Matthew Backhouse is a NZME. News Service journalist based in Auckland.

April Fool's catches some off-guard

Green Party MP Gareth Hughes said the appointment of extra Green Party co-leaders was "tots gangsta man". Photo / APN
Green Party MP Gareth Hughes said the appointment of extra Green Party co-leaders was "tots gangsta man". Photo / APN

Standing fares on flights, triple-decker buses and a device that allows humans to talk to dolphins are among the April Fool's pranks doing the rounds this year, with some news media outlets among those to get sucked in.

Air New Zealand caused a minor stir on social media this morning with its announcement that Grabaseat would introduce "straight up fares'' - which it said were standing-room-only tickets on planes that were already full.

Grabaseat said 737-300 aircraft on domestic routes would from today be fitted with ceiling-mounted hand straps in the aisles, similar to those on buses, boosting capacity by an extra 69 passengers.

"Unlike buses, passengers will not be able to request stops,'' a statement said.
The punchline? The fares were for passengers who could "stand it''.

A webpage advertising the fares revealed the prank after midday, but not before it had done the rounds on social media site Twitter.

Many tweets praised the joke but some users were sucked in, with one tweeting: "What a great concept!''

Another unusual transport option cropped up with Intercity Coachlines' triple-decker bus prank - which 3 News reported on its website today.

Intercity said the 7m-high buses would have all the comforts of home, including sleeping arrangements and a lounge and bar area.

The company's past April Fool's pranks have included a sheep poo-powered bus and a "Hydrobus'' that can travel on both land and water, crossing Cook Strait in one hour.

Naked Bus got in on the action too, announcing it would fit out its buses with barbecues and a mini-kitchen in order to sell sausages at rest stops.

The Green Party also got into the April Fool's spirit with the announcement it would introduce four new co-leaders, bringing the total number of co-leaders to six.

A statement this morning said MPs Jan Logie, Kevin Hague, Holly Walker and Gareth Hughes would join Russel Norman and Metiria Turei as co-leaders.

In the statement, Mr Hughes said the extra appointments were "tots gangsta man'', while Ms Walker recounted her reaction to the news: "I was like no way, and they were like way, and I was like that's like awesome.''

Animals also made a showing in companies' April Fool's Day pranks.

Akaroa-based tourism operator Black Cat Cruises said it was launching "amazing technology'' based on decades-old research that allowed humans to talk to dolphins.

And the New Zealand branch of accommodation site said it was launching an iPad app called "iPaw'', which would make it easier for dogs to book their own canine accommodation "from the comfort of their own baskets''.

Most media outlets didn't fall for the prank press releases - and some used April Fool's Day to show they had a sense of humour, too.

The Herald on Sunday today published a fake transcript of the so-called teapot tape conversation between Prime Minister John Key and Act MP John Banks, which media have been barred from publishing.

In the fake transcript, written by comedian James Elliott, the MPs poked fun at New Zealand First leader Winston Peters and his older voter base - with Mr Peters referred to as a vampire and his voters as "dead''.

There were also jibes at the expense of senior minister Gerry Brownlee's weight, with Mr Banks referring to "some kind of solar eclipse thanks to planet Brownlee'' and Mr Key saying he would be campaigning at either KFC or McDonald's.


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