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  • Maia Ingoe

Grant Robertson Votes, Eats Sausage, and Ignores Protesters on Campus

Words by Niamh Vaughan (she/her) and Maia Ingoe (she/her)

VUW has become a hotspot for politicians heading to cast their vote, with Labour’s Grant Robertson and Ibrahim Omer voting in the Hub last Wednesday, and the Greens’ Tamatha Paul and James Shaw, alongside Wellington mayor Tory Whanau, voting here last Monday. Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni showed up in support, but didn’t cast her vote. 

As part of their political efforts, Grant Robertson and Wellington Central candidate Ibrahim Omer “awkwardly paraded around university, disturbing studying students to ask them if they’ve voted yet,” a bystander told Salient

Robertson was closely followed by Study Wage For All protesters holding a banner with the words, “Only 37% of full-time students get any kind of allowance…the main culprit here is the National Government’s absurd means-testing programme.” This quote was from Robertson himself in 1996 when he was president of NZUSA.

“We're holding up the sign to kind of remind him about where he's come from and what he should vote for,” said incoming VUWSA president Marcail Parkinson. 

Robertson ignored the protestors until Hana Pilkinton-Ching, a Study Wage For All activist and current VUWSA campaigns officer, confronted him. “[When you were a student politician] you said that the current levels of student support were bad. Here you are, like three decades later, what are you doing about it? [...] Labour ruled out expanded eligibility to universal allowances, even though that's what you want to campaign for.”

“We've done a lot over the last few years, including bringing in fees free, lifting allowances, [and] consistently lifting access to accommodation support. I know we haven't been able to do everything that you want, or that back in those days I was looking to do,” replied Robertson.

The voting booth was not the only thing Grant Robertson paid a visit to, quickly turning to the Niuean Students’ Association sausage sizzle in the Tim Beaglehole Courtyard. “I’m not like the Prime Minister. I don’t eat lots of food,” Robertson said, promising to return for a sausage after he’d cast his vote. 

Voting booths in the Hub are open on weekdays from 2-13 October, and voting closes overall for the 2023 General Election on 14 October. 


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