Hamilton West by-election: Four candidates reveal their approaches

By Andrew McRae of RNZ

The hard slog for candidates hoping to become the new MP for Hamilton West has begun, with just four weeks before the by-election.

With 12 people having put their names forward - including the man who sparked the by-election, Gaurav Sharma - Labour, ACT and National lead the pack.

Chief executive of iwi trust Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki Tama Potaka is standing for National, and said winning the seat would be a big challenge.

"You will know from the previous election that Gaurav Sharma had more than 6000 votes than the nearest candidate, Tim Macindoe. But it is my job and if I am lucky to be selected as the MP for Hamilton West I will take not only the electorate forward, but help our party leadership take the country forward.

"I am really focused on the real issues that are confronting the people in Hamilton West, things like cost of living and violent crime and ram raids, and trying to make Hamilton the best place to grow up and grow old in New Zealand."

Labour candidate Georgie Dansey is a small-business owner who also worked in the union movement, and was in no doubt why she wanted to win.

"The people of Hamilton West deserve to have a strong, progressive voice in government and I believe I can provide that voice.

"I really believe in ensuring that all the people in New Zealand and in Hamilton West have got access to sufficient education, health and social services and I believe the Labour Party is well on track for delivering that."

ACT is standing its list MP, Dr James McDowall. He described the seat as truly middle New Zealand.

"It is a bellwether seat and it does tend to reflect the mood of the country as a whole and there is going to be a stark reality in what I imagine is going to be a swing to the right and we are going to just make sure that we are on top."

His pitch to voters included his links to the city.

"I am a Hamiltonian myself. I have spent the best part of 17-years in the city and I think I can combine my experience as a sitting MP for the last two years and really just focus and hone in on a single electorate would be quite something and just that ability to represent people in my home town."

Dr Gaurav Sharma went from hero of the Labour Party in Hamilton West at the last election, to being thrown out as a member a few months ago.

With his new party he was keen to get back into Parliament.

"I still want to be involved in politics because it is the right platform to be able to bring about good change for New Zealand. Secondly, running in the by-election, the point here is to send a message to the government that you can't silence a common man."

He was not concerned about getting back into Parliament and not having a major party and its resources supporting him.

"One of the big issues with the larger parties is you often have to toe the party line and you can't challenge the government in a way that you would like to. So I am a strong voice for Hamilton. I would continue to ask those questions of the Prime Minister and the government and hold them to account if I was re-elected.''

The Greens, New Zealand First and Te Pāti Māori are not taking part.

Other parties putting up candidates are Vision New Zealand's Jade Tait; the Opportunities Party's Naomi Pocock; the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party's Peter Wakeman; Rudi Du Plooy, jointly representing the New Conservative Party and the One Party; Money Free Party's Richard Osmaston; Donna Pokere-Phillips for the New Zealand Outdoors and Freedom Party; and two independents, Gordon Dickson and Frank Fu.

Early voting in Hamiton West starts on 28 November, with polling day 10 December.