The emergence of former MP Ron Mark as a candidate for
New Zealand First has potentially thrown the race for the
Wairarapa seat wide open, where the two other frontrunners are
And all three main candidates have either low places on the
party list, or have withdrawn from the list altogether,
meaning they all need the seat to ensure passage to
New Zealand First has not won a seat since 2002. An electoral
seat would be treasured by the party, as well as for Mr Mark,
who is being touted as an eventual successor to leader
Mr Mark is eager to promote his experience of 12 years as an
MP, as well as the local connection as the Carterton Mayor.
National's Alistair Scott -- enrolled in Wellington Central
but with a second home in the electorate -- has a headstart,
given the National Party commanded a majority in 2011.
But Labour's Kieran McAnulty, who boasts five generations in
the region, fancies his chances now that Mr Mark has entered
the fray. In 2002, the right vote was split between three
parties, handing victory to then-Labour candidate Georgina
"And when Ron Mark stood in Rimutaka in 2008, he made a lot
of noise about winning the seat and ended up splitting the
National vote, and [Labour's] Chris Hipkins won," Mr McAnulty
Mr Scott is dismissive of New Zealand First. "Electorate
votes on Ron are wasted because he's not going to win or even
Agriculture and forestry feature heavily in the mostly rural
region, where about a quarter of residents earn less than
$35,000 a year. Regional development is an obvious focus.
Mr Scott, who owns a vineyard near Masterton, supports the
Wairarapa Water Use and Ruataniwha irrigation projects to
"I support a regional economy, and not a [Labour/Green]
capital gains tax and a [Green Party] carbon tax which will
hurt the region ... and incentivise everyone to sell their
assets and go and buy a big house in Auckland."
Mr McAnulty trumpets Labour's $200 million regional
development fund, and its plan to boost the minimum wage by
$2 an hour next year.
He is against a region-wide referendum into a Wellington
Super City Council, which could include the southern parts of
the electorate, and wants each district to be able to decide
its own fate.
Mr Mark is more unequivocal about a super city. "That's not
what 85 per cent of the people want. I can best fight that
from Parliament. I have a good relationship with both major
He says the Government's roading plans take a "metro-centric"
view and neglect the exports-focused region. "That means some
roads will have to be gravel, or we will have to pass costs
to ratepayers. For Carterton alone that could mean a 3 to 4
per cent increase in rates."
He and Mr McAnulty both take issue with Mr Scott's local
credentials, which Mr Scott shrugs off: "It's not about where
you were born. It's about your commitment and your
- Held by retiring MP John Hayes, National, majority 7135.
- Large, rural seat that includes Featherston, Greytown and
Masterton and the southern Hawkes Bay towns of Woodville,
Pahiatua and Dannevirke.
- About 25% of people earn less than $35,000 a year.
- About 20% work in agriculture, forestry and fishing, more
than three times the national average.
- 2011 party vote: National 51.5%, Labour 23%, Greens 9.8%,
NZ First 7.8%, Conservative 3.75%.