2 Aug 2017

'Jacinda effect' galvanises Labour

8:00 am on 2 August 2017

Labour has raised more than $100,000 in donations in the 24 hours since Jacinda Ardern took over the leadership, her new deputy Kelvin Davis says.

Jacinda Ardern

Jacinda Ardern in RNZ's Auckland studio. Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

"The Jacinda effect has already kicked in," Mr Davis told Morning Report.

As well as $110,000 donated to the campaign since yesterday, 600 additional volunteers had offered to help the election effort, he said.

"I like to think that's just the start and we'll see a surge in support from here."

RNZ reported earlier this week the campaign had been struggling to galvanise financial help, emailing supporters over the weekend to warn them it might have to curtail its advertising campaign.

Ms Ardern was the unanimous choice of Labour MPs to replace Andrew Little, who stepped down yesterday in the wake of three polls showing the party's support at less than 25 percent.

This morning Ms Ardern did not shirk responsibility for Labour's current poll results, but said as leader she would be putting her own stamp on the party's election campaign.

She had been part of the Labour Party for nine years, as well as the party's deputy leader, she said.

"I take full responsibility for whatever role I've played in the past nine years for where we've been.

"But now I'm in a different position, now I have the chance to place my stamp on the leadership."

Labour's current position was not down to Mr Little, she said.

"I worked alongside him, I saw how much he put into the leadership.

"We know leadership plays a role but is isn't the only thing."

Ms Ardern said when she discussed Labour's ideas with voters, they often resonated but people had not heard them, which was were her challenge lay.

Housing, health and education would remain focuses for the campaign going forward, but Ms Ardern said she would be putting more emphasis on some areas.

"I do believe in free education.

"I will be talking more about education in the future, I'm not going to do it immediately now."

Ms Ardern said mental health also remained a key focus and she would also be pushing Labour's economic credibility.

"That's been something that has been challenged in the nine years that we've been in government that I absolutely refute. We were in government, we ran constant budget surpluses, we had continuous solid economic growth."

Ms Ardern said her upbringing in Morrinsville meant she understood the issues facing many families, and that Labour's policies addressed them.

Read more:

As it happened: Look back at Labour's day of leadership upheaval here.

Glass ceiling broken

Kelvin Davis told Morning Report Māori had been galvanised by the decision to appoint him.

The MP for Tai Tokerau, elected unopposed as deputy yesterday, is the first of Māori descent in the role.

"This is a glass ceiling that has been broken and it should have been broken many, many years ago.

"The support that I've received in the past 24 hours has just been phenomenal."

The entire leadership change had "cut through", he said.

The former teacher and school principal, who came into Parliament in 2008 on Labour's list, made an impact in 2015 as the party's Corrections spokesperson in exposing violence at Mt Eden prison, then privately run.

He said he came into politics to make a difference in education, particular for Māori, he said, but had taken on the Corrections role and issues of mental health and sexual violence as well.

Mr Davis said if the Māori Party was "still standing" after the election Labour would forge relations with them.

"The thing about Māori is we're all related, we've all got that intertwined whakapapa and we never forget that. So we'll establish relationships with whoever's left standing after the election."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs