A tale of two Porirua suburbs
The drive takes just 10 minutes but the locations are a world apart.
At 1 Joseph Banks Drive, Whitby, is Anchor Church where, in 2014, 73 per cent voted National. It was then the bluest polling booth in Wellington.
The drive to 5 Warspite Avenue in Porirua East is 7.3 kilometres. It is Labour’s Wellington stronghold, where more than eight in 10 voters went to the Cannons Creek School polling booth and voted for the red team in 2014.
Across the road from the Cannons Creek School on Wednesday, Teariki Ngatupuna is butt-dragging a tailor-made cigarette. He knows who he is voting for.
‘‘Labour, they are for the people. National always go for the business people.’’
On Kris Faafoi, the Labour incumbent and a Titahi Bay resident: ‘‘He is for the little people - people like us with little money.’’
Softly-spoken Leticia Naria doesn’t like the blue team. She likes the reds: ‘‘They support people, especially the Islanders.’’
The Cannons Creek shopping centre is a hive of activity and conversation shortly after 10am on Wednesday.
Outside the Anchor Church in Whitby it is a different story. There are no pedestrians.
A late-model VW drives down Joseph Banks Dr and on to James Cook Dr while the sound of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star plays from the church hall.
Inside, local mothers are having a toddler music-and-dance session. Pastor Darryl Ward is sitting in the foyer and is not surprised to hear the neighbourhood - where he does not live but knows well - is so, so blue.
‘‘The people here are semiprofessional/professional people. They probably think National offer them the best opportunities to suit their lifestyles.’’
The locals were more concerned with the goings-on at the Porirua City Council than the Beehive, he said.
Faafoi and National’s Euon Murrell may not be great friends but are cordial when the meet at the Waitangirua Mall - geographically half way between their two strongest polling booths but still very much in the land of red (both in terms of political parties and gangs).
They discuss billboards and which ones have been damaged. Paekakariki on the Kapiti Coast seems bad. Murrell had his yanked down even though he used those good hexagonal bolts. Faafoi can sympathise.
Whitby is Murrell’s stomping ground, though he now lives further north in Plimmerton. His children grew up there and he remembers the resistance when Omapere St was put in, joining Whitby and Porirua East.
There was fear of property price drops and also the ‘‘fear of the unknown’’, both which proved unfounded.
He knew Whitby was his stronghold but campaigned around the Mana electorate, which stretches from the airport at Paraparaumu down to near Porirua Hospital.
He reckoned his time on Porirua City Council not only gave him name-recognition in the Labour zone but also people there knew of his passion for housing and health - two things close to their hearts.
Faafoi likewise had been campaigning in all his electorate, including Whitby, where he would be hoping for at least two votes - his mother and older brother lived there. He had though never asked them how they voted: ‘‘It’s rude to ask.’’
‘‘If we want to be the Government we are going to have to convince some of those Anchor Church people to change their vote,’’ he said.
Like Murrell, he reckoned he could sympathise with all of the electorate - he had after all been its MP since 2010.
Statistics NZ data looked at the 60 households in the same area block as the Anchor Church. Among the 192 people living there in the last Census, the average age was 40 and people earned about $43,800 per year.
The 45 people who lived in the same block as the Cannons Creek school polling booth were, on average, close to 40 years old but had a median personal income of $25,800.
See Meet the Candidates, page 8
Mana electorate candidates, from left, Euon Murrell (National) and Kris Faafoi (Labour) face off.