Twitter has made everyone a political pundit - but who is really worth following for the election campaign? The Twittersphere is such a noisy and crowded place that even old hands can be overwhelmed. To help you separate the signal from the noise, we've ranked the 100 most informed, insightful and influential tweeters to help you to cast an informed vote on September 20.
Our list is completely cross-partisan. Following is not the same as liking, and the list is not intended as an endorsement of the tweeters we include - or their political views. It's up to you whether you choose your own favourites - or simply follow everyone on the list.
Either way, you will be hearing from some of the best political insiders, pundits and satirists adjudicating on what is turning out to be one of the dirtiest elections New Zealand has ever seen.
1. Right-wing pundits
i. Whaleoil @Whaleoil
After the release of Nicky Hager's
, calling Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater a mere pundit is the understatement of the campaign. Slater and his associates will be fighting back against the allegations on all channels, including Twitter.
ii. David Farrar @dpfdpf
David Farrar is the author of Kiwiblog and internal pollster for the National Party. Farrar also has a chapter dedicated to himself in Dirty Politics - to which he tweeted this reaction: "Does this mean I am a bigger threat to New Zealand than the NSA?"
Cameron Slater. Photo / NZPA
iii. Matthew Hooton @MatthewHootonNZ
Matthew Hooton was a main target of Nicky Hager's 2006 book The Hollow Men and runs political PR company Exceltium. Hooton unofficially leads support for the National Party on Twitter and has been tweeting furiously against the allegations raised in Dirty Politics.
iv. Jordan Williams @jordnz
Jordan Williams is a Wellington-based lawyer and executive director of the Taxpayers' Union lobby group. Messages between Williams and Cameron Slater feature heavily in Dirty Politics. Williams' most public role to date came as the face of the anti-MMP campaign at the 2011 election.
v. Fran O'Sullivan @FranOSullivan
New Zealand Herald columnist Fran O'Sullivan tweets from an intellectual, right-wing perspective. On Twitter, she provides sharp and more immediate commentary and will be particularly strong on economic issues during the campaign.
vi. Redbaiter NZ @Redbaiternz
Redbaiter's extreme right, anonymous diatribes pepper the New Zealand blogosphere and make Whaleoil seem left-wing. He comes across as crazy as they come, but that's why he (or she) is worth reading.
vii. Bill Ralston @BillyRalston
Former TV interviewer Bill Ralston can be relied upon to make the case for the intelligent right amidst a sea of left-wing pundits. He's entertaining too.
viii. Keeping Stock @Inventory2
The true identity of Keeping Stock, who was previously known only to be a Wanganui businessman, was revealed in Dirty Politics. Keeping Stock also runs a blog by the same name and is a very frequent tweeter, blog commenter and cheerleader for the right.
ix. Right Wing Fat Cat @rightwingfatcat
An anonymous right-wing pundit, Right Wing Fat Cat is often funny too. This maverick and provocative tweeter can also be relied upon to retweet the best punditry of the right from others too.
x. Bevan Chuang @MsBevanChuang
Bevan Chuang rose to prominence in last year's Len Brown affair, a story that was broken by none other than Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater. These days, Chuang is a pundit in her own right, for the right.
2. Left-wing pundits
Martyn Bradbury. Photo / NZH
i. Martyn Bradbury @CitizenBomber
The closest the left has to a counterpart for Whaleoil, Martyn 'Bomber' Bradbury was well informed about the contents of
before it was published - in contrast to most other pundits. Bradbury runs the biggest left-wing blogsite, The Daily Blog, and is particularly close to Internet Mana.
ii. Idiot/Savant @norightturnnz
The author of the influential No Right Turn blog goes by the pen-name Idiot/Savant and has been writing since 2003. Twitter offers some of his most pointed barbs - and he's not afraid to criticise the left either.
iii. David Slack @DavidSlack
David Slack was speechwriter for two former prime ministers, which explains his ability to distil left-wing messages into pithy and very shareable tweets. A definite thought leader for the centre-left.
iv. Lew Stoddart @LewSOS
Media analyst Lew Stoddart thinks "Politics is war by other means". He is also one of the smartest intellectual-driven tweeters the left has. If 70,000 tweets so far are not enough, Stoddart also blogs at Kiwipolitico.com.
