Mayoral candidates mind the babies

By Elizabeth Binning

John Banks holds 6-month-old Holly Mahuru. Photo / Steven McNicholl
John Banks holds 6-month-old Holly Mahuru. Photo / Steven McNicholl

It had to happen sooner or later - Super City mayoral candidates posing with cute babies for the cameras.

John Banks and his rival Len Brown both got into the act on the North Shore yesterday, an area Mr Banks has identified as vital in the battle for the mayoralty.

Mr Banks' opportunity came when he met the Mahuru family at the mall. Striding up to dad Will Mahuru, followed by a horde of cameras, he asked if he could hold baby Holly.

After taking a guess at her age - he thought 5 months and wasn't too far off - Mr Banks smiled for the cameras while the 6-month-old gazed up at him and grabbed his cheek.

"I think I have got a voter here ... Is she eligible?" he joked.

Last week, Mr Banks was telling the Herald he was not a fan of kissing babies on the campaign trail.

It stemmed from an incident in 1984 when he arrived at New Plymouth airport to find a lady with a baby in a pushchair and a toddler holding a sign that said: "Don't you dare kiss my baby Mr Banks."

Yesterday was different, he explained: "You don't kiss babies, that's for sure, but you can hold babies. That was the most beautiful baby I have seen so I enjoyed it very much."

Holly's father told the Herald he was happy for Mr Banks to hold her, but it would not gain him any votes, at least from him.

"I didn't vote for him," he said, adding that none of his family had.

Not to be outdone in the baby stakes, Mr Brown met a group of mothers at a Columbus coffee house, before getting behind the counter to make a brew.

His first stop yesterday was at Smales Farm, where he welcomed 25 cyclists who had come from the city on Nextbikes - a public transport initiative under which people can rent bicycles to get around the city.

The bikes, which are free for the first half-hour, were being brought to the North Shore where they will be permanently based at shopping centres, Park and Ride facilities and AUT's campus.

Mr Brown welcomed the riders and the initiative, saying: "I am here for you to support you and to be a part of where we go next as Aucklanders.We are riding into the future."

Earlier in the day Mr Banks, who has flown for 45 years but mostly in helicopters, tried a simulator at the North Shore Flight Experience.

Manager Liam Brown said he was "very good, you can definitely see the aviation experience, he's good".

Back on the campaign trail, Mr Banks stopped along Takapuna's main shopping strip to chat to shoppers and bus and taxi drivers.

- NZ Herald

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