The National Party has never had a better chance to win Hutt South for the first time.

The seat has been held by Labour's Trevor Mallard since it was created in 1996. It was also held by Labour in its previous incarnations.

But National has been gradually chipping away at Labour's majority, and its candidate Chris Bishop came within 709 votes in 2014 - the second-closest race in the country.

Facing the possibility of losing his long-held seat to Bishop, Mallard decided against running again this year and opted to run on the list only.

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Labour candidate Ginny Andersen previously ran in Ohariu and nearly unseated long-serving MP Peter Dunne.
Labour candidate Ginny Andersen previously ran in Ohariu and nearly unseated long-serving MP Peter Dunne.

His replacement, Ginny Andersen, admits she is feeling the pressure of holding on to a red seat.

She initially considered herself an underdog against Bishop, who has three years' parliamentary experience under his belt. But she said the mood on the street has changed since Jacinda Ardern took over as Labour leader six weeks ago: "It's like someone flicked a switch".

Andersen, a policy manager at NZ Police, previously ran in Ohariu and nearly unseated long-serving MP Peter Dunne.

She said the biggest issue in her new electorate was housing affordability. National has reduced the state housing stock in Lower Hutt, partly because many of the houses were earthquake prone or run-down.

Labour is promising to build 400 houses - a mix of state houses and affordable homes - on land where state houses have been knocked down.

Andersen is also worried about mental health, saying that underfunding has put pressure on services, and water quality - residents are disappointed the Hutt River isn't clean enough to swim in safely.

National candidate Chris Bishop came within 709 votes in Hutt South in 2014 - the second-closest race in the country.
National candidate Chris Bishop came within 709 votes in Hutt South in 2014 - the second-closest race in the country.

Bishop agrees that housing is the top issue in the area and concedes that supply hasn't kept up with population growth - a fact he partly attributes to restrictive council rules. National has made a counter-offer to voters: 700 houses, some of them social or in the affordable range, and the rest sold on the private market.

A former ministerial adviser and Phillip Morris tobacco lobbyist, Bishop is one of National's rising stars and has had a high profile for a backbencher in his first term.

An energetic campaigner, he began door-knocking in February 2015. He opened a Wainuiomata office earlier this year, conceding that National had neglected that part of the electorate. He also set up the Hutt City Youth Awards and has tried to encourage Lower Hutt as a home for tech entrepreneurs - New Zealand's version of Silicon Valley.

The stakes are high for Bishop. The latest polls indicate he may not get into Parliament on the list if he doesn't win Hutt South.

"I'm more nervous now than I was in '14," Bishop said. "I really want to be the MP."

HUTT SOUTHCandidates:
Ginny Andersen - Labour
Wolf Bearman-Reidel - Outdoors Party
Chris Bishop - National
Dorothy Fox - Independent
Alok Gupta - NZ First
Virginia Horrocks - Green Party
Andy Parkins - ACT
Richard Warwick - The Opportunities Party