Act leader David Seymour's gold-rush in the polls has made him one of the very few political leaders having a good time this campaign. The Herald on Sunday spent the day with him in the Act Party bus.
Act leader David Seymour has burnt his onions.
His seemingly never-ending supply of political metaphors comes to the rescue.
"The onions were burnt when I arrived, but we've managed to improve the situation dramatically."
The "onion" is the Act Party, which has moved from 1 per cent to 7 per cent in the polls over the year.
As a result, Seymour is pretty much the only politician having a good time on the campaign trail other than Jacinda Ardern.
He was cooking onions in a howling easterly at Mission Bay at a barbecue for supporters.
He had chosen Mission Bay partly to highlight the party's policy for infrastructure: partnerships between local government and the private sector to deliver things like fixing the sewerage pipes so they do not spew into the beaches.
This morning started at Lynfield Community Church, where he spoke to about a dozen people about the party's Covid-19 policy.
He said the Government liked to compare New Zealand with the places worst affected by Covid-19.
"We should be comparing ourselves to the best. We need to get Taiwan-smart."
He quoted at some length from Split Enz's Six Months in a Leaky Boat to describe New Zealand's situation, and then put on a bad Scottish accent to quote Billy Connolly. It was quite the show.
A walkabout on a Mt Roskill street was next.
Very few people were around, although the sari shop was having a sale, and so was busy. He went to the bottle shop and plonked his Act Party pamphlets next to the Advance pamphlets.
He went to the dairy, where a customer would not tell him how he voted but was delighted to meet him.
Seymour was also sponsor of the End of Life Choice Act, which will go to a referendum on Saturday.
He rarely raises it, having decided not to campaign for a yes vote – but he will discuss it if it is raised.
That happened at the Indian Association Manukau.
When we arrived, the speaker was talking about the referendum issue, claiming it would increase youth suicide.
Seymour defended the law and addressed the man's claims.
He urged those there not to make their view on euthanasia a factor in whether to vote for him.
"If you think it's a wonderful and heroic thing that one MP took this landmark piece of humanitarian legislation through Parliament, that's a great reason to give your party vote to Act.
"But if you think it's the most evil piece of legislation ever passed by our Parliament, then just remember I can't legalise it again. So what a great time to start voting for Act."
His cheeky pitch got him a few laughs.
It was there that Seymour's religious punctuality also met its match in Dr Primla Khar, the president of the Indian Association Manukau.
When Seymour said he had to rush off, she said that would not be happening.
"David. You are at the Indian Association. We do not let our guests leave without a cup of tea."
He wisely stayed - grabbed a cup of chai, burnt his tongue, and ate a very tasty samosa before hurtling off again.
The law is one of the reasons he enjoys a higher profile now.
But by and large those who say they are voting for him give other reasons.
At the Mission Bay barbecue, he met some voters who jumped from National to Act.
Arthur Gray and Denise Gray were up from Rotorua where they own a boutique hotel. It has been brought to its knees by Covid-19. Both voted National in 2017.
This year, Denise will vote Act. "I don't agree with all his policies but he has well thought out ideas and policies, and he's a good speaker and I like that."
Joe Helm was also convinced, saying he voted National last time but found Seymour "dynamic".
We did not go to Epsom, but Seymour said he was still putting in the hard yards to keep the seat.
He may well not need that seat if those polling numbers come to fruition.
He frankly admitted he never expected to be where he was now. He describes his future caucus as "the putative caucus".
His Waikato candidate James McDowall is with him, and Seymour calls him 006 – he is sixth on the list.
Seymour is already planning how to try to hold that polling up over the next few years, indicating a push in the environmental space to get the "blue-green" vote.
Tonight he headed to Ponsonby Rd for a walkabout. Judith Collins' experience there had made him nervous.
However, he remembered Act's election in 2011 when he went with then leader Don Brash to pubs on the final night of the campaign.
"It was unbelievable. He was swarmed. People came out in throngs for the Don-ster."
The Don-ster effect did not last long – "just for those fleeting hours. Then he went back to being Don Brash".
Such is the fleeting nature of political popularity.