Kong — September 9, 2014 @ 9:28 am

  3. Tell me more of this mysterious “essence of hops”. Is it like “essence of tax cuts”?

    I actually love this sort of meeting. It is ‘proper” democracy. We need more of it, much much more of it.

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 9, 2014 @ 9:57 am

  4. The rest of the speech was drowned out by heckling and hissing and boos, although the tide of hatred ebbed every minute or so … Eventually he finished and sat down, having endured what must be the most hostile audience of any candidate in the country .

    I wonder how many of the crowd have ever lamented, or commented with disdain for, the boorish and childish behaviour of parliamentarians in the House…

    Comment by Phil — September 9, 2014 @ 9:59 am

  5. the boorish and childish behaviour of parliamentarians in the House…” Water pistols would fix that, eh?

    Comment by Robinson Stowell — September 9, 2014 @ 10:17 am

  6. I’ve got a stern warning for James Shaw: aint no way, NO WAY!, that Aro Valley is going to beat Onekaka “town” hall (duh, it’s hardly a town, so it’s a community hall at best…;)

    Why, I can see Onekaka Hall from where I am sitting…

    Kia kaha!

    Comment by NZJon — September 9, 2014 @ 10:28 am

  7. Fabulous review, felt like I was there and made me wish I had been.

    Comment by Jannene — September 9, 2014 @ 10:57 am

  8. @Phil: parliamentarians behave boorishly and childishly in the house 90 days each year and get paid six figure salaries from our taxes. meet the candidates is once every three years where they can front and centre their shit with their constituents.

    Comment by petronious — September 9, 2014 @ 11:01 am

  9. This… isn’t fiction?

    Comment by SHG — September 9, 2014 @ 12:24 pm

  10. Watch it if you dare:

    TBH; I was somewhat disappointed by the crowd’s of digital civics engagement, and Technology in general. I expected better and so have comments aimed at this Laughingly mocked or ribbed just makes me sad. I would have hoped that Aro was more progressive than that.

    Comment by Joel — September 9, 2014 @ 12:46 pm

  11. wonders aloud – should I take a water pistol to Orcland Town Hall on the 15th? KDC has bodyguards…

    Comment by Cnr Joe — September 9, 2014 @ 1:47 pm

  12. Just watched the vid and I got a mention ,Ta James

    Comment by Thomas — September 9, 2014 @ 1:55 pm

  13. FYI only – The kōrero Paul Foster-Bell gave in te reo was his mihi – beginning with his iwi and other standard identifiers, and then segueing into “ko Nahinara te rōpu, ko John Key te rangatira” – “National is the group and John Key is our chief”. Clever, Paul, but not quite clever enough.

    Comment by Frith Te Aroha — September 9, 2014 @ 3:18 pm

  14. James Shaw is a mate of yours, isn’t he Danyl?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — September 9, 2014 @ 4:13 pm

  15. Don’t be an asshole, kalvarnsen.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — September 9, 2014 @ 4:49 pm

  16. Geoff Karena! I always wondered what happened to him.

    Comment by helenalex — September 9, 2014 @ 5:06 pm

  17. @Andrew: I’m just future-proofing Danyl from the great political scandal of 2023, when it’s revealed that Minister of Finance James Shaw has been exchanging buddy-buddy emails with the owner of NZ’s most popular blog, the Green Post.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — September 9, 2014 @ 5:20 pm

  18. Well, it’s excellent that you’re so concerned. But the post is funny and well written, so maybe give your crusade a rest for this one, eh?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — September 9, 2014 @ 5:44 pm

  19. In all seriousness, is pointing out Danyl’s inconsistencies really such a ridiculous thing to do? I realise that it doesn’t totally discredit him as a commentator, but does having the information out there do any harm? Would I be viewed as a hectoring pedant if I was doing this to a blogger that you don’t generally agree with, like DPF? (Now there’s a mammoth task)

    Comment by kalvarnsen — September 9, 2014 @ 6:28 pm

  20. @kalvarnsen,

    Not at all. I point out DPF’s inconsistencies all the time, myself. So I’d be a hypocrite to tell others not to do likewise.