v. Paora Ropata @kiaora4that
Porirua-based Paora Ropata bills his Twitter account as "Musings on everyday life in The Pa". He's a must-read for understanding the internal workings of Maori politics.
vi. Alex Coleman @shakingstick
We don't know too much about Alex Coleman other than what is contained in his Twitter profile ("P?keh? liberal. Pro: long form journalism. Anti: unnecessary violence."). But that won't stop you from enjoying consistently insightful and original tweeting which often seems to favour Labour.
vii. Dave Armstrong @malosilima
Dominion Post columnist Dave Armstrong draws on his background as a TV and radio scriptwriter to tweet left-driven, wit-infused observations on the top political issues of the day.
viii. Morgan Godfery @MorganGodfery
Morgan Godfery focuses on Maori-related political issues at his blog Maui Street and has also written for the Guardian in the UK. Godfery is a must-follow commentator, especially for immigration, ethnicity and Maori politics.
ix. Giovanni Tiso @gtiso
Giovanni Tiso used Twitter to start an ultimately successful campaign to take John Tamihere and Willie Jackson off-air during the "Roastbusters" scandal in 2013. One of the more intellectual and strident voices on the left, Tiso also tweets links to his more extended blog posts.
x. Josie Pagani @josiepagani
Former Labour candidate Josie Pagani these days appears regularly on political talk shows as an influential pundit for the centre-left. Expect her to spin more for the left as the campaign heats up.
3. Government and supporting MPs
Judith Collins. Photo / NZH
i. Judith Collins @JudithCollinsMP
Judith Collins is the most prominent government figure and the subject of some quite serious allegations in
. Will she fire back on Twitter about the claims made against her? Collins has form for aggressive tweeting - earlier this year she apologised to TVNZ journalist Katie Bradford for lashing out at her online. As Press Gallery journalists have said, 'If you want an insight into her soul, follow her on Twitter'.
ii. John Key @johnkeypm
He's Prime Minister, National Party leader and the captain of #TeamKey. John Key also has over 100,000 Twitter followers. Key's account is carefully managed by his spin doctors. Still a must-follow, but for controversy, go elsewhere.
iii. Steven Joyce @stevenljoyce
National's "Mr. Fix It" is also "Mr. Tweet It". Unlike many of his colleagues, Joyce is not afraid to tweet real opinions, generate controversy and interact with his opponents.
iv. West Side Tory @tauhenare
With 31,000 tweets under his belt, outgoing National MP Tau Henare is the unofficial "Minister of Twitter". Henare even gave his valedictory "speech" on Twitter - and with more time in retirement, his tweets should become only more interesting.
v. Paula Bennett @paulabennettmp
Have a question for Social Development Minister Paula Bennett? Try tweeting her - she actively engages even with her detractors. She also tweets plenty of anecdotes and photos from the campaign trail, which suggests she handles her own tweeting, rather than leaving it up to staffers.
vi. Te Ururoa Flavell @TeUruroaFlavell
Maori Party leader Te Ururoa Flavell is fighting to keep his electorate seat of Waiariki against Internet Mana challenger Annette Sykes. His tweeting is down-to-earth in style and includes plenty of photos.
vii. Peter Dunne @PeterDunneMP
United Future leader Peter Dunne also stars in explosive claims made in Dirty Politics. He has also been a minister in every government since 2002. Dunne's tweets range from mundane updates on his campaign schedule to quite punchy criticism of his opponents - a recent effort read "The poor, embittered left is upset tonight I see. How sad."
viii. Nikki Kaye @nikkikaye
Auckland Central electorate MP Nikki Kaye is a very popular tweeting MP, with around 10,000 followers. Often seen as a rising star in National, Kaye is worth following to find out where her career and National are heading.
ix. Chris Finlayson @chrisfinlayson
Attorney-General Chris Finlayson is the government's legal eagle. He is also known for his patronship of the arts. A graduate of French and Latin, as well as law, Finlayson is the intellectual choice to follow from the National Party camp.
x. Jami-Lee Ross @jamileeross
Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross is one of National's youngest MPs, which means he should have a long Twitter career in front of him. As a backbencher Ross is more open and candid in his tweeting - and he tweets plenty of pictures of himself as well.
