Drum roll please. Just when you thought the year was buried, we present the inaugural Golden Jandals, the political awards you didn’t know you needed, as judged by our academy, aka Ben McKay and Toby Manhire.
Let’s not pretend this was a good year in politics. Anti-vax, anti-mandate, anti-everything protesters set a tone in February which was hard to escape.
We don’t even know if it was a consequential year in politics. The government’s biggest reforms – in industrial relations, in health, Three Waters – could all be gone by lunchtime this time next year if the polling trajectory continues and the opposition stay true to their pledges.
Even if the biggest award might go to the fact of the year finally ending, there are other prizes to hand out. So please check in your coat and join us for some festive revelry, in the form of the Spinoff Golden Jandals for 2022.
The Tip Top Axing Goody Goody Gumdrop Tubs Award for most un-Kiwi behaviour
The anti-vaxxers descended onto the parliamentary precinct, dug trenches, set up daycare, plumbed toilets in the street, abused the public, mixed with far-right extremists, sold crypto and refused to leave until they were driven out, setting the grounds alight and throwing bricks at police officers. Feels like an eon ago. Actually it was February.
Bejewelled Goblet for the Barry that made the biggest splash in New Zealand politics
Sorry to Barrys Soper, Crump, Maggie and Hilary but the winner is Manilow, thanks to DJ Trevor’s sprinkler-assisted blast from the parliamentary forecourt. The occupiers said they were emboldened. The police said it made their job harder. Thanks Trevor. Enjoy Ireland.
The Reply Guy Award
Hat tip to Shane Reti for thinking on his feet in the wake of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption which crippled communications to Tonga back in January. National’s Pacific Peoples spokesperson tweeted at and wrote to Elon Musk to direct his Starlink satellites to Tonga to provide internet access. Musk donated 50 satellite terminals later that month. Not sure what happened to Musk after that. Kept a low profile, good luck to him.
The James Joyce Award for writing passages of text so long and abstruse that even those who claimed to have read them in truth only skimmed it
Gaurav Sharma, congratulations. If only the Metaverse had been properly up and running, the rebel MP might have got more cut-through with his infinite scroll Facebook posts.
The Byelection of the Year Award
Hamilton West. In that it is yet to produce an ugly scandal and National’s candidate shortlist didn’t look like a casting call for a human wine biscuit. That’s growth.
The Bridges of Sighs Award for the most relieved New Zealander
Jan Tinetti upon hearing that National had forgiven Sam Uffindell and she wouldn’t have to cheerfully lose a byelection twice in one year.
The Hot Mic Cold Heart award for being recorded unawares calling someone a prick
Auckland’s hideaway mayor Wayne Brown must have thought he had this in the bag after being caught calling journalist Simon Wilson a prick and fantasising about pissing on his image on a urinal, but Jacinda Ardern takes the prize after an 11th hour mutter about David Seymour being an “arrogant prick”. Credit to the Act leader and the PM for being GCs in auctioning the Hansard to raise money for prostate cancer.
The NZSO Award for A Sharp minor reshuffle
The Wellington Airport Prize for turbulent departures
Kris Faafoi stayed in politics as a personal favour to the prime minister, only to exit the government with all sorts of messes. Immigration reforms, hate speech laws and that pesky TVNZ-RNZ merger all gathered dust on his desk only to become other ministers’ problems. To top it off, he opened a lobbying firm three months after his departure, starting a fresh Faafoi furore over whether New Zealand’s lobbying laws are too lax. (Spoiler: they are.)
The RNZAF Award for cooling jets
A comfortable win in this category for Reserve Bank governor Adrian Orr, who wished us all a very miserly Christmas and a choppy new year.
The Weather Bomb Prize for most unavoidable meteorological metaphor
Storm clouds came close, but the winner in this category is the now ubiquitous “headwinds”. At some point next year the weather and economics may literally merge.
The Seinfeld Award for a show about nothing
In the most Greens thing ever, James Shaw lost a leadership ballot to no one, was forced to campaign against no one, apologised to Greens members on Facebook and then won re-election over no one in a six-week campaign no one wanted. All while Greens support stayed near historic highs.
The Joanah Ngan-Woo Hand Award for leaving it to the last minute
This goes to Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer for leaving the big boys hanging on. Are they obtainable to either of the major parties to form a government? Jury is out. And that could be very useful in 2023 if they’re the only parliamentary party left unaligned.
