1 Dec 2022

National, Labour leaders in Hamilton to endorse by-election candidates

5:29 pm on 1 December 2022
National's Tama Potaka and Labour endorsed Georgie Dansey are running in the Hamilton West by-election.

National's Tama Potaka and Labour endorsed Georgie Dansey are running in the Hamilton West by-election. Photo: RNZ / Anneke Smith

Voters may be feeling slightly apathetic and suffering election fatigue but a crucial seat is up for grabs in Hamilton this month.

A by-election is underway to fill the vacancy left after the resignation of Hamilton West electorate member Gaurav Sharma.

The National and Labour party leaders were in Hamilton today to endorse their respective candidates and one key issue drowned out the usual political talking points.

"Crime. What we have is a government that is soft of crime. That actually hasn't shown enough care for victims, and hasn't got serious consequences for serious repeat offenders," National Party leader Christopher Luxon said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shot back, saying the crime wave was crashing.

"We are seeing initiatives have an impact, we have seen a decrease in the spike around ram raids but we want to keep going to we can continue to bring down retail crime."

Both leaders said crime was the number one issue facing the voters of west Hamilton.

Among the 12 candidates running include National's Tama Potaka, the Labour endorsed Georgie Dansey, ACT list MP James McDowall and Naomi Pocock of the Opportunities Party.

"I've got huge respect for him, I met him in Botany and saw the incredible work he was doing with Māori development with the local iwi, he has an amazing commercial track record. He has done more for Hamilton West than any candidate in this race, big time," Luxon said. 

Ardern was also talking up her candidate's credentials.

"We have a local candidate here who passionately believes in her community and has passionately advocated for it. Georgie has lived here for several decades, she has a business here, she is an advocate I believe that Hamilton will be best represented by having a local community member in Parliament."

Luxon said the people of Hamilton west were over the crime rate.

Potaka said he was the man to clean it up.

"I have spent ten years living in the community, helping to build homes, helping to build infrastructure and build a community, running charitable events with my wife, so I am engrossed in the community and here to serve the hard working people of Hamilton West and be a strong voice for them in Parliament."

Labour's Georgie Dansey has concerns about low voter turnout on the back of Tauranga's recent by-election.

"We are doing everything we can to get voters out and I hope that they get out and vote as much."

The opening day of voting saw 686 ballots cast followed by 777 on Tuesday.

"When I have been out in communities and speaking to people I see a lot of interest in the election and wanting to really get out what we are doing is ensuring we get to every voter we can, so they do get out and vote."

Despite the low turnout to date, Potaka is still confident of causing an upset.

"I am here to win although I am the underdog I am here to work hard and earn the right to be the MP."

Luxon's message to the Hamilton-west voters was simple.

"Vote and send Tama Potaka to Wellington to send a message to this government that it's just not good enough."

The prime minister said the seat was a crucial one for Labour.

"We are working hard in this seat because this is a city that is important to us."

Just over 2000 votes had been cast in the three days since early voting began.

Polling day is on 10 December with results set to be declared on 21 December.

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