Rimutaka a race for the party vote
It is hard to get excited about the election in Rimutaka.
Unlike Hutt South, where National’s Chris Bishop and Labour’s Ginny Andersen are locked in a fierce battle, the contest for Rimutaka is a one-horse race.
In 2014, Labour’s Chris Hipkins romped home with a majority of 6664 over National’s Lewis Holden. But National won the party vote 15,352-12,176 – a feat its candidate Carolyn O’Fallon hopes to repeat in 2017.
Both the Green Party (3422) and New Zealand First (3806) also did well in the party vote.
The boundaries for Rimutaka were significantly changed in 2014. It now takes in all of Upper Hutt, Stokes Valley, Taita, parts of the Western Hills in Lower Hutt and a significant chunk of Naenae.
It is a seat that Labour should hold comfortably with the other parties all acknowledging they are chasing the party vote.
Unlike Hutt South, where housing is the main issue, there are no obvious issues demanding voters’ attention. Issues that dominate nationally – housing, tax, education, transport and health – are likely to determine how locals vote.
O’Fallon, a Wellington-based public servant, has an interesting CV. A principal advisor for the Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit, O’Fallon is the covice president of the Wellington Beekeepers Association, captain of her interclub tennis team and a quilter.
The most colourful candidate is the Greens’ Stefan GrandMeyer. Originally from the south of France, Grand-Meyer moved to New Zealand in 2008 to pursue a career in translation.
He has extensive experience in the language, immigration and education sectors. He works in management at the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, and leads an initiative to translate the Treaty of Waitangi into 30 community languages, including sign language.
Philip Lynch is again standing for the Conservative Party. In 2014 he received 973 votes. Like other Conservative Party candidates, their website lists his views on a range of social, family and moral issues.
He is firmly against Easter trading. ‘‘Perhaps those who wish to trade on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and those who wish to use those services, should forego the holidays which are attached to these religious memorials, leaving the days free for those who wish to commemorate their true significance.’’
Grae O’Sullivan is standing for ACT after contesting Hutt South in 2014. On his social media page he describes himself as a ‘‘classical liberal’’ who wants to see more ACT MPs in Parliament.
‘‘I want a government that works for us and allows us to help ourselves rather than us working for government.’’
Talani Meikle is flying the flag for New Zealand First. A Parliamentary Service senior executive assistant, she works for Ria Bond, the NZ First List MP, in a role she took up after university where she majored in politics.
She is focusing on the importance of small businesses and is looking for the party vote in an electorate that New Zealand First had traditionally done well in.
Labour’s Hipkins, who is contesting his fourth election, is taking nothing for granted despite his overwhelming favouritism. The feedback he has been getting from voters is a mood for change.
Issues voters are concerned about are housing, public transport, jobs, education and health, he said. If elected he is keen to make more progress on planned improvements to State Highway 2.
Upper Hutt is a city of commuters and he wants to make life easier for those travelling into Wellington by train or car.
See page 4-5 for more on the candidates.
The contest for Rimutaka is a low-key affair where even the hoardings have little impact.