The Nation Review: Labour leadership debate



Terrible, terrible lighting for this live debate between the 4 Labour Party candidates. They all looked grim in a 3/4 full lecture theatre.

Grant was very polished and confident. David was very centre of centre. Andrew Little was surprisingly conservative. Nanaia was on fire.

Grant was a lot stronger than he has looked previously and he clearly feels that he has momentum. He had far better answers to questions that mattered. His chances based on this performance should grow within the membership. He was excellent.

Parker sparked more than he previously has. He is fighting for his CGT and raising retirement policy because it’s directly a reflection upon his credibility. He is very Mr Centre.

Andrew Little seems to be reaching out to National voters before he gets Labour voters  to elect him. The leadership voting mathematics work in Little’s favour so he might just be pitching for National voters now. Astoundingly he seemed to acquiesce on warrantless 48 hour surveillance. Not even National voters support that, Little is so confident he’s pitching directly to the National Party front bench?  His Party vote prediction of 50% seems extraordinary in an MMP environment.  Had the best line to define the new Labour Party ‘no one left behind’. Sleepless in Seattle is his favourite movie. Cough.

Nanaia was the surprise winner of the debate. She was articulate, staunch and stood her ground. She had a lot of audience support and cheering. She brought a gravitas and maturity to the issues that required respect. Members will warm to her with performances like this and she will pick up a lot more of the union vote than is perhaps suspected. Why haven’t we seen more of Nanaia???

How I ranked them:

TDB Recommends

1st – Nanaia – Unbelievably good performance

2nd – Grant – His chances of winning over members went up. 

3rd – David – Stronger than expected performance.

4th – Andrew – Promised little and delivered less.


Politics in 60 seconds is now the funniest satire in NZ. Very funny this week.


  1. Nanaia was on home turf & hence had the home team advantage.

    Grant Robertson won. David Parker has a sensible head. Andrew Little was super dissapointing 🙁

    Of real concern was the empty seats in a small venue.

  2. Yep….always thought there was something about the steadyness of Nanaia that deserved a second look…shes been there a long time , seems supportive of the core of Labour ..REAL Labour core , that is..

    Or maybe its because I / We have had more than enough of duplitious , goobledegook , mealy mouthed liars ,..Nanaia is like a breath of fresh air. Someone who is real . Someone who is DOWN TO EARTH.

    And unlike Key….it is not a phony put on with massive ulterior motives.

    Thats what I think it is….and I think its her time to be recognised for the long years of service – often quietly , always supportive .

    We would do well as a country to have more REAL people like her running the place. We really would.

    • Hear Hear WK.

      I have always been supportive of Nanaia Mahuta. She is pure Labour all the way through and would bring the party back to its core values.

      She is not aggressively confrontational and is an excellent debater, who keeps on an even keel all the way through, qualities on her side in Parliament, particularly going up against John Key. Her experience, strength of character, diplomacy and cool attitude, along with her quiet, but sharp intelligence would show him up for the petulant flake he really is.

      A great representative, not only for Labour, but for NZ as a whole.

      Go Nanaia 🙂

  3. Same feeling as hustings, all quality contenders, and each with different focus, qualities to bring.
    I have to agree with Andrew though, CGT IS OBVIOUSLY FAIRER, but will turn away middle kiwi’s who already own a 2nd property, and without their vote, “fair” will be laughed out of parliament by the capitalists who will retain power.
    Andrew is already in touch with NZ and has spent time with workers prior to parliament, so why don’t those saying they want to “reconnect” just listen?