4. Opposition MPs
Grant Robertson. Photo / HBT
i. Grant Robertson @grantrobertson1
Grant Robertson isn't (yet) Labour leader, but with a blend of authenticity and useful policy information, he's our de facto opposition Twitter chief.
ii. David Cunliffe @DavidCunliffeMP
David Cunliffe could be Prime Minister after the election, which is reason enough to join his 10,000 Twitter followers. His account is perfectly spin-doctored to emphasise Labour's chosen hashtag of #forabetterNZ.
iii. Metiria Turei @metiria
The Greens are big users of Twitter and co-leader Metiria Turei is no exception. The Greens' hashtag of #LoveNZ is sprinkled throughout, but her tweeting is easily more authentic than the Labour and National leaders.
iv. Winston Peters @winstonpeters
Despite a personal style, Winston Peters leaves his tweeting to staffers. That does not stop his tweets from being sharp and sometimes self-deprecating. One recent effort: "If Jamie Whyte is a philosopher, as he claimed on Morning Report, then I'm an Einstein."
v. Russel Norman @RusselNorman
Green co-leader Russel Norman is relentlessly on message. But like his co-leader Metiria Turei, he does his own tweeting and will respond to questions from followers.
vi. Trevor Mallard @TrevorMallard
Labour's bovver boy Trevor Mallard made headlines earlier this year when he called to bring back the moa. What will his next caper be? Mallard will let you know first on Twitter.
vii. Kelvin Davis @NgatiBird
Labour list MP Kelvin Davis wants to win Te Tai Tokerau from Mana's Hone Harawira, but is his party behind him? Davis recently took to Twitter and Facebook to make his case. The result of his electorate contest - and the fate of Internet Mana - could be an election decider.
viii. Clare Curran @clarecurranmp
Clare Curran is Labour's Dunedin South MP and has been described as "shadow minister of Twitter", with over 25,000 tweets under her belt. She has also been known to make SMOGs (Social Media Own Goals) in her tweeting, which is just another reason why she is worth following.
ix. Jacinda Ardern @jacindaardern
Labour Jacinda Ardern is once again trying to unseat Nikki Kaye in Auckland Central. Win or lose, her list position will almost certainly see her re-elected. As a rising star in Labour, Ardern is destined to become a minister if Labour is in a position to form a government after September 20.
x. Tracey Martin @TraceyMartinMP
New Zealand First has grabbed headlines in the campaign thanks to its leader Winston Peters. Tracey Martin provides a backbencher's view of the goings on in New Zealand First and is a reminder that the party is not just Winston.
5. Print journalists
i. Toby Manhire @toby_etc
columnist Toby Manhire tweets a mix of the insightful, informative and humorous (and frequently all at the same time) to some 6,000 followers.
ii. Claire Trevett @CTrevettNZH
Claire Trevett is the Herald's deputy political editor. Look for her live-tweeting from political events. Trevett also uses Twitter to share lighter moments from the campaign trail.
iii. Andrea Vance @avancenz
Fairfax political reporter Andrea Vance made the news herself in 2013 in a story which ended with the resignation of Peter Dunne as a minister. Never far from the action.
iv. Jane Clifton @rumpole3
Jane Clifton shares her unique blend of humorous but cutting commentary in her weekly political column in the Listener. For daily servings, follow her on Twitter.
v. Derek Cheng @dchengnz
Herald political reporter David Cheng live-tweeted in text and photos last week's Helensville debate, which saw John Key go head to head with Laila Harre. Expect to see more of this style of tweeting, which brings you closer to what is happening on the campaign trail.
vi. Philip Matthews @secondzeit
A senior journalist for The Press, Philip Matthews is proof that you do not have to be in the press gallery to be consistently well informed. He's also funny - after the release of Dirty Politics, he tweeted "Haven't seen this many people commenting on a book without reading it since university."
vii. Hamish Rutherford @oneforthedr
Hamish Rutherford is a press gallery journalist particularly active on Twitter. He will be out and about on the campaign trail for Fairfax media.
viii. John Drinnan @Zagzigger
New Zealand Herald media writer John Drinnan will be a must-follow commentator for the televised leaders' debates during the campaign. He's also one of the most interesting tweeters for politics in his own right - and often engages in debates with some 3,000 followers.
ix. Vernon Small @VernonSmall
Fairfax political writer Vernon Small is not the most active press gallery journalist on Twitter, but he is one of the sharpest. And with Small also being a past chess champion, he is well poised to interpret the strategic moves in a crowded MMP election.
x. Tracy Watkins @tracy_watkins
Fairfax political editor Tracy Watkins has tweeted just 77 times since she joined Twitter in 2010 - but with an uptick in activity in recent weeks, she is a crucial agenda-setting voice to follow for the campaign.
