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All the places the parties are having their parties! (Image Design: Archi Banal)
All the places the parties are having their parties! (Image Design: Archi Banal)

PoliticsOctober 14, 2023

Election 2023: Where are the parties having their parties?

All the places the parties are having their parties! (Image Design: Archi Banal)
All the places the parties are having their parties! (Image Design: Archi Banal)

Tonight the political parties will be celebrating and/or drowning their sorrows at various locations across the North Island. Sam Brooks reviews the party venues from north to south.

New Zealand First: The Duke of Marlborough Hotel

Up in Russell, the Duke of Marlborough has been “refreshing rascals and reprobates” since 1827, making it one of the oldest hotels in the country. 

NZ First returns to the hotel after having their election shindig there in 2020, leading to a memorable interview the day after with candidate Shane Jones, who was “under the weather” after “downing a gallon of red wine”. Good thing this hotel, holder of the country’s first liquor licence, is also an actual hotel. When you’re a minor party having a major party, it makes sense to choose the shortest possible distance between drinking vessel and sleeping location. Wise planning, whoever picked this venue for this specific event!

Of all the venues, the Duke might be the most picturesque, with views over Paihia and Waitangi, and that classic combination hotel-restaurant feel. It also might just be the most famous, having played host to Sam Wallace’s wedding in 2022, and appeared on an episode of Uncharted in 2021 as well as countless “best of” lists. 

Fun fact: The Duke is the only one of these venues with an entire menu page dedicated to oysters. 

The Maritime Room. Not pictured: the Act Party.

Act: The Maritime Room

Act is having their hootenanny a little bit closer to the hustle and bustle of things, at the Auckland Viaduct’s Maritime Room, which you may or may not remember from an episode of New Zealand’s Next Top Model.

Unfortunately, the Maritime Room is not, as you might assume, a fun extension of the Maritime Museum where you can play with old-timey naval gear, put on a sailor suit or pretend to be a pirate. You can probably do all of those things there, but it’s not what it was specifically designed for.

The Maritime Room is instead your standard function room, albeit one with a  particularly lovely view over Auckland Harbour. It can fit up to 400 people standing, and boasts testimonials that say things like, “Friday night went off without a hitch and the team were absolutely amazing (as usual). Please pass on our thanks to them.” Will do, Sheryl!

For our purposes, though, what’s most notable about the Maritime Room is that it’s a literal stone’s throw away from…

The Lula Inn. Not pictured: the Green Party.

The Greens: The Lula Inn

… Viaduct mainstay and local bottomless brunch pioneer The Lula Inn, where the Greens will be having their election night party. Going with a Viaduct venue is somewhat stereotype-bucking – my bet would have been somewhere on Karangahape Road like Whammy (where the party has held at least one recent event) or Ponsonby Road’s Conch, but the Lula Inn has a lot of literal greenery inside it, so it’s not exactly off-theme. 

Speaking from personal experience, The Lula Inn is an ideal place to go when you’re out in the Viaduct, turn to your friend and go, “Wouldn’t it be HILARIOUS if we went there?”, while knowing secretly that it’s what you both want to do because you want to capture your misspent youth in places with good-to-great music that you have to scream over to be heard. 

If you happen to be there at noon on a Saturday you can also sometimes hear the Maritime Museum let off a cannon, and boy, if there’s anything louder than that it’s a bar full of screaming bottomless brunch attendees being surprised by a cannon. I, once again, speak from personal experience.

Hopefully, the Inn’s proximity to the Maritime Room means we’re in for a West Side Story-style rumble complete with aggressive finger-clicking. Probably not, though.

Moving on, and again, not much further down the waterfront is…

Shed 10. Not pictured: the National party. (Photo: Bas van Est)

National: Shed 10

Shed 10, where the National Party will be jamboreeing (I am running out of synonyms for “partying”) on Saturday night. Shed 10 actually has a pretty cool history, being the only original building on Queens Wharf, where it was built in 1910.

In 2021, the category one heritage building underwent a restoration to provide facilities for cruise ships, as well as allowing it to be a premium events space for hire. Inside, it looks like, well, a fancy shed – concrete floor, steel columns, exposed beams. It’s actually a really cool space. It fits up to 800 people, which might be close to the number of MPs National could have when voting ends, and fun fact, it has a solar panel system on its roof that generates enough renewable energy to power 10 households a year.

All three of the above venues have slightly differing views of the Waitematā Harbour. All three will probably have very different election nights, but at least they’ll have something pretty to look at!

But for the current governing party’s bash you’ll have to travel quite a bit further south, all the way to… 

Labour: Lower Hutt Town Hall

… Chris Hipkins’ hometown: the Hutt! Labour is holding their party at the Lower Hutt Town Hall, a recently refurbished venue that “offers heritage character” with “modern amenities”.

There is not a whole lot to say about the Lower Hutt Town Hall, other than the hero image on its website is almost certainly from an Elvis impersonator contest. According to the FAQ, it has wifi available onsite, which must be a relief, and is licensed until 1am, which will be even more of a relief for attendees who, win or lose, will certainly deserve a drink or two tonight.

Keep going!