He­len’s heart at home

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Scott Mor­gan

SHE might be mov­ing to the other side of the world, but for­mer prime min­is­ter He­len Clark’s heart still lies in her beloved Mt Al­bert elec­torate.

Miss Clark was con­firmed on Wed­nes­day by the United Na­tion’s Gen­eral As­sem­bly as the new ad­min­is­tra­tor of the United Na­tions De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme and is due to start on April 20.

The 59-year-old says she will be sad to re­sign from the Mt Al­bert seat she has held for 27 years.

“My home is in the elec­torate and al­ways will be.

“There’s been so many as­so­ci­a­tions through all lev­els of the Mt Al­bert com­mu­nity, which is one of the sad­dest things about go­ing,” she says.

Th­ese re­la­tion­ships in­clude be­ing pa­tron of the cham­pion Mt Al­bert Rugby League Club, along with ex­tended as­so­ci­a­tions with the area’s many bowl­ing clubs and schools.

She says the sup­port she’s re­ceived since last year’s elec­tion has been amaz­ing.

“I still can’t go out the front gate or down to the dairy without meet­ing quite a few well­wish­ers, which is lovely.”

Miss Clark says two of the ma­jor is­sues that face Mt Al­bert in­clude main­tain­ing the her­itage feel of the sub­urb and whether a tun­nel as an ex­ten­sion of State High­way 20 goes ahead.

“Mt Al­bert peo­ple love their lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment and don’t want to see a huge mo­tor­way flow­ing through the mid­dle.”

She wouldn’t be drawn on who would suc­ceed her as the lo­cal MP but is confi- dent Labour will fight hard to hold the seat.

“They’ll be looking for some­one who’s mak­ing a long-term com­mit­ment to serv­ing the lo­cal com­mu­nity,” she says.

Miss Clark says she is un­sure whether she will be able to make it back from New York for the by­elec­tion, but will hit the cam­paign trail if her sched­ule al­lows.

Labour Party leader Phil Goff says he’s de­lighted at Miss Clark’s ap­point­ment.

“She’s got su­perb skills for the job in ev­ery re­spect.”

In a speech to Par­lia­ment Prime Min­is­ter John Key told the House of his ad­mi­ra­tion for Miss Clark and her ap­point­ment.

“Al­though we have had our dis­agree­ments, He­len, I say this, viewed from the world stage our dif­fer­ences are not great.

“I am sure all New Zealan­ders, no mat­ter their po­lit­i­cal be­liefs, know that your achieve­ment to­day war­rants the putting aside of pol­i­tics,” the prime min­is­ter said.

A spokesman for Mr Key says no date for a by­elec­tion has been set.

Mr Goff says he ex­pects nom­i­na­tions for po­ten­tial Mt Al­bert candidates to open this week­end.

Na­tional Party gen­eral man­ager Mark Older­shaw says the party was aware Miss Clark might be leav­ing be­fore the end of the month, with lo­cal del­e­gates re­spon­si­ble for se­lect­ing a can­di­date.

Elec­toral rules state a by­elec­tion can’t be held within three weeks of a seat be­com­ing va­cant.

Af­ter that pe­riod the prime min­is­ter will de­cide the date for a by­elec­tion.

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