Thanks to Neil and Esther Henderson for sending in this illuminating (and increasingly well-supported) explanation.

Published in: on January 7, 2010 at 4:49 pm  Comments (1)  

“Let’s fly our fern over the Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day.”

Update: this is the flag we want to fly: The Black & Silver

“Good idea, Kenneth.”

Kenneth Wang doesn’t think small. I guess if Mao Zedong’s army commander was my grandpa, I’d be fairly bold too.

So don’t be surprised if on Waitangi Day – one month from today – you see more than two flags flying above the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

And we hope you don’t mind if one of those flags is a little bigger than the other two.

10,000 square feet bigger, to be exact.

You heard it here first. 

If we can raise $20,000 by 20 January, Skybanners are going to make us a gigantic fern flag and chopper it all over Auckland.

If that doesn’t getting Kiwis talking about a new flag, we don’t know what will.

There are two pressing issues:

  1. Where to find $20,000. 
  2. Which design to use for the giant flag. 

If you can help with the funds – or know anyone who can – email ASAP. (Needless to say, if we don’t raise enough, you’ll get your money back.)

If you can’t send money but want to give us your view on which fern flag to fly, comment below.

I’ve had some other design thoughts since my poll and subsequent posts…

Both Kenneth and I feel there’s not much point in a new flag that keeps bits of the old one as a bob each way. A proud nation doesn’t make a Declaration of Semi-Dependence.

We say we need to Think Bigger – like Canada did in 1965.

In previous posts, I’ve done my best to do justice to my red-stars-on-blue and red-stars-on-black options. Let’s know if you still prefer one of those.

But in this post, I want to try to make the black option work for those of you who think a black flag is too sombre.

What about if we add some white or silver… 

Variant 1: two white vertical panels

Unashamedly based on the Canadian flag, the world’s best.

Before Canadian PM Lester Pearson led the charge for this beautiful maple leaf flag, former PM John Diefenbaker had this to say about it:

“The Pearson flag is a meaningless flag. There is no recognition of history; no indication of the existence of French and English Canada; the partnership of the races; no acknowledgement of history. It is a flag without a past, without history, without honour and without pride.”

Sound familiar?

As Canadians now know, if you’ve got the courage to make history, honour and pride follow in spades.

There are so many parallels between the Canadian and New Zealand situations. Especially when it comes to rivalry between the national leaf and the national mammal.

Just as some New Zealanders would sooner see a kiwi on our flag than a silver fern, plenty of Canadians wanted to bypass the maple leaf for a beaver!

(Let’s just hope taste prevails here too.)

Variant 2: one white vertical panel

A good way to keep the fern big and still have some light relief.

Variant 3: two white horizontal bars

Variant 4: two silver horizontal bars

Variant 5: a silver silver fern

After all, in its natural state it is a silver fern, not a white fern. (Even the white fern is still called silver.) 

White can make foreigners think ‘white feather’. But silver would be unique in the world of flags – a bold statement of a confident young nation.

I’ve had a shirt made with a silver silver fern on black, and it does look smart.

OK, do any of these options change your mind about a black flag?

Now a little about the heritage.


Good question.

The silver fern is the native ponga. It was chosen as an emblem in its white form by Joe Warbrick, captain and organiser of  the New Zealand Natives (Maori plus five pakeha) rugby team of 1888.

Warbrick, now a subject of a short film, was inspired by two Maori proverbs: 

Mate atu he toa ara mai he toa.” 
“When one warrior dies, another arises.”

“Mate atu he tetakura ara mai he tetakura.”
“When one fern dies, another arises.”

Which does seem most apt for a game based on men supporting each other – not to mention an excellent  justification for a national emblem.

But why the black jersey?

The answer comes from All Black Tamati Ellison’s family, whose ancestor Tom was a star of  that Natives team.

More to the point, it was Tom Ellison’s idea in 1893 to make the  black jersey with silver fern the official New Zealand team uniform.

According to the Ellisons, Joe and Tom just thought black was the colour that would provide the best contrast with the white fern.

I can guess why Warbrick would have felt that way. You see, in 1884 he’d been in the first-ever New Zealand rugby team. 

