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Election billboard shenanigans

Nov 6th, 2008 | By | Category: Featured Article, Features

NewsWire presents Billboard Watch, our regularly updated coverage of how party political advertising is faring as the campaign winds up towards Saturday.

According to our web counter, Billboard is our most popular feature, getting hits from around the world.


By Carl Suurmond

POLITICAL billboards will not be visible on Election Day, but one exception is the Pimp Your Political Billboard competition being run by NZ “neighbourly” notice- board,

The online contest invites members of the public to download “unadulterated Election Campaign Billboards” from the site, or utilise their own pictures of hoardings and “digitally enhance (or degrade) until you’ve created the type of promise and politician you’d like to see in charge of our fine country”.

Entries will be democratically judged by visitors to the site, one vote per person, with voting starting on November 5 and closing on Monday (November 10) when the successful candidates will be drawn at 10am.

Hoarding vandalism with image-editing software such as Photoshop may be a legal way to express political opinion, avoiding the possibility of hidden surveillance cameras attached to some real-life billboards, which could result in a court appearance. 

Popular entries posted so far include political parties, their leaders and their revised slogans, ranging from the National Party, the Labour Party, the Greens, NZ First and the Act Party. Chuck Norris, Kermit the Frog, David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson also make an appearance.

First prize is a iPod Nano 16GB 4th Generation, and the runner-up takes away an iPod Shuffle 2GB. However, the real prize may well be in the title for the most “pimped-out” billboard in NZ cyberspace.
To cast your vote, visit


We try to be scrupulously fair on Billboard Watch and since there has been a suggestion we’ve ignored National, we were determined to get John Key’s face up here.

But there’s been a bit of a hitch, as Kristina Keogh’s picture below shows: her colleague Melissa Kinealy’s face got in the way. 

BELOW: Look behind a poster of Rodney…and you get another poster of Rodney. 

We thought we’d offended Stephen Franks (his campaign manager wouldn’t let us come to Stephen’s election night HQ), so this is our “squaring off Stephen” picture (BELOW). In fact, Stephen says our reporter is welcome to join the party.

ABOVE: Stephen (third from left) shows he’s good to carry his own signs (just like Labour rival whats-his-name below – it wouldn’t be fair to mention the name here, since this is Stephen’s bit of space). PICTURE: Kristina Keogh.

BELOW: What’s this – Winston and Labour joined at the, um, billboard?

Is this the last time we’ll see Labour and NZ First so together? The billboard is on Tasman Rd in Otaki. Billboards of any kind featuring NZ First seem a rare sight in Wellington this election. Did the money go on helicopters?

ABOVE: Errol Mason, Labour candidate for Te Tai Hauhauru gets some attention from the moustache artists. 

BELOW: Does religion play a part in NZ election campaigns? This poster in Otaki suggests it might.

ABOVE: Otaki Nat supporters like their local boy – but his boss gets slightly rougher treatment.

ABOVE: Grant Robertson, Labour candidate for Wellington Central, carries his own posters – instead of leaving it to the minions, like most candidates. At least he did while the NewsWire camera was there.

ABOVE: The future looked anything but bright for National candidate Stephen Franks, with this billboard at the top of Aro St taken out by zombies or ghouls or…

ABOVE: Was it the Saturday storm, climate change or the use of untreated timber that did this to the Greens’ billboard in Evans Bay?

BELOW: High winds took their toll on these hoardings in Wilton.

ABOVE: Is someone having a laugh at Act’s zero tolerance on crime message?

ABOVE: Someone was being downright disrespectful to the Maori Party at the entrance to Miramar.

ABOVE: A new take on the temporary billboard (that doesn’t need a permit)? This was in Porirua. (PICTURE: Hinano Andrews).

Mobile billboards – and their attendant phones (see below) – are everywhere, including the Greens, who had all corners covered at the by-pass intersection where Willis St meets Abel Smith, Arthur St and the motorway onramp. Picture: Carl Suurmond.

