Could National lose Whangarei?


Nearly one year on from National's embarrassing loss in the Northland by-election, Prime Minister John Key is back in the area for some regional face time.

He spent the day touring around Whangarei -- an electorate National's accused of neglecting, and could risk losing.

It was a photo opportunity in Whangarei to mark the start of work on museum celebrating artist Frederick Hundertwasser, but behind the smiles and applause is an electorate with high unemployment, damaged roads and neglected rail.

A growing population maybe, but one with growing concern, some of whom said National isn't doing enough.

One woman said "they [National] are neglecting towns all over the place".

Losing Northland to Winston Peters still gives National nightmares -- and the New Zealand First leader says it could be deja vu in the Whangarei electorate.

Mr Key said: "Whangrei? No, we've got a strong local MP who's doing well in the polls."

Shane Reti, when asked if he thought he would hang on to his Northland seat, said: "Sorry, this is the Prime Minister's press conference."

Shane Jones, the former Labour MP turned Pacific Ambassador, did not want to talk and is rumoured to be standing here next year on a New Zealand First ticket.

Winston Peters said: "He's a member of the diplomatic Corp and it would inappropriate to discuss."

Mr Key said: "That's not likely to happen in my in my view."

National's fear of losing Whangarei is just a small piece of a bigger puzzle -- the regions. And if Northland's boycott of National starts to snowball, it could be the Government's downfall.