Ghosts of elections past

Three elections ago, I was a newly wed and we’d just moved into our first home. A ramshackle, neglected cream and green bungalow on the slopes of One Tree Hill, 3 bedrooms, on a 1/3 of a section, needing a new everything – a home we loved but sold a year and a half later to move to Wellington and a home we couldn’t afford to buy back now even if we wanted to.

But on election night we’d just moved in and the party was also our housewarming. I made a bowl of punch that became the stuff of legends. I was pregnant with my first child, but we didn’t know. TVNZ news cameras turned up and filmed the revelry. Could the new kid on the block John Key get National over the line?

For the 2008 election we were in our first Wellington home. We were on our own, because that was how it always was for us when we lived there. It was cold, it was always cold. Karori is the type of climate that requires fires in January. My 6 month old son was sitting under a table that had a plastic checkout toy on top of it. His 2 year old sister pulled the toy off, and it hit him on the head. He took a deep breath, and didn’t breath out, turned blue and went floppy. We were worried he had lost consciousness – turns out he was blue with indignation. His and my very first ambulance ride, and we spent election night in the Emergency Department at Wellington hospital. It was memorable for all the wrong reasons. Blue was the colour of the night.

2011 we had swollen to a family of five, I was hosting the show on Newstalk ZB Wellington, filling in for the regular host, and avoiding the elephant in the room that was the election. My children still remember voting with their Dad. I can’t remember the night, we were back in a poorly maintained bungalow, still in the cold of Karori, an unloved rental that smelt damp and musty, with insufficient heating from the 1960s. I’m a big fan of WOFs for rental property.

This time around, the kids get it and came to vote. We have moved further North, closer to family and closer to the sun. We broke up from our love affair with the bungalow and our house is brick and solid and warm. We have snacks and special drinks, and will watch the coverage to see which way the world spins. After an extraordinary three months of villians and muck and bad guys – collectively we make a decision today that we will have to live with one way or another for the next three years, which doesn’t seem like a momentous amount of time, but for some, it’s a lifetime.


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