Auckland Central MP's heartfelt belief

By Martha McKenzie-Minifie

Newcomer MP Nikki Kaye celebrated National's first-ever win in Auckland Central in a style true to the electorate - dining with close supporters at upmarket Viaduct eatery Soul yesterday afternoon.

Two days earlier, the 28-year-old businesswoman stopped by the restaurant as she campaigned until close to midnight on Friday, shaking hands and meeting voters until the last possible moment before election day.

Her win by more than 1000 votes in the preliminary count ousted long-time electorate MP Judith Tizard, who, at 38 on Labour's list, will not return to Parliament unless some of the party's senior list MPs decide to leave. "In my heart, I really believed that we would win," said Ms Kaye, who was physically and mentally drained after the contest.

"But I didn't think that so many people could be so kind to me."

Ms Kaye returned just last year from living in Britain and credited her historic win to working on the ground for the six months since she was picked to stand - on the advice of seasoned political figures.

"[Auckland City Mayor and former National minister] John Banks said to me just after I was selected: 'You've got to knock on doors'."

Ms Kaye's socially liberal stance - which has drawn comparisons to retired National MP Katherine Rich - appealed in parts of the electorate in which National was not traditionally strong.

"I know I did win a couple of booths on Waiheke [Island], which is very historic for us," said Ms Kaye, who described herself as "pretty passionate" about the environment.

She picked home affordability for young families and small business concerns as key areas of focus.

Auckland swung strongly towards National in the election, with a 6.9 per cent jump in its share of the party vote to 49.7 per cent - helping it pick up three seats from Labour plus the new seat of Botany.

Ms Kaye reflected the Auckland Central electorate's changing demographic towards a younger, more highly educated crowd.

Entering Parliament will be a return to Wellington for Ms Kaye, who worked as a researcher in Bill English's office in 2002-3, when he was Opposition Leader.

She planned to take her political career step by step and had not put a time limit on it. "I only want to be in Parliament if I am delivering for the people in the electorate or making an impact in terms of policy at a national level. So, it will be however long that is. I have no ambition to sit around."

- NZ Herald

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