Nikki Kaye understands Jacinda hype
Auckland central MP and Education Minister Nikki Kaye says the hype around Labour’s Jacinda Ardern doesn’t surprise her because she’s ‘‘charismatic’’ and ’’cares a lot’’.
Kaye will contest her seat at this year’s election but for the first time in six years her competition isn’t Ardern, who won the Mt Albert by-election earlier this year.
Kaye took time out from Parliament at the end of last year after being diagnosed with breast cancer and said her approach to the campaign had to change as a result - the number of doors she’ll knock on had been halved for a start.
Ardern had always been a ‘‘formidable’’ opponent and running against her now that she was leader of the Opposition would have been ‘‘tough’’, Kaye said.
‘‘She’s got a large group of people behind her that support her. I guess though I’m really confident in what I’ve delivered and I think that my experience of politics is that people know that,’’ she said.
In 2008 and 2011 Kaye knocked on 10,000 doors and in 2014 it was 9000. She expected to knock on between 4000 and 5000 by September 23.
‘‘Since I got sick last year it’s not been possible to knock on as many doors. I’ve done a few thousand but what’s happened even in the last couple of years is the amount of people engaging online, whether it’s constituency queries or even through the election cam- paign.’’
Kaye changed her approach and is making greater use of social media, particularly Facebook Live, and is for the first time holding street corner meetings.
Any suggestion she would throw in the towel if National did not get to form a government after the election was dismissed by Kaye, providing she was Auckland central MP.
‘‘I’m in here as long as the people of Auckland central want me and it would be very difficult for me if I lost the seat. That’s where I would have to think really carefully about sticking around because I love being a constituency MP. I think it’s part of my DNA.’’
Kaye said the so-called ‘‘Jacinda effect’’, the surge in the polls and the crowds of people around Ardern did not surprise her.
‘‘I’ve worked in Auckland central with her for a period of time. I’m not surprised in the sense Jacinda cares a lot, she’s charismatic.’’
She said she ‘‘completely understands there’s a group of people that are excited about Jacinda’’.
Nikki Kaye and Jacinda Ardern have battled it out in Auckland central at the last two elections but not anymore.