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We cross live to the campaign trail (in 1935)

The Spinoff Review of Books salutes the unbylined New Zealand Herald correspondent who filed this fantastically arse-licking report from the election campaign trail on November 7, 1935.

During the present election campaign probably no man connected with politics has been busier than the Minister of Finance, Mr Coates, who, after a week of campaigning, is now in the thick of the fight for his own electorate, Kaipara.

Since his departure from Auckland last week Mr Coates has addressed as many as five meetings a day. Driving his own car, with Mrs Coates invariably with him, he has covered an average of 100 miles a day over rough country roads, meeting the northern settlers in village halls and other queerly assorted places. He has stood in the open air on the fringes of a forestry plantation addressing bronzed forestry workers and their women folk; he has spoken to farm hands in the shearing sheds of a large sheep station; and at small meetings he has often sat back in an armchair explaining the country’s difficulties in almost conversational style.

A photo taken at the Tasman Glacier. The only connection it has to the story is that it was taken in 1935. (Photo by PNA Rota/Getty Images)

However, the campaigning is only one of Mr Coates’s activities. He still has the departmental responsibilities associated with his portfolios of finance, customs, and transport, and every mail from Wellington brings large envelopes with numberless documents and letters requiring official consideration and approval. In every country town, too, telegrams descend on him in showers. Both Mr Coates and his staff work from early morning until late at night to ensure that there is no hold-up in departmental activities.

As Mr Coates is often on the road before 10 o’clock in the mornings, and as questions inevitably prolong his night meetings until after 11 o’clock, some idea can be obtained of the immense volume of work that must be handled in a short time. The manner in which Mr Coates gets through his daily programmes is a tribute to his amazing energy and industry.

Reform Party MP Gordon Coates only narrowly held onto his seat; Michael Savage led Labour to a historic victory. Coates later joined the National Party, and died in his office at parliament in 1943.

The report is courtesy of Papers Past, the great online repository of New Zealand journalism from the 19th and 20th century.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly named Coates as Ralph Coates, who was actually a flying winger for Burnley and Spurs in the 1970s. He won an England cap and had a haircut like Bobby Charlton.


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