Disenchantment prevails

''Not busy, but it's not dead yet,'' is Forget Me Not coffee bar owner Bruce Tritt's take on the health of South Dunedin's retail centre.

The area quietened down somewhat when Hillside Engineering Workshops closed, but Mr Tritt is sceptical about the Labour Party's promise to reopen the workshops, saying it is difficult to put such a facility back together.

The Otago Daily Times is taking the pulse of the region's electorates and yesterday visited South Dunedin's retail centre and St Clair; both are in the Dunedin South electorate.

Many in South Dunedin express disgust and disenchantment with politics and most say each side is as bad as the other.

In a shock result in 2011, Labour lost the party vote in Dunedin South.

The promise to reopen Hillside pleases the few solid Labour voters spoken to, but does not appear to have won new votes.

That politicians are untrustworthy ''idiots'' who are ''all the same'' and need to grow up as a typical sentiment and one person said they should put as much effort into helping people as they do fighting one another.

Many express affection for New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

A shopkeeper who did not want to be named says politicians are out of touch with the fact many local people cannot understand complicated reading matter disseminated in election campaigns.

South Dunedin resident Maria, who did not want to give her last name, says ''Mr John Key'' makes life difficult for the poorest, many of who cannot afford healthy food or heating.

She has not decided yet between New Zealand First or Labour for her party vote.

''He says what we think,'' she says of Winston Peters.

For her partner Greg Guile, originally from Timaru, there is only one choice - Labour.

They are pleased about the promise to reopen Hillside, saying the area desperately needs jobs.

In JR's Pantry, owner Rachael Amos believes the Hillside plan is unrealistic, as time has moved on.

Hillside is close to the cafe, and provides some foot traffic because of the new businesses there, but there is not a huge number of workers, she says.

Ms Amos bought the business a year ago, after working as a chef at Everyday Gourmet in the city.

She has been shocked by the area's poverty.

One customer who comes for the pantry's staple favourite mutton pies had not been able to absorb a price rise to $4.90, and still pays the old price.

It is Ms Amos's way of giving something back to the community.

All her life a ''Labour girl'', she will vote National this election.

''There's no-one strong enough in Labour to do the job properly. I think [David] Cunliffe is a weak man.

''I reckon Labour lost it when Helen [Clark] left. I liked her.''

Not far from JR's Pantry, Stylz Hair Design owner Heather Pringle says she likes Mr Cunliffe, but has not made up her mind about her vote.

Brought up ''very Labour'', she has also voted National.

She likes the idea of reopening Hillside, and would like to see South Dunedin revived; it does not even have a newsagent, she said.

''I think South Dunedin's terrible,'' she says, referring to the shopping centre.

Having a beer in Robbie's Bar and Bistro, local butcher Greg Gilles says he's voted National more often than not.

This time he's not sure, and is not overly fussed on either Mr Key or Mr Cunliffe.

Butchers do not earn as much as other tradesmen and he is wary of plans to increase the minimum wage, as that could see people without trades earning as much.

Business is down about 20% where he works because of competition from The Mad Butcher and the new Countdown supermarket.

At a cafe in St Clair, the mood is a bit lighter.

Dunedin teacher Bridget Schaumann is having a late afternoon drink with two teacher friends before planning to attend the Nicky Hager talk.

A keen follower of politics and current affairs, Ms Schaumann, of St Kilda, has been shocked by the Dirty Politics revelations.

She is a loyal Labour voter, but feels gloomy about its chances in the election.

eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

Second-hand market of Dunedin

Most people are painfully aware in Dunedin that the city's southern shopping area has become a joke. It's pointless trying to blame politicians for the area's demise. The real responsibility lies with the council - city or regional - for their disregard of the shopping facilities once evident all along King Edward St. and Prince Albert Road. The super or mega-barns were, and are still, given access to the southern purse strings of it's residents. Of course, the residents too must shoulder some of the blame for their precinct's run-down appearance, as they flock to the large stores, and given the stores prices and variety,why not I suppose.

So there doesn't appear to be any hope of a regeneration in the offing.The non-starter promise by Labour that if elected,they would "rescue" Hillside Workshops from the doldrums will never happen, and even if it did and created more jobs, those workers would probably - like most others - head for the mega-barns to do their shopping anyway.Looks like South Dunedin may as well bask in it's growing reputation as the second-hand market of Dunedin.