“Make some noise for Jacinda!”
So yelled musician Deva Mahal at Labour’s election rally in Wellington on Sunday, which felt more like a party than a political event.
Almost 1000 Labour faithful packed the Michael Fowler Centre on Sunday as Labour streams towards a near-certain win in New Zealand’s October 17 election.
Through advance voting, up to one million Kiwis are estimated to have already cast their ballot.
Labour’s runaway lead in the polls was reflected in the revelry on Sunday afternoon, with organisers trotting out a stream of musicians before any politicians took the stage.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson, Ms Ardern’s chief attack dog through the campaign, lavished praise on the PM, calling her “Dr Ardern Medicine Woman”.
“Jacinda’s role in leading our country through our country through this time can not be overstated,” he said.
“If you’re like me, you had friends and family around the world who look on in envy and jealousy at the quality and strength of our Prime Minister.”
COVID-19 has reshaped the political contest in New Zealand, with Ms Ardern surging in popularity as a result of her government’s handling of the pandemic.
Last Monday, the government relaxed all COVID-related restrictions for the second time after successfully beating back a fresh Auckland cluster which emerged in August.
“New Zealand has played an absolute blinder,” Mr Robertson said.
“We didn’t get here by accident. We got here because we had a plan and we stuck to it.”
When Ms Ardern finally took the stage, she’d barely uttered a word before cries of “We love you Jacinda” came from the crowd.
Labour’s pitch to voters is one of stability through the economic recovery, having proved themselves adept managers in a crisis from the pandemic.
“I am asking you to make a choice,” Ms Ardern said.
“To choose to turn this time into an opportunity. To choose to speed up the change we’ve started. To choose stability, unity and a plan.”
Further north in Auckland, opposition leader Judith Collins declared Sunday to be “Stop The Wealth Tax Day”.
Ms Collins is promising tax cuts and argues that should the Greens govern with Labour, as is the most likely scenario after October 17, Ms Ardern will implement their economic policy.
“Let’s not just tax people who have paid off their mortgage and saved a bit for retirement,” she said.
Ms Ardern, for the umpteenth time this campaign, ruled that out.
“I consider that the last roll of the misinformation dice,” the PM said.”