It's official. Shane Jones will be New Zealand First's candidate in the Northland electorate.
Back in February, Jones, who boasts the Regional Economic Development portfolio among his ministerial roles, told Newshub he was throwing his hat in the ring for the seat which is currently held with a relatively slim majority by National's Matt King.
"I would have gladly stood in Whangarei, however I was born and bred in Awanui, so read between the lines," Jones said at the time.
He stood in the Whangarei electorate in 2017, coming in third behind National MP Shane Reti and Labour's candidate Tony Savage.
On Saturday, he officially confirmed he was New Zealand First's Northland candidate. He told a party meeting in Kerikeri that it was a "privilege to be selected by the party and pledged a bold and job-rich campaign reaching out to all Northlanders", according to a statement.
"I will deliver an exciting policy vision for Northland - my home, with passion," he said.
"I have a strong and determined team up here. We look forward to telling our story of continued Government investment into rail, water storage, roads, digital connectivity, tourism and health after nine years of neglect by the last National Government", said Jones.
He has the backing of leader Winston Peters, who won the 2015 by-election in Northland before losing it to King in 2017.
"Through Shane, Northland will have a strong and effective voice in Government. He has a proven track record as a zealous champion of the North and a fighter for the provinces. He has my full endorsement," Peters said.
Northland could be key for New Zealand First at the election. If it falls under the 5 percent threshold having a MP hold a seat will mean it will remain in Parliament. Multiple polls have recently had the party sitting below 3 percent, including the latest Newshub Reid-Research poll.
Ardern has previously said there were no plans to do a deal in the seat at the election, with Labour's candidate Willow-Jean Prime primed to run a full campaign. King told Newshub in February he beat Peters so he was up for the challenge.
New Zealand First also on Saturday released a Facebook video of Jones speaking about his upbringing, his political career, how he has "always been a bit of a challenging personality" and his willingness to share his opinion.
On Friday, Jones' colleague Clayton Mitchell announced he would not be seeking re-election at this year's election.
Former National leader Simon Bridges ruled out National working with New Zealand First after the election, but Todd Muller has kept the door slightly open to a change in policy if his caucus desires it.
"The decision from caucus still stands - if that changes in the future, you'll be the first to know but at the moment that's our caucus position," he said after becoming leader.
"It's quite possible, maybe, that in the future we could refresh that - I don't know. The caucus position is very clear, it has been clear since January.
"Let's see if it changes in the future."