    But are you seriously suggesting that Danyl’s description of James Shaw in this post was somehow tainted by his “friendship” with him? So pick your fights, otherwise you come over as a sour natured crank. Or an asshole.

    Just my opinion, of course. No need to listen to it.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — September 9, 2014 @ 7:37 pm

  21. I really enjoyed the read.

    More light-hearted mockery might work better getting people engaged with politics.

    Disclaimer: my first flat was in the upper reaches of Te Aro Valley. I have few coherent memories but a vague alternativeness/contrariness persists.

    Comment by NeilM — September 9, 2014 @ 8:14 pm

  22. @Andrew: No, I’m not suggesting that. Or rather, I might have if Danyl had given Shaw a really brilliant writeup, but he didn’t particularly, so w/e. I was mostly just wondering if I remembered right.

    But you clearly have a problem with what I write beyond this particular post, what with my “crusade”.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — September 9, 2014 @ 9:20 pm

  23. “…In all seriousness, is pointing out Danyl’s inconsistencies really such a ridiculous thing to do?..”

    Only a blowhard like Pete George seriously concerns him or herself with absolute consistency. Consistency, as the saying goes, is the horror of the world. Consistency is what you expect in a scientific experiment, not on a blog written by some propeller head (in the nicest possible way) in a white lab coat. The internet is like that; Blogs are a series of thoughts that would normally get no further airing than with your mates at the boozer on Thursday night that obtain a digital permanence. What I said twenty years ago on usenet is still around, somewhere. Blow up at the author if you detect a particularly irksome double standard, then forget about it.

    Let it go.

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 9, 2014 @ 9:36 pm

  24. But you clearly have a problem with what I write beyond this particular post, what with my “crusade”.

    What’s wrong with being on a crusade? It is, by definition, God’s work.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — September 9, 2014 @ 9:53 pm

  25. @Sanc: You’ve been pretty keen to point out a few inconsistencies in your own time there, matey.

    @Andrew: Didn’t realise you were writing from a militant christian viewpoint.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — September 9, 2014 @ 9:57 pm

  26. “So pick your fights, otherwise you come over as a sour natured crank. Or an asshole.”

    Having thought very carefully about whether I want to pick this fight, Andrew, it’s spelled ARSEHOLE in this country thank you very much. I hope that Fulbright scholarship hasn’t gone to your head and made you think you can get away with saying things like “sidewalk” and “jello” and “shopping cart” and “I could care less.” There are some words that just sound incredibly stupid when non-Americans try to say them, even inside my head, and “asshole” is definitely one of them. I have to imagine you in cowboy boots and a stetson, and that’s the stuff nightmares are made of.

    Besides, “arsehole” is just objectively better. It’s got a real rhotic punch to it. I like the feel of arsehole on my tongue.

    Comment by Higgs Boatswain — September 9, 2014 @ 10:02 pm

  27. I’m not so sure about the prowling and glowering bits ..but it was a hoot. Poor old James Shaw seemed a bit disturbed begin drenched by the water pistols would ruin his suit. What is it about Greens and their upmarket jackets? And yes the Conservatives Brian Hooper was a find.

    Comment by Linda Clark — September 9, 2014 @ 10:05 pm

  28. “…@Sanc: You’ve been pretty keen to point out a few inconsistencies in your own time there, matey….”

    But I get over it. I think it is worth pointing out an inconsistancy if it makes a wider point about hypocrisy or double standards or somesuch. Just doing it because some amateur blogger changes his mind regularly is silly.

    @Higgs Boatswain – I find “asshat” suitable. But I agree, arsehole slips more agreeably from the Anglo-Saxon tongue. My pet hate Americanism is “fire truck”. I demand a fire appliance or at last resort an engine. A fire truck is not good enough.

