A man serenades (Image: Toby Morris)
A man serenades (Image: Toby Morris)

PoliticsJuly 14, 2022

A line-by-line review of one man singing ‘Imagine’ at a Christchurch council meeting

A man serenades (Image: Toby Morris)
A man serenades (Image: Toby Morris)

Christchurch’s mayor and city councillors are meeting to decide whether to go ahead with a $683m stadium. Today, someone ‘imagined’ the best way to appeal to them.

It was barely two weeks into the pandemic when Gal Gadot chose chaos, and convinced a bunch of celebrities to sing ‘Imagine’ to the world as some sort of… comfort? Plea? We’ll never know. Gadot, the song ‘Imagine’ and the world have never recovered from such unhinged naivety and unwarranted earnestness.

Somehow, a full two-and-a-half years later, a man called Peter Morrison has chosen chaos again. 

Today, Christchurch’s mayor and city council will decide on whether or not to go ahead with a massive stadium in the city. It has been in the works for 10 years, and the cost has ballooned to $683m. It’s a source of contention for many, and debates on the viability of it have dragged on for years.

Peter Morrison (MNZM) appeared in front of the council today on behalf of Hospitality NZ, to advocate for the stadium to be built. He believes it will be a boon for the city. He also believes, or believed as of this morning, that the best way to advocate for it was with his own little version of ‘Imagine’, sung live, before the council.

Here’s what happened.

0:01 – There is a murmur of laughter as Morrison cues up an instrumental version of ‘Imagine’ on his phone. It’s the laugh you hear at a wedding when an uncle who was definitely on the waitlist of invites gets up to give a speech. An ad plays. “So luxurious, so decadent. Indulge in all new Kāpiti yoghurt.” Clearly, Morrison needs to subscribe to YouTube Premium.

0:05 – The opening strains of ‘Imagine’ play tinnily from Morrison’s phone. People onscreen don’t react just yet, perhaps in a state of understandable confusion.

0:15 – “Imagine there’s a stadium,” Morrison talk-sings. He is in dire need of a locksmith, by which I mean, he is not in key. Morrison is locked out with no chance of getting anywhere near the key he needs.

If you’re not clear as to what is happening, Morrison is singing John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ to advocate for the building of a $683m stadium. John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, if you need reminding, is a song about world peace, with no boundaries, no capitalism, no borders.

A stadium is a famously walled venue that generally requires some sort of paid ticket to enter.

Despite this, Morrison continues. I should also say that he hasn’t even learned the lyrics to his own version of ‘Imagine’. If you’re the kind of person who does a stunt like this, you need to commit to it, not half-ass it.

0:23 – “It’s easy if you try.”

Presumably not so easy, considering the plans for this stadium were put forward 10 years ago.

0:25 – “No empty land wasted, above us only a roof.”

The original lyric here is “No hell below us, above us only sky”. Morrison’s MNZM is, if you were in any doubt, for his services to the hospitality industry, not his services to songwriting.

0:36 – A woman enters, stage right, and squats a few metres behind Morrison. She looks on with concern, bemusement, as she talks to another woman, who nervously bites her nail before putting her mask back on. Neither deserves to be dragged into this, but there they are, onscreen.

0:49 – “Living for to-daaay, and then you all go da-da-da.”

Mr Morrison MNZM. Let me tell you something. This performance wouldn’t pass muster at the Ramarama Country Inn at last drinks, where people are warmed up with love and cheap beer. It is absolutely not going to pass muster before noon on a rainy Thursday in Christchurch, during a council meeting.

You have picked the wrong audience to join you for an impromptu, barely rehearsed (to be honest), rendition of ‘Imagine’. You are not going to get your da-da-da-das.

0:54 – The audience gives what I would charitably call a “nervous chuckle”. There is not a da-da-da-da to be heard. The woman, unnamed for her protection, sitting next to Morrison looks offscreen, in some sort of silent plea for help. Her plea goes unanswered.

1:04 – “Imagine there’s no politics, I wonder if you can.”

Peter Morrison, you are singing ‘Imagine’ in a council meeting to decide whether over half a billion dollars will be spent on a stadium. 

Hilariously, this is somehow not a lyric from the song, even though it could fit in quite nicely. Take notes, John Lennon from several decades ago.

1:11 – “No need for businesses to plunder, a brotherhood of man.”

Sure!

1:20 – “Imagine all your people, sharing this with the world.”

I’ll give him this one: If you are changing ‘Imagine’ to be about a $683m stadium, it does make sense to change “sharing all the world” to “sharing this with the world”. Point to you, Morrison.

1:31 – A truly electric moment unlike I’ve seen in theatre for some time. 

You see everybody onscreen, and presumably offscreen, exhale as they think the song is over. But no, Morrison knows. He’s got the sheet of paper in front of him, with the rest of his silly lyrics on it. He knows there’s a whole other verse.

And then he goes into it.

1:35 – “You may say we are dreamers, but we’re not the only ones – 27,000!”

I can’t find a reference point for this, but my guess is that it refers to the potential seating capacity of the stadium, which is up to 30,000, but reducing that to 25,000 has been suggested to cut costs. 27,000 is, in the context of the population of the world, the country, or even the city of Christchurch (381,000 as of 2017), not a lot of dreamers.

1:56 – “And the city will move on as one!”

Or, you know, as two. 27,000, and the rest of them.

2:00 – “There you go!” 

Morrison does the boomer mic-drop, meaning he finds the pause button on his iPhone, presumably with the text set to the biggest font.

2:08 – Peter Morrison apologises to the late John Lennon. Lennon did not respond to our request for comment before publication.

2:15 – Lianne Dalziel, mayor of Christchurch, who probably has more pressing things to do or at least listen to today or any day, equivocates, before thanking Morrison: “Thank you for appearing before us today … very effective.”

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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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