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

Claire Trevett: Pipe dreams and green beans from Labour

They even have someone who lost the Kiwi dream in their midst. That was former leader David Cunliffe. Photo / Jason Oxenham.
They even have someone who lost the Kiwi dream in their midst. That was former leader David Cunliffe. Photo / Jason Oxenham.

"This is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don't; but keep on dreamin' - this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin'," says the random guy wandering across the street in the 1980s movie Pretty Woman.

If you swap Hollywood for Eketahuna, Auckland or Gore, Labour has decided the same philosophy applies. They are promising the Kiwi Dream - in capitals, not just a small letter dream.


Labour pushes Kiwi dream theme

For those who can't come up with their own dream, Labour has even prescribed one. This is what you dream of: a house, work, love and hope.

The theme harks back to former Labour Prime Minister Norm Kirk, who once said, "All Kiwis want is someone to love, somewhere to live, somewhere to work, and something to hope for." Now Big Norm's adage has been repurposed by Andrew Little.

His deputy, Annette King, admitted there were limitations on Labour's ability to deliver the first of these, beyond setting up a Government-sponsored Tinder-type dating site. Aspects of Labour's "Kiwi dream" are also more an "Auckland dream" given that thus far it has focused on the cost of housing.

Those living in Winton or Palmerston North already have that dream. They probably have other dreams, such as a one-way ticket to somewhere else.

Nonetheless, Labour has decided talking about the Kiwi dream will help it turn the nightmare of the past seven years into its own Kiwi dream: better numbers in the polls.

They even have someone who lost the Kiwi dream in their midst. That was former leader David Cunliffe. He set out his pitiful tale in Parliament, the plain language accentuating the pathos of it all. It was almost a poem:

"I used to own a house/ now I rent a house.

"I dug the garden/ I planted vegetables.

"I got it looking great.

"And then the owner said, 'Hey, it's looking so good. I think I'll auction it.'

"And I was packing up, and down the road before I could say Jack Robinson."

According to Wikipedia, that saying harks back to the 1700s and referred to a man named Jack Robinson whose visits were so short he left almost as soon as his arrival was announced.

It is perhaps an apt phrase for anyone who has held the Labour leadership in the past seven years.

But Cunliffe was not only a hapless victim of his own green fingers and a bounty of beans and cabbage. It appeared he was subjected to unlawful treatment as well.

The law specifies minimum notice periods for getting rid of tenants. The time it takes to say "Jack Robinson" is not one of them. Nonetheless Cunliffe could take solace in knowing whoever bought the house might have achieved their Kiwi dream.

Labour is yet to set out its prescription for delivering that Kiwi dream back to Cunliffe or to others.

But it could take some inspiration from the recent purchase of Awaroa Beach. That was the result of a dream held by two humble brothers-in-law from Christchurch, a Givealittle account, and a wee top-up from the Government.

This new means of adding to the Conservation estate through Givealittle is a most unusual precedent.

It is not often capitalism and the free market give birth to a little slice of communism but, lo and behold, we New Zealanders now own a beach.

The Government probably can't believe its luck. A few years back, it made cutbacks to the Department of Conservation and said it would instead encourage partnerships with corporates and the public.

This development goes beyond even the Government's wildest dreams in that regard.

Nonetheless, the $2 million price tag is similar to the cost of a home in Auckland so perhaps Labour could look at a similar technique to deliver the Kiwi dream for first-home buyers.

The only hiccup is the administrative headache for Labour. It is called the Kiwi dream for a reason. It is not the Foreigners' Dream. And part of the plan to deliver the Kiwi dream is preventing foreigners owning property.

It is presumably now vetting the names of pledgers on the Givealittle site to strike off those with Chinese-sounding surnames in case they do not live here.

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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