And that team played in blue jerseys with a gold fern.

We know that, because last year the one below (right) was loaned to the New Zealand Rugby Museum by the family of the team’s first try-scorer.

But you’d never know looking at the official team photo that there was a gold fern on the jersey, would you? 

The 1884 rugby team in blue jerseys and (invisible?) gold fern.

Were these players having their ferns drycleaned that day? Or did the dark gold simply not show up against the blue?

Could it be that Warbrick wanted a colour contrast that would let his emblem be seen in black and white photos, and so chose, um… black and white?

The photo of the 1888 team below suggests he succeeded – and a tradition was born.

The 1888 Native team, now in black jerseys with white fern.

In the 121 years since, the silver fern has been ‘our maple leaf’, representing New Zealand in sporting and non-sporting fields alike.

It would be a shame if the anti-sport brigade were to veto its use on a flag solely on the grounds that it started life on the Natives’ rugby jersey.

Because, of course, it didn’t.

It started life in the ground – as a native of the New Zealand bush.

Te Papa: what might have been

Museum of Mediterranean History, Reggio Calabria, Italy.

Karl du Fresne says the new head of Te Papa should tear the building down and start again.

I agree. From the outside, Te Papa is not a museum, it’s a mausoleum. One I resent having to see every time I fancy a stroll round Oriental Bay.

Te Papa
Te Papa: museum or mausoleum?

Contrast the above pile of rubble with what three other countries made of similar challenges – the Italian (top) and Dubai (below) examples both museums.

Dubai Museum.

Selfridges Shopping Centre, Birmingham.

Can you imagine dear old Prince Charles cutting the ribbon on this whale-like structure? He’d probably have taken the scissors to his wrists instead.

But such a nautical theme would go well on the Wellington waterfront. (I do love that smooth disc cladding.)

I remember when the full horror of the Te Papa design was revealed, Gavin Bradley from Saatchis suggested a paua shell roof.

Another brilliant idea killed by the mediocracy.

Unicyclists busting for the line

Of all the bizarre events to come to Wellington in recent times, none quite prepared me for the sight of 600 unicyclists pedalling furiously for the loo.

At least that’s what it looked like at the World Unicycle Championships on the Wellington waterfront yesterday.

A unicycle has no handlebars, see. So the rider in a hurry must  hold on for dear life to the front of his or her seat.

Which has the effect of making the race look like the world championship of speed crotch-grabbing.

The guy on the left adopts the standard crouch-and-grab posture. He was from Germany, I think.

I had to admire the young one-armed unicyclist from Denmark, whose competitive spirit had shades of the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The guy in the red looks particularly keen to finish, while the bearded Korean seemed tickled by my chant of “Go Ho Chi Minh!”

A wonderfully zany family spectacle, lured to the southern hemisphere for the first time by master event manager Arthur Klap.

Published in: on January 5, 2010 at 10:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hone rigged Maori flag poll

In this morning Dominion Post, Richard Long reveals who it was who gave Maori such a poor choice of flag options: none other than Hone Harawira.

This explains why there was no real choice other than the flag Hone and his mum have been waving for years in the cause of a separate Maori nation.

As I said yesterday, the United Tribes flag is hardly a goer, given that it features the English cross not once, but twice. 

Yes, the New Zealand Natives rugby team did seem happy to play under it. But that may have been because the only other option was the Union Jack – which they also played under, as some of the players were non-Maori.

New Zealand Native Rugby Team 1888

The Natives were also the first sports team to adopt the silver fern as their emblem, and to wear the colour black.

Why black? Apparently because it provided the best contrast with the white.

(This seems plausible, as New Zealand’s original rugby team of 1884 had worn a gold fern on blue jerseys – and the fern didn’t show up in black and white photos.)

Don’t forget to vote in the Ansell/Wang fern flag poll, and check out the latest designs.


Maori should fly this flag

Jeffy James’s flag – minus the Southern Cross

I have no problem with Maori flying their own flag on Waitangi Day. But the Maori sovereignty flag is the wrong choice.

