Millionaire and budding politician Gareth Morgan has published his correspondence with a journalist after being called chicken for declining a game of table tennis.
Steve Braunias is approaching party leaders and challenging them to a game of table tennis, followed by an interview, as part of a pre-election series for the Herald.
Morgan, who is bidding to enter Parliament with his newly-formed Opportunities Party, wasn't impressed, informing Braunias over email that "you may be aware there is a general election on September the 23rd".
"Given that I am the founder and leader of a new Party contesting that election I am sure you understand this is a busy time for me - far busier than for leaders of Establishment parties who have substantial party infrastructure to delegate to," Morgan wrote.
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"A game of ping pong might be appealing under different circumstances but I doubt it would contribute much to the public discourse about the many problems facing New Zealanders in their everyday lives and the policy solutions needed to rectify them."
In his response, Braunias said the Herald did cover the issues raised by Morgan, and his series was more about the character of party leaders: "What I have established from our brief correspondence is that you're a chicken".
Morgan this afternoon tweeted a link to TOP's website, where he has published the email chain, telling supporters he'd been challenged by a "sports" reporter.
Braunias is an award-winning journalist and author and is known for his political satire, profiles and features. A collection of his work from the 2014 campaign formed the basis of his latest book, Madmen: Inside The Weirdest Election Campaign Ever.
His work will be part of the Herald's coverage of this year's campaign.
The post on TOP's website features a photo-shopped image of Morgan playing table tennis, along with a poll on whether Morgan should "stick to talking about issues like affordable housing", accept the challenge, or accept "but in Cannon's Creek so this 'journalist' has the opportunity to meet some people with real issues".
In early voting, most respondents want Morgan to take up the challenge.