Friday, July 18, 2014

My first political Public Meeting

Last night, I went to the first political Public Meeting I’ve ever been to. There’s no particular reason why I never attended one before, but I went to this one because it was for Richard Hills, the Labour candidate in our electorate.

When I moved to New Zealand, I saw that politicians—elected and campaigning—held something called a “public meeting”, and it confused me. Where I was from, officials conducted “public meetings” to inform people about some immediate issue or crisis, like a drought or something of public concern. In New Zealand, they were opportunities for people to hear about the issues of the day and to ask questions of candidates and officeholders.

The main reason I never attended such an event was that they’re usually held on weeknight evenings, and I don’t like doing things like that in the evenings (or on weekends), which are family time for me. This time, I was helping a bit with the event, and, anyway, I wanted to add numbers for Richard’s event.

Except in unusual circumstances, such events have relatively low turnout—maybe a couple dozen or so—because they’re held in specific local areas and are attended mainly by the people in those areas. Even so, we had a better than average turnout, though that’s only part of it: The flyers distributed in the area helped to get Richard’s name and the Labour Party presence out in the surrounding area, which is Labour-aligned but also historically has had low voter turnout. So, the flyers helped to create awareness and enthusiasm for Richard and Labour that the actual public meeting built on.

Several other Labour electorate candidates attended, including current Labour List MP, and Te Tai Torkerau candidate, Kelvin Davis, Hermann Retzlaff, Labour candidate for the newly-created Upper Harbour electorate, Greg Milner-White, Labour candidate for East Coast Bays electorate. Shanan Halbert, a Labour List candidate, was also there. They all said a few words, too.

The photo at top is from the Richard Hills for Northcote Facebook page (I forget who actually took it). Yes, I’m in the photo, but my face is obscured by someone’s hand. The photo was taken some time after the meeting ended, and cups of tea and coffee had been had, along with some wonderful baking. I took the photo below awhile before the meeting began.

All in all, it was a good night. There was a lot of enthusiasm among the people attending, and a strong commitment to turn out the vote for Labour and #ForABetterNZ. It warmed an otherwise cold night!

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