Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Claire Trevett: Unlike Key to throw toys over dildo incident

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Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce. Photo / NZME.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce. Photo / NZME.

At first blush it seemed our Prime Minister had left his sense of humour in Maui over the summer. As the nation tittered over Steven Joyce's unexpected Waitangi hongi with a certain pink squeaky toy, the Prime Minister had his most serious face on.

It took him a day to respond. Presumably that was how long it took him to wipe the grin off his face at his minister's misfortune. When he did he denounced the act as "appalling".

The reason it was "appalling" was not because it could have been something much more damaging. It was because everybody overseas, the peoples of all lands, would now think New Zealand celebrated its national day by throwing novelty sex objects at politicians.

It is highly possible some people overseas do know a minister had a dildo thrown at him. Whether they registered it was the day before Waitangi Day is a different matter altogether. To suggest one solitary incident meant the entire world thought all of New Zealand went out en masse once a year armed with pink novelty phalluses to hurl at woebegotten politicians is such an absurdity it is almost as funny as the incident itself.

Key was no doubt targeting those in New Zealand who had had enough of the shenanigans at Waitangi, to give himself a "get out of jail free" card for his no-show. Either that, or he has taken a vow of gravitas after ending last year copping criticism for a string of appearances on commercial radio.

Key's response to the affair was understandably criticised by Labour MPs and the protester Josie Butler herself, who noted Key was hardly innocent of making New Zealand the butt of jokes worldwide, having featured for his antics such as ponytail-pulling, picking up soap in cages and revelations about his shower habits.

He may well have been engaging in psychological trickery, hoping that it would mean future national days would indeed turn out that way. What better way to distract from the issues the Government was under fire for?

In a post-match interview with Mana News, Butler said she was glad her actions meant everybody was now talking about the TPP. Actually, they had already been talking about the TPP not least because of the signing the day before. Her move simply meant nobody was talking about the TPP for a day and everybody was talking about Joyce and what he later dubbed an "unmanned aerial vehicle".

It is also possible Key had his Tourism Minister hat on. He had not been ambitious enough in his earlier wish for it to be like Australia Day. Mardi Gras is a massive drawcard for Rio de Janeiro, as is Oktoberfest in Germany. Even the cheese rolling race in Gloucestershire gets a lot of international exposure. Perhaps Key decided it was time New Zealand joined in. He had declared he wanted to spend the day in a more "festive atmosphere" and he may well have suggested the solution himself.

A search on the Adult Toy Mega Store website reveals a whole range of paraphernalia New Zealanders can use to mark Waitangi Day in future. There is a Pecker Pinata, on sale now for $36.95. There is the 4.5-foot-tall Pinky The Party Pecker Giant-size Inflatable Dicky for $42.95. There are pecker water guns and for non-violent protesters there are willy-shaped bubble blowers. Those wanting to make a political point about the TPP can buy a Barack Obama blow-up doll. And, happy news for Key, there is even John the Inflatable Love Doll for the bargain price of $30.95.

There is even a good news story in this for the Government in its sales job of the TPP. Further investigation has revealed the toy Butler threw was the nine-inch Squeaky Pecker by Ozze - a Canadian company. Canada is one of the TPP countries which currently has to pay a 5 per cent tariff on certain items imported to New Zealand. Those include "festive or other entertainment articles, including novelty jokes" as well as various plastic and rubber articles. Once the TPP is in place, these tariffs will disappear. Given a lot of adult novelty items on the market are from the US and Canada, the TPP should at least make commemorating our national day a bit cheaper.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor and joined the Press Gallery in 2007. She began with the Herald in 2003 as the Northland reporter before moving to Auckland where her rounds included education and media. A graduate of AUT's post-graduate diploma in journalism, Claire began her journalism career in 2002 at the Northern Advocate in Whangarei. Claire has conjoint Bachelor of Law/ Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Canterbury.

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