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Vroom, and very much vroom. Image: Tina Tiller
Vroom, and very much vroom. Image: Tina Tiller

PoliticsOctober 13, 2023

2023 election campaign vehicles – ranked

Vroom, and very much vroom. Image: Tina Tiller
Vroom, and very much vroom. Image: Tina Tiller

Go directly to Hampton Downs and start your engines. 

Billboards on wheels, giant rosettes with combustion engines – this is a political movement, a drive for public attention. As the race splutters into the final strait of the final lap, we rank the party campaign vehicles of 2023.

8. The Act bus

Nothing wrong with this bus, which would be higher in the ranking except that Act appears twice. “Big Pinky” they’re calling it, which The Spinoff understands to be a reference to size and colour. 

David Seymour and other Act candidates in front of a big pink bus
David Seymour, Act candidates and Big Pinky (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

Last time they had 10 candidates on the side of the bus; this time it’s 20, and we can only hope they’ve all deleted their old Twitter accounts. On the other side, presumably: Kate Sheppard and Nelson Mandela.

7. Chippy’s go-kart

Had we been running these rankings a couple of elections back, Labour would have been right up there thanks to Stuart Nash, who put together a decommissioned fire engine and a decommissioned sitcom about an army hospital in the Korean War that sounded a bit like his name to create a special magic.

That’s gone, as is Nash. Disappointingly, so is Kieran McAnulty’s ute.

He has at least got this.

After lengthy discussions the judges have ruled that, in any case, none of the above qualifies because they’re not strictly campaign vehicles. 

And neither – in the lamentable absence of any Labour campaign bus – does this, but it squeezes in thanks to Chris Hipkins’ unabashed glee at whizzing out of Covid isolation and directly into a hairpin turn in a go-kart in Upper Hutt. 

(A polite request to North Shore candidate George Hampton: please bling up your ice cream van with some party branding next time.)

6. The NZ Loyal Mini

Some have doubted Liz Gunn’s assertion that her party will win two million votes on Saturday, but when you see this supporter’s souped up Mini it’s clear that anything is possible.

5. The National battlebus

The National bus, which isn’t but should be called Big Bluey, is ranked higher than Big Pinky just because it’s getting a good old-fashioned last-days-of-campaign workout, complete with journalists, supporters and candidates throwing all decorum out the window and singing Spice Girls songs with modified lyrics.

4. Julie Anne Genter’s cargo bike

Would you expect any less from the woman who biked to hospital while in labour (the lower case labour there is important)? 

Just as well the Rongotai candidate managed this, too; otherwise the Greens’ contribution to this ranking would have been the EV that got stuck in a park.

3. Te Pāti Māori big rig

A literal truck that has foldy-down sides so it can be a stage at events around the country? Chef’s kiss.

And in what has to be the photograph of the campaign so far, snapped by Matthew Whitehead, here is the TPM Truck bumper to bumper with the Act bus, outside a hotel in Palmerston North.

Photo: Matthew Whitehead

2. Act’s plane

A controversial choice for silver, some will say, given the disquiet around it being lent to David Seymour by an American millionaire. 

The plane is up there, however, not because it is fancy but because it isn’t. Other party leaders around the world bounce around on Learjets and Gulfstreams. In New Zealand, it’s a flight from New Plymouth to Taumarunui on a tiny, 50-year-old Cessna so terrifying that not even Act staff wanted to get on board the thing.

The only factor that weighed against the Act plane? Why go for “Flying Pinky” when it could be Prebjet or Right Wings?

1. Winston Peters’ horse.

Sorry, sunshine, but it’s not even close.

Winston Peters, talking about rodeos.
Keep going!