Opinion: National's staged walkabout in Auckland 'cheeky and clumsy' says 1 NEWS political reporter

Source: 1News

The National Party using supporters to pose as members of the public during an Auckland walkabout was "cheeky and clumsy", according to 1 NEWS political reporter Benedict Collins.

The supporters were on hand to praise Judith Collins during her walk through Ponsonby with National candidate Emma Mellow today.

Benedict Collins questioned one of the supporters afterwards, with the man admitting to being "involved in the party for a long time".

Mellow said she has a lot of supporters in Auckland Central who wanted the opportunity to meet National's leader, so she invited them along.

Benedict Collins says the whole thing was "completely unnecessary".

"Cheeky and clumsy are the two words I’d use to sum up what we saw from the National Party today," he said on 1 NEWS at 6pm.

"These political walkabouts are a chance for our leaders to meet real Kiwis and have a chat to them, but today what we saw is the National Party had rigged the whole thing.

"Every 50 metres or so we’d come across another plant who would come up and praise Judith Collins.

"Last week I was in Kerikeri with Collins and she was having a great time out meeting regular members of the public.

"But today what we saw was the National Party just trying to generate a bit of fake news."

NZ First leader Winston Peters called National’s stunt a stitch up.

“Look it's rent a crowd and you're falling for it and with respect, you media are falling for it,” Peters said.

National were also the victim of jokes from ACT leader David Seymour.

“Oh hey, how ya going? I've never met him before, we didn't pay him,” Seymour told media as he waved to a bystander.

Jacinda Ardern insisted her walkabouts are legit.

“If I've ever spoke to someone on the side of the street it's assuming they're a member of the public. They may well be a Labour supporter but it won't be with prior knowledge,” Ardern said.