Megan Woods dancing, David Cunliffe singing, stepping back into Labour history and taking Labour’s campaign messages to thousands of South Islanders - it’s all in a week on the big red bus.
Victoria University student Ted Greensmith was among the Young Labour team working tirelessly on Labour’s campaign bus during its journey around the South Island.
It’s been amazing being on the bus. We’ve covered a huge amount of road, visited so many places, from small communities to major cities, and talked with countless people.
We hopped on the bus in Wellington on Wednesday last week. First stop was Nelson, where we ran street corner meetings. There’s a lot of inequality in the city. Many of the people we met work in factories. Their major concerns were about improving working conditions and they wanted to know more about Labour’s policies on fair wages and job security.
Damien O’Connor and Rino Tirikatene joined us for the West Coast leg of the journey. We stopped in a lot of small communities and visited the Miners’ Hall at Rūnanga, where the first Labour Constitution was drawn up and which has been the scene of many important events in Labour history.
A lot of the people we met on the West Coast rely on industries like mining or logging. They talked to us about the impact on them of National selling assets and state enterprises. There’s strong Labour support but I think having the big red bus and MPs coming into their community really made people feel part of the campaign.
After stops at Greymouth and Hokitika we started the long trip to Dunedin. Clare Curran and David Clark joined the bus and there were more stops to meet people on the way, including Oamaru and Timaru.
Dunedin was fantastic. We went door-knocking in Waldronville – the first time Labour has ever door-knocked there. Many residents told us they were looking forward to voting Labour and even more so after talking with us.
We got a massive stereo and set it up outside some of the university buildings. It was a great way to connect with people. David Clark talked about Labour’s tertiary education policies and a lot of people came up to ask questions.
Then it was back on the road to Christchurch where the giant stereo got some more use. We joined David Cunliffe for his visit to Riccarton Mall and street corner meetings. One of the highlights of the trip for me was at one of those meetings when a student came up to ask some questions.
He said he wasn’t interested in politics and felt it hadn’t done anything for him. We talked to him about Labour’s plans for students – which was very much a plan for his life. He really engaged and by the end of the conversation he said he now felt it was really important to have a Labour government.
Wigram was very memorable - not only for getting to talk about Labour’s policies to lots more people, but because we got to see Megan Woods dancing to our giant stereo and David Cunliffe singing along to I See Red by Split Enz – he’s quite a crooner.
And then there’s everyone’s hero, Gary our driver. Gary is absolutely brilliant. He’s an amazing driver. Until you see the bus you can’t believe how massive it is - twice the size of a normal bus - but he can manoeuvre it round the tightest corners. He’s a passionate Labour supporter and he absolutely loves his job. He doesn’t bat an eyelid when the schedule changes at the last minute to take in another visit and he looks after us all. We’re all in awe of Gary!