Who is filling up ACTs possible 11 seats in parliament?

ACT part leader David Seymour and candidate Brooke van Velden.
ACT part leader David Seymour and candidate Brooke van Velden. Photo credit: Getty Images

The ACT Party has been polling relatively well in the lead up to election day, with the latest results putting the party on 8 percent, meaning it would get 11 seats in Parliament.

If voting reflects polling, party leader David Seymour will no longer be ACT's sole representative in Parliament - all the candidates who might join him are first time MPs.

RNZ has profiled the ACT list's top 10 so you can get a bit more familiar with who they are. We're assuming you're already familiar with party leader David Seymour.

Number two: Brooke van Velden

Brooke van Velden hasn't been an MP but she won't be a newcomer to Parliament.

She's worked in Seymour's office for three years and had a special project - helping him with the End of Life Choice Bill.

"I had the privilege of travelling around 27 different towns with (Seymour) and hearing from thousands of people about their experiences with bad deaths in New Zealand, and those stories will stay with me forever. There are so many people who have seen terrible suffering and ... the passing of legislation was definitely the right thing to do for a very small number of people who just have bad deaths and there are no other options for them."

Before working in Parliament, van Velden was a corporate affairs consultant and she has qualifications in trade and economics.

She says she used to be a Green Party supporter. "I came to a realisation that it's only through free trade that people actually have the wealth and the time to care about environmental degradation, and it's only through the free market, and through growth and innovation, that billions of people have been pulled from poverty."

Van Velden says if elected, transforming mental health and addiction services would be a priority for her. "I think there are some huge gaps in the care that vulnerable New Zealanders receive.

"Currently the way it works under the DHBs there are huge discrepancies of care depending on where you live in the country."

She says people with mental health issues have great difficulty navigating the health system to get good treatment, and the money for services needs to go to therapists on the front line rather than sloshing around within the bureaucracy.

Another important issue to her is housing. "As one of the younger people coming into Parliament, I don't own a home, and I know many people ... of my generation who are really struggling to get home ownership. And this is going to have a real societal repercussion if we can't give people the stability of having their own home and a place where they can raise their family."

Van Velden says she sees the role of a MP as being an advocate for the community. She is standing in Wellington Central.

Brooke van Velden has worked on the End of Life Choice Bill.
Brooke van Velden has worked on the End of Life Choice Bill. Photo credit: Facebook - Brooke van Velden ACT

Number three: Nicole McKee

Nicole McKee already has a high media profile as the face and voice of the Council of Licensed Firearm Owners, at a time when Parliament has seen major changes to the gun laws.

"After the (Christchurch mosque attacks) I put my hand up to ... step up to be their spokesperson so that actually took over quite a large amount of my time to the point where I could not continue on with my own business."

She hadn't thought about being a MP until the rush to change the gun laws after the shootings.

"It was ... the way the firearms law was rushed and the government telling New Zealand that it was going to make the country safer when I could see that it wasn't.

"It was targeting and demonising licence holders who had nothing to do with [the mosque shooter] getting a licence."

The Firearms Council took legal action over the government's decision to ban some types of ammunition, without compensation to gun owners, but the High Court ruled it had no power to require compensation to be paid.

"Then you think, well, you have to try and do something, because not only is this not fair and not reasonable, but there's a lie being told ... that this is going to make you safe, and we can see that it's not," McKee says.

McKee ran a business providing firearms safety training, with the police among her customers, and was a four-time New Zealand shooting champion. She says she first became interested in firearms when she went hunting to help put meat on the table.

She's also been a legal secretary and executive working in law firms in Rotorua and Wellington, and she has spent six months as a beneficiary. She's passionate about the need for welfare reform.

"I met a person who told me, very proudly, that she had seven children to five different fathers, and how much money she was getting from that. And that to me is just wrong, that's not what the benefit system was set up for, and that's not a good environment to bring your children in to, that's welfare dependence."

McKee says she is looking forward to making a difference as a MP. She's standing in Rongotai.

Nicole McKee is standing in Rongotai.
Nicole McKee is standing in Rongotai. Photo credit: Facebook - Nicole McKee ACT - Rongotai

Number four: Chris Baillie

Chris Baillie has had a diverse career, even before standing for Parliament. He's currently a full-time secondary school teacher, working with special needs children. He also employs 30 people in a bar and restaurant business that also provides accommodation and a function centre. And he spent 14 years as a police officer before retiring a decade ago.

He says his ambition to get into Parliament is a relatively recent one. "It hasn't been a long time ambition, it's probably only the last year I've thought about it. I think we need a sensible focus in Parliament."

As a business owner, he's keen to be an advocate for small business. "There's so many compliance things that just subtly get added. The personal grievance process is an absolute nightmare.

"The 90-day (employment) trials in my particular business worked really well. I work with disadvantaged kids and through my policing, I've worked with people who struggle to get a job, and taking away (90-day trials) was a real disservice and made it even more of a challenge for the most vulnerable people in our society to try and get a job."

Baillie says he's passionate about education. "I'm a charter school fan, it's the most vulnerable who don't fit in mainstream schooling who have been disadvantaged with the removal of charter schools."

He says his experience as a police officer also gives him an insight into that policy area. "I don't think frontline police get near as much support as they deserve and need."

Baillie is very aware he has plenty to learn about being a MP. "I'm really just focussed on getting as many (MPs) as we can and understanding processes and getting comfortable and participating and contributing to the ACT mix."

