Molesworth Street Hospital. Image: Tina Tiller
Molesworth Street Hospital. Image: Tina Tiller

PoliticsAugust 7, 2022

A week in New Zealand politics – Shortland Street edition

Molesworth Street Hospital. Image: Tina Tiller
Molesworth Street Hospital. Image: Tina Tiller

After it’s solved the nursing shortage, our beloved soap opera could help us better understand the political world, too.

Cometh the hour, cometh the soap opera. A dire shortage of nurses in Aotearoa has prompted the government to turn to the most reliable pillar of our democracy: Shortland Street, with plotlines in forthcoming episodes imploring viewers to become nurses, though ideally not psychotic murderer nurses.

Why stop there? As we strive to inform young people about civics, politics and power, let us tell our important stories through the medium of soap opera, too. After all, as is written in the Hippocratic Oath, the truest doctor is the spin doctor. Here’s a handful of docudrama scenes from the week just gone. 

INTRO MUSIC

IOU, or you owe me, got some cash from IRD. I think a change is what I need. If I’m looking for unbridled power in a unicameral Westminster-style legislative system, or to dream, Molesworth Street. 

INT. OPERATING THEATRE

SURGEON-IN-CHIEF JACINDA ARDERN: The vital organs were swelling, the middle squeezed. We moved swiftly to administer pulmonary remunerative protocols. 

PATIENT, LURCHING UPRIGHT, GRINNING: Thanks!

APPLAUSE.

ARDERN: I’ll come to Jessica, then Tova. 

EXT. BOTTOM OF CLIFF 

EMERGENCY MEDICAL TECHNICIAN DAVID PARKER, PARKING HIS AMBULANCE: Hello. 

TENS OF THOUSANDS OF RANDOM PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD GETTING PAID $$$ FOR NO OBVIOUS REASON: Hello.

DOCTOR NICOLA WILLIS, HEADING TO THE BURNS UNIT: Hello.

EXT. THE BEACH, OWHIRO BAY, WELLINGTON 

NUTRITIONIST JAMES SHAW, ANKLE DEEP IN WATER, ALONE, GRAINS OF SAND BETWEEN HIS TOES: I stand before you today, bruised but undeterred. In a battle against nobody, I lost. I hear the message from my people – I have not listened as I might have, and I have not yet halted anthropogenic global heating. Anyway, round two, we meet again. And this time I hope very much to defeat nobody, ideally, if that’s OK.

INT. ‘THE I.V. BAR’

CHIEF EXECUTIVE FLYING DOCTOR TOPHER LUXON: Rubbish. On the hoof. Insulting to taxpayers. What I would say to you is that the people running the Molesworth Street hospital are a shambles. It’s like something out of The Office.

DOCTOR CHRIS WARNER: Love that show.

LUXON, CHILLED OUT, GRABBING HIS GUITAR, SINGING: I got bills I gotta pay. So I’ma gon’ work, work, work every day. I got mouths I gotta feed. So I’ma gon’ make sure everybody eats.

WARNER: Sing it, Topher. 

LUXON: Yo momma got bills, yo daddy got bills. Yo sister got bills, Yo auntie got bills (I got bills). Yo uncle got bills. Everybody got bills, everybody got bills, uh.

DIRECTOR OF NURSING CARRIE BURTON: You’re not in Te Puke now, Doctor Luxon.

EXT. THE BEACH, OWHIRO BAY, WELLINGTON 

THE WATER RISES. SHAW, KNEE-DEEP, GLARES AT NOBODY.

INT. ‘THE CAF’

NURSE CHRIS HIPKINS: You said the muffins would have blueberries and then oh no they don’t have blueberries any more and then now you’ve changed your mind again and it’s all blueberries, blueberries, blueberries. Blueberries!

CHEF CHRIS, A BISHOP, BLOOD WEEPING FROM A BULLET WOUND IN HIS SNEAKER: Sir, this is a scone.

HIPKINS: What kind of an internally divided, U-turning, Humpty Dumpty, flip-flopping caf is this?

BISHOP, THRUSTING IPAD INTO HIPKINS’ FACE: Please tell me that is not your penis.

HIPKINS. Oh, no it isn’t. That’s Chief Medical Officer Andrew Little’s penis.

EXT. THE BEACH, OWHIRO BAY, WELLINGTON 

THE WATER RISES. SHAW, NOW SHOULDER-DEEP, PERFORMS TAI CHI.

NOBODY: You OK, James?

INT. OPERATING THEATRE

ARDERN, PARKER AND HIPKINS ARE STATUESQUE, COVERED IN SEVERAL DOZEN LAYERS OF PPE, HOPING WE CAN’T SEE THEM. WE HEAR A BEEP, ANOTHER BEEP, THEN ONE ENDLESS LONG BEEP, YOU KNOW THE SORT OF THING, AS IN SOMEONE JUST DIED. 

THE CORPSE GRABS $350 AND EXITS.

JAMES K BAXTER: Alone we are born. And die alone. 

DOCTOR CHRIS WARNER: I was thinking the same thing, James K Baxter. We too will one day see that red-gold cirrus over snow-mountains shine, and face, unchaperoned, the ultimate cost of living. 

APPLAUSE.

EXT. OWHIRO BAY

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE. WINSTON PETERS SURGES TERRIFYLINGLY THROUGH THE SURFACE, RIPS OFF A SNORKEL, AND THEN A RUBBER FACE, REVEALING HER TRUE IDENTITY – NURSE CARLA CROZIER. 

ROLL CREDITS.

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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