Political puppets: Backbencher pub reveals Jacinda Ardern, Judith Collins effigies

Some of the country’s top political leaders are being immortalised in a very Wellington manner – as latex puppets revealed in the pub right opposite Parliament.

It is a decades-old tradition at the Backbenchers Gastropub, where along with a new version of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, three new politicians are joining the infamous ranks: National Party leader Judith Collins, Act Party leader David Seymour and Green MP Chloe Swarbrick.

Ardern, whose puppet was revealed first, said she was often asked the most unusual things she had to do as Prime Minister.

“I sometimes have to stop and think… now it will be easy, unveiling a puppet is right up there.

“It is a cross between a celestial being and Game of Thrones.

“It’s not what people mean when they refer to the pearly white gates.”

She said she hoped it was not true as based on the character she would “need to be dead” and if was based on the Game of Thrones she feared the “blood wedding”.

Ardern was also given a sceptre of power and wisdom.

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson held onto it and said “I feel better already”.

Next up it was National Party leader Judith Collins.


“It’s not bad is it. It’s really not bad,” Collins remarked.

“These boots really were made for walking.”

Upon seeing his puppet, Act leader David Seymour called it “not entirely unflattering”.

“I totally banked on twerking so this is a massive boost.”

For Ardern it’s her second time, after the first puppet in 2018 cemented her skills as a DJ.

The puppet, lit by disco lights and holding a set of headphones while spinning decks, was kitted out in a red tracksuit with a toothy grin.

Backbencher pub owner Alistair Boyce said tonight there were four politicians from “different ends of the spectrum”.

Without revealing too much he said Ardern’s new puppet would be “heavenly”.

Though he expected the puppets for Swarbrick and Seymour to attract a lot of attention.

All four puppets were based on cartoons by Murray Webb and Jeff Bell, and created by Bryce Curtis.

“You can expect a bit of fireworks, unusual music and responses,” Boyce said.

“And a hell of a lot of fun.”

Boyce told 1News sometimes it could be difficult to pick which politicians make the final cut.

“The no brainer is the Prime Minister, The Leader of the Opposition, and then it gets difficult,” Boyce said.

“We had to make some hard decisions as to who would be around and for how long and how big a contribution, they’re likely to make over the decades to come, and that actually became quite easy, so it was Chlöe Swarbrick and David Seymour.”

The event starts at 5pm, with Ardern’s puppet unveiled at 6.15pm, Collins’ at 6.50pm, Seymour’s at 7pm and Swarbrick’s at 7.30pm.

Prior to the unveiling, a dozen protesters were outside advocating for bolder action on climate change.

“They can be a puppet in there but not in the Beehive for the fossil fuel industry,” they said.

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