22 Sep 2017

The best and worst moments of the 2017 election

2:31 pm on 22 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.


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