2021, we are told by Jacinda Ardern, is the year of the vaccine. And as the rollout gathers pace, we now have the pictures to prove it. Ben McKay critiques our leaders’ social media vaxpics and asks: whose shot of their shot is the shit?
Litres of Pfizer’s finest are hitting the arms of New Zealand’s political class. Those MPs are then quick to post their pics to social media, role-modelling the importance of getting vaccinated to the rest of us mere mortals. However, like everything in politics, these pictures can not come without petty criticism.
Some have performed well. Strong lighting and government messaging will surely see the team of five million inspired to head to vaccination clinics in droves.
Others have performed less well. The revelation of untoned or poorly pigmented upper arms are not likely to be received well by Kiwi voters. On this basis – spoiler alert – The Spinoff expects to see Chris Hipkins booted by Remutaka voters in 2023. (Sidenote: I’d pay good money for a pic of Lisa Carrington being vaccinated.)
Let’s start with the North Star for any New Zealand politician looking for influence, the thought-leader for political marketing.
Scott Morrison, Australia prime minister
A fitting place to start as Morrison chose not to wait for medical professionals or at-risk Aussies to get his hands on the vaccine. A pic that finally answers the question: does Scott Morrison like Australia? 8/10
Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand prime minister
After letting the border workers and nurses have their turn, Ardern stepped up, using the ‘stare into the void’ method, perfected from years of not answering questions on child poverty or housing affordability. It’s relatable stuff as Kiwis don’t know how to afford kids or houses either.
On advice, presumably to smile this time, the PM went and had another crack at the vaccine few weeks later. Points off for inconsistency. 4/10
Chris Hipkins, Covid-19 response minister
Glad you’re enjoying yourself Chris but a lot to dislike here. The alarming pastiness. The obscured government slogan t-shirt. And blurring associate health minister Ayesha Verrall in the background, denying Labour’s star recruit a share of the limelight. Pure politics. 2/10
Judith Collins, National leader
Collins suggested to the PM the pair could get vaccinated together in a show of national unity (true story). Sadly her ambition was rebuffed, and she waited for her number to be called – much like her ascension to the party leadership. Alas! Collins was told they didn’t allow photos in the facility. Not good enough: she should have #DemandedTheDepiction. 3/10
David Seymour, ACT leader
Mr Popularity is never off script: adopting the rare nurse stare-down technique as he buries yet another key message talking point deep into the brain of his vaccinator. You don’t climb all the way to being 8.6% of New Zealanders’ preferred prime minister without missing these opportunities. 6/10
David’s back here with Brooke van Velden, ACT’s deputy leader, getting all Dancing With The Stars. Would have been nice to see the pair adopt the same arm movement, but hey, that’s freedom of expression. 7/10
Marama Davidson, Greens co-leader
We’ve always known Davidson is a real one. Not hiding your emotions and exactly how shit-scared you are? That’s real strength. Not sure it helps the rollout though. 5/10
Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, Māori Party leader
Unflappable energy from Ngarewa-Packer. May in fact be enjoying it? 8/10
Peeni Henare, Māori health minister
OK now we’re talking. The gym rat (and shameful omission from this uses the jab as a chance to – understandably – check out his own guns. 9/10
Chris Bishop, National Covid-19 spokesperson
In a rare engagement with media, Bishop put on his NZ Music Month t-shirt and did his bit for New Zealand’s rollout. It is understood Bishop checked his jab didn’t put New Zealand’s rollout ahead of Australia’s and deny him a crucial talking point – he’s learned with caucus to be careful when doing numbers. 4/10
Andrew Little, health minister
Smile, check. Prominent government messaging, check. Muscle definition on show, check. A strong pic from Little, showing the competency that earned him the health portfolio he so craved. 9/10
Golriz Ghahraman, Greens human rights spokesperson
Sorry but I’m not buying this. A vaccination photo must include a needle or health professional: the sticker doesn’t cut it. Anyone can post a sticker. 1/10
Ayesha Verrall, associate health minister
Another ticket to cabinet’s gun show. Verrall offering up a slight variation of Ardern’s void-stare, looking into the middle distance with a gaze that leaves you begging to know what she’s thinking. 8/10
Aupito William Sio, Pacific peoples minister
Strong support of government branding, displaying both the t-shirt and vaccine logo. Unless of course Sio is standing in front of an amyl nitrate banner? Either way, we like it. 7/10
Elizabeth Kerekere, Greens health spokeswoman
We’re dealing with a pro here. Unflinching on impact. Brings a cinematic “behind the scenes” vibe by leaving the camera in shot. One wonders if Kerekere’s commitment to purple branding so strong that she demanded vaccination space 1 and its purple sign. 9/10
Helen Clark, former prime minister
The good: celebrating the vaccinators, even if they obviously don’t want to be there. The bad: a missed opportunity to feast the eyes upon some of the greatest limbs ever known to New Zealand politics. 5/10
Nicola Willis, National housing spokeswoman
The look. The smile. The point. The positioning. Even the timing, out-doing Labour for big rainbow energy by posting this on the day of their conversion therapy law announcement. 11/10 exceptional
Julie Anne Genter, Greens transport spokeswoman
A journey rich with narrative. In the scene-setter, Genter poses for the camera. Then, new character “Howard” is introduced. Finally, the big reveal: she’s getting vaccinated. 9/10
And as a congratulations for getting to the end …
Ben Thomas, pundit and Spinoff contributor, after a long night
Good to see Thomas find some time between recording New Zealand’s only political podcast, the Spinoff’s own Gone Before Lunchtime, shitposting on Twitter, and his Finnish metal side project, to get his vaccination. This is Helsinki calling, 12 points.