Word on the street: Jacinda factor and Covid loom large for voters

Actor Norman Forsey has worked with Peter Jackson, Billy T James and David Bowie.
Actor Norman Forsey has worked with Peter Jackson, Billy T James and David Bowie.
The widespread support for Labour and growing dismay around the National Party, which has been evident in the latest polls, was mirrored throughout the streets of Christchurch.

A recent Newshub-Reid Research Poll had Labour on 60.9 per cent and National on 25.1 per cent.

The Lord of The Rings actor and Hei Hei resident Norman Forsey was an example of the strong support for Labour, which could easily be found throughout the city’s streets.

Forsey played Gaffer Gamgee in the first movie of the critically-acclaimed trilogy, has also featured on the Billy T James Show and attended the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama with award-winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins.

He was on his way home from the Hornby Hub when approached by Star Media.

Forsey also boasts being hired as David Bowie’s personal assistant when the pop icon came to Auckland in the 1980s to film segments of Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence.

The proud Welshman, who worked for the BBC for 12 years before coming to New Zealand, flies a Welsh flag on the back of his mobility scooter which features a dragon named Gerald on the front.

When it came to politics, he said it would be difficult for him coming from “quite a liberal country” to vote National.

“I am a Labour supporter, I’m Welsh, if I voted National, lightning would come down from the sky and strike me down,” he said.

Former gang members James Quist and Dominic Knight say their vote will be going to “Aunty Jacinda".
Former gang members James Quist and Dominic Knight say their vote will be going to “Aunty Jacinda".
On the other side of the city in New Brighton, former gang members Dominic Knight and James Quist echoed Forsey’s support for Labour.

When asked who he was voting for, Knight responded with “Aunty Jacinda”.

“She has been good to us man, Aunty Jacinda has got our back eh,” he said.

Quist reinforced Knight’s comments.

“Aunty Jacinda puts food on the table, she helps us out. The Covid-19 stuff she dealt with so well,” he said.

Support for National was hard to come by near Canterbury University.

While the party has been attempting to ignite a resurgence with new leader Judith Collins and deputy leader Gerry Brownlee, this did not seem to matter to 19-year-old student Adarsh Chand who said he was probably going to vote Labour.

Adarsh Chand.
Adarsh Chand.
Chand cited the Government’s response to the pandemic and not having to pay for his first year at university, a policy Labour brought into action in 2018, as reasons for his decision.

He was not impressed with National’s response to the pandemic and criticism of the Labour-led Government.

"They are just trying to pick out the small mistakes and blow them out of proportion," he said.

Psychology and philosophy student Angeline Leversedge scoffed when asked if she would consider voting for National.

"God no,” she said.

"I honestly don’t see a situation where I would support them.

"The whole Covid situation showed how bad they are, being focused on profits as opposed to people."

Bryan Menger and Angeline Leversedge.
Bryan Menger and Angeline Leversedge.
The 22-year-old, who was still deciding which party she would give her vote to, was very complimentary towards Ardern and her leadership throughout the term.

“She has done an incredible job given everything she has had to put up with, a terror attack, volcanic eruption, a baby, Covid.”

While biology student Bryan Menger was also undecided on what party he would vote for, National was an unlikely recipient.

"They change their leader as much as their underwear. I did not like Crusher Collins back when I was a bit of a boy racer and I don’t like her now," he said.

Since becoming an MP in 2008, Collins has developed a reputation for being outspoken and was nicknamed “Crusher Collins” after proposing legislation to ‘crush’ the cars of persistent boy racers.

Lucinda Shirreffs.
Lucinda Shirreffs.
Twenty-one-year-old astronomy student Lucinda Shirreffs said she was leaning towards Labour and thought Collins seemed like “a bit of Karen.”

‘Karen’ is a stereotypical name used by millenials and those of generation Z to describe rude, obnoxious and insufferable middle-aged white women.

Shirreffs implied National showed a lack of appeal to her generation.

“I don’t know anyone my age that is voting National, all my friends are either Labour or Green,” she said.

“From what I have seen they [National] seem a bit out of sorts right now, a bit of a shambles kind of.”

While support for Collins and the National Party dwindled throughout campus, it was strong throughout dog walkers in Fendalton Park.

Rob Hempseed.
Rob Hempseed.
This was epitomised by Rob Hempseed.

When asked who he would be voting for, he responded: “Definitely blue, not that I like the Blues, I like the Crusaders.”

“People have been spoonfed for too long and they have forgot how to be self-reliant. There is no such thing as poverty in New Zealand, it is financial mismanagement by the people themselves.”

Hempseed thought the new leadership of the party would give it a boost heading into September’s elections.

“I think it is brilliant, at the top you have got both genders covered, male and female, and you have got the North and South Island balance. Judith Collins doesn’t mince her words, so action will be seen to be done,” he said.

He spoke fondly of Ilam MP Brownlee, who he claims to have known since the senior MP was a “small boy.”

“Gerry, he is another one who is prepared to speak his mind, he had a poisoned chalice with EQC, he was not the only person there, there were other people there that should have had the skills.”

Andrea Louisson.
Andrea Louisson.
Andrea Louisson, who was walking her dog Claude when approached by The Star, was also planning to vote for National.

“Especially now with Judith Collins, I think she has got more going for her economically. I think she will be better for the country economically because we need to tighten the reins after the big spend, and the virus is not going to go away so we have to work around it without more people losing jobs,” she said.

She said she had voted for Brownlee in the past as her local MP and was likely to do so again.

However, among the congregation of National supporters was Philippa Greenman.

Traditionally she has been a National voter, but the Government’s response to the pandemic has swayed her.

“I think it is the fact that she [Jacinda Ardern] has done such a good job, that has swayed me at this stage,” she said.

Philippa Greenman with her partner Trevor Ward.
Philippa Greenman with her partner Trevor Ward.
This resulted in a frown forming on the face of her partner Trevor Ward who described himself as a “blue leaner.”

“I am a capitalist not a socialist,” he said.

Ward planned to vote for Brownlee as his local MP which was another point of difference between the couple.

Stephen Gemmill who was sitting on a sofa outside the Fresh Choice in Barrington Mall said while he was leaning towards voting for National, the party would need a “miracle” to win the election.

"The Todd, Nikki combination never had enough time to work. With Collins and Brownlee, it is too late.

Stephen Gemmill.
Stephen Gemmill.
"There is less than eight weeks, there is not enough time to get the support they need, it would need a miracle. I am a National man, I have always been a National man, but that is what I think,” he said.

John Cumberpatch, who was enjoying some quality time with his grandchildren on London St in Lyttelton, said he was leaning towards National.

In his younger years, he voted for Labour. However, this changed as his political beliefs altered with age.

“Historically I voted for Labour, my dad was a trade unionist and I campaigned for Norman Kirk when I was 21. Then it came apparent the socialist view of the world was about cutting the pie a different way, where I like National’s approach, as it is about making a bigger pie,” he said.

John Cumberpatch, who was enjoying some quality time with his grandchildren and dog Steve in...
John Cumberpatch, who was enjoying some quality time with his grandchildren and dog Steve in Lyttelton, was leaning towards National.
Catherine Patterson, who was scanning through books at the Whitcoulls inside the Hornby Hub when asked for her views leading into the election, said she was leaning towards National “more so now” after Collins was appointed as party leader.

“I don’t think she will take rubbish from people and she might be quite good on the international stage whereas I don’t think Bridges or Muller would have been,” she said.

Bill Chant, who said he had “always been a Tory,” thought he would also stick with National. He saw Collins as a leader he could support and thought Brownlee had a good track record.

While sentiments of support for National could be found scattered throughout the city, they were overshadowed by an overarching feeling of content with a Labour-led Government which has received plaudits across the globe for its response to the pandemic.

Maree Beswick who was treating herself to some hot chips outside of the Bishopdale Mall was proof of this.

“I will definitely vote Labour. I like Jacinda and I like what they have done getting us through Covid,” she said.

Solomon Woldaye.
Solomon Woldaye.
Solomon Woldaye moved to New Zealand from Ethiopia 43 years ago.

He was playing what he referred to as the “beautiful game” in Burwood Park when approached by The Star.

He said in spite of being here for more than four decades, he still didn’t understand New Zealand politics.

However, he thought it was clear to see that the Government had done “really well” in its response to Covid-19, which was likely to earn the party his vote.

Terri Guilford who was walking through Wainoni Park, Aranui, with her children was also leaning towards Labour for the same reasons.

“I am probably going more Labour because Jacinda has done a lot of positive things regarding the pandemic,” she said.

Bryan Strickett.
Bryan Strickett.
Walking along Riccarton Rd was Bryan Strickett. He has never voted for National. A vote for them this time around was looking unlikely.

“I think National are too one-sided, they tend to stick with one part of the community over others, they are more into that method of keeping the elite going, where Jacinda has shown we are all equal in society,” he said.

Soaking in the sunshine and sights on Sumner beach with his son Jayden was Nati Pari. He said  he was voting for “the red party” and planned to vote to re-elect Megan Woods as MP for Wigram.

“I don’t mind the work she has done for her constituents,” he said.

Astrid Neumann, strolling through Sumner, was also leaning towards Labour.

“I always have had leanings in that direction and they [Labour] seem to suit me well,” she said.

Amongst what seemed like a sea of Labour supporters, were shades of green.

Siouxzi Rowe from Lyttelton said she was voting for the Green Party for environmental and social reasons.

Gillian Wilkinson of Sumner was the same.

“The environment was of vital importance, without a healthy environment you can’t have a healthy population,” she said.

Photos: Louis Day



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