Infectious disease doctor on Labour list

Dr Ayesha Verrall. Photo: supplied
Dr Ayesha Verrall. Photo: supplied
Their performances during the Covid-19 pandemic may have led to differing fortunes for two high-profile candidates on the Labour Party list.

University of Otago Wellington campus infectious disease expert Ayesha Verrall, who was born in Invercargill and grew up in Te Anau, and was one of the leading voices during the outbreak, has been catapulted to No18 on the party list.

She was a prominent adviser to the Government on contact tracing.

Her position means she is likely to become an MP after September’s election.

She is also just one place behind Health Minister and Dunedin North MP David Clark, who has been demoted from ninth on the list in 2017 to 17.

It comes after several highly publicised breaches of New Zealand’s Covid lockdown led to him offering his resignation to the Prime Minister, and barely clinging on to his role.

Claire Szabo.
Claire Szabo.

A spokesman for Dr Clark did not respond to a request for comment.

It was a mixed bag for other Southern candidates.

Dr Verrall, whose parents still live in Te Anau, said her ranking came as a "total surprise".

"I’m just thrilled by the confidence the party has shown in me."

She dismissed any concerns about her impartiality when making public comments about the Government's response to Covid-19.

She said she made no public comments after she submitted her candidate application in May 5.

"In the last few months, you've come to know me as a doctor and an infectious diseases expert through my work on contact tracing," she said yesterday.

"I'm standing because the pandemic has made clear to me that we can't afford to leave the job of improving the public health system for another day."

Dr Verrall would not say if she wanted to be health minister — "that's a decision for the prime minister; I'm happy to take any opportunity I'm given to work for better health for New Zealanders".

"I have to run a campaign and I have to focus on doing that to raise the party vote to bring other great candidates into Parliament with us."

Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatane was the next highest ranked at No31.

Dunedin lawyer Rachel Brooking, who unsuccessfully contested the party’s Taieri nomination, was placed at 48.

Ms Brooking (44) said she was pleased and excited with her ranking.

If Labour’s strong post-Covid polling continued, she might land a place in Parliament.

"Hopefully it will continue and I’ll be another Dunedin, and very strong Southern, voice in the House."

Invercargill list MP Dr Liz Craig was placed at 43, Taieri candidate Ingrid Leary was at 61, and Waitaki candidate Liam Wairepo was second to last at 83.

Ms Leary said she was confident she would shore up a win in the seat, which was created from changes to the Dunedin South boundaries.

"Geographically the boundaries have changed, but the population density still lies in what was Dunedin South. It has historically been a Labour stronghold."

She will square off against National Party candidate Liam Kernaghan, Green Party candidate Scott Willis, and Act New Zealand candidate Robert Andrews for the seat.

Dr Craig was similarly focused on her electorate race, saying she had "unfinished business" after her first term in Parliament.

She dropped from 31 on the 2017 list.

Her ranking reflected the "really great team coming through", including new candidates and the return of Labour’s Maori MPs to the list, she said.

She faces an uphill battle in flipping the traditionally safe blue seat, which will be contested by new National Party candidate Penny Simmonds.

As for Mr Wairepo, the 21-year-old said he was not surprised about his list ranking.

"This is my first election, I was realistic going into it," he said. — Additional reporting The New Zealand Herald


Labour’s list for the 2020 general election

1. Jacinda Ardern

2. Kelvin Davis

3. Grant Robertson

4. Phil Twyford

5. Megan Woods

6. Chris Hipkins

7. Andrew Little

8. Carmel Sepuloni

9. David Parker

10. Nanaia Mahuta

11. Trevor Mallard

12. Stuart Nash

13 Iain Lees-Galloway

14. Jenny Salesa

15. Damien O’Connor

16. Kris Faafoi

17. David Clark

18. Ayesha Verrall

19. Peeni Henare

20. Willie Jackson

21. Aupito William Sio

22. Poto Williams

23. Vanushi Walters

24. Michael Wood

25. Adrian Rurawhe

26. Raymond Huo

27. Kiri Allan

28. Kieran McAnulty

29. Louisa Wall

30. Meka Whaitiri

31. Rino Tirikatene

32. Camilla Belich

33. Priyanca Radhakrishnan

34. Jan Tinetti

35. Deborah Russell

36. Marja Lubeck

37. Angie Warren-Clark

38. Willow-Jean Prime

39. Tamati Coffey

40. Naisi Chen

41. Jo Luxton

42. Jamie Strange

43. Liz Craig

44. Ibrahim Omer

45. Duncan Webb

46. Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki

47. Ginny Andersen

48. Rachel Brooking

49. Paul Eagle

50. Helen White

51. Barbara Edmonds

52. Angela Roberts

53. Shanan Halbert

54. Neru Leavasa

55. Tracey McLellan

56. Lemauga Lydia Sosene

57. Steph Lewis

58. Dan Rosewarne

59. Rachel Boyack

60. Arena Williams

61. Ingrid Leary

62. Soraya Peke-Mason

63. Lotu Fuli

64. Sarah Pallett

65. Gaurav Sharma

66. Emily Henderson

67. Terisa Ngobi

68. Kurt Taogaga

69. Kerrin Leoni

70. Reuben Davidson

71. Zahra Hussaini

72. Janet Holborow

73. Romy Udanga

74. Ala’ Al-Bustanji

75. Glen Bennett

76. Monina Hernandez

77. Claire Mahon

78. Jon Mitchell

79. Nathaniel Blomfield

80. Nerissa Henry

81. Mathew Flight

82. Shirin Brown

83. Liam Wairepo

84. Georgie Dansey


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