Squad goals: Emotional junior staffer, Trevor Mallard and babies, unruly tourist in Bunnings hat, Lorde in prison (Illustration: Toby Morris)
Squad goals: Emotional junior staffer, Trevor Mallard and babies, unruly tourist in Bunnings hat, Lorde in prison (Illustration: Toby Morris)

SocietyOctober 30, 2019

Eight extremely topical and uniquely New Zealand Halloween costumes

Squad goals: Emotional junior staffer, Trevor Mallard and babies, unruly tourist in Bunnings hat, Lorde in prison (Illustration: Toby Morris)
Squad goals: Emotional junior staffer, Trevor Mallard and babies, unruly tourist in Bunnings hat, Lorde in prison (Illustration: Toby Morris)

Don’t have your costume sorted yet? Fear not: Halloween and bizarre news story enthusiasts Alice Neville and Toby Morris bring you eight ideas guaranteed to impress and terrify the neighbours in equal measure. 

It’s a little-known fact that the Halloween costume was invented in a small Scottish village in 1585, when local children dressed up as a neighbourhood ne’er-do-well who had been the subject of much tittle-tattle in preceding months amid accusations he’d received a shipment of stolen mangelwurzels and passed them off as turnips at the local market.

OK, that’s not so much a fact as a cool story I just made up based extremely loosely on various Wikipedia entries about Halloween, but the point remains: topical Halloween costumes are the best Halloween costumes. A simple search of the world wide web will provide you with many ideas that might be fine for the swish Halloween parties of London or New York or Hong Kong, but what are you, a traitor? A true patriot will choose the most niche, the most parochial, the most absolutely-inexplicable-to-anyone-who-hasn’t-spent-the-past-nine-months-in-Aotearoa-reading-obscure-news-stories costume they can find. 

Here are some ideas to get you started.


Illustration: Toby Morris

At the beginning of the year of our lord 2019, New Zealand was under siege from a family of tourists whose behaviour shocked right-thinking members of the community to their very core. They littered, they swore, they stole, they swindled. They had us on the edges of our seats wondering what crazy antics they’d get up to next. Their cult-like leader in this reign of terror was a small chap in a Bunnings hat, with whom Madeleine Chapman bravely attempted to negotiate.

This fearsome figure would make an easy costume – blue shorts, bare chest, small stature, aggro attitude, Bunnings hat. It’s thought the exact hat is available only in Australian Bunnings stores but even the extremely lazy and uncreative could fashion their own with a generic straw hat, a green ribbon, a pen and the ability to spell BUNNINGS. If you want to take it to the next level, pixelate your actual face, and leave rubbish in your wake. (BUT GO BACK AND PICK IT UP LATER YOU ANIMAL.)


The Waipu terror doll in all her creepy guises (Photos: Newshub; Seven Sharp)

In August, something truly terrifying happened and not a day goes by when I don’t think about it. A creepy-as-fuck several-hundred-years-old doll was stolen from the museum in Waipu, a small town in Northland, and several days later returned to the letterbox of said museum – get this – SCALPED* and wrapped in a bread bag. Dressing as the Waipu terror doll (as it was dubbed at Spinoff HQ) in its unadulterated form would be sufficient to strike fear into the hearts of most: ghostly white visage, deranged hair, giant, manic eyes that have definitely been the last thing many, many a victim has seen.

But to really take it up a notch, to truly harness the topical nature of this costume, you need to go for the post-theft look. Get one of those bald caps, attach a few strands of deranged hair to give the impression you have been scalped, wrap yourself in something that resembles a giant Molenberg Soy & Linseed Toast Bread bag, jump into a letterbox and you’re good to go. 

*It appears that despite what was implied in initial reports, the Waipu terror doll had been scalped while being dragged out from under her glass dome rather than in a deliberate act of sadistic violence. Still, creepy.


Illustration: Toby Morris

Ah, the emotional junior staffer. An icon so, um, iconic that Hayden Donnell wrote a song about him (or her, or them…) If your mind needs refreshing, here’s the tea: in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks of 15 March, a page on the National Party website pointing to a petition to stop the UN migration pact disappeared. National told The Spinoff it had been routinely archived – nothing to see here.

The good folk of the internet soon proved that to be false. National Party leader Simon Bridges then came clean, blaming the poor ol’ emotional junior staffer. What better way to immortalise this dubious hero (other than the Donnell ditty, of course) than with a Halloween costume? It’s easy as to achieve – appearance wise, just tap into a young Nat vibe (don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about), think about something really sad, and simultaneously bring to mind your most monumental work fuck-up ever. Bingo. 



