There were three things to remember for the dozen Wellington Central hopefuls at the three-yearly Aro Valley meet-the- candidates evening.
View video: Bondage, cannabis and serious talk
When the two-minute deadline for speeches loomed, the timekeeper would bang a wooden spoon on a metal teapot; when time was up, someone would plunge an arm on the piano; and, if they kept talking, they would get squirted with a water pistol.
Such is the gravity with which they take their politics in the valley, where the candidates' meeting has become a drawcard mix of comedy and serious debate.
ACT candidate Heather Roy was first to forget the rules, failing to wind up her opening remarks when the teapot clanged.
"Dwung, dwung, dwung" went the piano, before she was ruthlessly shot in the back.
Stephen Franks (National), Sue Kedgley (the Greens), Michael Appleby (Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis) and others also got the treatment.
In a meeting meant to entertain as much as anything else, Mr Appleby was a crowd-pleaser, noting Prime Minister Helen Clark's emphasis on trust.
"You can't even trust her photograph. I don't want a 19-year- old running this country," he said, referring to her airbrushed billboard image.
He had one answer for every issue from tax to law and order, student fees and health. "If we legalised cannabis . . ." he repeatedly shouted through a window to the crowd outside, who could not make it into the packed community hall and had complained that they could not hear.
Don Franks, a Rongotai factory hand standing for the Workers' Party, filled out his opening address with a socialist song.
UnitedFuture's Vaughan Smith took inspiration – setting his closing address to a rap accompanied by foot-stomping and finger-clicking from the audience.
Sadly, he fluffed his lines, though not as badly as earlier.
"If . . . the accident is not caused by an accident, it won't be an accident." And thus not covered by ACC, he sagely observed.
Mrs Roy had trouble getting her views on nuclear-powered freighters across, saying they were needed to get bananas to New Zealand.
"I don't want any bananas," someone yelled. "The people behind you do," Mrs Roy replied, though the hissing suggested they did not want their bananas brought here on nuclear ships.
Mr Appleby claimed legalising cannabis would give smokers $40 extra a week for groceries, but missed a trick by not spelling out how many nuclear-free bananas that would buy.
- The Dominion Post