Kiwi Soft Power

Summer is long gone, but this Op-Ed from the  Feb. 10 edition of the Dominion Post still resonates for its hilarious take on the politics of the summer barbecue.

Donald Trump’s sleep is restless. He dreams of column after column of cold-steel phallus rolling along Pennsylvania Avenue. Rows of gigantic missiles to put Putin in his places, thousands of gun–metal grey tanks to set Jong-un’s nerves a-gangling. 

Meanwhile, in a backyard on a humble street in Tauranga, power is displayed in the deft handling of a sausage and sashay of steak (sirloin or eye fillet, certainly not rump) over a hot plate. 

National ‘s Simon Bridges no doubt knows the value of Kiwi soft-power around a barbecue; the light, beer-induced banter among powerbrokers; the casual sweep of tongs to distract the eye and redirect the discussion; and the ability to diplomatically keep other pretenders away from that fiery altar. 

We may not have the missiles, the marines, the military might, but there is much to be learned from a man or woman’s management of the barbecue. 

Our own leader, Jacinda Ardern, demonstrated such power on Waitangi Day when she grabbed the barbecue implements to distribute the sausages and further undermine the pillars of male hegemony. 

Bridges may also fancy his chances at leadership. If he is, at some point in the future, named National Party leader, he will recall that his successful campaign began with a barbecue in a backyard on a humble street in Tauranga. 

Brilliant. And for the record, Bridges currently does sit as the leader of the National Party.