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Mr Woodhouse, the chief executive of Dunedin's Mercy Hospital, was yesterday named as the National Party candidate for Dunedin North to contest this year's election.
He said last night he had been prepared to support Mrs Rich's campaign, and knew she would now be supporting his.
‘‘There is no doubt she will be a loss to the party and to the country . . . but I will be doing my very best to increase the party vote in North Dunedin, and to win the seat.''
Mrs Rich is retiring from politics to spend more time with her family.
Mr Woodhouse (42) said he and his wife, Amanda, who had three young children, had thought ‘‘long and hard'' before accepting the party selection.
‘‘As an MP, you need to commit to the role, and it can be all-consuming. I have an incredibly supportive wife and we haven't taken this decision lightly.''
Mr Woodhouse was born in Dunedin and educated at St Pauls High School (now Kavanagh College).
He has a bachelor of commerce degree from the University of Otago and as a chartered accountant has held senior manager roles at ACC and Dunedin Hospital.
He was elected president of New Zealand Private Surgical Hospitals Association last year and is one of Otago's most experienced rugby referees, as well as a ‘‘fair weather'' runner.