New Zealand First’s campaign rally in Whangarei started off with a bang today with Shane Jones the star of the show as party leader Winston Peters was away on medical leave.
NZ First is holding its 'Force for the North' campaign rally at Forum North this afternoon in what would have been the party’s official campaign launch - which has now been postponed until July 19 with Mr Peters expected to attend.
MP Shane Jones danced onto the stage to the Doobie Brothers song Long Train Runnin, telling the crowd it was iconic of a time when he grew up, the first lines of the song pointing towards a metaphorical lead-up to the election.
“Down around the corner, half a mile from here folks, while in just over 50 days there’ll be a polling booth where you’ll find a roll with your name and address, and a ballot paper.
“And I say think of that ballot paper for us here in the north as akin to a ticket to board the NZ First express. Parliament bound, powering ahead,” Mr Jones said.
He said Mr Peters had created “an engine, a locomotive”.
“And we’ve got a chance to draw all the respective carriages and take that carriage of imagination and hope to the seat of power.
He said the party was not afraid of hard work but acknowledged it had a “hard fight” ahead of them.
With the current Northland seat occupied by National’s Matt King, Mr Jones was quick to have a dig at the opposition party.
“When we cast our votes folks, it’s going to be springtime season,” he said.
“So I say to Kaipara, Whangarei, Bay of Islands, Kaitaia, don’t dally with the National Party. You will miss the spring and have a certified winter of discontent."
He also vowed to fix the region’s infrastructure and solve the unemployment problem.
“Those votes of victory that you will cast means investment in jobs, means investment in training and skills and technology and infrastructure.
“Not just bitumen but rail and the digital highway,” he said.
“So to borrow another lyric out of a band showing somewhat of my misspent youth - the Twisted Sisters anthem: We are not going to take it anymore.”
“No more big party shade, no more small towns left in limbo, no more provincial cast offs.
“Because when we say NZ First, we don’t mean corporate glitter, media relegation, iwi overreach. No, we mean the abiding traditional force where values have shaped and formed our identity.
“Something we in the north must never take for granted.”