In the oddly-contested Epsom electorate, the contest for votes already has Labour putting the boot in.

Or perhaps its best foot forward.

A painting of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern - in oil, on a gumboot - is about to be offered for sale by Labour's local electorate committee as a fundraiser.

The striking image offers the unusual prospect of a second-hand gumboot from Waikato turned into a fundraising artwork in one of the wealthiest electorates in the country.

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(Images: See how the gumboot was turned into an artwork at the end of this article)

Chairwoman Moira Macnab has yet to settle on exactly how it will be sold but is inviting offers from those wanting to own the distinctive gumboot.

"It is exceptional and really appropriate, particularly after Covid-19. We needed to get on this thing boots and all - to really stamp it out.

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"We're putting it up for offers. Part of the value is that it's extraordinary. I can see it is Te Papa. It belongs somewhere special."

This year's election race begins in earnest next month. Across the country, political organisers in electorate committees are organising funding, preparing advertising and running selection meetings.

In Epsom, Labour has chosen lawyer Camilla Belich, mother of two and married to former party general secretary Andrew Kirton. Seymour is standing again, as is National's Paul Goldsmith.

Act leader and current Epsom MP David Seymour. Photo / Greg Bowker
Act leader and current Epsom MP David Seymour. Photo / Greg Bowker

Epsom has been an unusual political pantomime since 2005. That election, Act's Rodney Hide took the electorate from a not-entirely-unwilling National Party.

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By 2008, the charade had organised itself into a meeting and a cup of tea between Hide and National's John Key.

The charade turned to circus in 2011. Key's tea date with Act's new leader John Banks was inadvertently recorded and the shemozzle that followed overshadowed the election.

Since then, public endorsements have not been required. In 2014, voters chose Act's Seymour without public displays of encouragement, and then again in 2017.

As Goldsmith suggests, voters don't need a signpost if they know the route. "We've had MMP since 1996. People are clearly understanding you need coalition partners."

The selection of those partners is, he says, a decision for new leader Todd Muller to make. For Goldsmith, the plan is "first and foremost, concentrating on the party vote". "That's been the plan for a long time now."

The contest for Epsom - for all the drama it creates - has long been clean. The outcome is largely foregone - Goldsmith rules out Labour taking the seat, Seymour's polling does likewise and Belich says she would "love to win but…".

National finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith, who is also its Epsom candidate. Photo / Mark Mitchell
National finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith, who is also its Epsom candidate. Photo / Mark Mitchell

It has made for civil arguments at well-attended campaign rallies. It allows Goldsmith to endorse Seymour's strong electorate work (while adding he also has an office in Epsom to allow a choice for the Act MP's constituents). Seymour, likewise, speaks well of Goldsmith - "we are fellow travellers on philosophy" while Belich promises a "positive campaign".

Seymour's not taking anything for granted. He hasn't since elected - his electorate work is recognised across the local political spectrum, embracing individual issues and those impacting on the wider community.

He describes it with maths. "I've had six years as a local MP. That's 2000 days. If you help half-a-dozen people a day, that's literally thousands of people who have been helped through my office."

And so, he will campaign with vigour. With Act's current polling, success could well bring in additional MPs to sweeten the prospect of a coalition deal. National's current polling might also carry a cost - Goldsmith would be left relying on a list place, with the latest polls making it unlikely National would get any list MPs at all.

Goldsmith: "I've got every confidence we will be higher in the polls come election time."

For Belich, all might not be lost should she suffer defeat. Labour's previous Epsom candidates include Stuart Nash and David Park, who are current ministers. The party's 2020 list is yet to be released.

Labour's Epsom candidate Camilla Belich. Photo / Supplied
Labour's Epsom candidate Camilla Belich. Photo / Supplied

If it did offer a path to Parliament for Belich, and not for Goldsmith, then Epsom would - for once - put the boot on the other foot.

The painting of Ardern by building project director Piet Ubels, 30, is featured on a second-hand Red Band gumboot from Waikato.

It was the first time he had picked up a paintbrush since high school. The result was "as much a surprise to me as much as anyone".

Ubels credits Macnab with the gumboot idea as it harked back to Ardern's rural Morrinsville roots, and based it on a photograph taken during the Prime Minister's first speech as leader of the Labour Party.

"Also, I liked the old idea of pulling yourself up by your boots. And that she is walking the walk."

The gumboot has been filled and stiffened to protect the painting. Ubels painted the image on the left-hand side of the left gumboot. It is titled: "Out of Left Field."

The original sketch

Progress on the artwork,
Progress on the artwork, "Out of Left Field", by Piet Ubels. Photo / Supplied

A work in progress

Progress on the artwork,
Progress on the artwork, "Out of Left Field", by Piet Ubels. Photo / Supplied

Complete but for highlights

Progress on the artwork,
Progress on the artwork, "Out of Left Field", by Piet Ubels. Photo / Supplied

The finished work

The completed artwork,
The completed artwork, "Out of Left Field", by Piet Ubels. Photo / Supplied