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Ardern gets election campaign rolling

Fri 6 May 2011 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

The caravan, before and after. In an undeniably camp start to her campaign, Auckland Central candidate Jacinda Ardern has revamped a caravan that used to belong to lesbian legends the Topp Twins. Dubbed by some rather low-brow commentators as "the battle of the babes", Auckland Central will be one of most intriguing election mêlées this year. Ardern is a sitting list MP who continues to fly up the Labour ranks, while her competitor Nikki Kaye ousted long-time Labour MP Judith Tizard three years ago to convincingly grasp the traditionally left-voting electorate for National. Both Ardern and Kaye are incredibly gay-friendly and well-schooled on queer issues, as they fight to represent what is considered the most gay-saturated electorate in the country. To get the proceedings rolling, Ardern will tomorrow officially launch her campaign vehicle, quite literally. She will unveil the changes she has made to a caravan she bought from iconic performers the Topp Twins in a fortuitous Trade Me sale. The Labour MP came up with the caravan idea after spotting a tiny pink caravan while driving through her old hometown of Morrinsville. She says she knew instantly it was what she wanted for the task of campaigning in the inner city. "In this seat we have the really unique issue of reaching the more than 20,000 people living in the inner city. Apartment living means it's harder to get to people's letterboxes and doors and talk about the issues that are affecting them. I decided that one of the really small older caravans we used to build right here in New Zealand, kitted out with tea and coffee, would be one way we could do that." Unfortunately the original pink one wasn't road worthy, so she set about finding another charmer, and eventually stumbled across a 1956 Starlette on Trade me “When I called to ask the owners a couple of questions, it turned out the Starlette belonged to the Topp Twins and had featured in their television programme as a prop for ‘Camp leader and Camp Mother' skits. Jools Topp purchased the caravan from someone in Grey Lynn, so in some ways its come full circle,” she says. "I'm glad we've been able to bring it back to life. When I brought her Jools mentioned that a tree had fallen on it, and I think some animals had turned it into their home." Ardern makes it clear she personally funded the Starlette's new lease on life. She says it really has been a labour of love and she's now looking forward to getting on the road with it around Auckland Central. Constituents will be sent a postcard letting them know when the caravan will be in their area and will be invited to meet Ardern and get a tour of what she describes as "the small but perfectly formed" 1956 Starlette.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Friday, 6th May 2011 - 9:05am

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