One garden, two party billboards: How a Dunedin couple keep the political peace

Shaniqua Juliano

Dunedin couple Peter Ashton and Adrien Dever have one rule to keep the peace in their home and marriage: don’t talk about politics. They let the billboards on their front lawn speak for themselves. If you take a drive down Macandrew Rd, in the suburb of Forbury, you will come […]

Dunedin couple Peter Ashton and Adrien Dever have one rule to keep the peace in their home and marriage: don’t talk about politics.

They let the billboards on their front lawn speak for themselves.

If you take a drive down Macandrew Rd, in the suburb of Forbury, you will come across the unusual sight of Labour Party and National Party billboards sharing the Ashton/Dever garden.

Ashton is a passionate National supporter, while Dever backs Labour.

The Labour sign came first.

A neighbour who works for the Labour Party asked Ashton, while he and Dever were speaking with a friend who was visiting and also worked for the Labour Party, whether they would put a Labour billboard on their lawn.

“I’ve got all these people around me … I thought what hope in hell have I got of doing anything other than saying yes?” Ashton said.

The couple let the billboards on their front lawn speak for themselves. Photos / ODT
The couple let the billboards on their front lawn speak for themselves. Photos / ODT

Ashton was at an Otago Hockey dinner and was speaking to Mike Kernaghan, the father of the National candidate for Taieri, Liam Kernaghan.

“I made some comment about billboards … I said I’ve got some room at my place.

His wife had no grounds to challenge because the Labour one was already there, he said.

The next morning, the National sign was up, facing Macandrew Rd.

“The funny thing is … the Labour one is at about 45 degrees right at the corner [of Nelson St and Macandrew Rd], so when you come from Forbury Rd towards the harbour, you really can’t see the sign,” he said.

There was nearly another election sign in the mix. An opportunity to put an Act New Zealand billboard in the middle of the Labour and National signs presented itself, he said.

“But my wife said it would look like Steptoe and Son.”

Ashton said when the time of the election results came, there would be no “I told you so” or recrimination because “we don’t really discuss politics between us at all”.

Their political beliefs were not an issue when they first met and had not been since.

“You have your own political ideology and you grow up with it,” Ashton said.

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