In the lead up to the election next week, all hands are on deck at the National HQ in Auckland. The Northern Region Young Nats have organised a Campaign Weekend, full of human hoardings, letterboxing, doorknocking, and other visibility exercises. Throughout the weekend I’ve been fortunate enough to meet sitting MPs, candidates, and even the PM and his wife.
Our time in NZ has been action packed, last weekend for example started with 15 Young Nationals accompanying the National List MP aligned with Epsom, Paul Goldsmith to the Parnell Markets, distributing collateral and meeting the locals. This was the first of the shock and awe events for the weekend, with 15 young people in blue shirts being an impressive sight.
The next event was human hoarding in Maungakiekie with Denise Lee, the local candidate. Maungakiekie is a bellwether seat, with the party that eventually forms government generally winning the seat. With the rain pouring down, and the music going, the Young Nats choreographed a dance with the signs, much to the delight of drivers by.
We moved on to more hoarding with Nikki Kaye in Auckland Central, before catching the ferry over to Waiheke Island. This was easily the highlight of the day, letterboxing along the beach and doorknocking with views of the entire island. The local member Nikki Kaye is formidable in her own right, with a drive that encouraged all the Young Nats to work as hard as they could.
Naturally we had a break for the All Blacks game (and dinner), for a few hours. Sharing a few beers with the locals, and the other Young Nats who came out to volunteer.
After dinner and a few beers, we spread out to letterbox for Maggie Barry, the MP for North Shore. This was the first time that I’d letterboxed in the middle of the night, but the weather actually let up and it was a perfect night.
Day 2 of the Campaign Weekend was action packed, starting at the markets again, this time in Parnell with Paul Goldsmith and Nikki Kaye. We had a special guest as well, with the PM, Bill English, making an appearance. This was a good opportunity for the local members, Nikki Kaye and Paul Goldsmith, to improve their visibility through the PM. We spent the rest of the day following the PM on his tour, through to Botany Bay and St Lukes. The reception was extremely warm for the PM, barely moving 100m over an hour or so he was that swamped.
We bookended the day with letterboxing and doorknocking with Chris Penk in Helensville, ex-PM John Key’s old seat.
The weekend ended with a homecooked meal at the family farm of Stefan Sunde, the president of the NZ Young Nats, the perfect end to a non-stop weekend.
I’ve come to enjoy the volunteering with the Young Nats. I feel like we’re making a real difference, influencing the end result come Saturday.
Hugh Sutton is a South Australian Young Liberal.