Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Jacinda Ardern's big plans for Mt Albert

Jacinda Ardern is hopeful her old rivalry with National's Nikki Kaye will benefit schools in the Mt Albert electorate - some of which are struggling to cope with growing rolls.

Ardern completed her first duty as Mt Albert MP-elect yesterday, attending a family day at the Pt Chevalier Lions Club.

She said she was keen to address local issues after her strong showing in Saturday's byelection, in which she collected 77 per cent of the vote.

Turnout was the lowest in recent history, at just under 30 per cent.

"Housing came up consistently in this byelection. I will continue to be an advocate on that as much as I can, but ultimately we will need a change of Government to see the action we need," Ardern said.

"But there are things locally like the infrastructure our schools need that I am really hoping to work [on] alongside the Ministry of Education and some of those local schools."

As well as the ministry, lobbying is most likely to be directed to Kaye, who has overseen school infrastructure in her role as Associate Education Minister and is set to be elevated to Education Minister in May.

Ardern knows Kaye well, having narrowly lost to her in Auckland Central twice. Ardern recently moved into Mt Albert with her partner Clarke Gayford but had been intending to stand in Auckland Central for a third time before David Shearer's resignation, which caused the Mt Albert byelection.

"I hope that the relationship that I have built up with Nikki Kaye, having run against her, will stand us in good stead, because there are a few projects I want to talk to her about," Ardern said.

In a Facebook post Kaye congratulated Ardern on her victory, saying she had been a "formidable opponent".

Kaye will contest Auckland Central again after recovering from breast cancer, and will face employment lawyer Helen White, who has been selected as Labour's candidate.

"When it comes to Auckland Central I still have every intention to support the new candidate there to win that seat, and I will be elated when I see that happen," Ardern said. Meanwhile, Labour leader Andrew Little yesterday made his strongest comments on speculation Ardern could be considered for the deputy leader role, held by Annette King.

"I'm not thinking about it," Little told the Herald. "Don't expect any change."

- NZ Herald

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