Auckland mayoral candidate John Palino billboard lost in translation?

John Palino speaks to media after announcing he will run for the Auckland Mayoralty earlier this year. Photo / Michael Craig
John Palino speaks to media after announcing he will run for the Auckland Mayoralty earlier this year. Photo / Michael Craig

Is Auckland mayoral candidate John Palino trying to tell us something weird or profound?

Or is his billboard, in Chinese, just lost in translation?


The image of the Auckland businessman's billboard was shared today on social media by Chinese lawyer and Labour MP Raymond Huo, who questioned the slogan.

"Is this real?" Huo tweeted, with the translation: "Not afraid of divine opponents but a mayor like a pig. Choose wisely ... "

Huo said a person had sent the photo to him on Chinese messaging service WeChat, but he was unsure of where it came from.

Chinese speaking data journalist Keith Ng wrote that a more verbatim translation was: ""Not afraid of a god-like opponent, most afraid of choosing a pig-like mayor. Make a smart choice; vote mayor, vote John Palino."

Mandarin Times editor David Soh told the Herald that calling a dud team member a 'pig' wasn't uncommon in Chinese.

He said the reference to being god-like was a bit arrogant and not unlike Clint Eastwood's "go ahead, make my day" challenge in Dirty Harry.

Soh said the writing was "not excellent", but not completely absurd.


Palino disagreed with both versions of the translation, and asked the Herald to send him photos of the billboards so he could confirm what they said.

He later said the sign in question was "not out anywhere" and he questioned how Raymond had obtained a picture of it.

"I am doing signs with funny slogans. In the Chinese community this can be considered funny and not offensive. But it's not one that I would use. I have always been respectful of all other candidates."

He added that "you can't interpret words, you have to interpret the meaning".

"The real meaning is I'm not afraid to fight strong opponents but I'm concerned about the future of Auckland and we don't pick the wrong person as mayor."

- NZ Herald

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