Police and emergency services were stretched to breaking point over the weekend after a series of incidents involving aspiring political candidates and some sitting Members of Parliament.
Assistant Superintendent Bill Hearst said last night that in a 48-hour period from Friday night units in Auckland, Wellington and on a long strip of empty road in the South Island were called to over a dozen incidents, none of which resulted in arrests but were a drain on precious resources.
In the most high profile incident Wellington Central MP Marian Hobbs was escorted from a central city bar after a night of revelry in which police were called.
“It seemed to be a response to the recent Mark Blumsky incident,“ said senior sergeant Gary Banner, “You’ll remember he staggered home to the missus after a night on the turps and fell down the stairs at his home. Or was pushed, that’s not for us to say.
"But the next day rather than call a doctor he informed the media, which just showed the astute political instincts and low cunning of the man.”
It appears that Ms Hobbs may have felt that Blumsky -- who is standing for National against her in the electorate -- had won a populist victory so wanted to prove she was a person of the people as well.
It is believed that at 10pm on Saturday night she and a gaggle of screeching fellow revellers arrived at the Cavalier Bar in Cuba Mall and began ordering Manhattans with Tui chasers which one of the party was overheard to describe as “being just the right mix of sophistication and what ordinary little people drink“.
After an hour things got out of hand when Ms Hobbs -- a former school principal -- began objecting to the way some of the patrons were dressed.
“She started insisting some people go home and change,” said bar manager Helen Preston. “She told me that some of these young people were a disgrace to the city and demanded they change, then they could come back when dressed in more appropriate attire.
“In a couple of instances she told some young women that she wanted to see a note from their parents to say they were over 18 and allowed to be out after midnight.
“As a bid for the peoples’ vote it was pretty ineffective.”
Heated words were exchanged when barman Todd Kjewlekuski refused service to the politician’s group and as police were leading her away Ms Hobbs demanded to see him at her office first thing in the morning.
“It was a minor incident,” said Senior Sergent Dave Briggs, “ and there were no arrests. The ladies, at least I think they were all ladies, had just been out bar-hopping as people do on a Saturday night and things got a bit silly. We gave them a warning and Ruth Dyson drove them all home.”
In another incident in the capital two Destiny NZ candidates were detained for questioning after they were seen acting in a suspicious manner near a mosque, and a Green Party candidate is expected to face serious questioning by his party after he and a group of friends were seen emerging from a Burger King.
When confronted angry words were exchanged and the police were called to separate the groups.
In Auckland New Zealand First MP Dail Jones was cautioned after doing wheelies and donuts in a West Auckland carpark in what his office described yesterday as “a slightly misguided attempt to woo the youth vote”.
The South Island was largely quiet -- Jim Anderton enjoyed a quiet night in and had pasta for dinner -- except for a speeding incident on the road between Waimate and Christchurch.
Cabinet minister Jim Sutton -- known as Mad Dog to his colleagues -- was pulled over after speeds exceeding 150 kph.
“Mr Sutton explained that he was just re-enacting an earlier incident,” said district area commander Barry Fleck, “ and the officers accepted that. In fact they escorted him the final 50 kilometres at a similar speed and one of them told me later it was pretty choice fun.
“They said they were smiling and appeared to enjoy the ride, and one of them said the road was so straight that Mr Sutton in the following car appeared to be doing some paperwork while driving. So it was no biggie, just a bit of youthful enthusiasm on the part of everyone concerned.
"You know, the boys see an open road and just go for it.”
In a more bizarre incident however, yesterday afternoon an aborted text-mobbing prank went sour for four members of United Future.
The two men and two women candidates decided to surprise party leader Peter Dunne while he was enjoying a family lunch at Valentines. Their intention was to create a media event by having thousands turn up at the restaurant to gain some publicity for their leader who is trailing in the polls.
However the four either did not know anyone else to text or simply forgot to do so, and at the appointed time only the four of them turned up, plus a number of photographers from various newspapers who had been tipped off.
Sensing a public relations disaster the four barricaded the door of the restaurant which meant two children’s birthday parties and the 35th wedding anniversary of Gladys and Charlie Watson were disrupted.
While the media snapped photos and an embarrassed Dunne remained hiding inside the "restaurant" the four were lead away by police.
“It was just a bit of silliness that got out of hand,” said District Sergent Shirley Manson. “Some of these politicians are not that bright and at this time of year will do anything for publicity. This was one of those occasions -- much like the others you have seen this weekend.
"Unfortunately I think we can expect more of such antics in the coming weeks so people might want to give politicians a wide berth if they see them out and about in shopping malls, or shaking hands on the street. You never know what they can do.
“These four however were pretty harmless and I’m sure that today they are feeling embarrassed. At the end they had a sense of humour about it: as they were being loaded into the wagon and they linked arms and started chanting, ‘We are The Dunne Four‘ -- and I expect they are right.
"Them -- and their shit-useless party with any luck.”
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