Winston Peters heads to the polls in 2014. Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

The best of The Spinoff this week: Gareth, Jacinda and the murder of Winston’s policy

Compiling the best reading from your friendly local website.

Chris McDowall: A visual history of the New Zealand parliament

“For months I’ve followed news about New Zealand’s upcoming general election. Revelations! Resignations! Leadership changes! Bold policy promises! Shock poll results!

In this heightened political moment, I found myself wondering about the past. How does this election fit into New Zealand’s political history? What would it look like if you mapped parliamentary representation back to our first election in 1853?”

The Spinoff: She’s a fast talker, comrade: Leighton Smith warns NZ about Jacinda Ardern

“Leighton Smith has been dispatching stone cold common sense to ZB listeners between breakfast and noon for three decades. Following this morning’s interview with Jacinda Ardern, hosted by Larry Williams in the absence of Mike Hosking – genuine get-well-soon wishes to Mike – Smith delivered an observation, an important and foreboding warning, to the people of New Zealand.

In the interests of democracy, we have transcribed his words.”

Joel MacManus: ‘I’m incredibly unpopular’: meet the wrestlers fighting as ‘The Young Nats’

“Billboards bearing the name ‘Young Nats’ started popping up around Auckland and Hamilton this weekend and immediately began stirring up controversy online. Slogans like “It’s Probably Your Fault” and “Putting the ‘Our’ in Aotearoa” seemed a little too ridiculous to possibly be real, but the internet had sniffed racism – or political dirty tricks – and immediately took out their torches.

In one of the better twists of the election, the billboards were not put up by either the Young Nats or their political rivals, but by a team of professional wrestlers.”

Miriama Kamo: ‘Pronounce my name correctly. It’s all I ask.’

My name, Miriama, was difficult for people. I was difficult, just by being Miriama. It was like I was christened to challenge to the world. Every single first meeting was, and often still is, a back and forth: “Hi there, I’m a difficult person, yes, very difficult, but I’ll give you a hand to make your life easier. OK, if you can’t say it, then go ahead and mispronounce it. Totally fine if you want to call me Murri-ama. OK, Mary-ama is fine too.” When I was 12 a woman once asked for my first name and when I said “Miriama” she snapped, “I asked for just your first name!”

Ally McCrow-Young: Why I really want to vote Labour, but I can’t

“Casual racism is something many Kiwis have dealt with for their entire lives. We already feel jaded by answering the constant tirade of ‘But-where-are-you-really-from?’, or the old classics like ‘ching-chong’ being called out as you’re popping to the dairy to grab a dollar mix.

So when a high-ranking member of our parliament encourages further racism by finger-pointing at anyone based on how ‘Chinese-sounding’ their name is, it’s pretty damn demoralising.

Not so long ago, Helen Clark apologised to the Chinese community for the country’s shameful imposition of poll taxes on Chinese immigrants. Today, that sentiment of progress seems to have left the country along with Aunty Helen.”

Duncan Greive: ‘Words do mean things’: Highlights from Guyon Espiner’s brutal interview with Winston Peters

“Morning Report’s Guyon Espiner had been reading NZ First’s website, apparently a lot more than Winston Peters. He asked, mostly, what its content would cost. He did it over and over and Peters almost never had an answer. For a man who was, until recently, subject of semi-plausible speculation about his potential to be prime minister, he appeared astoundingly ill-informed.

Over and over Espiner honed in on what these big, blustering populisms would cost, over and over Winston dissembled and guessed (almost always incorrectly, sometimes by upwards of a $1b on a single policy). But the interview became an instant classic less for what Winston didn’t know and more for the pure entertainment value it contained.”

Simon Wilson: James Shaw begins the biggest days of his political life

What would you do if your political allies were about to form a government but your party was in danger of not being part of it? Simon Wilson goes to Sunday’s Green rally, where the sole remaining co-leader launched the battle that will determine the party’s future, and may also define the shape of the next government.

Toby Manhire: Greens anger at Labour seeps out in attack on ‘petty’, ‘half-arsed’ climate policy

“At the Back Benches debate in Auckland last month, a Green Party supporter held aloft a sign that declared, on a green background ‘Campaigning against climate change since last century’. And, on a red background, “Campaigning against climate change since last weekend”.

That ‘last weekend’ was, of course, the Labour Party campaign launch, where new leader Jacinda Ardern had told a smitten Town Hall that climate change is ‘my generation’s nuclear-free moment’. Ardern rejected suggestions that this was a tactical appeal to Green voters to decamp – climate change should be at the forefront of every party’s thinking, she said.

But for many in the Greens, with bruises still raw from the treatment of Metiria Turei – who had resigned the co-leadership of the party after making a bold confession about lying in relation to benefit claims, and who had been implicitly repudiated by Ardern’s announcement she would not have had Turei in a Labour-led cabinet – it certainly felt like a land grab.”

Gareth and Joanne Morgan (Photo supplied)

Meg Williams: ‘Oh, you’re a Greenie, are you?’ A millennial goes on a date with Gareth Morgan

“Having followed Gareth Morgan’s rejection of Steve Braunias’s advances for a game of table tennis, I expected it would be difficult to arrange for him to come on a date with me. Actually, it was quite easy. I’m not sure if he was properly briefed about the premise of this “interview”, but his media people must have decided that some soft media with a young non-threatening female should cause no harm. Take that, Steve.”

Toby Manhire: Of tax U-turns, captain’s calls and clusterfucks

“If not quite a full-blown clusterfuck, over the course of the campaign that captain’s call has turned into a thorn in Labour’s side. The National campaign has in recent days become an all-out, sometimes histrionic assault on Labour’s tax plans. After the fiscal-hole belly-flop, the “Let’s Tax This” mantra seemed to be having real effect. And this morning the party leadership essentially admitted as much. It gritted its teeth and ripped the thorn out, in the full knowledge that it would bring a thousand headlines of U-turn, flip-flop and volte-face.”

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