Farmers’ protest group Groundswell NZ claims Labour “narked” on them for selling golf balls emblazoned with the Prime Minister’s face, among others, at Fieldays.
The sale was shut down after a number of complaints but a spokeswoman for the NZ National Fieldays Society there was no way of knowing who complained.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, however, told Newstalk ZB’s Heather du Plessis Allan: “I don’t know anything about it. It certainly wasn’t me.”
Touted as “the golf balls you won’t mind putting in the bunker”, they had the faces of Environment Minister David Parker, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Climate Change Minister James Shaw along with Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.
“We were visited by the bosses and they informed us that [the balls] were offensive and must be removed immediately. They were selling well, too,” the group said.
“We thought we were allowed to criticise and lampoon politicians in this country. Who knew Chris Hipkins and co were so ‘wet and whiny’?”
Groundswell NZ then said “we would really rather not have to cart them all the way back down south”, adding they would be selling them secretly.
“So, if you are at Fieldays (or know someone who is) please come visit us and purchase some balls.”
In an email to supporters with the subject line, “guess who narked on us”, Groundswell NZ claimed the Labour Party complained to organisers to get them shut down
The Herald has approached Labour for comment.
The Fieldays Society spokeswoman said there were a number of complaints made to the information centre, but “there is no indication as to who complained”.
“We do ask, and we have asked, all lobby groups to agree to all our terms and agreements of exhibiting. Part of that is to refrain from potentially offensive activity,” she said.
“[Groundswell NZ’s sale] would have been shut down even before we had any complaints. If any of our team had seen it they would have shut it down immediately,” she said.
The protest group sold golf balls with an image of former Prime Minister Dame Jacinda Ardern’s face on them last year. The set is still being advertised online with the tagline: “The perfect Christmas gift.”
“Promised to help you release the stress of 2022, the balls feature the faces of your favourite politicians,” the product description reads.
“As well as an easy, fun gift - each set raises funds to help Groundswell keep up the fight.”
Raphael Franks is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He joined the Herald as a Te Rito cadet in 2022.