The Opportunities Party polling third in Christchurch's Ilam, cutting off path to Parliament

The Opportunities Party's (TOP) only realistic opportunity for a path into Parliament appears to be smeared by a blue tinge.

A new Taxpayers' Union-Curia poll released on Tuesday reveals of the top three candidates for Christchurch's Ilam seat, National's Hamish Campbell is clearly ahead at 33 percent.

Incumbent Labour's Sarah Pallett sits second at 15 percent, while TOP leader Raf Manji is a fraction behind at 14 percent. 

Of the 410 sample size, 18 percent were unsure.


Ilam is TOP's top focus for the 2023 general election.

"[It's] absolutely critical… we decided we need to focus on Ilam as a small party. 

"I think getting in through an electorate seat is much more viable," Manji told Newshub.

Despite being a long way from a teal takeover, he remains optimistic.

"As a starting place for this campaign, we're pretty excited. We have market research showing us a lot closer to Hamish's 23 percent versus 27 percent."

Raf Manji.
Raf Manji. Photo credit: AM

Pallett caused a massive upset in 2020, flipping the seat red after eight terms under National's Gerry Brownlee.

On this poll, she'll lose it after just one term.

"I'm actually pretty unsurprised. I knew that Raf Manji standing in Ilam was going to split the progressive vote and what we've seen is exactly that we've seen he's basically taken vote from me," she told Newshub. 

"What you're going to get is you're going to lose a progressive hard-working MP and actually have National back in Ilam."

Sarah Pallett.
Sarah Pallett asks a question in the House. Photo credit: Parliament TV

That clears the way for the return to a blue seat.

"I think it's very encouraging but I'm not taking anything for granted," Campbell said of the poll. "I'll continue to meet as many people across Ilam as I possibly can leading up to the election - I think it's very important that we focus on the issues that are affecting people in Ilam.

"Gerry [Brownlee] has a wealth of knowledge but I'm running my own campaign, I'm a fresh face for Ilam; I've grown up here in Ilam, I went to school here in Ilam, my wife and I returned to Ilam and chose this place to be our home," he added.

"If I ever need to reach out to Gerry, he's there."

Hamish Campbell.
Hamish Campbell. Photo credit: Newshub.

Manji, meanwhile, is hoping to break up the two-horse Labour-National race - banking on his former experience as city councillor for 10 years to get TOP of the vote.

"Essentially, you've got two backbenchers - one ranked 51, the other ranked 63 one who is a complete political novice," he said of his rivals, standing near a TOP hoarding on the side of Ilam's Creyke Rd.

"I think Ilam is ready for something new. It's ready for somebody who has got experience, who has represented them before at the council level and I think that somebody is going to be me."

The only ranking that matters is on election night.

"If you want to have a progressive MP in Parliament you need to vote for me," Pallett added.

"I think people do need to be very conscious of where people put their vote and I'm saying, if you want a Government that's going to deliver on things that matter to people in Ilam… then it has to be a local vote for me and for the National Party," said Campbell.

The Taxpayers' Union will release the full Curia poll results during an Ilam election debate on Tuesday night, moderated by hosts of The Working Group podcast.