Annette King (left) and Tariana Turia spread the message.
Mark Mitchell, New Zealand Herald
Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson loans Rohan helmets to his Health Minister for promoting Health Sponsorship Council National Hat Day, encouraging people to cover up in the sun during New Zealand’s summer.
Helmets ideal shield for health ministers
by Eugene Bingham
New Zealand Herald
Mega-movie maker Peter Jackson has come up with what some might describe as the perfect political headgear.
Not only does it offer protection, it keeps politicians quiet too.
“This thing’s going to have the effect of shutting me up because it stops me breathing,” puffed Health Minister Annette King beneath a 5kg helmet from Jackson’s trilogy Lord of the Rings.
Mrs King and her associate minister, Tariana Turia, donned the helmets at lunchtime yesterday in central Wellington, but it had nothing to do with any barrage they were about to face during Parliament’s question time.
They were promoting today’s Health Sponsorship Council National Hat Day, encouraging people to cover up in the sun this summer.
The ministers’ choice of hats was not flattering. “We look like a couple of wild bikies,” said Mrs King.
They would have struggled to find a more exclusive piece of headwear. Jackson had agreed to allow the ministers to give the public a sneak preview of the costume pieces from his set, which is surrounded by heavy security measures.
Lord of the Rings buffs would have instantly recognised the helmets, of course, as belonging to guards and soldiers of the Rohirrim people.
For the less initiated, publicists advised that Rohirrims were fair-skinned inhabitants of the Middle Earth renowned for their horse-riding skills, a fact that astounded Mrs King.
“I’m having great difficulty holding my head up and I don’t know how anyone rode a horse in this thing.”
Mrs Turia was impressed with her helmet. No stranger to political controversy, she could see the benefits of such heavy protection. “I wouldn’t mind one of these sometimes.”