  4. The other week, my wife and I went to a Grant Robertson / Jacinda Ardern meeting and then onto an Andrew Little / Nanaia Mahuta meeting , both in the same day.
    I came away feeling that Grant and Jacinda are competent MPs but definitely not leadership material. When they started talking about the need to appear in Woman’s Weekly more often, as part of a strategy they lost my interest.
    I don’t give a toss about that rubbish . In fact I want some one who doesn’t buy into that crap. I want some body who comes out and boots the media and Key in the arse with a no. 12 steel cap boot when they start talking shit and lets them know that hobbies and barbequing skills are of no importance when it comes to running the country!
    As for Grant calling for unity in caucus and the importance of Labour showing a united front to the public, after he and the rest of the abc’s publicly ridiculed David Cunliffe on TV and radio. Well it reeked of hypocrisy. “Oh, so now you want to show unity “, I thought .
    The damage done by the abcers is huge and unforgiveable.
    I fear they, along with a corrupt government and media, could end up destroying the Labour Party.
    Nanaia and Andrew were in another league .It was like the kids compared to the adults. They both spoke well, but Nanaia stood out, especially at question time . She is as authentic as they come and looks like she wouldn’t take any crap. I can see why David Cunliffe had her along side him.
    My over all feeling was , that it was a pity the way the ‘abcers’ treated David Cunliffe , because, as a leader, he was head and shoulders above any of the current contenders. It’s criminal really.
    I’m really, really pissed off !
    Of the current four though. Nanaia and Andrew. Either way round for leader and deputy.

  5. Nanaia is probably the most honest and dedicated of the lot, but I fear she will only be runner up.

    I was disappointed with Andrew Little, and David Parker did not convince me much. I still have serious reservations re Grant Robertson, and his commitment to traditional Labour values, but he seems to be the best bet at the moment, to win the whole contest.

    While I also have ongoing reservations re Jacinda Ardern, I am starting to think that the duo of “Gracinda” may actually work best for Labour, to win in 2017.

    But I would expect that some within Labour send them both a stern, robust message, to NOT forget what true Labour stands for!

    That may sink in, to ensure that also the least fortunate will be taken seriously and given the policies and support they deserve. After the whole election debacle, all we can do is remain hopeful, I suppose.

    Perhaps though, to mend and merge caucus, Grant should reconsider Jacinda and replace her with Nanaia after all?

  6. I’m interested to know why you say Nanaia’s was “Unbelievably” the best performance? The problem with the media and you lot. Nanaia has been the invisible candidate for years! Why? Because she is a woman and she is Maori. Women are essentially natural leaders. Maori women are particularly good leaders when given the opportunity. She knows only to well what she is up against. I know Nanaia has all the qualities of a great leader given the opportunity. What she needs is people like yourself to recognize that and give her the credit she is due with out the patronizing. It’s not Unbelievable! And your poll speaks volumes Andrew little at the top of the list Nanaia at the bottom.

  7. Good to read about the hustings elsewhere – In a packed Wellington gig I was unexpectedly impressed by the content and delivery of Andrew Little, a little disappointed with Grant Robertson’s rockstar cheerleaders and cute teeshirts, especially after the Cracinda announcement and the notorious photoshoot (they were the locals, home turf). Playing away, Nanaia Mahuta was solid but not inspiring, and David Parker unexpectedly nervous and stumbly.

    Before I vote, I’d like more of this kind of reporting, where might I find it?

  8. An interesting debate between the Labour wannabe leaders regarding CGT. 2 want it and 2 do not.

    Grant Robertson and David Parker want it and Andrew Little and Nanaia Mahuta apparently do not.

    None apparently supported a raise in the retirement age?

    I would have though that there would have been party policies, and the leader would apply the policy, not dictate it?

    • I would have though that there would have been party policies, and the leader would apply the policy, not dictate it?

      Interesting point, Dan.

      So if the membership endorse and support a particulary policy (eg; CGT), and, say, Andrew Little becomes the new (temporary?) Party Leader – does that mean the wishes of one man over-rides that of the mass rank-and-file?

      If that’s how it works in any political party, it will quickly lose membership at a rate of knots. Why join a party that doesn’t listen to it’s members?

  9. I agree with Grant currently there is no guarantee I would vote Labour future Cunliffe was way ahead of the rest Key wasn’t his enemy the enemies were closer to home in saying that the Greens have their heads up there own arses as well

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