Party branding has cropped up on the Auckland mayoral candidate’s signs. But it’s not clear who put it there, and some suspect ‘an attack tactic’.
Red rectangular stickers sporting the logo of the Labour Party have been attached in recent days to a handful of Efeso Collins’ election signs. They don’t at first glance suggest defacement – Collins was elected as a Labour councillor and his mayoral bid has been formally endorsed by the Labour Party, as it has by the Greens.
But Collins is standing as an independent, not as a Labour candidate. And his team doesn’t know where the stickers, which have been placed to obscure the slogan “for the people” on the signs, come from. “We believe it’s an attack tactic,” said a campaign spokesperson. “None of our allies or volunteers have been doing it.”
They’re not, however, losing sleep over the mysterious stickering. After all, the most recognisable face of the New Zealand Labour Party, prime minister Jacinda Ardern, joined him at a phone bank on Tuesday to offer her personal support for a Collins mayoralty.
“I’m honoured the prime minister was able to make time in her busy timetable to support our campaign for a more just and sustainable city,” said Collins this week. “While I have always enjoyed robust discussions with my fellow Labour Party colleagues – I know we share the same values of a fairer, more just society and I appreciate the support the Prime Minster has offered my campaign over this year.”
Wayne Brown, who is leading in the most recent public polling, has his own links to a former Labour prime minister, telling debate audiences he has had texts of advice from Helen Clark, as well as from former National prime minister John Key.
Brown, who is standing as an independent, told RNZ last month he was a swing supporter. “I kind of go with competency and I thought Helen Clark was very competent so I was Labour and I thought John Key was very competent, so I thought I was National.”
Collins’ signage is not alone in being targeted. Hoardings for the City Vision ticket and at least one of its affiliated councillors seeking re-election, Pippa Coom, have been similarly stickered.
Coom, who has removed the stickers from hoardings at Cox’s Bay and Victoria Park, said she was perplexed by the stunt.
“City Vision is really upfront about who we are and what we stand for and have been since we were formed in 1998,” said Coom. “On all our collateral, signs and on our website we make it clear that City Vision is a coalition of Labour, Greens and community independents like me who have shared progressive values. So this defacement is really pointless and petty.”
Down the road from Cox’s Bay, by Meola Creek, a sense of normalcy in vandalism returns. There, Coom’s billboard has been spraypainted with a flamboyant moustache and beard.
As of last night, just under 27% of eligible votes had been received – three percentage points lower than the same stage in 2019. Votes can be cast at ballot boxes across Auckland before noon tomorrow.