6. TV/radio journalists
Patrick Gower. Photo / Mark Mitchell
i. Patrick Gower @patrickgowernz
TV3's agenda-setting political editor joined Twitter early and leads the press gallery pack. Gower is frequently ahead of the game and was first to reveal the nature of Nicky Hager's book
ii. Felix Marwick @felixmarwick
Newstalk ZB press gallery journalist Felix Marwick tweets news, quotes and analysis throughout the day. A must follow to find out what's happening on the campaign trail.
iii. Katie Bradford @katieabradford
TVNZ political reporter Katie Bradford found herself on the receiving end of Twitter nastiness earlier this year, when she was attacked by National MP and minister Judith Collins. Bradford subsequently received an apology from Collins - of course, via Twitter.
iv. Jessica Williams @mizjwilliams
Radio Live political editor Jessica Williams has sent over 17,000 tweets and blends the political with the personal. Her colourful Twitter profile reflects her style: "RadioLIVE political editor, Aberdonian, Brazilian passport holder, mama, high-heel-wearer, Petone dweller, CPFC fan, feminist, arse-kicker. Opinions mine."
v. Tova O'Brien @TovaOBrien
TV3 political reporter Tova O'Brien is fact-driven in her tweeting and is especially good at Twitter-casting quotes from her interviews with key players as they happen.
vi. Barry Soper @barrysoper
Newstalk ZB's charismatic political editor Barry Soper recently hosted a "Southland Party" at Parliament, with cheese rolls and Bluff oysters on the menu. Soper is also one of the most experienced press gallery journalists - and a colourful and opinionated tweeter.
vii. Chris Bramwell @rnzgallerychris
Radio New Zealand political reporter Chris Bramwell is the public broadcaster's most active tweeter. In keeping with her employer, she tends to tweet facts rather than opinion. A natural extension to RNZ's on-air coverage.
viii. Laura McQuillan @mcquillanatorz
Laura McQuillan is political reporter for Newstalk ZB. With 42,000 tweets so far, she is one of the most active press gallery tweeters.
ix. Brook Sabin @BrookSabin
TV3's Brook Sabin complements his colleagues Tova O'Brien and Patrick Gower and is particularly pithy with his tweeting. Follow him for a look behind the scenes of TV3's election night coverage, including The Nation.
x. Heather du Plessis-Allan @hdpaNEWS
TVNZ's Heather du Plessis-Allan reports for nightly magazine show Seven Sharp. She proudly tweeted her own mention in Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics, which involved her report on Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater.
7. On air
Duncan Garner. Photo / Brad Roberts
i. Duncan Garner @Garner_Live
Former TV3 political editor Duncan Garner now hosts the drive slot on Radio Live and has rapidly become a driving force on Twitter. Last year, it was Garner who first broke - on Twitter - rumours of Labour leader David Shearer's resignation in the wake of the "man ban"
ii. Russell Brown @publicaddress
Left-wing commentator Russell Brown was an early adopter of Twitter. With over 15,000 followers, he often shapes opinion for other left-wing voices. Now hosting the Media Take media criticism programme on Maori Television, Brown is particularly valuable for interpreting the media's coverage of politics.
iii. Mihingarangi Forbes @Mihi_Forbes
Mihingarangi Forbes is the host of the astute Native Affairs news interview programme on Maori Television. Forbes' recent revealing grilling of Act leader Jamie Whyte recently went viral on Twitter, exposing it to far more people than the TV viewers who tuned in live.
iv. Mike Hosking @hoskingonzb
Mike Hosking is one of Twitter's most talked about media voices, as the recent fallout from TVNZ's decision to have him host its election leaders' debates showed. Hosking tweets less than others, which makes his opinions even more interesting when he does click the send button.
