Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has faced flak for avoiding those who are not stricken by her glow - such as those farmers and orchardists who refer to her as 'Jacindageddon' because of Labour's plans to charge for water.

So today she ventured to the Hawkes' Bay - the fruit bowl of New Zealand - to visit Johnny Appleseed - an apple orchard.

Ardern was greeted by owner John Paynter and a gathering of workers.

Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern signs an autograph for Eleanor White (in black) and Lyn Bryant (cream) both from Napier. Photo / Warren Buckland
Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern signs an autograph for Eleanor White (in black) and Lyn Bryant (cream) both from Napier. Photo / Warren Buckland

She told them about the time her parents owned a small orchard in Morrinsville and the scar on her face from a boxing machine. She told them nashi pears were "an absolute beast" to work with: "trying to keep the birds away is an absolute nightmare."


Standing next to her, MP Stuart Nash managed to keep a straight face at such a compliment.

Owner John Paynter did not raise the issue of Labour's plans to impose water levies with Ardern while she was there: "It was her day, not mine."

But afterwards he said his orchard used a lot of water - and it was likely it would have to absorb at least some of the extra costs rather than pass it all on to consumers. "Any cost that puts up the cost of fruit is an issue."

He said he was not exactly happy about the idea, but managed to be philosophical about it - saying water was a precious resource and charges were likely inevitable. "Whether it's next year or in 50 years, I'm sure one day we will pay for it."

His company could probably afford a charge of the size Labour was talking about of 1-2 cents per 1000 litres. "Would we want to? Not really."

Earlier in the day, Ardern had warmed up with a few events that are more usual on her campaign diary. Ardern visited a local Plunket for photos with babies and a quick reunion with her former badminton doubles partners at Morrinsville High.

Ardern signing autographs. Photo / Warren Buckland
Ardern signing autographs. Photo / Warren Buckland

There she made an announcement of $10 million a year in funding to pay for extra nurse visits by Plunket and Tamariki Ora for 18,000 vulnerable families, such as those dealing with drug or alcohol problems or young parents.

She also made a local housing announcement at Maraenui in Napier for state and affordable homes. Those she met there included Eleanor White who didn't want a selfie but rather its ancestor - a good old fashioned autograph.


White wanted her to sign her childhood autograph book - on the page next to the signature White got back in 1946 in Granity from former Labour PM Peter Fraser.

Then it was on to the Eastern Institute of Technology where she spoke in the forum about her plans for fees-free education and climate change.