The above adaption of Jeffy James’s New Zealand flag (see below) would serve Maori better – on both political and aesthetic grounds.

The Maori sovereignty flag

What message will it send on our day of national unity when Maori fly the banner of those wanting a separate Maori nation?

But it’s hardly Maori’s fault. They were given only four options, and the other three were either British or English-based.


Published in: on January 4, 2010 at 1:35 pm  Comments (18)  

The best of both flags?

 These two designs have together received 52% of votes in my flag poll

So why not put them together? 

Now we have four traditional New Zealand icons in the one flag: the Southern Cross; the colour black; the Maori colours of red, black and white; and the silver fern.

If you voted for one of the top two flags, do you think this one’s better or worse?

Thanks to friend and reader Maygrove for suggesting this combo – which I happened to have on standby as one of my 135 rejects.

Now, as I did with the blue flag on the last post, here are the same three alternative star arrangements – plus my pictorial inspiration for this design…


Published in: on January 3, 2010 at 11:35 pm  Comments (8)  

Traditional option leads first flag poll

As I write, 611 of you have voted in my first flag poll. (Yes, it’s still going, and there will be more polls to test other options.)

From the start of polling, the result ratios have remained much the same, with 28% (169 votes) favouring the most traditional of the six Ansell/Wang fern options, the red stars on blue.

Next is the classic black with 24% (148), followed by the two large-fern-over-split-colour designs: the green and blue with 23% (139), and the red and black  with 18% (112 votes).

Two things surprised me about the poll.

First, that the voting pattern didn’t change when Trevor Mallard’s Red Alert voters came on board. I thought more lefties would mean more votes for the Maori and green colourschemes, but no.

And I’m surprised that the green design hasn’t got more than 7 votes (1%). 

I’d thought it would be a contender, given that my much more crudely-drawn version of a green flag came second out of 600 entries in the 1991 Listener competition. 

One reason may be that I chose too bright a green. I didn’t realise the problem until I saw the flag on my stepson’s screen, where it’s positively fluorescent. I might try a darker green and see if the pattern still holds. 

Although the blue is not my preferred option (and neither is green), I should do it justice by including three variations I’ve thought of since.

The last one is closer to the layout of the Southern Cross…

Variant 1: angled stars close to fern.

On second thoughts, the right-hand star in my original design may have been too far to the right. 

 Variant 2: upright stars close to fern.

A similar configuration, but with the stars now upright.

Variant 3: upright Southern Cross layout.

A more traditional layout closer to the arrangement on the current flag. 

In my next post, I’m going to merge the winning two designs from the poll and see if you think that’s a good compromise.

Then after that, I’ll show you some other variants – including the one I prefer!

Thanks for taking part in the poll. I’ll keep it going, and add other polls as fresh options emerge.

Please direct other flag-changers to the site and keep the feedback coming.

Published in: on January 3, 2010 at 12:18 pm  Comments (2)  

Man of the Year: Lord Monckton


The inconvenient truth about An Inconvenient Truth is that it contains 35 highly inconvenient untruths.

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t always been a global warming  sceptic. On the contrary.

I was so impressed by Al Gore’s movie I suggested to then-Opposition leader Don Brash that he make it his urgent mission to watch it.

The bit that stuck in my mind was Gore needing a cherry picker to reach the top of his ‘hockey stick’ graph of steeply rising temperatures.

This was Al’s dramatic way of showing that the globe was now  much,  much warmer than it had ever been before. 

I was also moved by the plight of the polar bears, which Al said were  drowning because their iceberg homes were melting from under them.

And of the people of Tuvalu, who Al said were flooding into New Zealand as rising tides flooded their homes. 

Al said a lot of things like that. And I believed him. Why would he lie?

Then friends started to tell me why. And to send me the evidence. Seems Al lies quite a lot. (Maybe because he’s well on his way to becoming the world’s first carbon billionaire.)

A lot of that evidence was exposed by the man you see above.

If you’ve been following the global warming debate in the biased left-wing New Zealand media, you’ve probably never heard of him.

If you’re Al Gore, you spend much of your time running away from challenges to debate him.