"(Becoming a MP) is probably something when I first put my hand up, I didn't contemplate would happen, but I am certainly excited about it and really looking forward to the challenge.

"The only bad part that I can think of is, if it happens, I will have to say good-bye to the wonderful kids in my class."

Baillie is standing in Nelson, where he lives.

Chris Baillie is standing in Nelson.
Chris Baillie is standing in Nelson. Photo credit: Facebook - Chris Baillie

Number five: Simon Court

At number five is little-known sea kayaker, gardener and deck builder, Simon Court, who's standing in Te Atatū.

"As an environmental engineer, he's come to the conclusion it is innovation, not more regulation, that we require to solve our environmental problems," Seymour said.

A man with a green thumb, Court believes in reducing waste to landfill, and wants to see the Resource Management Act replaced.

He's also the father of three high-school-aged boys, the youngest with Down's syndrome.

"I really want to make sure there's a better world for him when he comes out [of] school and training - a world that's more accepting of people and their disability. And I also want to see more opportunities for those people to participate and work because it is good for their wellbeing."

Number six: James McDowall

McDowall is 32 and lives in Hamilton with his wife and their two-year-old daughter Sophia.

He works for an NGO in the mental health sector and also has a couple of small business projects on the side. He's the practice manager at his wife's immigration law firm and has a consulting business, too.

He's studying a law and politics degree.

He's a self-proclaimed classic liberal, who enjoys photography, travel and spending time with his two-year-old daughter.

McDowall said community engagement was key to being a good politician, and he would do that if elected.

"I think it is critically important particularly with actual law-making. In general members of Parliament should be engaging at all times, but when it comes to creating laws that are going to affect people, you really need to know the other side of the equation."

He thinks big wins in reducing the size of "big government" can be made by reducing spending.

In his profile on the ACT website, he says: "I'm a classical liberal who is sceptical of big Government. My experience in business and the community sector has taught me that Government has a role but when it oversteps that role it becomes part of the problem rather than the solution."

He drives a 2007 BMW and is a member of a pistol shooting club.

He's standing for Waikato.

Number seven: Karen Chhour

Chhour says she's an "every day New Zealander that's worked hard to get where I'm at. I'm self-employed in the New Zealand-made clothing industry and I'm a mum to four kids".

She's frustrated by seeing homelessness, child poverty, abuse and mental health numbers rise. "Nothing seems to change." She says she grew up "though the system" and that it failed her.

"I was hoping that it would be getting better and watching from the outside ... it actually seems to be getting worse."

The prospect of getting into Parliament excites her - especially the possibility of helping others and making sure they don't have the same experiences she has had.

"I'm going out there [to] show people what I can do. New Zealand... should be a world where we can do anything and if we want to make a difference we can."

She thinks the most effective MP outside ACT is Chlöe Swarbrick, likes chocolate over chips, would be a koala if not a human, and likes Shania Twain.

Chhour is standing for Upper Harbour.

Number eight: Mark Cameron

"I'm the Northland candidate and the rural spokesperson for the party and a cow cocky from Ruawai," Cameron says.

He's a 48-year-old dairy farmer with 300 cows on the Kaipara plain and he wants to restore some pride in rural New Zealand.

"I think we've got to change that. It's shifting now with the Covid reality which is great but why does it take Covid to prove how good we are. There's too many of us taking our own lives. Mental illness in rural New Zealand is rife. And I'd like to be part of a team that ... celebrates rural people."

He says he wants to be part of a solution for rural people.

Cameron has lived and farmed around the Northland region for 30 years, according to the ACT website. He has a partner, Jodie, and three children.

ACT describes him as a "man of deep and good character. He is a critical thinker and family man from the land".

Number nine: Toni Severin

Severin says the prospect of being in Parliament is quite exciting.

Hailing from the "deep South", she has been involved with ACT, including the last five campaigns, and is standing for Christchurch East.

"I'm here as a team player. We all have strengths and weaknesses and whatever happens, happens... we've all got good things and we've all got bad things probably."

Asked what a "bad thing" about her is, she says: "probably I talk too much sometimes".

What about her good things?

"I really care about what's happening in this Covid time especially with my staff, I have quite a few young staff. [I'm] just really concerned for their wellbeing and the finances for them and when we're going to be moving forward and how we're going to be moving forward in the right direction."

She drives a Kia Sportage, is a fan of chips over chocolate, and her guilty secret is she spends "too much time making crafts" - she makes wreaths.

As far as music goes, she likes a mix - "I'm afraid to say a lot of my favourites are the oldies are The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, I'll throw U2 in there"

Number 10: Damien Smith

Originally from Northern Ireland, Damien Smith came to New Zealand in 2002, and after falling in love with the country, decided to stay forever.

He's passionate about the economy, small business and freedom of speech, and has a background in banking and exports.

Smith is standing as a candidate for Botany, a true-blue electorate that's being fought for by the high-profile National hopeful, Christopher Luxon.

But even if Luxon wins the seat, Smith says that won't stop him advocating for the greater East Auckland region.

"It's an exciting part of the country, there's lots of light industry there, there's lots of good schools but there's an opportunity to do better in schools out there," he said.

"I think one of the things, in terms of health services out in East Auckland, it just hasn't kept up with the rest of the city."

Politics aside, Smith is a father to a 17-year-old daughter, something he describes as one of the great joys in his life.

He's also a bit of a singer, although he admits he's trying to keep that out of the party.

"When you grow up in Ireland everyone thinks they're going to be the next Bono, you know, so I've had a band and I still sing... I'll bust that out if we do the business on Saturday."