Toby Manhire is a Wellington-bred, Auckland-based journalist.

Toby Manhire: Yeah, nah - It's a nation of cringeing cliches

"I'm fired up. How do you know I'm fired up? Because I've just told you I'm fired up." Photo / Andrew Bonallack
"I'm fired up. How do you know I'm fired up? Because I've just told you I'm fired up." Photo / Andrew Bonallack

Just when you were starting to properly relax into summer, back roars politics, like a swarm of blowflies doing Zumba in your face. All those lofty "state of the nation" speeches and back-to-school parliamentary set-pieces. Most likely, you missed them. And so, in the service of democracy, here's a digest.

John Key, National Party leader and Prime Minister

Anyway, so: busy. Busy, busy. What a start. Crackerjack. Four great years, and now I give you: apprenticeships! And WoF changes. And look at Labour. Idiots.

As I travel around the country, people tell me it's the economy, stupid, and by stupid they mean Labour. The global economy is weak, which is also a word you could use for the Greens and Labour. What a bunch of chequebook activists.

We have ideas, we have plans. How do you know this? Because I've just said to you we have ideas, we have plans.

And, better than that, we have numbered lists. Four key priorities. Five vocational pathways. Six pillars of business growth. Ten big challenges.

Strong. Stable. Economy. Innovation. Surplus. Foreign investment. Everyday New Zealanders. Economy. Partial asset sales. Slash red tape. Convention centres. Trade. Tourism. Housing. Roads. Roads? Labour and the Greens hate them, so if you are in a car and there is a rush of blood to the head and they do get there, you had better like your radio station because you will spend a long time in a traffic jam. Boomfa!

Hands off? Yeah, nah. Steven's hands are everywhere. And look at the Opposition, pointing at our hands with their hands, and opposing them. Irony! Petty opposition, with all its opposing. Make no mistake: we oppose their opposing.

Anyway, so get Cunliffe a bell, like a cat, so you can hear him in the dark as he approaches with a knife, like a cat holding a knife. And, in conclusion, the economy.

David Shearer, Labour leader

As I travel around the country, people tell me they do not want a prime minister who is a stand-up comedian, but one who stands up for them while also using a bit of light word play. They say they want us to stand up on our hands, and I am ready to stand up on my hands.

I'm fired up. How do you know I'm fired up? Because I've just told you I'm fired up. And look at my arm, look at it, flapping around like an unattended hose. I'm putting John Key on notice, or on the staff noticeboard, with a tag saying, "John Key, Prime Minister".

Hands on. Tough choices. Ready for government. Houses, lots of houses - a little less house for a little more money than I might have said before, but look at this, I'm on my hands. A new direction. Employment. Look fired up. No, sorry, autocue issues, that was in italics. Big issues. Big decisions. Tide for change. Capital gains tax. Super reform. Kids and poverty. Clean, green, clever, etc. Monetary policy, and policy in general, really: we'll be looking at it, with our eyes and our hands.

I got a book for Christmas about 50 inspiring New Zealanders, and I found them really inspiring. Also inspiring: solo mums, old volunteers, young strivers. Hardworking Kiwis. Some guy in a pub in Napier. It's heartbreaking watching parents waving goodbye to their kids at the airport. Also, it's awkward when you're asked to stop hanging out in the airport watching parents wave goodbye to their kids. Thank you.

Metiria Turei, Greens co-leader

This is a rally cry. How do you know that? Because I've just said, "this is a rally cry." Hands in the air, Aotearoa New Zealand. Anyone for a picnic?

Stop asset sales. Affordable homes. Innovation. Poverty. Inequality. Egalitarian identity stabbed in the heart. 100 per cent Pure? No. Tired old government. The prime minister is boring. Bored and boring. Booor-ing.

I'm in - for the future, and that's why I'm launching a plan called, "I'm In - For the Future". Because there's the future, there, just there, so why don't we all get in it?

John Banks, Act leader/caucus

As I travel around the country, people say to me: that Shearer, he's a nice man. Kiss of death! Imagine being nice. What a disgusting, communist thought. In Picton, in Westport, in Greymouth and Hokitika, in Remuera, Parnell, and Mt Eden, people say to me, "I agree with everything you stand for, Banksie." And they hold me in their arms, and sing me gently to sleep.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

Toby Manhire is a Wellington-bred, Auckland-based journalist.

Toby Manhire is a Wellington bred, Auckland based journalist. He writes a weekly column for the NZ Herald, the NZ Listener's Internaut column, blogs for, and contributes to the Guardian. From 2000 to 2010 he worked at the Guardian in London, and edited the 2012 book The Arab Spring: Rebellion, Revolution and a New World Order.

Read more by Toby Manhire

Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 01 May 2017 18:51:08 Processing Time: 1204ms