The Relentlessly Positive Prize for always asking interviewers how they are today
Christopher Luxon, by a country smile. “Good morning Corin. How are you today” could be his “Jessica then Tova”.
The Devon Street Medal for U-turn of the year
One of the most hotly contested categories. National’s top tax rate scrap U-turn was more of an oil tanker pivot. Labour’s Three Waters entrenchment u-turn was too complicated. Winston’s working with Ardern U-turn may yet come to nothing.
For sheer speed and audacity, the winner is the KiwiSaver Tax (which was in fact simply the fair application of GST on fees). God bless David Parker for his frank admission that he and Grant Robertson took one read of the papers and decided this was a battle not worth fighting. “We reflected on the news media this morning and the furore we created in the undermining of KiwiSaver that was occurring and we thought, [the change] is not that important to us,” he said.
The Possum Bourne Award for the Most Compelling U-turn commentary
David Seymour. “He’s gone down to the parking lot, put the diesel on the tarmac and done a big doughy, lighting it up in his Nissan.”
The Just Waiting For A Mate award
Joint winners are Peeni Henare, Jacinda Ardern and the Press Gallery, all left stranded by malfunctioning New Zealand Defence Force planes this year. Henare was stuck in the Solomon Islands, the travelling journos were stuck in Washington DC for repairs, and Ardern was twice delayed on her Antarctic trip, producing an extra unscheduled night in the harsh and icy climate of both Christchurch and Scott Base.
The Let Me Be Clear Award for absence of clarity
To Willie Jackson who was given approximately 10,000 chances to explain the need to merge TVNZ and RNZ and couldn’t do it. His Q+A interview with Jack Tame was memorably described as “excess Willieness” by Claire Trevett. Whatever the merits of the policy, it instead has been seen as a painful exercise in burning money and political capital and now appears set for the scrap.
The Max Key Shield for online influencing
After Chloe Swarbrick’s “OK, boomer” line in 2019 and Jacinda Ardern calling Judith Collins a Karen in 2021, Chris Hipkins – both Covid-19 and education minister – came through by answering a written parliamentary question with nothing but a meme.
The Pretty Legal Prize for American musical contribution to the National Party
US rapper Gamal Kosh Lewis, better known as LunchMoney Lewis, for inspiring Chris Luxon’s rendition of ‘Bills’ back in August. After receiving the honour of a puppet made in his likeness from the Backbenchers pub, Luxon picked the song as his walk-on music for the caricature reveal, and happily sang it to TVNZ as it “sums up how New Zealanders are feeling across this country”. Lewis somehow saw the clip, and said “it was a little shocking”. In a desperately unneeded development in November, students at Manurewa Intermediate got in on the gag, singing it with Luxon.
The Laser Kiwi Award for missed opportunities
Shared by both the National caucus and the Waitangi National Trust. (Stay with us on this one.) The Trust for scrapping in-person Waitangi Day celebrations this year, and the Nats for binning Judith Collins as leader before she had the chance to achieve her dream of speaking on the marae. Imagine the scenes.
The HBO Prize for most original White Lotus Series 3 location Idea
Christopher Luxon, Te Puke.
The Mike Hosking Memorial Trophy for broadcast conviviality
The on-screen tension between Ryan Bridge and Jacinda Ardern is electric. It’s quite incredible how much contempt they have for one another. And we get to see it for free every second Monday.
The Wes Craven Award for extraordinary achievements in Gore
Ben Bell, child mayor.
The Long to Reign Over Us Award for the British Elizabeth that loomed largest in New Zealand politics owing to the extraordinary length of her tenure
Dancing Kiwifruit of the Year
In a two-horse race, we’re giving it to the Zespri Green over the Zespri Gold. Green is in control – the Gold sway is too loose.
And finally …
Politician of the year
Chris Luxon. How could it not be? Inherited a broken party and put them in an election-making position. There were a few laughs (welcome to McDonalds, this is Chris Luxon speaking) and head-scratchers (Sam Uffindell, NZ businesses getting soft, bottom feeders) along the way. And the bloke will need to replace his swiping with actual policies next year. But his discipline and salvage job means National are walking into 2023 as the team to beat. Highly commended: Tory Whanau, Nicola Willis, David Seymour, Michael Wood, Ayesha Verrall.