He calls himself Christopher Monckton, or Lord Monckton, or the 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, or just plain M of B, depending on his mood.

I call him a one-man peer review process.

One of the things the peer reviewed was Al’s movie. He found that it contained no fewer than 35 lies.


Published in: on December 31, 2009 at 11:59 pm  Comments (1)  

65 steps to getting a Ugandan driver’s licence

Our intrepid friends Kim and Jon Chamberlain and family are just coming to the end of an 18 month odyssey in Uganda.

No, Kim and Jon are not missionaries or diplomats or freelance witchdoctors.

In fact, neither of them had a job at all when they arrived. Nor did they have anywhere to live, or schools for their children Jordan and Kira.

They just fancied having a family adventure, and chose as their destination one of the poorest countries on earth. (As you do.)

And sure enough, these incurable optimists have had the time of their lives.

Oh, apart from the odd problem with ants, bats, headless chickens, poisonous snakes, beggars, robbers, bribes, fatal road crashes, malaria, dodgy food, the absence of most goods and services, and their near-electrocution after the hot-wiring of their home by a none-t00-bright sparky-cum-plumber.

Kim is a writer and her blog is well worth a read – especially her battle with Ugandan bureaucracy as she tried to get a local driver’s licence.

Published in: on December 27, 2009 at 10:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cousin Graham’s Samoan tsunami fund

(Source: ONE News)

I nearly fell of my chair when my cousin Graham Ansell’s face appeared in the One News review of the year’s events.

I knew Graham, Diann and family had a lucky escape from the Samoan tsunami, but I didn’t know his story had been filmed – or that he’d helped to raise $15,000 for the survivors.

(I even found his story on the BBC News site.) 


Published in: on December 26, 2009 at 4:21 pm  Comments (1)  

Why did the chicken cross the road?

‘Tis the season for seasoning chickens. Here’s a new poem about one who was determined to go out on his own terms…


“Why did the chicken cross the road?”
the chicken farmer cried.
The clairvoyant answered:
“To get to the other side.”

Published in: on December 23, 2009 at 3:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Let’s fly this fern

In the 21st century, the New Zealand flag should not be a British flag, or a Maori flag, or an Australasian flag. 

It should be a New Zealand flag – for all New Zealand, and only New Zealand.

The symbol that best unites us is surely the ponga or silver fern, first worn  by the NZ Native Rugby Team of 1888.

The silver fern says nature. It says Maori. It says New Zealand. 

It’s ‘us’.

But which silver fern is fit to grace our flag?

I believe the leaf must have a simple, timeless elegance. If I could draw, it wouldn’t have taken me 23 years to show you what I mean.

But only this year did I find a designer who could translate my vision of the perfect fern.

His name is Kenneth Wang, former ACT MP and owner of BrandWorks. 

Twenty  years ago, Kenneth designed the winning poster for the Auckland Commonwealth Games. He was a joy to work with.

I told him I needed a smooth, flowing, classical fern. A few emails later, he’d produced exactly the design I’d had in my mind for 23 years. 

Then, thanks to the miracle of PowerPoint, I set our fern against 141 different backgrounds.

I tried black and white, every shade of blue and green and teal and red – and every combination of stars, bars, panels and stripes I could think of. 

I tried silver ferns and gold ferns and black ferns and white ferns, before confirming  that white looked best. 

Among my six finalists below, I’ve tried to cater to every flag faction, from  sports buffs and nature lovers to traditionalists and Maori.

So now, please tell me which one you’d fly from your flag pole. Then vote in my flag poll.


A. Classic black

B. Clean green

C. Stars on blue

D. Silver lining

E. Maori colours

F. Land and sea

Thanks to Anthony Hubbard from the Sunday Star-Times for sparking this post by asking if I had any views on the flag.

It’s fair to say he did not expect the reply, “I’ll send you 141 designs!”

Thanks also to David Farrar, who has said he’ll link to it. I’d assumed my right-of-centre mates would be hostile to this idea, and didn’t know David was a republican and big flag-change fan. 

Published in: on December 20, 2009 at 3:08 am  Comments (56)  

The 2005 National billboard you never saw


It was my favourite of the lot, but it never ran. Don Brash wanted it to, but others thought no one would understand what PPTA was.

