They say anything can happen in an election year but threatening to kill your favourite candidate for Prime Minister seems unlikely to help get him voted in.
However, a Palmerston North man charged with threatening to kill John Key said yesterday he would still vote for him in November.
Keith William Mabey said he was planning to plead not guilty to the charge, claiming the whole thing was a joke he'd made during a frustrating session with a psychologist. He also felt aggrieved that the privacy of a counselling session had been breached.
Mabey claimed he had been annoyed when the psychologist repeatedly asked him how his mood was.
"I told him a heap of s**t, and he was laughing with me," said Mabey, 21. He'd joked that he knew Key ate dinner at a Lower Hutt steakhouse on Thursdays.
"I said to him I was thinking of going and seeing if he was there and blowing him up.
It was not like I was actually going to do it," he said.
In fact, he would vote for Key. "John Key is doing a pretty good job at the moment, better than Labour."
But neither the psychologist nor the police saw the funny side, and Mabey was charged. He made his first appearance in court in the Manawatu this week. The joke was a blow to his attempts to get his life on track.
If he'd learned anything from his experience it was, "not to tell psychologists anything stupid".
The code of ethics for New Zealand psychologists says that while people's rights to privacy must be recognised and promoted, there was a duty to disclose "real threats" to the safety of individuals and the public.
The case comes a week after Police Minister Judith Collins defended a budget blow-out of $800,000 by the Diplomatic Protection Squad responsible for Key's security.
Meanwhile, Mana Party spokesman Matt McCarten has described a man who allegedly threatened Te Tai Tokerau candidate Hone Harawira as "an old bugger from Tauranga" who had repeatedly phoned Harawira's home "being a drip".
"It was a one-way conversation which Hone's young kids shouldn't have to hear."
Police had spoken to the man but no charges were laid and Harawira hadn't wanted the matter taken any further, McCarten said.