Herald on Cunliffe

David Farrar

One of the good things the NZ Herald does every three years is an extensive background piece on the Leader of the Opposition, and hence potential next Prime Minister. These stories take months to compile, but they are very useful at painting a picture of the person who may be the country’s next leader.

Their lengthy piece on David Cunliffe is here. It’s very interesting, and I especially like the section on him and Karen.

I am of the view that most MPs are in politics for the right reasons – because they sincerely think they can make NZ a better place. Around 10% to 15% are ratbags. The rest, one may disagree with their views and policies – but they are well motivated. I include David Cunliffe in this category.

While iPredict says he has only a 16% chance of becoming Prime Minister, a lot can happen in 77 days.

Here’s an extract from the article:

He met Karen Price, a law and music student, in the first week of the university year. Within six months they were engaged, a year later they were married; the bride was 19, the groom 21. They met at the “Knox [hostel] Hop” during orientation week. Her friend and his roommate went as a date and they tagged along as chaperones.

“I thought he was pretty dishy,” says Price. “He was tall, countryboyish with a long blond afro and a washboard stomach. I thought he was very attractive.”

Cunliffe: “We became part of a peer group that all got to know each other. I think we ended up going out four or five months later. We had some classes together; we were in the legal systems tutorial of Mark Heneghan, Dean of Law now. I think it’s fair to say the other kids didn’t get a word in edge ways.”

Prof Heneghan noticed: “It was nice to see them moving closer to each other and the little glances back and forwards,” he recalled in a 2013 interview. “They were pretty keen on each other right from day one. They were the strongest arguers against each other.”

Cunliffe talks first about her smarts (and his) when asked what appealed. “She was an outstanding student, [there was] a huge intellectual connection, very much a match of equals.” Prompted, he adds: “A lot of attraction as well, dashing Scandinavian good-looks on her part.

Very cool.

In April, she attended his 20th birthday “as a guest, not an item”, and in April he proposed. When he decides something, he moves fast, she says.

That’s very fast. From dating to engagement in less than a month, but sounds like they had been moving towards each other for most of the year.

The Herald also has 10 things you may not know about him:

  1. He played Jesus in the school play.
  2. His “little” brother, Stephen, is 6’7″ and an expert on the Patagonian toothfish.
  3. He has a half-brother and three half-sisters.
  4. His great-grandfather married King Dick Seddon’s sister.
  5. He helped his half-brother, Bill, through a life crisis.
  6. He scared the pants off Michael Laws when they were at Uni together.
  7. He caught a salmon in memory of his father at the spot on the Rangitata River where he died of a heart attack.
  8. He was voted most likely to be a world leader by fellow scholarship students at Atlantic College in Wales.
  9. His father, a vicar, remarried eight months after the death of his first wife.
  10. The William Cunliffe who died in the Brunner mine disaster of 1896 may be a relative.

There’s a follow up next weekend focusing more on his life since becoming an MP.

Political commenator David Farrar posts at Kiwiblog.

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