I replied that the media would ensure that they soon did!

I think this billboard would have created a firestorm, which the teacher unions surely deserve.

It would have thrown the spotlight on the real wreckers of the New Zealand education system: unions that for decades have quite deliberately destroyed the futures of thousands of children by insisting that they be exposed to useless, boring, uninspiring teachers.

Let’s hope the latter-day Nats can summon up the guts to deal to these Labour-protected losers – and pay good teachers the six-figure sums they deserve.

(They just might too, as depowering the PPTA would be hugely popular with parents, students, business, and anyone who cares about New Zealand’s future.)

Published in: on January 7, 2009 at 2:06 am  Comments (21)  

Ansell’s Ductionerry of Mispronounciations

A bug thenk yoe to those who contrubuted. Hair nairw is the first edution:

Air – how

Air gun? – How are you going?

An enemy – anemone


Published in: on November 20, 2008 at 9:46 am  Comments (19)  

ACT vertebrae visible in agreement

spineACT promised to give the Nats a spine. And they’ve made a great start.

At least eleven ACT ‘vertebrae’ are visible in the agreement reached with John Key. 

To cynics like John Armstrong who say Rodney won no firm concessions, consider this…

National has signed up to some or all of these eleven points of ACT’s 20 Point Plan for New Zealand:

1.  ACT’s main goal: Close the $500-a- week income gap with Australia by 2025. Now the government’s goal.

2.  Point 1: Cut government waste. Rodney has a hand on the scythe.

3.  Point 2: Cut tax. All centre-right parties endorse United’s 30% rate for both personal and company tax. A good start.

4.  Point 3: Limit local government and cap rates. Rodney in charge.

5.  Point 4: Reduce bureaucracy. Well, not growing it is a start.

6.  Point 5: Cut red tape. With Rodney on scissors, the cuts should be deep and meaningful.

7.  Point 6: Reform the RMA. 

8.  Point 7: More choice in health. Heather to help make more use of private hospitals.

9.  Point 17: Get tough on violent crims. ACT’s 3 Strikes Bill to go forward.

10. Point 18: Review the ETS. ACT wins a stay, and time to convince the public of the high costs and zero environmental benefits.

11. Point 19: Strengthen the constitutional framework.  Rodney’s  Taxpayer Bill of Rights goes forward.

The cynics may say that Key is just stringing its feisty junior partner along.

But John will know the cost of enraging the likes of Rodney Hide, Roger Douglas and John Boscawen.

He knows ACT aren’t poodles seeking baubles. They’re pitbulls with principles. Best keep them well-fed or government could get ugly.

The agreement is a credit to the negotiating skills of both John and Rodney.

The National caucus may have agreed quickly. But not, I suspect, lightly.

An ACT ad people would have liked


Published in: on November 17, 2008 at 8:58 am  Comments (1)  
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A National ad people would have liked


Published in: on November 14, 2008 at 11:47 am  Comments (2)  
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It’s the Keyhive (with the ACT 5)

Clark gone. Peters gone. ACT more than doubling its share in a week (as we predicted). Rodney romps in in Epsom (as predicted). Not a bad night at all.

The two most corrupt politicians in New Zealand history have left the building.

And two selfless patriots – Roger Douglas and John Boscawen – have entered.

(I’ve only spoken to ACT’s fifth MP David Garrett once by phone. But his standing in the Sensible Sentencing Trust suggests he’ll be a strong MP.)

The sad thing for me was seeing my friend Stephen Franks not only miss Wellington Central, but also miss getting in on National’s list.

By one lousy place. 

What a waste of a thoughtful and talented man to rank him 60th.

I am inspired to see John Key realise his 35 year goal to be PM. If he looked  euphoric, it’s because he’s been planning for this day since we was 12.  

John is the nice guy he seems. It’s incredible what he’s achieved, both in business and in politics.

If he can run the country the way he’s run his life so far, we’ll be in good shape. 

Let’s hope, with ACT’s support, he can.

