Hamilton West voters sent a direct message to the capital on Saturday, although behind the Labour fence some found it had to read.
For those, the NZ Herald’s political editor Claire Trevett spelt it out:
“Make no mistake: no matter what Labour says about the result, it will be—and should be—very worried about it”.
For its part, Point of Order sees it as vindicating the pollsters who in their national sampling traced the gap widening between Labour and National, and becoming so wide even a budget full of handouts couldn’t do the trick in turning back the tide.
As he put it:
“I have been wondering for some time now what happened to the Labour Party that I have supported all my life.
“I am 72, which means I was voting Labour before the current Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, was even born.
“When she was elevated to the top job, I travelled the world bathing in the glow of her international reputation. Her initial response to the Covid pandemic was the envy of the world. Reasoned, compassionate and effective. That was the message so many of her supporters, me included, proudly shared with our international colleagues who marvelled at what was happening in our small corner of the world.
“My answer to them was simple – the world needs more leaders like ours.
“But somewhere things changed and I wondered where it had all gone wrong.
“Last week four events coincided that helped answer that question for me.
“The announcement of the Royal Commission on Covid; Willie Jackson’s ‘train wreck’ interview with Jack Tame on the merger of RNZ and TVNZ; the Three Waters constitutional mistake’… and the Prime Minister featuring on the front page of the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly.
“I have no idea who is advising the Prime Minister at the moment, but surely that article, on sale in supermarkets across the country where ordinary Kiwis come face to face with the cost of living crisis every week, was as tone-deaf as it possibly could have been.
“The pictures of the Prime Minister accompanying the article clearly demonstrated that the crisis was not something that was at the forefront in the thinking of whoever approved those pictures. Under other circumstances, the pictures might have been viewed as aspirational, but in the context of the very real cost of living crisis, they simply flew in the face of the thousands of Kiwi parents who are struggling every week to find ways to simply clothe and feed their children.
“Having access to the designer clothes the Prime Minister featured in the article must have seemed like some far-off fantasy land where the cost of living was never an issue. But it wasn’t just the pictures.
“In the article, the Prime Minister extolled the importance of being together as a family – especially in challenging times.Well, times didn’t get more challenging than they did at the height of the Covid pandemic. Imagine how those hundred of thousands of Kiwi citizens who found themselves locked out of their country by a totally unfit-for-purpose MIQ system, felt seeing the PM finally acknowledging that being together as a family was important.
“Being there when a loved one was dying. Being there for the birth of your child. Being there because you were now an illegal overstayer holed up in a foreign country with no money and no way to earn it.
“The stories that were shared with me during my fruitless attempts to engage with the Prime Minister’s office over ways we could use new technologies to start bringing our fellow Kiwis home, safely, will remain with me forever”.
A deep and sad disillusion there. One suspects it might be widely shared.
Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton