NZ election 2020: New Conservatives accuse Labour of lying about removing signs

New Conservative leader Leighton Baker.
New Conservative leader Leighton Baker. Photo credit: Newshub Nation

The New Conservative Party has accused Labour of lying about an incident in west Auckland, in which volunteers for the latter took down New Conservative signs.

A New Conservative supporter laid a complaint with police after claiming to see Labour volunteers replacing the upstart party's signs with their own, Newshub revealed on Saturday.

They said on Facebook they were driving home on Great North Rd, Auckland, and saw "our two signs still up on the fence but head photos both ripped off".

"I pulled over, thought to take a photo but shockingly it was gone and on the ground into pieces already," Frans Van Schie said. "A couple was replacing them with their Labour Party signs, bingo! Now reported to the police with these photos."

Kelston MP Carmel Sepuloni, whose face graced the Labour signs, said it was a misunderstanding and her volunteers had permission to replace the signs.

"The [New] Conservative Party signs were flapping around because they had been half-ripped off so my two volunteers took them off. No ill intention," the Minister for Social Development said.

"A woman saw them and got really angry and I understand that given she wouldn't have known that my volunteers had not meant harm. They did go over to apologise and my signs coordinator rang to apologise to someone who made a complaint. Not much more we can do."

New Conservative Party campaign manager Pete North disputed this version of events.

"The signs had only had the top right corner damaged and were definitely not flapping," he told Newshub in an email.

"The signs were well-secured - in fact the Labour volunteer commented to us later how hard it had been for him to take them down.  

"The person who made the complaint to police has not received any apology. The facts of the matter speak for themselves."

The New Conservative signs lying on the ground.
The New Conservative signs lying on the ground. Photo credit: Frans Van Schie/Facebook

Sepuloni said they would "never set out to damage or remove signs for political advantage". 

"Now my team members are aware that even if they are damaged, best to just leave other parties' signs so that the wrong impression isn't gained by removing or trying to fix them."

Police on Saturday said they were assessing the complaint, and on Sunday told Newshub there was no update to give.