Folks, the end is nigh. We hope you've already voted or enrolled to vote—if you haven't, there's still time today, instructions are in this article here. For those of you who have, election day is tomorrow. There's little left to do but sit back, watch Paddy Gower spouting on the telly, and and get a little nostalgic about New Zealand's latest bonkers election campaign.
For your viewing pleasure, we've compiled a greatest hits package right here. Over the campaign, VICE has run interviews with some of the most interesting political players in this election. We've hit the road with the minor parties and oddballs. We've watched in awe as not one, not two, but three party leaders have resigned or been given the boot. We've checked the records on our most powerful MPs so you know what they've been up to these past four years.
This election season has also drawn our attention to parts of the country facing extreme challenges: poverty, homelessness, suicide rates, racist targeting from police, deaths from synthetic drugs. We've been on the front lines of those issues, bringing you on-the-ground coverage from some of New Zealand's most disenfranchised communities.
But it hasn't all been heavy! We've also done some crucial investigations into Bill English's pimpled past and Ardern's music taste, gone on many a beer crawl to see how the punters are thinking, ranked our Prime Ministers from lamest to coolest and made our very own election version of street fighter, in case you're looking for a little light relief.
Here's the best of VICE election coverage this year:
We spent Friday night in one of New Zealand's most disaffected areas to find out what's on people's minds.
Jacinda Ardern, the youngest-ever leader of the Labour Party, hopes also to become the leader of New Zealand. We sat down for a chat about policy, politics and The Smashing Pumpkins.
Choose which party leader you want to be and battle your way through various election issues including transport, housing, the environment, the economy and education.
If a politician talks and there's no journalist there to record it, did the politician talk at all? Our reporter hit the road with David Seymour, Parliament's loneliest MP.
History has given us 39 leaders. Was anyone cooler than Aunty Helen?
With the election a few days away, we asked the people who have spent time on the streets what they think the big issues are.
"We wanted to sit down with Prime Minister Bill English for an on-camera interview, just as we had with Jacinda Ardern—it was, with the old journalistic maxim of balance in mind, only fair. But the office of the Prime Minister rebuffed our approaches. Okay, said VICE, how about Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett? No? We considered Judith Collins. Nope. After more of the back-and-forths that are inevitable when dealing with a political party—and now, obviously, with the election at its terminal stage, when most minds have been made up and hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders have already voted—I sat down for an interview with the golden-haired Minister of Education Nikki Kaye, the VICE-appropriate youthful face of the National Party, the un-Jacinda, the anti-Ardern."
National's policy will cut benefits in half if beneficiaries fail a drug test and don't go to rehab—but experts, including the government's own employees, say the measure risks worsening addiction issues and driving people onto harder drugs.
Of course we're not racist, our politicians collectively howl. And of course they aren't! Welcome to 2017: where racism is all around, but no-one knows an actual racist. Even Winston Peters, who has called immigrant New Zealanders everything from the 'Asian invasion' to 'imported criminals', vehemently denies he's anything resembling the term.
VICE's For the Record election series is designed to look a little less at what politicians say and give you the receipts on what they do: which way they've voted, what laws they've drafted, and what they've pushed for in the hallowed halls of Parliament.
For the first time, New Zealand's rising political star opened up about her fractured family background and overcoming depression. We also hit the road with Chloe later in the campaign, as the Green Party fought for its survival.
"We call it the 'synnie dance'," Fabian Fahey, 18, told me, sheltering from the wind under the wintry limbs of pōhutukawa twisting over Emily Place Reserve. He was referring to the seizure—now depressingly familiar, after being splashed across TV screens over the past week—that can follow smoking synthetic cannabis. A box of Jim Beam bourbon and colas sat in the centre of our little circle as Fabian and two friends, Blackjack, 23, and Matt Mokaraka, 22, told me of their experiences with the drug.
The numbers are clear: New Zealand's justice system isn't colour-blind. The data shows an enormous divide between how Pākehā, Māori and Pacific New Zealanders experience the justice system. The police commissioner has even admitted bias can play a role in their work, and it's something they're working on. But what do those numbers look like off the page?
It's election year, the billboards are up, and the politicians are out in force: baby-kissing and selfie-taking and trying their best to relate to us, the plebs they hope to one day rule. Given that most politicians are giant nerds, sometimes their election-year attempts have a slight air of the surreal, like alien lifeforms trying to approximate normal human behaviour.
For our series profiling NZ voters for the Electoral Commission, we spoke to Matiah, one of Manurewa's most talented tattooists. Just 21, she is Māori, Tongan, and Norwegian, and it is her Pacific heritage, in particular, that drives the artistic practice behind Small Axe.
We've assessed the records of 11 of the most influential MPs and party leaders. And we've looked into their voting histories on key laws relating to child welfare over the last decade. Here you can find their stances on issues including safe housing and insulation, child-poverty reduction, lunches for kids in poor schools, support for single parents and beneficiaries.
Turns out the kids are alright (also well-dressed, smart & extremely woke).
Our political columnist Miriama Aoake on politcis and Te Ao Māori
Still hungry for more? You can see most of our election coverage right here.