On Sunday programme tomorrow

TVNZ’s Cameron Bennett came to the flat on Thursday to interview me for this week’s Sunday programme.

It was a busy time with the laptop chirping with ACT business, so I hope my distractedness wasn’t too obvious.

My job was to rate Labour’s campaign, while Tom Scott will be rating National’s.

(No pressure!)

Then a panel will be rating our ratings. I understand.

When Cameron asked me to rate Clark’s campaign out of ten, the first word out of my mouth was ‘Two.’ Then for the next take I upgraded her to a six.

My 2/10 was for the way her Slippery John attacks backfired and just made her look like Sleazy Helen.

But taken as a whole, including her surprisingly human performance in the last debate, and strong Labour branding on the ground, I thought a 5 or 6 was fairer.

If I’d been asked, I wouldn’t have ranked the Nats much higher, if at all. I thought the big ad battle was pretty close to a nil-all draw.

Published in: on November 8, 2008 at 1:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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If a child asks a parent for endless lollies and the parent says no, we call them a good parent. If a politician does the same, we call him a heartless right-winger! It’s crazy.

If you keep letting politicians bribe you with your children’s money, you’ll get the government you deserve. 

If Labour and National had adopted ACT’s 1994 tax cut strategy sooner, we’d all be a lot richer now. We pay a very high cost for waiting for timid conservatives to see sense.

Give ACT the numbers tomorrow, and Rodney Hide will make sure National stokes the engine of economic growth and gets us all richer quicker.

No more communism by stealth. No ruinous Emissions Trading Scam. (That’s likely to leave the Greens’ little girl without a job as her mum shovels $3000 a year to the Russians.) 


If ACT’s ‘3 Strikes’ policy had been in place earlier, Emma Agnew, Karl Kuchenbecker, the trio murdered in the Panmure RSA and many other poor souls would still be alive.

William Bell had amassed 102 convictions when he killed Mary Hobson, William Absolum and Wayne Johnson.

Antonie Dixon had been found guilty of 160  offences when he killed James Te Aute.

If ACT had been running things, they would have both gone to prison for life after their third violent assault. Before they killed. Not after.


It’s not just in the crime area where the difference between voting ACT and Labour/National could be the difference between life and death.

ACT’s 20 Point Plan for the economy would boost Kiwis’ pay over time, not by $10 or $50, but by $500 a week.

We’d grow the economy, so we can afford the full year course of Herceptin that richer countries can afford. Under Labour mismanagement, a New Zealand breast cancer sufferer must find $100,000 – or die. 

And the Labour government would rather you died than let a private hospital save your life. That’s not mad. That’s bad.

Other parties say they care. But only ACT has the cure. 


Normally-socialist Sweden has been implementing ACT’s school scholarship system since 1994. 

Today, only one party in Sweden doesn’t support it, and that’s the Communists.

Each parent gets a scholarship from the government for about $100,000 per child – the same as the state spends on your child over thirteen years of schooling. 

You’ll have to spend that money with schools. But you can choose whether they’re public or private schools. Or even home schools. 

The point is, those schools will have to do what you want, not what bureaucrats want. And in Sweden, that’s led to a flourishing of new, smaller, schools and a surge in education standards. 

(And the areas that have benefited most have been the poor areas, where they had no choice but bad schools before.)



Do you want a government of change? Or just a change of government?

If you want real change, you won’t get it from National alone. You’ll need to strengthen the coalition with a spine of principled, experienced, gutsy ACT MPs.

With Rodney Hide ahead in Epsom by 56% to 27%, your ACT party vote will definitely count.
It will have the same power to flush away Helen Clark as a National party vote.
But in improving New Zealand, it will be much more powerful.
Because by adding more ACT MPs to the National/ACT coalition, you’ll be boosting the chances of getting the above results for you, your family and New Zealand.

ACT is peaking at the right time – as usual! If National get 47% of MPs and ACT 4%, Rodney Hide is going to have a lot of clout with John Key.

Once, ACT’s founder had the guts to do what was right for New Zealand, and our modern, energetic society with its wonderful array of choices is his legacy. 

Now it’s your turn.


