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

Toby Manhire: Keyleaks show Bennett at play with PM and co away

John Key's black swivelly chair will be a change of scene for acting prime minister Paula Bennett.
John Key's black swivelly chair will be a change of scene for acting prime minister Paula Bennett.

Among the emails released this week by the lushly bearded transparency warlock Julian Assange were not just game-changing documents exposing Hillary Clinton as someone who likes word puzzles, but also a cache of Whatsapp memos sent this week to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key during his trip to India. The correspondence, buried within the digital code of a video of animals that look like cats but aren't cats, was drawn to my attention in a phonecall from loyal source Lambshank, who seemed suddenly to have acquired a pronounced Russian accent. But no matter. Here are the highlights.

From Hon Paula Bennett, acting prime minister

I don't mind telling you this prime minister lark is a bit of fun. I've been spinning around in your big black chair, putting on a prime ministerial voice, practising the classic prime ministerial catchphrases. "Sub-optimal end of the day range of views." Lol. Don't hurry back. You, Bill, Steven and Gerry should take an extra few days off, drink the pubs of Townsville dry sort of thing, lol xxx.

P.S. Everyone here excited about your Halloween party. I'm coming as a burnt-out Wicked Camper.

From Gerry Brownlee

Look, mate, I'm not happy about the munted plane, but there's a silver lining. A decent little drill to see whether or not we're equipped to invade Australia (we're not). And you can now say you've personally tasted the reality of Australia's offshore detention facilities. See you Monday night. I'm coming as an airport door - walk through me in a hurry, film me with your cellphone, all very topical.

From Hekia Parata

Since announcing I'm leaving Parliament I've felt a lightness of spirit, a liberation, the sense of crisp relief you get from plunging into the water at Tokomaru Bay on a hot summer day. I've had a good time, don't get me wrong, but I can't wait to talk in my own voice again, unshackled from the bullshit and jargon. Still, for old time's sake, I'll be coming to your party as a pathway going forward.

From Hon Paula Bennett, acting prime minister

Busy, busy busy! Just sent a staffer down to the haberdasher to get some ribbons to practise cutting. Sent a bunch of texts to bloggers. Outlawed the word crisis. Renamed Premier House The Westie Wing, lol.

From Jenny, the mayor of Townsville

John, can I call you John, means the world to us that you said such nice things about us in the media, really exciting for us all, and just to let you know I followed up on those issues, you know, the issues, and it turns out the intruder seen at the airport was probably Michael Cheika, and he wasn't tampering with anything, you know, he just had this giant red nose he wanted to attach to your plane, I think it's a charity thing or whatever, I don't know, look, for all I know he was off his tits on energy drinks, you know.

From Judith Collins

No need to worry about events back home - I'm across it. Some interesting ideas developing around how the team from Tribal Huk of Ngaruawahia might tender to run a Corrections facility, or fill in for the junior doctors. Can't wait for Monday. I'm coming dressed up as a breath-testing checkpoint.

From Steven Joyce

No need to worry about events back home - I'm across it, from Sydney. Some interesting ideas developing around investment in the Parker-Ruiz heavyweight title fight. Expect the usual moaners to raise questions around corporate welfare, pay-to-view broadcast and whether or not I should be banned from attending owing to having personally totally jinxed the America's Cup in San Francisco. Most important consideration is leveraging the New Zealand brand in a snappy "rumble in the jungle" style coinage. If in Auckland, the Bleeding Rark Up at Eden Park, yup? Or in Wellington, the Face-Breakin' at the Ace Caketin? We'll talk at the Halloween function. I'm coming as hair straighteners. I love a bit of fun, I'm all about the fun, but grateful if you could resist throwing anything silicon at me on arrival.

From Boris Johnson

Bloody hell, old bean. You won't believe where this Brexit ballyhoo has landed us now, only a bloody Marmite shortage. Hoi polloi are furious. Don't suppose you could find a way to send some of yours across for your old pals in Blighty. We'd be ever so obliged. Ductus exemplo and all that, eh, Jeff!

From Hon Paula Bennett, acting prime minister

Finally got the PM Paula B letterhead back - you're going to love the leopard print - and drafting up a prime ministerial statement on the whole 757 debacle. Here's what I've got so far:

"PM Paula B, the acting prime minister of New Zealand, has instructed the Royal NZ Air Force to detail the circumstances that led to the disruption in Townsville. PM Paula B, the acting prime minister of New Zealand, said: 'It is important that all concerned recognise the gravity of even one day's delay to such a high-level delegation, but especially to the schedule of New Zealand's most important and dynamic leader.' She added: 'And not just Brendon McCullum, also John Key.'" Kidding! Lmao!

From Kim Dotcom

It is I, Kim Dotcom! Your worst nightmare! Yes! Out of all the nightmares, the worst one you can imagine, or maybe even worse than that! A nightmare so terrifying it will make you lose control of your bladder and actually feel really awful about it all, you know? Yes! I am Kim Dotcom and I will destroy you and also Hillary Clinton, and also I have others on the list but you two are first on the list so you will feel the full fury and vengeance of Kim Dotcom! It's all going to be really amazing, but of course very much like a nightmare for you. OK, great, good to catch up.

From Hon Paula Bennett, acting prime minister

Winston's been standing in your office for the last hour just staring at me. Just standing and staring. Is that normal?

From Nick Smith

Do you ever feel already buried deep? Six-feet-under screams, but no one seems to hear a thing? Do you know that there's still a chance for you? Because there's a spark in you. Just a thought, really. Are you not doing a Halloween party this year?

- NZ Herald

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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 listener.co.nz, 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.

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