Rimu­taka a race for the party vote

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE - NI­CHOLAS BOYACK

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.

PHOTO: NI­CHOLAS BOYACK

The con­test for Rimu­taka is a low-key af­fair where even the hoard­ings have lit­tle im­pact.

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