The best election entertainment going

September 9th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Danyl McLauchlan has done a very detailed and accurate blog of the Aro Valley Meet the Candidates meeting. I was there, and it was great fun (as always). Go read the full blog, but some of the many funny extracts:

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.

A fire in that hall that night would have had a death toll that would have made CNN! Roland did ask the crowd not to set any fires, and if anyone did, could someone else put it out.

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.

That was hilarious.

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!’


The heckling was equal opportunity!

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!

Paul cunning stunt was brilliant. As he kept speaking in superb te reo, the National hating crowd was deathly silent as in Aro Valley heckling a candidate speaking in te reo is even ruder than not eating organic food. He had total silence until indeed the words Ko John Key te rangatira and then the yelling burst out like a tidal wave.

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.

Grant looked rather pleased!

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.

Several people heckled that he needed a tardis!

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.

He was quite lovely, if a bit bizarre.

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.


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.’

But not equally!

It was a great entertaining night that is now an iconic event. Was great to see so many people there.

Unspeakable Secrets of the Aro Valley

June 25th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Danyl McLauchlan blogs at Dim-Post:

My book goes on sale next Friday. You can preorder it directly from the VUP online bookshop. Preorders will be (a) signed and (b) signed by me, because apparently it’s ‘unethical’ to get the intern to copy my signature. Ebook format will be available here. (It takes a while for the ebook format to go live at major providers like Apple and Amazon. I’ll keep you updated.)

I’ve not yet read my review copy, but I suspect many will purchase it on the basis of Danyl’s blog writings. I will do a review once I have read my copy. The blurb for it is:

A sleepy bohemian neighbourhood.

An ancient legend from the ancient past.

A brilliant but troubled young writer.

A voluptuous healer.

A shadowy cult and its sinister leader.

A trail of riddles; a hidden artefact.

An explicit sex scene, then a struggle for ultimate power.

And a final, unspeakable secret.

Unspeakable Secrets of the Aro Valley is a dark and hilarious odyssey through Wellington’s underbelly.

Sounds fun. I’m looking forward to reading it.

The launch party for it is on Friday 5 July at Philosophy House in Aro Valley.

More Dim-Post

October 18th, 2008 at 10:45 am by David Farrar

The Dim-Post has an excellent write-up of the Aro Valley meeting. Some extracts:

Radio New Zealand announcer Bryan Crump has taken the evening off work to act as moderator – he warns the crowd that while heckling is encouraged he will not tolerate any ‘Hooton’s’.

Heh he has become a word.

For ACT Heather Roy who demands to know if there are any undecided voters in the audience. One woman puts her hand up. Roy exceeds the two minute time limit and is the first candidate to get drenched – but certainly not the last – while the gleeful crowd chants ‘zero tolerance’. Crump assures her that the water-pistol is ’scented with rose-water’. ‘It bloody is not,’ Roy replies.


For RAM (Resident Action Movement) Grant Brooks. It is hard to hear Brooks over the members of the audience shouting ‘Baaaaaaa’. He announces that RAM is a serious player in the upcoming election and the rest of his address is drowned out by laughter.

This is what I like abotu the meeting – they heckle regardless of political leanings.

For the Kiwi Party Rebekah Clement, a young and attractive candidate and the crowd is intrigued when Bryan Crump announces that he has watched her ‘nice thing on YouTube’.
Clement: The Kiwi Party is a new Party . . .
Heckler: It might not fly!
Clement: And I want to be part of it because a lot of young people feel that they can’t make a difference in politics . . .
Heckler: You can’t!


The two ‘major party’ candidates were asked about the Treaty of Waitangi. Stephen Franks gave the most considered reply of the night and actually addressed the question. Franks tended to over-complicate his replies and it was often hard to figure out what he was trying to say. His Obama-like emphasis on nuance might make him a good MP but it is not an effective strategy when you have two minutes to explain something to 300 jeering hippies with a water-pistol trained on the back of your head.

A good point!

In another post Danyl also comments on debates:

Neither Clark nor Key made McCain’s mistake – the person who came closest was Clark with her absurd and offensive comment about Key being used to shouting people down at home. Both candidates ran very defensive strategies in which they positioned themselves to look calm, strong and leaderlike; Key effortlessly exceeded the expectations set for him. Clark didn’t hurt herself in the debate but she didn’t help herself much either, and she did damage her image with her foolish (but totally characteristic) attacks on John Key and Mark Sainsbury the next day.

Clark and her supporters seem to genuinely believe in their cartoon depiction of John Key as some sort of malign, demonic super-rich psychopath, just as the US Republican Party imagines Barack Obama as being a deranged radical Islamic terrorist. But when people encounter Obama on TV they see a calm, articulate, slightly pompous and sometimes tedious former law professor; when we see Key we see a genial, occasionaly bewildered and safely anodyne Kiwi boy made good. Their political enemies are trying to sell us something we simply cannot believe in.

A very astute observation, in my opinion.

Aro Valley Candidates Photos on You Tube

October 16th, 2008 at 5:00 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Plummer has taken some great photos of the Aro Valley Candidates Meeting and put them on You Tube with a voice over. I’m so gutted to have missed it, but the photos were great to see.

The Aro Valley debate

October 15th, 2008 at 9:33 am by David Farrar

I would have loved to have attended the Aro Valley debate last night, but sadly I was not in Wellington.

The Dom Post has a photo and story.

I love the water pistol for candidates who go over their time limit.

Dom Post reports:

In a meeting meant to entertain as much as anything else, Mr Appleby was a crowd-pleaser, noting Prime Minister Helen Clark’s emphasis on trust.

“You can’t even trust her photograph. I don’t want a 19-year- old running this country,” he said, referring to her airbrushed billboard image.

He had one answer for every issue from tax to law and order, student fees and health. “If we legalised cannabis . . .” he repeatedly shouted through a window to the crowd outside, who could not make it into the packed community hall and had complained that they could not hear.

Don Franks, a Rongotai factory hand standing for the Workers’ Party, filled out his opening address with a socialist song.

UnitedFuture’s Vaughan Smith took inspiration – setting his closing address to a rap accompanied by foot-stomping and finger-clicking from the audience.

I’d love to hear feedback from people who did attend, on how it went.

You Tube for NZ election debates

September 29th, 2008 at 9:40 am by David Farrar

Google has sent out a press release announcing their partnership with TVNZ for the election:

This morning, YouTube and TVNZ have announced a world-first political debate, where New Zealanders will be able to put questions directly to Prime Minister Helen Clark and Leader of the Opposition John Key via the ONE News YouTube Election Debate.

The leaders’ responses will be broadcast live on TVNZ’s flagship News channel, TV ONE, on October 14. ONE News’ Mark Sainsbury will moderate the 90 minute ONE News YouTube Election Debate, with three of New Zealand’s leading political journalists asking additional questions.

Starting today, YouTube users in New Zealand, and expats, can submit their questions at

This is the first time that a head of a national government and the challenger for the top job will appear in an official live televised debate, featuring video questions asked directly by people using YouTube. In the United States, two CNN/YouTube debates were held in 2007, featuring Democratic and Republican candidates. The debates married YouTube’s online video platform with CNN’s political coverage and broadcast reach, bringing candidates and voters together in a unique way.

This is a very good thing. In one sense it is what we did with the TVNZ 7 debate with InternetNZ on Internet issues – video questions were submitted in advance. But having You Tube and One News involved elevates it to another level.

People should start thinking about questions to ask. I suggest ones to both leaders that are not obvious attack questions will be more likely to get selected.

The only pity is the debate is on the same evening as the legendary Aro Valley Meet the Candidates meeting.