v. John Campbell @JohnJCampbell
TV3's John Campbell famously turned the 2002 election campaign on its head with his "Corngate" interview with Helen Clark, which was inspired by Nicky Hager's book Seeds of Distrust. Twelve years on, Campbell had the first live TV interview with Hager about his new election-influencing book, Dirty Politics.
vi. Guyon Espiner @GuyonEspiner
Guyon Espiner is the co-host of Radio New Zealand's agenda-setting news programme Morning Report. A former TVNZ political editor, few come close to matching his political nous. To date he has chosen mainly to signal what he thinks is important through retweeting.
vii. Wallace Chapman @wallacelchapman
Wallace Chapman hosts Prime TV's pub politics show Back Benches, which is probably the closest offline equivalent we have to Twitter.
viii. Damian Christie @damianchristie
Damian Christie appears on Prime TV show Back Benches and is also the editor of youth media site yours.net.nz. In his spare time, he's a prolific tweeter and often witty.
ix. The Nation @TheNationTV3
TV3's weekend political programme The Nation tweets links to video interviews, transcripts and gives advance warning of guests appearing on the next show.
x. Q+A @NZQandA
TVNZ's Sunday political interview programme tweets updates throughout the week. To see live-tweets about the show, use the hashtag #NZQandA.
8. Activists and insiders
Kim Dotcom. Photo / Kim Dotcom
i. Kim Dotcom @KimDotcom
Kim Dotcom has been a central figure in New Zealand politics since January 2012. He's New Zealand's only political figure with a true global following on Twitter - with 365,000 followers, Dotcom's Twitter reach is three times greater than John Key's. An absolute must-follow, regardless of what you think of him.
ii. Laila Harré @lailaharre
Internet Party leader Laila Harré only began tweeting in earnest earlier this year, but has already become a must-follow. Will Harré's very open tweeting change if she becomes an MP?
iii. Colin Craig @ColinCraigNZ
Conservative leader Colin Craig is still getting the hang of Twitter, and has been silent for the past few weeks. Will he turn to Twitter to help drum up the support he needs to enter Parliament?
iv. Jamie Whyte @JamieWhyteAct
New Act Party Jamie Whyte has grabbed headlines with his comments about Maori "privilege". He is now increasingly using Twitter to put out an unfiltered message to voters - including his call for Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy to resign.
v. Clint Smith @ClintVSmith
Greens' spindoctor Clint Smith became a Twitter sensation last year after MP Gareth Hughes turned to him for advice in a TV interview with the words "Hey Clint". While many spindoctors prefer to stay in the shadows, Smith openly tweets the latest insider information - sorry, "spin".
vi. Miriam Pierard @miriampierard
As one would expect from an Internet Party candidate, Miriam Pierard is big on Twitter. At third place on the Internet Party list, she may well enter Parliament on September 20.
vii. Murdoch Stephens @DoingOurBitNZ
Campaigner Murdoch Stephens wants the refugee quota to be increased from its current 750. He is one of the best tweeters firmly focused on a policy issue, and a great example of how social media can be used to lobby politicians on a cause.
viii. Callum Valentine @callumvalentine
Callum Valentine is ranked number ten on the Internet Party list, but is one of their most prolific and interesting tweeters. Follow him for an insider's account of how a new party seeks to win voters to its cause.
ix. Andrew Campbell @Andr3wCampbell
Green spindoctor Andrew Campbell will be managing the message for the party which thinks we should #LoveNZ. One of the left-wing party's most important backroom operators.
x. Toad @toad001
The anonymous Green supporter Toad is unashamedly partisan in his or her tweeting. The account also re-tweets interesting voices that might otherwise be lost amidst the general Twitter noise.