Cast your mind back to June, when a sleepy west Auckland suburb was under siege. As The Spinoff’s exclusive and explosive video footage revealed, Titirangi was infested with rodents, great big dirty disgusting filthy rats that may or may not have been somewhere in the vicinity of cat-sized. Rat costumes are relatively easy to find on the internet, but most appear to be cute rather than shit-your-pants-and-haunt-your-dreams-terrifying. No matter, it’s easy to go from charming to revolting in a few easy steps – it’s called accessorising, bitch.

This prop’s a good model: redden up your eyes, yellow up your teeth, froth at the mouth a little. You know, look like you could, and most certainly would, gnaw a fully grown human to death at the drop of a hat, while at the same time infecting said human with a selection of the worst diseases known to mankind. If you’ve got a posse, a pack of rats – a biblical plague, if you will – will really up the terror factor. 


Illustration: Toby Morris

Remember back in 2009 when everyone dressed up as that guy from The Hangover for Halloween? All you needed was a beard and a front pack with a baby wearing cool shades. A decade on, New Zealand has its very own version of said easy-yet-instantly-recognisable-and-vaguely-amusing costume. Speaker of the house Trevor Mallard, when he’s not melting over Maria Folau, correcting the grammar of public transport bodies’ tweets or kicking Simon Bridges out of the house, bloody loves holding babies.

In August, footage of Trev giving fellow Labour MP Tāmati Coffey’s pēpi Tūtānekai a bottle in the speaker’s chair went global. It was nothing new, however: in 2017 he was snapped in a similar pose with wee Heeni, whose mum is Labour MP Willow-Jean Prime. Trev has probably held Neve Ardern-Gayford a bunch of times too, which in sum means this qualifies as a #topical #halloween #costume. Requirements: pinstripe suit, stripy tie, optionally stripy shirt (lot of stripes – hope you don’t suffer from migraines), baby (real or fake), bottle. For maximum effect, up the number of babies on your person. The more babies the merrier.


Illustration: Toby Morris

Earlier this month, National revealed it was considering a policy that would fine the parents of early school leavers if they didn’t enter work, education or training. The Spinoff compiled a list of successful New Zealand high school dropouts who would have been subject to this penalty, including the likes of Parris Goebel, Sonny Bill Williams, Paula Bennett and, yes, the good Lorde herself. Somehow, in the deep, mysterious workings of the internet, this turned into a whole lot of memes about Lorde festering in a miserable Antipodean jail cell at the ends of the earth, and the hashtag #FreeLorde began trending.

Eerily, respected music journalist Ernest Penman revealed in The Spinoff that the singer’s very own tunes had foretold her incarceration. It all added up to a very weird few days and a very good Halloween costume. To achieve it, simply choose your favourite Lorde look and accessorise with handcuffs, then encase yourself in an actual jail cell in the manner of a small child trapped in that terrifying wobbly Grimace prison thing at the Johnsonville McDonald’s circa 1991. 



With the nation’s local elections now but a happy memory (The Spinoff’s pop-up section remains, however, if you’re keen to relive those heady days), one image is burned forever in my brain (and not just because one may have somehow ended up in The Spinoff office). I’m talking about, dear readers, Ted Johnston’s election hoarding. The Auckland mayoral candidate inexplicably chose to appeal to voters by writing his name, phone number and qualifications on a large photo of himself in terrifying slasher-film-style paint with the effect being, as Toby Morris eloquently put it, more nightmare than mayor.

He came in a not-too-shabby fifth with a respectable 15,637 votes, so the unique approach must have struck a chord with some constituents, who can now honour their chosen leader by emulating his style come Halloween. It’s easy to do: get an A3 piece of cardboard, draw on a suited torso, cut a hole to poke your head through, slap on some words in as murderous a font as possible and head out to strike terror into the hearts of those who didn’t vote Ted.


Too soon? The All Black captain’s bloodied visage was emblematic of the mood of the nation on Saturday night, after our boys were cruelly dispatched from the Rugby World Cup at the hands of Perfidious Albion. The way the blood pooled around the sunken hollow of his right eye, sweeping out at the edge in an artful flick, was almost too perfect, giving a Ziggy Stardust or perhaps Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road vibe to our fallen hero. The small dribble from the inner corner perfectly evoked a single tear, while the long trail down the cheek and the smudge on the nose gave old mate Reado a vampiric, Halloween-appropriate demeanour. Again, this look is easy to emulate and instantly recognisable – fake blood, All Blacks jersey, glum look. Done. Have fun out there.

Image: Archi Banal

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