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 10, 2014 @ 7:04 am

  29. For some reason, as I was reading Danyl’s excellent review this poem from A A Milne slipped into my mind.

    The Four Friends, A.A. Milne
    Ernest was an elephant, a great big fellow,
    Leonard was a lion with a six foot tail,
    George was a goat, and his beard was yellow,
    And James was a very small snail.

    Leonard had a stall, and a great big strong one,
    Earnest had a manger, and its walls were thick,
    George found a pen, but I think it was the wrong one,
    And James sat down on a brick

    Earnest started trumpeting, and cracked his manger,
    Leonard started roaring, and shivered his stall,
    James gave a huffle of a snail in danger
    And nobody heard him at all.

    Earnest started trumpeting and raised such a rumpus,
    Leonard started roaring and trying to kick,
    James went on a journey with the goats new compass
    And he reached the end of his brick.

    Ernest was an elephant and very well intentioned,
    Leonard was a lion with a brave new tail,
    George was a goat, as I think I have mentioned,
    but James was only a snail.

    Comment by Grant Hay — September 10, 2014 @ 7:58 am

  30. Was unsure if this was satire or reality. Surely in reality any scruffy hirsute hipsters would have immediately offered their laps for for Kim and Linda to sit on? And then I found the comments and thence the vid, and realised that Juvenal I is just so right.
    thanks for the post!

    Comment by Petone — September 10, 2014 @ 8:44 am

  31. Is that the same Geoff Karena who once told Keith Ng to go back to England when Keith was investigating the potential misappropriation of funds by the Vic Maori Students Association? I could almost be tempted to troll-vote for that guy.

    Comment by Auto_Immune — September 10, 2014 @ 8:47 am

  32. “I like the feel of arsehole on my tongue”.

    Thank you, Higgs Boatswain.

    Comment by Gregor W — September 10, 2014 @ 9:56 am

  33. I prefer “fire truck”. Said under time pressure, it can go wrong in so many ways. Try alternating it with “Friar Tuck”. Not quite as good as the Fuzzy-Duck, Ducky-Fuzz combo, but on the same page.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — September 10, 2014 @ 11:13 am

  34. “What is it about Greens and their upmarket jackets?”

    Jeez If you have ever been to a GP conference where there is only one person who is not smartly dressed and is portrayed as “the Greens” on the 6 o’clock news, you would know why 🙂

    Comment by Thomas — September 10, 2014 @ 12:44 pm

  35. @Sanc: You’re a pretty unlikely poster boy for aloof detachment, you know. Just last week you compared people who disagreed with you about the “Dirty Politics” saga to 1930s politicians appeasing Nazis. Oops, there I go again, pointing out an inconsistency! So pointless, right? Why do I even bother?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — September 10, 2014 @ 3:56 pm

  36. Higgs Boatswain wrote: Besides, “arsehole” is just objectively better. It’s got a real rhotic punch to it. I like the feel of arsehole on my tongue.

    There is nothing rhotic about ‘arsehole’. No real kiwi even pronounces the ‘r’ in ‘arsehole’, unless they are a real kiwi from Gore

    Comment by Can of Worms, Opened — September 10, 2014 @ 4:04 pm

  37. There is nothing rhotic about ‘arsehole’. No real kiwi even pronounces the ‘r’ in ‘arsehole’, unless they are a real kiwi from Gore

    To be fair I don’t know how “real” Kiwis speak. But “asshole” and “mom” seem peculiar to the US.

    Comment by Ross — September 10, 2014 @ 4:19 pm

  38. And they used the word arsehole in Scotland (and NZ) so there really is no excuse for Andrew. 😉

    Comment by Ross — September 10, 2014 @ 4:23 pm

  39. Seeing as the thread already has derailed completely:

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — September 10, 2014 @ 8:58 pm

  40. Quite quiet here, time for some music.

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 12, 2014 @ 8:55 am

  41. Ladybug, airplane, back up. I have to beat this shit out of my kids every night.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — September 16, 2014 @ 4:17 pm

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