The Spinoff versus the 2017 election: our campaign plans exclusively revealed

To be honest it would be weird if someone else revealed our campaign plans, but still, writes Spinoff politics editor Toby Manhire.

Many are counting the days. But what about the hours? There are now fewer than 4,000 of them till the polls close on September 23, and what better arbitrary unit of distance to choose by way of unveiling our plans for election coverage in 2017? (This is a rhetorical question.)

The Spinoff was knee-high to a grasshopper at the election in 2014, and, while the Vine-based coverage of the debates back then was unsurpassed, the site’s politics department has since swollen like a sinus membrane in spring, and readies now to sneeze all over 2017. (In large part thanks to the support of LifeDirect by TradeMe. Thanks, LifeDirect.)

We intend to do a lot of things that we haven’t thought about yet, but among the things we have thought about are these:

Policy dives

The Spinoff recently completed a reader survey, with more than 800 respondents giving us a steer on the issues of most interest in election year. We’ll use that as our compass to select a handful of important policy areas, where we’ll look hard into manifesto pledges from the parties, and try to channel some of the energy, here and there, of the War for Auckland bunker.

Writer roster

We’re corralling a tremendous line-up of writers to scribble their way into the depths of September. Among those whose bylines you can expect to see on the Spinoff: Andrew Geddis, Morgan Godfery, Leonie Hayden, Annabelle Lee, Danyl Mclauchlan, Ben Thomas and Simon Wilson.

Leader interviews

We’re publishing big, grown-up, chunky, wide-ranging, scene-setting interviews with the party leaders as the election heaves into view. The series kicked off last month with Duncan Greive talking ballet and ballot with Bill English in “The incremental radical”. Then Toby Manhire asked the Green leaders, Metiria Turei and James Shaw, whether they are really, really ready for government this time. Coming soon, Simon Wilson talks to Andrew Little, with more to follow.

Candidate diaries

We have enlisted a stellar bunch of first-time candidates to write regular posts documenting their experiences as newbies. We begin today with the first pieces from Erica Stanford, National’s candidate in the electorate of East Coast Bays, and Kiri Allan, Labour’s candidate for East Coast.

Not all of our candidates have East Coast in their constituency names, however; we’re also welcoming Chlöe Swarbrick, the insurgent runner for the Auckland mayoralty, Green candidate for Maungakiekie and 13th placed in the “initial” party list. And, with a bit of luck, someone from NZ First, too.

RNZ: The 9th Floor

The Guyon Espiner hosted series of interviews with former prime ministers for RNZ is fascinating from the first minutes. We’re very happy to be one of the outlets hosting the project, and hope to be able to partner further with the brilliant RNZ team in months to come.


Is the big city where the election will be won or lost or is that just what Auckland obsessives want us to think? Whatever. Transport, housing, education in the low-decile schools, poverty and health: the issues that shape the city will also shape the election, and we’ll pay special attention to them through our wildly successful new Auckland section, edited by Simon Wilson.


Toby Manhire, Annabelle Lee and Ben Thomas will continue to gather in a small room to discuss politics, biscuits and more. With a bit of luck Gone By Lunchtime might happen a bit more frequently, too, if only Ben can ever be air-lifted out of Wellington.

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