19 Sep 2014

National and Labour make final push

8:10 pm on 19 September 2014

A visit by the Prime Minister to a mall in Rotorua had to be abandoned abruptly this morning because of an Internet Mana protest, while Labour leader David Cunliffe said he would be campaigning until late tonight.

John Key only made it about 50 metres into the mall when the disturbance occurred as Internet Mana supporters shouted at Mr Key about stolen land.

The situation escalated when National Party supporters stepped in to confront the protesters.

The visit was cut short and Mr Key was escorted by police back to the campaign bus.

A man was also removed from the mall by police after an altercation inside.

It was the second time in two days Mr Key's schedule had been disrupted by protestors during the National Party's end of campaign bus tour.

He said he believed protests against him and his Government in the past few days were driven by Internet Mana, and he did not think they represented broader discontent.

"In a way, they're being quite destructive in the election campaign. I mean, there weren't big numbers today. They've had a bit of an angry voice sometimes - we saw it in Rotorua last time we were here - but in the end for most New Zealanders they ignore that sort of stuff because they see how small those guys are."

Labour Party leader David Cunliffe began at Britomart in Auckland before making his way over the bridge for a walkabout in Northcote - his big red bus tagged with the phrase "five more taxes" by National's Jonathan Coleman.

Mr Cunliffe said the election was on a knife-edge and he would be campaigning until late tonight to make sure his party can form the next Government.

The Greens officially closed their campaign yesterday but continued on today regardless, with co-leader Russel Norman meeting with people at a Fair Trade coffee shop in Wellington.

Other party leaders are also doing their last minute pitches to voters in Auckland, including New Zealand First leader Winston Peters and the Conservatives' Colin Craig.

Internet Party leader Laila Harre cast her vote in Parnell in Auckland, highlighting the fact today is Suffrage Day.

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