After week one of the campaign was marred by the two major party leaders wingeing about personal attacks aimed in their direction, it was refreshing to see Chris and Chris spending this week lavishing one another with compliments on their debating skills.
Christopher Luxon cast the first stone on Wednesday, saying Chris Hipkins was “a 20-year career politician, he’s a champion debater, probably the best debater in our Parliament”.
Hipkins followed suit on Friday, describing Luxon’s talents as “formidable”.
“I expect he is going to be a very formidable debater. I know he has been getting a lot of coaching and has been spending a lot of time preparing for them,” Hipkins said.
A bit of digging by Labour’s Deborah Russell unearthed that Luxon was selling himself short. He had actually won a prize for debating while at Christchurch Boys’ High School. So much for having little experience.
In being so quick to crown Hipkins Parliament’s - and indeed New Zealand’s - best debater, had Luxon overlooked some in his own caucus? Deputy Nicola Willis, a champion debater, and Chris Bishop.
Bishop’s own biography on the National party website notes that before entering Parliament: “Chris was a champion university debater and mooter, winning tournaments around the world including at the Cambridge Union, the University of Sydney, as well as in New Zealand.”
Campaigning in Nelson, Hipkins was given the honour of a balloon sculpture by local “balloon artist” Felicity Pallesen. These marvellous creations have been covered in a previous edition of Beehive Diaries.
Pallesen told Beehive Diaries it took six hours to make four sculptures, and the most important thing was to work out how to personalise them, including facial length, hairstyle, facial hair and style of clothing, skin tone and glasses.
“I’m always amazed at how it is possible to indicate persona in such simple ways. I guess it shows we are more alike than different but that little nuances can alter perception,” she said.
Chris Hipkins’ food diary
Visiting the “Love Shack” scarfie flat in Dunedin, Hipkins suggested to reporters they might assemble a compilation of him eating things (well, eating one thing in particular). Beehive Diaries has taken him up on the suggestion, diarising his public food consumption.
Saturday - Upper Hutt Cossie Club - Big breakfast, washed down with Coke Zero.
Monday - Nelson - Kebab.
Tuesday - Christchurch Steak and cheese pie (bought from Riverside Market in Christchurch. Despite the many international food options on offer (Press Gallery favourite Dimitri’s Souvlaki was tragically closed) Hipkins opted for a humble steak and cheese pie.
Wednesday - Dunedin - Doughnuts (consumed at “Love Shack”).
Thursday - West Coast - Breakfast at Kaipuku food rescue service, declined fruit on offer (despite insistence of media), Hipkins opted for caramel slice. Lunch was a whitebait sandwich (Sevenpenny Cafe, Greymouth).
Friday - Wellington - Takeaway Big Mac helpfully provided by staff of Mana MP Barbara Edmonds.
Chris v Chris
Christopher Luxon is the Chris of the week. He’s convincingly won a handful of polls and is now neck and neck with Hipkins as Preferred Prime Minister.
He’s proved to be a strong, relatable campaigner - not quite the stiff corporate type many expected. Hipkins, on the other hand, seemed stiff and engages less.
On the other hand, Hipkins appears to be on the up after bottoming out in the polls. Crucially, he eats every bite of a pie, rather than simply taking a nibble for the cameras, like Luxon did earlier this week on the Kapiti coast. Hipkins appeared to reference this later in the week, noting that it was impossible to judge a pie by only one bite.