There's one lesson Wellington Central hopefuls at the Aro Valley meet-the-candidates evening never seem to grasp – don't wear a suit.
It's not because it fails to impress the boisterous audience; it's because water pistols are the long-favoured method for persuading verbose candidates to shut up. The unusual time-keeping methods and robust heckling were almost more of a drawcard than the debate itself for the 350 locals who jammed into the Aro Valley Community Centre last night.
Early on, a small girl commandeered a plastic trumpet, gleefully counting down the final few seconds before she blasted it in the offending candidate's ear. If that didn't persuade them to hand over the mic, a volley from the water gun swiftly followed. Pirate Party candidate Gynn Rickerby was first to breach the time limit, finally conceding defeat when the super-soaker was launched.
National candidate Paul Foster-Bell's uncanny resemblance to his Labour Party rival, incumbent MP Grant Robertson, did not go unmentioned for long.
Mr Robertson urged the crowd to "vote for the real thing, not the imitation", before Mr Foster-Bell retorted he was "not an imitation – I'm the new and improved model".
New Economics Party candidate Laurence Boomert flummoxed even the hecklers with his assessment of the global financial situation. "Over the last few years the invisible hand ate all its own fingers and became the all-too-visible stump," he declared.
Libertarianz candidate Reagan Cutting urged the crowd to spurn Labour's spending promises. "When you're in a hole you also don't dig deeper."
"But there's oil down there!" an audience member cried.
Veteran candidate Michael Appleby, from the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, presented his solution to climate change and energy crisis: "Hemp will take over forestry. We're going to be having canna-petrol."
- The Dominion Post