Labour's deputy leader Kelvin Davis this morning delivered a unique take of the "story of the Government" so far, complete with a tale of the light versus the "blue darkness".

His speech, kicking off the second day of Labour's annual conference in Whanganui this weekend, had some party faithful whipping away tears of laughter.

But National MPs were quick to push back on Davis' account of the Government's successes over the past two years.

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"We Māori are natural storytellers," he said, before diving into a brief history of recent New Zealand politics.

"In the beginning, before there was light, there was nine long years of darkness" – a not-so-subtle nod to the three terms of the National-led Government.

"It wasn't a black darkness – more like a dark shade of blue darkness," he said, hammering home the point in case anyone didn't quite understand his reference.

Davis then told his "story of this Government so far," interwoven with Māori legends with a couple of familiar characters.

That story began when the "light was let in" at the 2017 election, with the election of the Labour-led Government and Jacinda Ardern as Prime Minister.

Thus began, Davis said, an "age of wellbeing".

Regional Economic Development Minister, and NZ First MP, Shane Jones. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Regional Economic Development Minister, and NZ First MP, Shane Jones. Photo / Mark Mitchell

"Who would help usher in the age of wellbeing?" he rhetorically asked the conference.

"One man, fresh from the north came to the front of the crowd: 'I, Māui, will take up this tremendous challenge.


"I will catch a $1 billion fish every year, and distribute is across the regions," Davis said, impersonating Regional Economic Development Minister, and NZ First MP, Shane Jones.

The fish, in this metaphor, is the Government's $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund, which Jones is in charge of.

National MP Chris Bishop was quick to hit back at Davis' account of the Government so far.

"If you define 'light' as worsening child poverty, slowing growth, low business confidence, broken promises, and utter incompetence then this comment makes sense I suppose," he tweeted.

Meanwhile, Council of Trade Unions (CTU) president Richard Wagstaff delivered the Government a subtle hurry-up on its work to get Fair Pay Agreement legislation over the line.

Speaking to those gathered this morning, Wagstaff was full of praise for the Government, saying that over the past two years it had been a "triumph of style and substance".


Unions and the Government had been working together strongly, he said, noting unemployment was at the lowest level in 10 years and wage growth was at the highest it had been in a decade.

"But there is still so much more to do."

"We need to bring Fair Pay Agreements forward. We urgently need to establish minimum rates for workers across industries to stop the race to the bottom."

In October, he delivered a similar – albeit stronger – message about the speed in which the Government is moving on Fair Pay Agreements.

At the time, Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway was unable to confirm if Fair Pay Agreement legislation would be passed before next year's election.

Wagstaff said unions would be disappointed to hear this and said unions are "absolutely pushing to get them in as soon as possible".