Published in: on November 7, 2008 at 9:55 pm  Comments (1)  
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ACT couldn’t use these – but you can!







If only ACT really was a party of millionaires, you might have seen more of these.

Feel free to email them to your friends and family, as long as you include the authorisation below.

For the press ads below, the body copy was never written, so what’s in there is just filler.








If you send them on, don’t forget to tag your emails: ‘Authorised as demanded by Labour’s, NZ First’s and the Greens’ outrageous assault on free speech by Nick Kearney, 37 Beach Haven Road, Auckland.’

Published in: on November 7, 2008 at 10:23 am  Comments (4)  
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Tomorrow’s ad – and three rejects


I think the above would have made a popular billboard, but the party had higher priorities.

Maybe it’s not too late to sell it to the Exclusive Brethren.:-)

Below, two competing ideas for the final day full page press ad tomorrow.


Published in: on November 7, 2008 at 12:01 am  Comments (3)  
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Adding the Key blessing


 Advertising writers know that people do read body copy if they’re interested in the product.

This ad is written for those who want to know the truth about the ETS.

It points out yet another important difference between populist National and principled ACT.

But today we’ve added the Key/Hide ‘cup of tea’ photo. This sends two other messages.

It tells all ACT supporters around the country that their votes will count. Because they know it’s also telling National voters in Epsom to vote for Rodney.

Why doesn’t John Key just come out and say this?

Because much of National’s funding comes from the mansions of Remuera, Parnell and Epsom.

And many of their blue-rinsed residents have yet to appreciate the tactical nuances of this new-fangled voting system called MMP.

Put simply, the idea of not voting blue would make them see red.

ACT has a big challenge in the next few days. We have to convince centre-right voters that to achieve their goal of getting rid of the odious Clark, they have two choices.

Not just one.

To change the government, they can vote for either National or ACT. It’s the National + ACT total that counts. Not the National total alone.

If the National/ACT total exceeds 50% of MPs, we get a National-led government.

It doesn’t make the slightest difference to the centre-right’s numbers whether National get the entire 50+%, or ACT gets 10% of it.

That’s what people don’t get yet.

But it sure as hell will make a big difference to the country.

ACT’s thrust for the next few days will be getting voters to recognize the huge difference between a change of government and a government of change.

That difference is ACT.

Stay tuned for those ads.

Published in: on November 4, 2008 at 9:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Press relations restored

I’ve just had a phone call and exceptionally gracious apology from a very pleasant advertising director.

It seems she is no comfortably-shod feminazi out to sabotage the ACT campaign, but just wanted to protect her client from itself after the Green spoof controversy.

And contrary to my prediction, the ad appeared in an excellent position for a run-of-paper placement.

This restores my faith in God (AKA Alan – Wellington’s god of retail advertising, Alan Martin), who’s catch cry was ‘It’s the putting right that counts.’ 

The late Mr Martin once put something right for me – a faulty fridge connection which nearly electrocuted me.

I rang him on a Sunday in a somewhat agitated state. He was as good as his word and said he’d ‘sack the bastard’ who’d left the wires exposed.

(I had to plead with him not to put things quite that right and let the poor man keep his job.)

In the same vein, I will now praise this woman to the heavens whenever I get the chance.

Published in: on November 4, 2008 at 10:58 am  Comments (2)  

Voting ACT: a matter of life and death

These three ghoulish faces will greet you in tomorrow’s paper.

They nearly didn’t make it.

This post was so very nearly going to be a whistleblowing story of a sabotage attempt by an overzealous newspaper advertising director.

Right at the death, she spooked us with a long list of reasons why you shouldn’t be allowed to see this ad in her publication.

First, we delivered it a few minutes late. This happens in election week, when strategies are a bit of a moveable feast. We did our damnedest to hit the deadline, but just missed.

(My remembering that I’d spelled Teresa Cormack’s name with an ‘h’ didn’t help.)

Then she said our cheeky authorisation line breached the EFA.

(This despite both the NBR and the Sunday Star-Times – hardly the right’s best friend – having no problem with the same line last week.)

Then Miss Bossy-boots said we needed to get the permission of the murder victims’ families before we could mention their names. 

