Helen White: Why does the local Labour candidate matter to the future of Auckland Central?

We have had an extraordinary few weeks in politics, on top of an extraordinary year in New Zealand.

It is no secret that Nikki has been through a lot personally with her health. It wasn’t until I stood in the seat that I realised just how hard it would have been to keep going in the role. She is tenacious and I am sure she will go on to do interesting things.

I am also sad to see Nikki Kaye leave politics. For me, she represented the potential for a more compassionate approach by the National Party and it would have been good to have a more nuanced debate about what support Government should and can give to Auckland Central. Unfortunately, it seems her departure and the change in leadership has left voters a starker choice.

It is all very well for people to throw around the word “compassionate” but what do we mean? As far as I am concerned “compassion” is linked to a genuine connection with people and following through on supporting and empowering others. I can see how that connection could get lost even by good people in the national political arena. It is easy to lose such a connection in any high-pressure environment; yes some will be blinded by ego, but many people just lack experience with the struggles of everyday people.

Being an employment lawyer connecting with people at times of crisis has been my bread and butter for 25 years. I am not a career politician and I am proud of that! It has been incredibly important to me to keep my feet firmly on the ground when practicing law. Jobs are a very important part of any person’s life. They are the way we all feed our families and they are important to our mental health.

Right now, lots of people are struggling because their employment or their business is under threat or has been lost. I appreciate the gravity of this. The wage subsidy has kept many small businesses and workers afloat, and I think everyone can recognise that the year ahead will be very tough.

The role of the constituent MP in Auckland Central is critical right now. Let me put this bluntly: this electorate needs a voice in Government making sure that it supports the economy and residents in practical ways. Government money needs to be spent wisely, being mindful it is hard to earn and hard to pay back.

Auckland Central needs its MP to say: “this specific shovel ready project will help a lot of people; it will make Auckland City, and therefore the country, a better place to live and do business. It will keep people employed and keep us moving in the right direction.”

I know that Auckland Central cannot afford to slow down on its enlightened plans to become a better, more desirable, healthier place to live and work for people of all incomes. It still needs green spaces and a new school. I know this, because I know this community and the people that live here.

I grew up in Freemans Bay. I have been a part of this community since 1971. I have seen its radical change, but I also know it has remained a place of creativity and tolerance, and strong Labour values. It has always been an exciting, vibrant place to be. This electorate is a very diverse place. Waiheke and Great Barrier have their own very special needs and culture. Advocating for Auckland Central requires a person elected with their feet on the ground but a clear vision for what will make our community stronger.

I was very close last election to winning the seat back for the Left. It is very important that voters understand just how close we were and how important it is that Auckland Central has a strong voice inside a Labour Government. Below is an accurate representation of the candidate vote just in case you didn’t know.


Authorised by Dianna Lacy, 160 Willis Street, Wellington.

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