Battleground Wairarapa: Why Ron Mark Is Poised To Take The Seat Off National



One of the benefits of being a political insider is that people tell you things. Often, things which the original source of the information would probably dearly have liked to keep secret. These little revelations help to make sense of wider and overt trends which many people notice, but which don’t necessarily make full sense in the absence of the ‘hidden’ information which puts them in context.

Part-way through last month, I became aware of a number of interesting things happening down in the Wairarapa electorate. This is a National seat (and these days arguably something of a ‘safe’ one), but with a local MP widely regarded as an aloof and out-of-touch carpet-bagger who spends most of his time in Wellington. So we’d presumably be unsurprised to see the Nats putting a bit of work in to campaign there next year. 

But deploying massed ground forces THIS far out from the Election? 

That’s a bit of an eyebrow-raiser. 

And yet, that’s exactly what’s happening.

People down there have noted with bemusement and interest that the Young Nats have been out street-campaigning for their local MP for several weeks now. Clearly they’re going to keep building up from there for the next year or so. 

So this tells us that the Nats are scared.

But of what? 

Well, that’s where the ‘surreptitious information’ bit comes in. 

National commissioned a phone-poll of about ten thousand houses in the Wairarapa electorate. That’s the vast majority of them. 

The results were, from their perspective at least, probably not the most encouraging. Somewhere about 73% of voters held an unfavourable opinion of Alastair Scott and were considering not voting for him. That’s a pretty strongly negative result. 

Meanwhile, Ron Mark’s been steadily gaining ground all the while through solid hard graft and stellar constituency engagement. The meetings NZF have been holding in the Wairarapa electorate regularly pack out halls with hundreds. When I did a bit of doorknocking for Ron earlier this year, we found a fairly overwhelmingly positive response from people there for him. 

To be fair, the 2014 voting breakdown does leave some ground for Ron to make up. 7593 votes, in fact. 

But bear in mind that in 2014 Ron’s campaign was run ‘seat-of-the-pants’ style – announcing a few weeks before polling day, and contesting the race with a small (but highly proficient) campaign team. 

2017 looks set to be thoroughly different, as not only does Ron now have the advantages of incumbency (after a sort, being the local List MP of note; as well as a nationally regarded leading Opposition MP), but his war-chest and crew of rampantly enthusiastic volunteers continues to swell.

Labour may also be looking for a new candidate to contest the next Election – but even if they stick with Kieran McAnulty, they face an uphill struggle to reverse the three consecutive electoral cycles’ worth of declining candidate vote which they’ve tended to have in that seat. 

And besides, in a rural seat one simply has to ask the obvious question: which Opposition party is more likely to be able to win and capture the hearts and minds of defecting soft-National voters. A declining, fading former party of government which appears set to be eventually relegated to ‘minor party’ status … or the vigorously rising crew who’ve launched an effective (and evidently well-regarded) Crusade for Regional New Zealand. 

So all things considered, National is definitely right to be scared. They face the unenviable situation of already having lost a single ‘safe’ seat to the NZF onslaught – and, perhaps more remarkably, being potentially set to lose another one. 

Either way, New Zealand First is in a demonstrably strong position – and I, for one, can’t wait to see the mounting cavalcade of consternating terror from National towards us over the next twelve months. 


  1. Yep Curwen,

    We need NZ First taking two to three seats off NatZ as Nactional have sold most of the assets we had and only NZ First will prevent further losses and un-controlled immigration of cheap labour from poor destitute foreign countries that add nothing to NZ other than it will erode our labour standards & whole way of life as the corporate monsters want.

    NZ First stands for us like no other party does.

    Most in HB/Gisborne say like wise so put up a MP against “No show Tolley” you may get three new MP’s.

  2. There is no way anyone needs to phone 10,000 people for a poll. Either someone is pulling your leg or there is something dumb or sinister going on.

    • Sure, you don’t need to make this many calls to get a representative sample, but if you’ve got the money to poll everyone in the electorate, why make do with a representative sample? Do you doubt the 1%ers funding National have this much money to keep their preferred party in power?

  3. mpledger say’s-“or there is something dumb or sinister going on”

    Yes anything to do with “Planet key” is sinister!!!!!!.

  4. NZ First gaining 20 to 40% of the vote in next year’s election will be the Brexit moment that none of the “experts” saw coming…

  5. In my considered opinion, and experience, Deputy Leader of NZ First, Ron Mark, is the stand out MP across ALL political parties when it comes to local government matters.

    Ron Mark has now presented 3 petitions which I have initiated, each being referred to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee.

    Ron Mark played a leading role in helping to stop the proposed Wellington ‘Supercity’.

    Penny Bright

    2016 Auckland Mayoral candidate.

  6. People ARE are fed up with the Nats…and Winstons sharp tongue and charm will pull them in from all over. 2017 is going to be an interesting one!

  7. These are the Local Government and Environment Select Committee Reports arising from two petitions I initiated that Ron Mark presented.

    Both had positive outcomes.

    Petition 2014/33 of Penelope Mary Bright and 55 others, and Report from the Controller and Auditor-General, Governance and accountability of council- controlled organisations

    Petition 2014/9

    That the House conduct an urgent inquiry into the alleged failure of the current Local Government Commissioners, to carry out the necessary ‘due diligence’ in order to comply with their statutory duties under the Local Government Act 2002, before formulating the ‘Draft Wellington Reorganisation Proposal’, in particular: 

    (1) The alleged failure of the Local Government Commissioners to establish a ‘costs datum’ of the current costs of services and regulatory functions of the nine Councils which make up the Greater Wellington Region, upon which current or future costs can be effectively measured; 

    (2) The alleged failure of the Local Government Commissioners to ensure that the anticipated projected ‘efficiencies’ arising from the Auckland ‘Supercity’ amalgamation, as outlined in the ‘Application for Local Government Reorganisation Proposal for a Unitary Authority with Local Boards for the Wellington Region’ were substantiated with the requisite facts and evidence.

    Penny Bright

    2016 Auckland Mayoral candidate.

    ‘Activists’ – get things done.

  8. always nice to see the dirty filthy Nats may lose a seat, but; the perennial thought remains-so what-if Winston wants to essentially enable another bloody Tory government

  9. “This is a National seat (and these days arguably something of a ‘safe’ one), but with a local MP widely regarded as an aloof and out-of-touch carpet-bagger who spends most of his time in Wellington”

    As was Northland once!

    • JOHN W
      Whers’ the trolls?

      Gone away to bunker down for the Hurricane heading their way to West palm Beach as many trolls live there in South Florida most trolls don’t know much about NZ as we see so they are paid trolls mostly in an global internet world now.

      I should know as I spent 6yrs around South Florida and know lots of internet trolls are there.

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