Shane Jones confirmed as NZ First candidate for Whangarei

New Zealand First has officially confirmed Shane Jones as its candidate for the Whangarei seat, in what Mr Jones admitted was "the worst kept secret in politics".

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said Mr Jones has the party's full backing as an experienced candidate who will hit the ground running.

"This is no time for looking around at novices, or an MP with training wheels on. This is no time to be putting up an MP that takes three years to find out where the parliamentary toilets are," Mr Peters said at the announcement on Wednesday.

Shane Jones, New Zealand First's candidate for Whangarei.
Shane Jones, New Zealand First's candidate for Whangarei. Photo credit: Newshub/ Lloyd Burr

Mr Jones quit the Labour party in 2014, and served as the Government's Pacific Ambassador until earlier this month.

"We want someone who will hit the ground running, knows the system inside out," Mr Peters said.

"Our candidate, like so many of us here, and proud of it, is a country boy off a farm. Not too proud to admit it, knows one end of the cow from the other. Who made the most of educational opportunities all the way to Harvard University to become an international statesman and leader."

Speaking at Whangarei's Pure Bar Mr Jones said: "Whangarei is taken for granted, Whangarei gives its votes to a party that continues to mock the regions of New Zealand."

Whangarei has been a safe National seat, with incumbent Shane Reti winning in 2014 with a majority of 13,169 over Labour's Kelly Ellis.