Political activists for “political transparency” Anita and Iona (below), with their hand-made banner (sewn from fabric) near the Kelburn Viaduct this week.

“You don’t even need a functioning sewing machine,” said Iona (right), referring to the quality of their handiwork.



From a nationwide group called Both Eyes Open they say they are concerned about the National Party campaigning with “a lot of a smiling man, and not a lot of policy”. Neither woman belongs to any political party.   Picture: Jenny Meyer.

Labour Weekend

WAS it just an accident that Labour’s walking billboards – photographed here at the Diwali festival, TSB Arena – are the same colour as no smoking signs? Surely a coincidence.







Act copped some Labour graffiti on its sign on Churchill Dr, Crofton Downs, not far from The Brethren Complex.

PIX: Carl Suurmond.

Tuesday, October 21

Billboard mayhem is getting dirty in Wellington, as these pix taken by NewsWire’s CARL SUURMOND around the Wellington Central electorate show.

This one was shot in Aro today, where the electorate’s feelings about National and its candidate, Stephen Franks, have been made obvious.

Sunday, October 19

These were taken in Wilton. Even the Greens’ acclaimed hoarding bit the dust.

The seat of Rongotai is Annette King’s,  if the display of hoardings in Miramar, Lyall Bay, Kilbirnie and Hataitai is any indication. Other candidates have conceded already.

King, Labour, is the only apparent general roll candidate almost everywhere in the south-eastern suburbs, with the Libertarianz candidate, Mitch Lees, the only other to have his face anywhere (at the entrance to Miramar).

Maori Party candidate Rahui Katene shows up in a couple of places, presumably standing for the Maori seat of Te Tai Tonga (her posters don’t say).

The electorate is well-mannered in terms of billboard treatment. No damage to the Miramar ones, nor those along the waterfront at Evans Bay – with one exception: the John Key image beside Helen Clark’s has been attacked (below).

However, Island Bay is less polite to its candidates and the parties, especially Jim Anderton, Peter Dunne and Rodney Hide, as this mess (below) on the corner of Brighton Rd shows.

Jim peers through a puddle (above).

Dunne goes down (above).

Rodney hits zero gravity (above).

The Greens found a way around the ban on billboards at Oriental Bay – they hired a pedal machine and toured the waterfront (below).


The National Party billboard on Northland Rd (above, left) has had John Key’s face completely removed and the image of Stephen Franks (above right) was sliced repeatedly.

The other party billboards in the area are all free of vandalism. ACT candidate Heather Roy’s face remains unblemished under the banner “Zero Tolerance for Crime”.


Labour’s hoardings in Karori (right) have had the Prime Minister’s image removed, while the Green’s billboard – which doesn’t have politicians’ faces – goes unscathed.


However, Green Party national administrator Michael Pringle says the Greens have suffered attacks elsewhere to their theme-based advertising: “People don’t like the fact that we are being successful.”


Twelve-year-old school boy Troy Meyer (right) found a discarded cut-out of National candidate in Wellington Central Stephen Franks’ face on the path near his home in Northland.

“I found it just lying on the side of the track,” he said. It had apparently been chopped out of a nearby billboard.

Related casualties

The new Save the Children campaign, featuring children in need in front of NZ currency, has been defaced with a manipulated image of Helen Clark and a political message (right).

The “ninja cop” image of the Prime Minister was apparently posted in reference to the police raids on Tuhoe last October.

Aotearoa Independent Media’s website said today is the one year anniversary of “gun toting and armoured police terrorising people around the country in the name of terror prevention”.

Save the Children declined to comment, but says it appears to be a one-off event in the context of typical poster defacement around the city.


POLITICAL billboards will not be visible after the officially permitted date, the day before Election Day, but an exception is the Pimp Your Political Billboard competition being run by NZ “neighbourly” notice-board,




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