"You're not on Waiheke Island now, Dr Norman."
THEY say one picture is worth a thousand words. Well, cast your eyes over the above billboard and ask yourself: What are the Greens trying to say about Russel Norman and their party?
Both the image and the slogan are intended to convey strength and reliability.
This young man, the billboard says, can be relied upon to get things done. What’s more, just by looking at him, you can tell he’s not a weirdo or a revolutionary. His hair is nicely styled (no dreadlocks!) and he wears an expensive suit (no tie, though, because Russel is a relaxed, informal kind of guy– not a stuffed shirt).
Even more interesting is what the Greens are telling us about themselves.
Look at us, says their advertising, see how we’ve changed. No longer are we the sort of people you might suspect of carrying a joint in their pockets, or having strange dietary habits. This is a very different party from the one that used to tear up GE crops and campaign for the decriminalisation of marijuana. Nowadays we’re just like you. We’re out to save the planet – but in a way that doesn’t pose a direct challenge to the system. Relax, it says, the Greens are no threat to your way of life.
I remember having a cup of coffee with Nandor Tanczos in the weeks after Rod Donald’s death, and him asking me how I thought he should approach his return to Parliament (he was, you’ll recall, next on the List).
I said to him: "If I were Mephistopheles, I’d advise you to pay a visit (accompanied, of course, by photographers from The Woman’s Weekly) to one of New Zealand’s foremost hair-stylists, where your dreadlocks would be removed and your remaining hair styled. Then I’d pay a visit to Politiks, the trendy menswear store (accompanied this time by photographers from FHM Magazine) and kit myself out in the latest executive fashions. And, when I returned to Parliament, I’d give a speech about the importance of Green businesses to New Zealand’s economic future."
If I remember rightly, Nandor quoted scripture: "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul."