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

Toby Manhire: Presents of mind for country's A-listers

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Here’s a helping hand with a thoughtful Christmas list for the naughty and the nice.
I can't help you much with your friends and family, socks maybe, but I can help with public figures, whom of course you'll be bursting at the seams to shower in presents. Photo / Thinkstock
I can't help you much with your friends and family, socks maybe, but I can help with public figures, whom of course you'll be bursting at the seams to shower in presents. Photo / Thinkstock

Ah, Christmas. The season of tinsels and carols, of cheer and goodwill. A season for puffed-up cockamamie stories about banning Christmas, for long-simmering family resentments, and for bloody infuriating struggles to get those pine needles out of your car boot. It is a time, too, for giving. I can't help you much with your friends and family, socks maybe, but I can help with public figures, whom of course you'll be bursting at the seams to shower in presents.

Let us begin in the toy shop, where we move directly to the stuffed animals. For Murray McCully, a squadron of emaciated Arabic aviator sheep. For Nathan Guy, a self-milking Friesian cow, an environmental activist and a Chinese consumer. For Michael Woodhouse a metre-long killer worm that lurks under the floorboards of wood houses dealing with operational matters. A phoenix for Judith Collins. Another cat for Gareth Morgan. Another beagle sailing a cabbage boat for John Banks.

For Tim Groser a Tim Groser cowboy. For Natalia Kills, several hundreds of assorted animals wearing suits and insulting Willy Moon, a Cleopatra doll and a medal from Sonny Bill Williams. For Sonny Tau a kereru, or even better a kereru pie. For Taylor Swift a baby dotterel, or even better a baby dotterel pie. For Winston Peters, from the PM, a Northland Dog's Show kit. For John Key a Richie McCaw action figure with tantalising hair, to go with the 24-piece Dream Dazzlers Ooh La La Sassy Salon Set.

Mr Key will also get a conifer hand-sculpted by a gossip columnist and a personalised ringtone featuring Barack Obama and Malcolm Turnbull discussing his strengths, set over a Troskey dubstep remix of Katy Perry's Roar.

And from the PM to the rest of us: something special.

Next, to the bookshop.

For Steven Joyce, the classic Mbie-Dick, about an obsessive sailor and a bloated fish. For Eleanor Catton, Sean Plunket's new novel The Hua-man Diaries and a medal from Sonny Bill Williams. For the NZ Flag Consideration Panel, An Illustrated Introduction to the Basic Principles of Design.

For Kim Dotcom, a collection of New Zealand media coverage from 2012 and 2013 and a second opinion from Nigel Llong. For Winston Peters, the modern classic The Bridges of Winstonian County, which tells the story of a handsome young upstart, Mr Bridges, who is vanquished by Mr Peters, a handsome young sage travelling the county on a big blue bus, spreading the word and healing the sick. For David Carter An Illustrated Introduction to London and a hearing aid.

For Judith Collins and Sam Lotu-Iiga, the modern classic The Corrections, in which two rival gangs, the Sercos and the Jucos rebound back and forth, in and out of the Corrections system - can both serial recidivists survive? For Jeremy Clarkson An Illustrated Introduction to the Pottery of Waiheke Island.

The usual for John Key: a bit of Grisham and a bit of Derrida. For Phil Twyford a copy of that classic strategic treatise The Art of War, by Sun Jones. For Donald Trump An Illustrated Introduction on How to Prevent Your Nation From Looking Ridiculous and also Terrifying by Quitting the Proto-Fascist Demagoguery, and a holiday on an Australian island just off Indonesia where it's Christmas all year round.

That's enough of such highfalutin, elitist literary nonsense - let's go to the clothing store.

First to the underwear section to find something for the Labour leader, following the exhortation by the PM that Andrew Little should get some gruts. While we're there, pick up something comfortable for both Marama Fox and David Seymour, the outspoken government support MPs who have independently boasted in recent months of their political "balls". And for Seymour's famous coq, a beret.

Gerry Brownlee gets a giant panda suit. That's a suit in the form of a giant panda, not a panda suit that is giant. For Spy Boss Chris Finlayson, a disguise. A toga in luscious blue and black, and anyone who thinks it's white and gold is obviously a terrorist. John Key always needs more hats. And a medal from Sonny Bill Williams. Comedy glasses and a red-peak-esque moustache for Phil Goff so that he can recreate his 80s look and integrate with Auckland's craft beer community. He'll also need a cap with a picture of Alice, the tunnel making machine, and the slogan "Boring for Auckland".

For Kelvin Davis, some jeans: 501s, naturally. For Kauri trees in Titirangi and Western Springs, and swamp Kauri everywhere, chain mail vests. For the New Lynn sculpture, back to the underwear department for some enormous boxer shorts.

There's just time to grab a few other stocking fillers. Everyone will be getting Steven Joyce hair-straighteners.

For John Key from Andrew Little, a French pancake, with a special knife to cut the crepe. For Mark Zuckerberg, the South Island.

For Mike Hosking, a tiny bicycle and a dustbuster. For Mediaworks boss Mark Weldon, a consultative review. For Jason Ede and Aaron Gilmore a special chocolate biscuit through the trapdoor. For Metiria Turei, James Shaw and Russel Norman, a weekend of therapeutic knitting.

For David Cunliffe, a memorial cushion on the Titirangi kauri or the New Lynn sculpture. For Nick Smith a memorial traffic island. For Len Brown, a memorial berm. For Colin Craig a consensual group hug. For Maurice Williamson a weekly TV slot, a newspaper column and an ambassadorial role at a South Auckland car yard. And for Murray McCully, a historic peace deal in the Middle East.

- 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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