The Wellington council elections in a nutshell

Nick and Harry at Newtown Market on Saturday  

Nick and Harry at Newtown Market on Saturday  

I'm in New Zealand for the next couple of months to help out an old mate, Nick Leggett, who is running for the Mayoralty of Wellington.  He's a great friend, so I'm biased; that said, I have no doubt Nick will be less a breath than a brisk northerly of fresh air for the capital.  I've worked with more politicians and candidates than I care to remember, but few can rival Nick's blend of policy smarts, natural gifts as a retail campaigner, compassion and common sense.  

Anyway, on Saturday, I joined Nick Leggett as he went about the city meeting voters and enjoying beautiful weather in the nerve-wracking few hours before the Bledisloe Cup.

At the Newtown market, Nick and I stopped to chat with Harry (pictured above).  Harry, a highly engaged and astute observer of the local political scene, has been homeless for the past four years. "I'm over it," he told us, without a trace of bitterness. Nick and he shared notes about the various iwi and community-based agencies Harry interacts with on a weekly basis, before the time came to set off the next stop.

As we left, Nick asked Harry what really fired him up this partciular election season.  In an answer that seemed to encapsulate this campaign in a nutshell, he didn't bat an eyelid: "the Island Bay cycleway." 

Celia Wade-Brown and Justin Lester's costly, disruptive and disastrous cycleway, a case study in top-down heavy-handedness and ideological belligerence, is the beetroot in the sandwich of this election. It stains everything.