Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Who will replace Phil Goff in Mt Roskill?

The Prime Minister and Opposition leader have turned their attention to Mt Roskill with only a week to go until the byelection.

The low profile of Labour candidate Michael Wood and National backbench MP Parmjeet Parmar together with the Kaikoura earthquakes has meant the battle for Mt Roskill has not generated many headlines.

"The earthquake definitely did shift some focus away and completely understandably," Wood said. "But it's interesting for local people because they have had no other MP for 35 years.

"This is the first time for a very long time in which people are definitely making a choice about somebody who will not be Phil Goff to be their MP. I think that is starting to generate some interest."

Labour's candidate in the Mt Roskill byelection, Michael Wood. Photo / NZME
Labour's candidate in the Mt Roskill byelection, Michael Wood. Photo / NZME

Wood said voter turnout was usually lower in byelections and motivating supporters to turn out on December 3 was a focus, as was convincing the sizeable number of National voters who also supported Goff to stick with him.

"Labour was behind on the party vote [in 2014] so if I want to win the election I've got to win the support of people who voted Labour last time, but I also have to win the support of people who voted National and other parties last time. That's why we've said from the beginning it will be a tough campaign," Wood said.

Labour leader Andrew Little will attend a campaign rally at May Road School today, and Prime Minister John Key spent the entire morning yesterday with Parmar in the electorate.

Goff, whose retirement from Parliament upon being elected Auckland Mayor sparked the byelection, has also lent a hand - in a letter to residents last week he praised Wood and his achievements on the local Puketapapa local board.

Parmar has questioned Goff's involvement in Wood's campaign, saying it made a sham of Goff's claim to be independent.

She told the Weekend Herald she was the realistic choice for people who wanted local issues represented in Wellington.

"When I see my opponent, sitting in lots of public meetings and debates, I've heard him give so many different positions and promises depending on the audience ... he will promise everything under the sun - things that can't be delivered and he doesn't know where the resources are going to come from."

The electorate includes the Auckland suburbs of Mt Roskill, Lynfield, Wesley, Hillsborough, and parts of Three Kings and Sandringham.

Also running is Roshan Nauhria, candidate for the People's Party. The businessman was one of the founders of the party that launched earlier this year, with the aim of attracting votes from the Indian and other Asian communities.

There isn't any love lost between Wood and Parmar. Wood accused National of dirty politics after one of the party's supporters accused him of "manhandling" Parmar's husband after a heated public debate.

Video footage that subsequently emerged did not show any man-handling. Mr Parmar and other National supporters who witnessed the altercation stand by the claim, saying the video footage was too distant and from the wrong angle.

And Parmar previously accused Wood's wife, Julie Fairey, of trying to ban her from citizenship ceremonies. Fairey, the deputy chair of the Puketapapa board, had said only electorate MPs could attend and not list MPs like Parmar.

Fairey later retracted after she sought clarification and was told the ceremonies were public and anybody could attend.

Asked if she respected Wood, Parmar said she "respected each and every member of the community" but had never had a working relationship with her rival.

Wood said "it would be fair to say we are probably not sending each other secret Santas".

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 26 Feb 2017 18:25:51 Processing Time: 609ms