Just when weary cynicism bites deep with an election campaign focussed entirely on the loonery and fakery of media soundbites, along comes an event that demonstrates how it is supposed to be done; last night's Aro Valley Meet the Candidates meeting.
Arriving mere minutes before kick-off was a silly move. Fortunately, ALCP candidate Michael Appleby hurried through the crowd allowing me to slide in his slipsteam through to a reasonably decent position in the main hall. A laugh went through the crowd as Apples pursed his lips a la toke as reason for his delay. Act's Stephen Franks arrived even later so Dagg knows what his excuse was.
As has been noted elsewhere, the community hall was filled to overflowing. Although fire regs were undoubtedly broken, you just knew that if a fire did break out, everyone would have helped where they could to put it out. It was that sort of crowd. Bowls of Minties made their way through the crowd during the speaking, a communion to the egalitarianism of the moment.
On the whole, it was a dirt-free dozen candidates who kept things informative and witty throughout the night. This may have been assisted by the absence of the NZ First candidate. I suppose Winston P can't be everywhere. Even Mark Blumsky and Stephen Franks, completely out of their comfort zones in the Greens' ghetto, managed to get the crowd on side at surprising times.
Although Sue Kedgeley was amongst a supportive crowd, enough barbs were aimed at Green policies to keep her humble. The trolley bus ambulances jibe was particularly inspired. Marion Hobbs may have a booming voice which deafened some in the front rows, but a consistent static of heckles and burbling drowned out whatever she was talking about most of the time for punters further away.
Question time was a fast and furious affair characterised by the rule that if you can put a question mark on the end of it, someone asked it.
Fiona "I am not a prostitute" McKenzie from United Future may have unwittingly added some new policies that her boss might not agree with. The Maori Party's Morrie Love was generally well-regarded but hummed a bit too long when someone asked him on his stance on civil unions and abortion rights.
New Zealand's answer to Bluntman and Chronic stormed into action after the meeting. DPF and Gman chased a villain down an alleyway after an attempt was made to yoghurt Marion Hobbs. I hope the point was not lost on the witnesses; one person's sexism is another one's chivalry!
Thank you to all those who made it a great night out.