NZ Election 2020: National releases party list, big jump for Maureen Pugh, fall for Alfred Ngaro

The National Party has revealed its list for the September 19 election, with several new candidates placed relatively high up.

The party list rankings are important as they help determine which candidates who don't win an electorate head to Parliament after the election.

The top 12 rankings released on Saturday mirror Judith Collins' current frontbench, which she put together after coming to power in mid-July.

One of the biggest winners is Maureen Pugh. The National MP based in the West Coast-Tasman electorate was ranked at 44 on the 2017 list and only entered Parliament after Bill English stood down in 2018. On Saturday's list, she sits at 19.

Pugh takes that spot from Alfred Ngaro, who falls down to 30. He is standing in the seat of Te Atatu, currently held by Phil Twyford. Speaking to media on Saturday, Collins said she expects Ngaro to win the seat.

"I think anybody can beat Phil Twyford."

At numbers 25 and 26 are Paulo Garcia and Nancy Lu, a new candidate. Both are only standing as list candidates. Garcia is a current MP, but only entered Parliament in 2019 after Nuk Korako retired. 

Lu is a Chartered Accountant who has worked in New Zealand, Hong Kong and China in various roles. She has worked at the likes of Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Fonterra.

The next new candidate is Dale Stephens from Christchurch Central on 29.

Agnes Loheni, who is standing for Mangere, jumps from 49 on the 2017 list to 28 for this year's election. 

Jo Hayes, 34 on the rankings in mid-July, falls to 44. She is standing in the seat of Mana, which leans strongly to Labour. Hayes apologised last year after calling another Twitter user ugly in a tweet.

"I will delete it and I'm sorry for any offence caused," the MP said at the time.

Asked why Hayes is the lowest-ranked MP, Collins said it was a decision made by the list-ranking committee.

"We are working on the basis that you need to have a good mix of skills and experience and those new ones coming in."

Collins believes Hayes will return to Parliament.

Several new candidates standing in safe National seats - such as Christopher Luxon in Botany and Nicola Grigg in Selwyn - have been placed in the 60s as they are likely to enter Parliament regardless of their list positions. 

In total, there are 75 places on the National Party list, but two positions remain open for whoever fills the Auckland Central and Rangitata candidate vacancies. Those spots opened up after the retirement of Nikki Kaye and resignation of Andrew Falloon, who is accused of sending improper photos to young women. 

"The National Party is incredibly fortunate to be able to draw on such a diverse and experienced team of passionate Kiwis, from our leader Judith Collins, our Shadow Cabinet, right through to newcomers like Christopher Luxon in Botany, Tania Tapsell in East Coast, Tim Costley in Otaki, and Penny Simmonds in Invercargill," party president Peter Goodfellow said.

He said every candidate would be campaigning hard to ensure a strong party vote for National and to "ensure Judith Collins is our next Prime Minister". 

"The only way to avoid another three years of chaos from Labour and the Greens, is to Party Vote National. That’s what our team of 75 candidates and tens of thousands of members, supporters and volunteers will be focused on right up until election day."

Pugh gained attention back in 2018 after former National MP Jami-Lee Ross released a phone recording with Simon Bridges. In it, Bridges called Pugh "f***ing useless".

Collins said Pugh had been incredibly loyal to the party.

"She has the deepest connections within [West Coast-Tasman]. It is an electorate that the National Party should win... we want to send a big signal to the West Coast that we value their choice, in terms of Maureen, and that we expect her to work very, very hard to make sure that she gets that seat.

"But also, we want to say to her, that her work has been valued. She is one of the most popular members of our caucus and that is because of her hard work and dedication."

The party leader called the situation with the Bridges recording "unfortunate" and said that Pugh dealt with it well.

In the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll, National sat on 25.1 percent, down from 44.4 in the 2017 election. If it was to get only 25.1 percent on election night, it would see its caucus slashed, meaning trouble for many relying on the list. 

A number of National MPs are retiring at the election, including Amy Adams, Paula Bennett, Maggie Barry, David Carter, Nathan Guy, Anne Tolley and Jian Yang. 

National's 2017 rankings can be found here for comparison.

National Party 2020 list

  1. Judith Collins - Papakura
  2. Gerry Brownlee - Ilam
  3. Paul Goldsmith - Epsom
  4. Simon Bridges - Tauranga
  5. Dr Shane Reti - Whangarei
  6. Todd McClay - Rotorua
  7. Chris Bishop - Hutt South
  8. Todd Muller - Bay of Plenty
  9. Louise Upston - Taupo
  10.  Scott Simpson - Coromandel
  11. David Bennett - Hamilton East
  12. Michael Woodhouse - Dunedin
  13. Nicola Willis - Wellington Central
  14. Jacqui Dean - Waitaki
  15. Mark Mitchell - Whangaparaoa
  16. Melissa Lee - Mt Albert
  17. Andrew Bayly - Port Waikato
  18. Dr Nick Smith - Nelson
  19. Maureen Pugh - West Coast-Tasman
  20. Barbara Kuriger - Taranaki-King Country
  21. Harete Hipango - Whanganui
  22. Jonathan Young - New Plymouth
  23. Tim Macindoe - Hamilton West
  24. Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi - Panmure-Otahuhu
  25. Paulo Garcia - List
  26. Nancy Lu - List
  27. Parmjeet Parmar - Mt Roskill
  28. Agnes Loheni - Mangere
  29. Dale Stephens - Christchurch Central
  30. Alfred Ngaro - Te Atatu
  31. Matt Doocey - Waimakariri
  32. Stuart Smith - Kaikoura
  33. Lawrence Yule - Tukituki
  34. Denise Lee - Maungakiekie
  35. Simon O'Connor - Tamaki
  36. Brett Hudson - Ohariu
  37. Simeon Brown - Pakuranga
  38. Ian McKelvie - Rangitikei
  39. Erica Stanford - East Coast Bays
  40. Matt King - Northland
  41. Chris Penk - Kaipara ki Mahurangi
  42. Tim van de Molen - Waikato
  43. Dan Bidois - Northcote
  44. Jo Hayes - Mana
  45. Katie Nimon - Napier
  46. Catherine Chu - Banks Peninsula
  47. Hamish Campbell - Wigram
  48. David Patterson - Rongotai
  49. Lisa Whyte - New Lynn
  50. Rima Nakhle - Takanini
  51. Liam Kernaghan - Taieri
  52. Bala Beeram - Kelston
  53. Lincoln Platt - Christchurch East
  54. William Wood - Palmerston North
  55. Nuwi Samarakone - Manurewa
  56. Mark Crofskey - Remutaka
  57. Jake Bezzant - Upper Harbour
  58. Mike Butterick - Wairarapa
  59. Tim Costley - Otaki
  60. Nicola Grigg - Selwyn
  61. Christopher Luxon - Botany
  62. Joseph Mooney - Southland
  63. Penny Simmonds - Invercargill
  64. Tania Tapsell - East Coast
  65. Simon Watts - North Shore
  66. TBC - Auckland Central
  67. TBC - Rangitata
  68. Adrienne Pierce - List
  69. Senthuran Arulanantham - List
  70. Sang Cho - List
  71. Rachel Afeaki-Taumoepeau - List
  72. Trish Collett - List
  73. Ava Neal - List
  74. Katrina Bungard - List
  75. Shelley Pilkington - List