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The smell of beer and fried food was accompanied with an air of tranquillity at The Sideline Sports Bar in Richmond.
The small mid-afternoon crowd could barely be heard above the faint music being played through the speakers.
I approach a group, with the question, who are you going to vote for?
They all shake their heads except one, Mike Poulter.
He proudly says his last name is of Catholic origin.
“You were excommunicated you ****,” one of the group from the other end of the table says out. The word of course is unprintable.
Once Poulter regathers himself after dishing out some words of his own to the accuser, he is more than happy to say he has already voted Labour.
“I have always been a Labour voter, I just like their policies and the way they have run the country while looking after working class,” he said.
Poulter smiles wrily and continues to lay out his political ideologies for all to hear.
Then he turns away and starts to whisper to his friends as a man with a long beard walks through the door.
“F***, is that Bin Laden?” they whisper to each other. “What is he doing here?”
The man they call Bin Laden sits down opposite Poulter, a beer in hand. He is more than happy to talk politics.
Bin Laden has voted in previous elections but has no intentions of voting in this one.
There are numerous murmurs around the table, then Poulter calls him a “f****** w*****.”
“You have no right to complain if you don’t vote,” Poulter points out.
Bin Laden strikes back: “I pay three lots of f***ing tax on my pension, I’m sick of the ****,” using the unprintable word.
Things are heating up. Insults are traded, and then threats.
“It would not even be a punch-up, you would have to find an apple box for him [Poulter],” Bin Laden says.
Fists are hammered onto the table to add emphasis to arguments, saliva is launched across the room as voices raise. The dispute is building quickly.
Then Bin Laden pulls out a hunting knife and waves it in Pouter’s face.
Poulter freezes, and smiles. “I love you bro,” he says as the knife is waved perilously close to his face.
Bin Laden puts the knife back in his pocket. Normal transmission resumes and he is allowed to expand on his reasons for abstaining from voting.
“It’s all coming out of the cobwebs. They [politicians] are all lying, saying they are going to do this and do that. At the end of the day, it is all the same and we have to pay as taxpayers, it is just wrong, it is just borrowed money.”
Poulter holds his tongue but can not resist interjecting when Bin Laden shares his opinion that Jacinda Ardern has “f***ed this country.”
“You are a lunatic,” says Poulter.
Bin Laden responds: “You said you would stop talking to me. Just listen. As a gun lobbyist, she crucified every innocent gun owner in New Zealand. We used to have the best country in the world for hunting.”
Discussion around Ardern’s decision to ban all military-style-semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles after the March 15 terror attacks, quickly develops into an argument similar to the one earlier.
This somehow develops into an argument about ACC.
Banging on the table and bellowing from the pair resumes as they attempted to outwit each other in a debate plagued with profanities.
Accusations of being a “dole bludger”, who paid more in tax, fuels the lively debate.
Tensions eventually cool and the pair who have known each other since high school put politics aside. Friends who had earlier left the table begin to rejoin them and “thirsty Friday” drinks resume as if nothing had happened.
Time for The Star to move on.
“I mean as far as the party vote goes, it will have to be Labour, I just don’t think National has much going on at the moment. From what I have seen they are on the attack a bit, I always have faith in someone who has policies to show rather than just picking holes in the opposition,” he says.
Having only just moved into the Christchurch Central electorate, he was unsure which candidate he would be supporting as his local representative. In the past, he tended to support Gerry Brownlee in the Ilam electorate.
Peter, just Peter, is enjoying a Steinlager on the other side of bar.
A Christchurch Central voter also, he had already voted for the National candidate Dale Stephens, who is vying to unseat the Labour MP Duncan Webb.
“I am more aligned with their philosophies and policies than any other parties. They suit my lifestyle more than a Labour Government does. I think the country would be much better off with a National, Act collaboration or something like that.”
Bruce Hemara from Palmerston North, who played forManawatu, was a Maori All Black and was part of All Blacks squad for the 1985 tour of Argentina, is voting Labour.
“I am pretty happy with how things are going,” he said.
Former Maori All Black Arthur Stone who played for Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Otago and was an All Black during the 1980s said he was voting National.
“I’m an employer and I don’t think she [Jacinda] helps. She has created so much debt for the country, it is going to be awkward paying it back. She gives away too much and she needs to stick to policies she has promised people,” he said.
Their friend Steve deMalmache, a self-described “Joe Bloggs” and self-employed painter, said he was planning to vote “anyone but Labour bro.”
“Mainly because of just history. It all started with David Lange, he sold everything that was purposeful, Helen Clark did that as well,” he said.
He was split between voting either Green, ACT or National.
The trio are soon joined by Canterbury rugby legend and former All Black Bill Bush, who is also a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the sport.
Bush is undecided on which party he would vote for and what candidate he would choose to represent him as his local MP in the Te Tai Tonga electorate.
Wilson doesn’t agree with Labour’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $20 an hour and was leaning towards backing National.
During the lockdown period the two business partners made the decision to shutdown their store in Riccarton after the business like many others took a substantial hit from the pandemic. They now currently operate out of the one store in Rangiora, and an online store.
“I just think to myself, people like us cannot afford to put the wage up anymore,” she said.
Wilson said she was likely to support incumbent Waimakariri MP, National’s Matt Doocey who had done a “good job.”
Latham shared the same views as his business partner who happened to also be his partner in life.
“They look after the working people, pensioners, etc, they always have,” he said.
Along Lincoln Rd at Morrell & Co in Addington, Cam Pluck and Brad Ward were enjoying a raspberry coke, pizza and side of chips.
Ward, who was visiting Christchurch from the Papakura electorate, also planned to give his party vote to National and electorate vote to leader Judith Collins as she seeks to retain the seat she has held since 2008.
Tiarnan Colgan, a Wigram electorate voter, is voting for incumbent Labour MP Megan Woods. But, his party vote went to the Greens.
“I did it to keep Labour honest, well not really, more to have a slightly greener Government,” he said.
In the outdoors area of the Fox and Ferret in Riccarton was Sarah Roe. She was angling towards voting for Labour.
“I really like the way Jacinda has handled things and I like her as a person. But, I feel like I need to do a bit more research into parties and their policies before fully deciding,” she said.
She was unsure who she would be supporting in the race to become MP for the Wigram electorate she is part of.
Kirkland said they were both undecided and needed to do more research before reaching a final decision.
He thought there was “not much too complain about” under a Labour-led Government but felt National were “trying to innovate a little more.”
Windle’s views were “pretty much’’ the same as Kirkland’s.
This ended The Star’s whistle-stop tour which uncovered a mixture of views and mélange of opinions.
All will be revealed on Saturday.