How this is any business of a bloody advertising director, God only knows. Surely it’s our lookout if one of the families takes offence, not the paper’s.

Oh and I’m sure the paper’s journalists faithfully ring for permission every time they write a story about the same victims.

Yeah right. 

Next hoop she made us jump through at the end of a long and stressful day was to question whether the Privacy Act would let us publish the number of convictions each killer had accumulated before being let out to kill.

Since that was one of the very points I was making in the ad, she may have had a point there, I don’t know.

But by then, I was smelling a stinky, rotten, blood-red rodent. I felt like Don Brash trying to get Helen’s private police force to investigate the theft of his emails.

As I said in my intemperate reply, we’ve come to a pretty pass when a newspaper defends the ‘rights’ of killers not to have their atrocities exposed. 

Somehow, someone got this busybody to see sense and the ad is supposed to be running uncensored.

That said, I’m not expecting to see it anywhere near the front. (But then in this particular paper, the back is quite near the front.)

I’d just completed Plan B when I got the good news. Plan B was to go ballistic in the other media with the story of bias against ACT.

Let’s hope Saturday marks the beginning of the end of this sort of nonsense.

Another good day at the factory from Mike Boekholt, and special thanks to media buyer Gwyn Jones for fighting our corner superbly.

Hope you like the ad.

Published in: on November 3, 2008 at 10:26 pm  Comments (3)  
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Helping Rodney scupper the ETS

You read it here first. ACT’s new ad for the Sunday Star-Times tomorrow. Poking the borax at parties who tell it like it isn’t.

John Key is a genuinely nice guy, but I doubt I’ll be getting a Christmas card from him this year after this.

While I don’t like upsetting my friends at the Nats, I just can’t agree with someone who knows that man-made climate change is a hoax, but would rather waste billions of our dollars on a fix that won’t work, than use his public platform to explain the science.

John thinks explaining is losing. Maybe he’s right. Maybe not. But surely if you’re really ambitious for New Zealand, it’s right to try

Rodney and Roger are made of sterner stuff, and I’m proud to try and explain their position. I hope this ad helps get ACT the traction they deserve.

If it doesn’t, it’s my fault. They approved the copy as written.

The photo of Rodney – which I really like – was by ACT Hutt South candidate and artist Lindsay Mitchell.

(I remain mystified why such a passionate and knowledgeable candidate as Lindsay is ranked only 14th. Bob Jones launched her campaign, and Bob doesn’t come out for just anybody.)

Thanks to Mike Boekholt, Lance Tomuri and Andrew Rundle-Keswick for the artwork.

Back with ACT

UPDATE: For those who are apparently still visiting this page in 2011, this post relates to the 2008 election. As a recidivist resigner (as Paul Henry called me in a recent interview), I thought I should make it clear that I have no plans to return to ACT in 2011 — and I imagine ACT has even fewer plans to invite me to. But they should think about running an update of this ad.

OK, OK, so it’s been harder for me to sit out an election than I thought. In the end I just couldn’t say no to a cause I believe in.

This, then, is the World Premiere of ACT’s new press ad. It runs in the NBR tomorrow.

I think it sums up why we need ACT in these troubled times. I hope Rodney, Roger and John can find the money to run it more than once.

My thanks to my artistic partners Lance Tomuri, Mike Boekholt and Andrew Rundle-Keswick.

Published in: on October 29, 2008 at 5:10 pm  Comments (25)  
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Ambulance ambience

Stephen Franks rang on Friday to say we’re providing a lot of enjoyment to the centre right, especially with the Helen and Winston Trusts billboard.

This turned into a drinks invite and a nice meal with Stephen and Cathy at St John’s Bar.

None of us had eaten there before, and all agreed that the fish dishes were exceptional.

I had been in the building before – on an outing from  Waterloo when I was a nine year old cub and St John’s was an ambulance station.

Free Speech Coalition Tauranga Special

Our latest billboard should be up by now in Tauranga. David Farrar’s idea, executed by art director Mike Boekholt.

Published in: on October 28, 2008 at 12:07 am  Comments (8)  
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