Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Auckland councillor to seek Maungakiekie nomination

Auckland Councillor Denise Lee. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Jason Oxenham.
Auckland Councillor Denise Lee. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Jason Oxenham.

An Auckland councillor who has politics "in her bones" has put her hand up to replace Maungakiekie MP Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.

Centre-right councillor Denise Lee (formerly Krum) told the Herald she will seek the National Party nomination for the Auckland electorate.

The selection process is expected to be outlined in the next couple weeks.

Lee was elected in October for her second term as the Maungakiekie-Tamaki councillor.

New Auckland Mayor Phil Goff included her in his "Cabinet" as deputy chair on the planning committee that has responsibility for issues including housing and transport.

The 46-year-old said Lotu-Iiga's announcement in December that he would not seek re-election came as a surprise.

"The timing is not ideal. Had I known that Sam was going to announce this I would have been more than likely to not have run for council."

Lee said she would keep all her council duties while campaigning. She had already juggled a similar workload while running for re-election on the council and "I am also a woman and I can multi-task".

She will on Sunday return to Auckland after a family holiday at Lake Rotoiti. Lee said she was one of the first on the scene last week when boatie Colin McCormick drowned, and took McCormick's partner and 9-year-old son back to shore on her boat.

Cormick's family had been gathering at Lee's rented bach over the past week while the search for his body continued. Search teams located McCormick this morning, a week after he went missing.

Lee's father, Graeme Lee, was a National MP and Internal Affairs Minister in the Bolger Government, before breaking away to form the Christian Democrat Party in 1996.

"It is in my bones," she said of politics. "I have two other sisters but I'm the sister that always would go and sit in on my dad's committee meetings - strange that it was."

Lee stood in Maungakiekie in the 2008 election for United Future, before joining National and going on the list in 2011. She was elected to council in 2013.

Two big projects in the electorate were a focus, she said - the housing redevelopment in Glen Innes, and the proposed East-West transport project, of which she has been critical.

Whoever National selects, they will face a tough fight against Labour candidate Priyanka Radhakrishnan, a policy analyst and advisor for the party, who has previously worked for the Ministry of Women's Affairs.

Highly-rated by Labour, Radhakrishnan was involved in the campaign of Michael Wood, who recorded a thumping victory in the Mt Roskill by-election in December.

Lotu-Iiga defeated Labour's 2014 candidate Carol Beaumont by 2348 votes.

- NZ Herald

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