Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Final day of campaigning before Mt Albert votes and 'it's Jacinda's election'

Labour leader Andrew Little will join Jacinda Ardern for the last day of campaigning ahead of Saturday's Mt Albert byelection - with National-leaning voters split on the party's no-show.

The absence of a National candidate has meant the byelection has not generated as much media attention as the contest in Mt Roskill last December,

A number of residents spoken to by the Herald near Rocket Park yesterday weren't planning to vote. Housing was the chief concern for those that would.

"I've got to go back to housing, because my young family can't afford it. And I think that's something that is missing in lots of areas in New Zealand," said Norma Vercoe, 82.

"At the moment I am selling my house, I'm in the process of moving into a retirement home because then I'll be able to give them some of the money left over from the house."

Vercoe said she would have voted for a National candidate, but wasn't annoyed at the party for waving the white flag.

"Not at all, because I think it's going to be Labour anyway, so it's a waste of money, isn't it, for National."

Anthony Skewes, a company director, said he wasn't very excited about the byelection and was unlikely to vote: "It's Jacinda's election I think. No real competition."

Skewes said he was normally a National voter but had in the past split his vote to support David Shearer. He felt National not putting up a candidate was a smart move.

"Keep your attention somewhere else. You've got the general election coming up."

That wasn't the view of another voter, who didn't want to be named. She said National's decision to stay away meant thousands of residents would be denied a say.

"The National Party executive need to take note that they, not Labour, won the party vote in Mt Albert last election ... it's a slap in the face for democracy and the electorate deserves a better deal.

"Rather than not voting I'm seriously considering spoiling my voting form to register my disgust."

Erin Edwards, 29 and a nursing student, said she felt lucky to have two candidates she wanted to vote for - Ardern and the Green Party's Julie Anne Genter.

Housing was a concern for Edwards.

"I know lots of people who are in full-time jobs and they are not able to afford private rentals. There is just a huge lack of them, and people worried about being able to buy - getting a deposit while paying exorbitant rents."

Edwards said she was a member of local Facebook groups, with a lot of members vexed that the byelection was taking place so close to a general election on September 23, with some questioning how worthwhile it was.

"It does feel like not all political viewpoints are represented. [National] certainly lost out on an opportunity to talk about their policies."

Thirteen candidates are competing for David Shearer's seat after the former Labour MP and party leader resigned in December to take up a United Nations posting in South Sudan.

New Zealand's newest party The Opportunities Party, headed by Gareth Morgan, is contesting the byelection, standing ex-Morgan Foundation staffer Geoff Simmons.

Nearly 3000 people have voted so far in the byelection. The first results are expected to be announced around 7.30pm on Saturday night.

Candidates

Amos Adam (independent)
Jacinda Ardern (Labour)
Dale Arthur (Independent)
Penny Bright (Independent)
Patrick Brown (Communist League)
Joe Carolan (Socialist - People Before Profit)
Julie Anne Genter (Green)
Abe Gray (The Cannabis Party)
Geoff Simmons (The Opportunities Party)
Simon Smythe (NAP)
Vin Tomar (New Zealand People's Party)
Anthony Van Den Heuvel (Human Rights Party)
Peter Wakeman (Independent)

- NZ Herald

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