Graeme Edgeler. Photo / HOS
i. Graeme Edgeler @GraemeEdgeler
Wellington-based lawyer Graeme Edgeler is Twitter's resident electoral law expert. Turn to him for expert comment on topics like donations and unauthorised election advertising.
ii. Danyl Mclauchlan @danylmc
Danyl Mclauchlan is known for his concise analytical blogging of the problems facing both the left and the right, particularly where strategy is concerned. On Twitter, he is equally sharp.
iii. iPredict NZ @ipredictnz
iPredict is an online prediction market and is perhaps best explained as a cross between political opinion polling matched with the TAB. Political insiders can make money by betting on political outcomes, which gets insider information out there. Follow iPredict and be the first to know.
iv. Max Rashbrooke @MaxRashbrooke
Journalist Max Rashbrooke is a specialist on inequality and last year edited the book Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis. With inequality a popular topic for left-wing parties this election, Rashbrooke tweets much needed facts and statistics about the issue.
v. Ask Away @AskAwayNZ
Ask Away is an online election project from Massey University which lets voters put questions to candidates. A great way to get information from MPs who may be more expansive in their answers than through Twitter itself.
vi. Claire Robinson @Spinprofessor
Massey University professor Claire Robinson is a specialist in political marketing and a frequent commentator in the news media. Watch for her comments on parties' billboard and TV advertising.
vii. Matthew Beveridge @matthewjpb
Matthew Beveridge blogs daily on candidates' social media efforts and is not afraid to hand out both bouquets and brickbats. The Greens recently tweeted a photo of Beveridge in their campaign war room with the comment "Beveridge is watching you!"
viii. Stephen Mills @stephengmills
Stephen Mills is executive director for polling company UMR. With opinion polls so crucial for tactical voters in the final weeks of the campaign, his expert commentary on what they mean will be incredibly valuable.
ix. Bernard Hickey @bernardchickey
Bernard Hickey is the publisher of beltway news outlet Hive News and a contributor to business news website interest.co.nz. An experienced financial journalist, he will bring particular clarity to economic issues in the lead-up to election day.
x. Colmar Brunton @ColmarBruntonNZ
TVNZ's pollster Colmar Brunton tweets advance warning of its upcoming polls and links to the full reports it writes for each poll conducted. The polling company also highlights findings which may have been lost in the main coverage of their polling.
10. Election humour
i. Election Satire @2014satire
Election Satire is a newcomer to Twitter and seems to be designed especially for the campaign. Its anonymous creators tweet a barrage of topical one-liners poking fun at all the players every day.
ii. Scott Yorke @ImperatorFish
Auckland-based lawyer Scott Yorke blogs and tweets under the moniker Imperator Fish. On Twitter, Yorke often makes very serious critiques under the guise of political humour. His efforts have also helped earn him a regular spot on Radio New Zealand National's late afternoon programme The Panel.
iii. TEAMKEY @TEAMKEY888
The mysterious TEAMKEY turned out to be part of an elaborate mockery of National's #TeamKey election hashtag. So much thought has gone into the attempt to make you believe TeamKey is also the name of a Chinese waste disposal products company that it would be a shame not to read their efforts.
iv. Guy Williams @guywilliamsguy
Comedian Guy Williams stars in TV3's weekly satirical show Jono and Ben at Ten and co-hosts a show on radio station The Edge. He also has 43,000 followers on Twitter, where he pokes fun on whatever is news of the day, including politics.
v. GCSB Intercepts @GCSBIntercepts
What might New Zealand's intelligence agencies be telling the government? The fake account GCSB Intercepts tells us what's going on, Get Smart style.
vi. Ali Ikram @AliIkram
TV3 Campbell Live reporter Ali Ikram ensures we don't take the campaign too seriously. One of his latest missives summed up the current state of affairs: "Politics is gonzo right now".
vii. NZ Question Time @Alt_NZQT
The anonymous NZ Question Time account is a reliable tweeter of political satire and takes aim at both left and right.
viii. Metiria Turei parody @MetiriaTureiMP
This Metiria Turei parody account is almost certainly run out of the camps of the Greens' opponents. Its barbs are pointed.
ix. Russell Norman @RussellNormanMP
This fake Russel Norman deliberately misspells the Green Party leader's name, which did not prevent a National MP from confusing it with the real thing earlier this year. Clearly a partisan critique and becoming nastier as the campaign wears on.
x. John Key @Not_JohnKeyPM
This parody account for John Key is the best of several dedicated to the Prime Minister. Generally entertaining rather than nasty, with frequent ironic use of National's chosen hashtag #TeamKey.