This is a tale of boxes of leaflets, hundreds of kilometres of Dunedin streets, very sore feet, willing helpers, thousands of letterboxes, and a better understanding of the diversity of Dunedin.
I’ve always talked about transparency and hoped to provide some in the election with a website. This is a website to give voters a better idea of whether to vote for me or not. My plan was to include the website address in my Candidate Statement in the election booklet. Unfortunately, this plan didn’t work out when the Electoral Office deleted the address in error, and when I contacted them, they apologised and said it wasn’t an error they could help me overcome (story here.) So, it was up to me to find a way to let voters know that I had a website.
A leaflet printed and professionally distributed to every letterbox in the Dunedin constituency (all 39,231 of them!) was going to cost nearly $4,500. That would have been easier but was out of the question. This was going to have to be a big DIY project. I made up a simple leaflet design myself and went to my go-to printers Speedprint. They were as helpful as ever. We could sort-of afford 15,000 single sided black and white leaflets, DL size, which turned out to be perfect.
Days 1 to 3
They got them printed real fast and Wyn & I got started the next day on distributing them in our local area, North East Valley and Opoho on 14 September, only 2 days before voting papers were due to start arriving. I volunteered for the steep side of the valley, including the steepest street in the world, and its near neighbour. And clocked up over 700m. of up on my 20 kms of footpaths.
We ended the day having knocked off 10% of the target. And with sore feet and aching calves. And wondering how this was going to work out.
Next day was faster work, a big chunk of St Clair and St Kilda, with much denser housing and completely flat. We managed another 10% and in a shorter distance.
Friday 16th was a scary day when ballot papers started turning up in letterboxes. We stayed on the flat, with parts of Caversham, Forbury, and St Kilda. Another 10% ourselves. We arranged to do swapsies with Mandy (Waitati) and dropped off a big bunch with friends (for Carlton Hill and Corstorphine and St Clair) and were starting to make an impression on the first of the two boxes of leaflets.
Saturday started with more swapsies, with Elliot, and dropping off another pile for more friends. I tackled the lower slopes of Wakari and met up with my son and granddaughter for some intergenerational help.
Meanwhile my sister was swooping around Sawyers Bay and St Leonards. Then I made a quick spin through Helensburgh and finished with a circuit around Halfway Bush in the growing gloom.
By Sunday we were into the second box and things were looking up. Wyn was off to work and dropped off a big pile for two more friends to tackle Abbotsford and Fairfield. There was a fierce northerly blowing but this was the day to get on top of the task. There were lots of voting papers in letterboxes, so the timing was good. I started on the Tomahawk side of Andersons Bay,
then a chunk of Tainui (more sheltered) and a zoom around Musselburgh. After lunch there was more St Kilda, and then more South Dunedin once again as dusk approached. This was a big day, 32 kms and 1,900 leaflets. I had more than just sore feet that evening.
Days 6 to 7
Monday was a late start. Time for more hill suburbs. I started with Roslyn to Maori Hill and back. Including View Park Lane (aka memory lane where I used to live). Then looped through more Roslyn, Bellknowes and Kenmure and back to Roslyn.
Before finally finishing Opoho as it really got dark. 23kms and 1,200 leaflets and maybe my feet were getting used to it? After a quick shower there was still time to catch most of the Opoho candidates meeting. And what well run and illuminating candidates’ meetings these are. Genuinely helpful for voters. If only all such meetings were as well run.
Tuesday was mopping up day, only 1,300 leaflets left of the 15,000. Wyn started in Kenmure and I joined her around Mornington and Mary Hill. It was a great feeling to deliver the last one back in Kenmure.
With whanau and friends, we’d delivered 15,000 leaflets in 7 days, over the days the voting papers were arriving in letterboxes. That’s over 40% of the urban letterboxes in a very large constituency. We were blessed with 7 days with mostly good weather for pounding the pavements.
We had three days off after that but there was more to be done. At the outset I’d got some business cards printed, figuring I could hand them out in places. But instead, most got converted to more leaflets. With some home-printed small leaflets, and a glue stick or two, we soon had a colourful little leaflet and more places to go. Saturday 24th I showed Wyn around Roseneath which I letterboxed so often when I lived there, I reckon I could have darn near done it blindfolded.
Monday 26th was the holiday for QEII, but there were more leaflets to go. My sister and I zoomed around Port Chalmers
and I carried on for old times sake around Careys Bay. Then for the rest of the afternoon I wandered around the streets of Macandrew Bay. Leafleting is a great excuse for having a walk around areas of the city I’ve never seen before. For me this was another half-marathon walk.
I still had 400 business cards, and glue in the glue sticks, so I printed some more leaflets. This time I used the back of them to explain where people could vote. It was getting towards the deadline for posting so some details on where else to take them seemed a good idea. On Monday of this week I headed to Green Island and leafleted around the streets on the sunny side of the valley. I was lucky to dodge the rain showers, and happy to finally finish the very last of the last.
The Final Numbers
In the end, we all delivered 16,400 leaflets to 42% of the letterboxes in the constituency, including rural ones. We all gained an intimate knowledge of letterbox design and gained a better understanding of the different lives in our large city. I personally clocked up 170kms with 3,170m. of up and 3,170m. of down, over a total of 36 hours. I’m a lot better for the exercise. Meanwhile Wyn put in 5 shifts and clocked up 51 kms – a great effort and wonderful support.
I’d still have preferred for my website address to have not been deleted from the candidate booklet. But thanks to all the help and encouragement we had a good shot at overcoming some of the setback. And found lots of positives along the way. I’d tackle it again, but probably not tomorrow.