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Ding. Illustration: Archi Banal
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PoliticsDecember 20, 2023

The 2023 Golden Jandals for conspicuous contributions to NZ politics

Ding. Illustration: Archi Banal
Ding. Illustration: Archi Banal

The glittery rubber footwear gongs of New Zealand politics are back, as assessed by the Jandal Academy: Ben McKay and Toby Manhire.

It’s that time again. Across Aotearoa, weary but excited souls are readying for holidays, feasts, presents, long naps and, most of all, the Golden Jandals. “Can’t wait for the GJs 2023,” said one. (It was Toby.) “Bring on the jandos, long may they glitter,” said another. (That was Ben.)

And so, we present for the second year, the most beloved and respected New Zealand political awards named after footwear: The Golden Jandals of 2023. Please silence your phones and open your hearts. 

The Clean Car Rebate Award for being out of gas

Jacinda Ardern really did bury the lede on January 19. She announced the date of the election and then she quit, New Zealand’s most prominent exponent of the Great Resignation. An unknown number of Labour MPs accordingly set about a related trend across the year: quiet quitting. Others were discernibly noisier. 

The revelation that “I no longer have enough in the tank”, meanwhile, resonated with the National Party, which is responding by reopening offshore gas and oil exploration.

The Cost of Rizzing prize for look of the year

From Brooke van Velden to Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, from Nicola Willis to the Orange Guy, there were some sharp fits across election year. But there can be only one winner.

The day New Zealanders realised he was about to be prime minister, Chris Hipkins opted for the speed dealers.

Would Labour have won had they promised a wealth tax, or if Jacinda Ardern had stuck around? Don’t know. A better question is by what margin they’d have been returned to power had Chippy rocked this look every day through the campaign.  

The Googly Eyes Award for sheer terror

Speaking of an incredible look, freshly sworn prime minister Chris Hipkins resembled a billboard adorned with googly eyes as Auckland mayor Wayne Brown got into another row with media at a standup following the January floods. 

Chris Hipkins at that press conference.

The Golden Candle for biggest policy bonfire of the year

Chris Hipkins looked to have a lock on this when he hurled a heap of Labour government policy on to the fire, only for Christopher Luxon to find an even bigger pile of the same stuff to feed to the hungry flames. 

The Golden Fire Extinguisher for jokes about setting things ablaze

Third and last is David Seymour, for his bad joke about Guy Fawkes and the Ministry of Pacific Peoples. 

Second is Christopher Luxon, for his line in an opening parliamentary exchange, directed at the new leader of the opposition Chris Hipkins – “like an arsonist, who having thrown accelerants all over the joint and lit the place up … simply loiters and hangs around at the scene of the crime.” 

The winner, however, is David Seymour, who directed an unmistakably similar, though much more succinct, line at Winston Peters a few weeks earlier in the election campaign, saying the NZ First leader was “like an arsonist showing up dressed as a fireman, saying, ‘I am here to help.’”

The scene of David Seymour arson barb. (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

The Log O Wood for blazing out

A dangerous year to be flammable, and three ousted MPs share this sorry prize. Michael Wood, gone. Michael Woodhouse, also gone. Sarah Pallett? Farewell. Megan Woods remains, but is advised to relocate her office to the parliamentary pool.

The Vegetable Growers Association Award for eating your Greens

Hipkins’ bonfire included a bunch of stuff held dearly by the Green Party. Bewildered and blindsided, their MPs bemoaned a “slap in the face”. 

The No-Sinkhole-Too-Big Award for patching over a colossal rift

Winston Peters and David Seymour called each other untrustworthy clowns and cuckolds. They exchanged verbal blows about literal punches. And then, remarkably, they made it up, in the common cause of power and extracting hefty concessions from the third man, Mr Luxon.

The Potato Gun in the Foot Prize for biggest misfire

Chris Hipkins and the almighty Bread and Butter Mini-Beet GST boondoggle

Lloyd Burr and his Baby-Beets. Photo: Toby Manhire

The Elon Musk Award for being sure to store your password somewhere safely so you won’t be later humiliated

Mark Cameron and his old Twitter account.

The History Curriculum Innovation Award for somehow managing to piss off Nelson Mandela’s family

David Seymour’s claim that Mandela would support the Act Party earned a rebuke from the South African hero’s grandson, Kweku. 

The Puffed-Up Little Shit Memorial Award for making politicians go doolally 

Willie Jackson and then Winston Peters got so upset by Jack Tame having the temerity to seek answers to questions on a programme literally named after questions and answers they more or less threatened to fire him and shut down TVNZ.

The Maybe The Crown Could Get Even Weirder With a Series Set in the NZ Parliament Award for monarchical contemplations

Congratulations, Winston Peters, who responded to David Seymour’s suggestion that a coalition was a bit like a marriage by making reference to Charles and Camilla, saying: “It begs the comparison with Diana’s marriage. You remember? Well, a marriage between three parties is not possible. I don’t know how he got that so wrong.”

The Ox Is Slow but the Earth Is Patient award for eventually getting their man 

The Cabinet Office, with its 16 polite reminder emails claiming the career of potential Labour leader Michael Wood.

The Ice Cream Award for going soft

The Green Left Network, for not subjecting James Shaw to his annual ritual humiliation at their AGM this year.

The Buzzy Bee Prize for most New Zealand election moment 

Karl Mokaraka was largely a bore in his various disruptions across the campaign but there was something unforgettable and mostly harmless about the image of Angry Fence Man hijacking a Luxon press conference. 

There he is and then he’s gone

The Voldemort Award for things you shouldn’t say

Chris Hipkins for his bed leg sledge in the final debate, which went down like a lead balloon.

The Foreign Interference Award for offshore meddling in Kiwi democracy

Another gong for Chris Hipkins, who scotched Labour’s plans for a big tax switch by ruling out a capital gains tax and wealth tax … while he was in Lithuania for a Nato meeting.

Making Lemonade out of Lemons Award for getting on with it

Kiri Allan spun swiftly through the revolving door from working on new rules for lobbyists as a minister to offering her services as a lobbyist of ministers. But the winner is Stuart Nash, sacked from cabinet for breaching the cabinet manual, who went and wrote an instruction manual for members of the public dealing with cabinet ministers.

Biggest Parker drama of the Year

Runner-up: Posie.

Winner: David leaving cabinet after missing out on tax reform.

The Oh I Thought That Looked Like an Old Cigarette Ad

Winston Peters’ appearance in a saddle declaring, “This is not my first rodeo.” Turns out the horse was called Smokefree NZ and he was riding it back. 

The Crusher Award for best nickname

Shane Cigareti.

The What I would Say to You Award for most Luxony Luxonism

Christopher Luxon swept the board in this category. Highly commended: “mojo”, “strong and stable government”, “we’re making great progress”, “negative, wet, whiny, inward-looking country”.

Winner: A sentence from a press conference on November 3 as special votes were added in and Luxon was about to embark on serious coalition negotiations. “We need to elevate up and say, ‘Well, what are the big rocks and the additive things that actually the other parties are bringing to our agenda? What are the things we’ve got variance in?” 

Christopher Luxon sends a message to the GJA (Golden Jandals Academy). Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

Statesman of the Year

Damien O’Connor, sent solo to Apec to rub shoulders with Xi Jinping and Joe Biden, due to apologies from Chris Luxon (busy negotiating a government) and Chris Hipkins (didn’t fancy it).

Non-Statesman of the Year

Damien O’Connor, who told patiently-waiting journalists outside Labour’s first caucus meeting to “fuck off” as he took a bathroom break.

Two-Statesman of the Year

Damien O’Connor, who became the first Labour MP to label Israel’s onslaught in Gaza as a genocide in a surprisingly impassioned parliamentary address.

Pictured in the sea, perhaps thinking about a free and independent Palestine

The Ooh-Er Cup for awkward political innuendo

Runner Up: Erica Stanford loses control of her sentence and places Michael Wood and Chris Hipkins in unpleasurable positions.

Winner: Nicola Willis gets a little fiscally frisky with Grant Robertson.

The Confused Jimmy Stewart Award for Y-I-huh?

When Chris Hipkins soft-launched his new romantic partner on election night the country gasped in unison, “Tony with a Y, or Toni with an I?”

The Speed II: Cruise Control award for crap sequel

Runner Up: Chris Hipkins’ prime ministership.

Winner: The Kiwi brothers, who popped up in China, but appear to have changed and are doing much less swaying. Bring back the swaying!

The Goldenest Jandal of Them All Award for politician of the year

Christopher Luxon is the winner. Two reasons.

1) Just over four years ago he was an ordinary hardworking CEO of Air New Zealand. He became an MP in the 2020 election, was thrust a year later to the cockpit of a nosediving National Party, and righted it all the way to a safe landing on the ninth floor. 

2) For correctly predicting, along with senior party figures, that a three-headed coalition would be a bit of a nightmare.

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