In a passionate plea to provincial partners, Tasman has outlined why it believes Sir Michael Jones should be elected to the New Zealand Rugby board next month.

Former deputy Labour leader Dame Annette King and Jones are locked in a battle to secure one elected position on NZR's nine-person board.

Lobbying is well underway, with around 91 votes to be cast at NZR's annual meeting on April 19.

In an email to all provincial unions obtained by the Herald, Tasman chief executive Tony Lewis explains why he believes Jones is the best candidate.

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Lewis begins by saying provincial unions have been left frustrated with their cause getting lost in rugby's bureaucracy once candidates are elected.

"We in the Tasman region believe Michael Niko Jones is provincial rugby to the core," Lewis states. "It is our belief that his moral compass, integrity, hard work, stature and, most importantly, the person he is will ensure the provincial unions will and can hold him to account. We make this promise: we will ensure Michael is held accountable to his key stakeholders – NZ provincial unions."

In direct comparison to King's expected appointment as Australian High Commissioner in Canberra from August, Lewis says the 10-month rugby season demands the elected board member remains "on the ground" and across every level of the New Zealand game.

"Michael will be in the best position to represent the lifeblood of the game which is envy of the rest of the rugby world. Every All Black comes through the provincial union pathway."

In addition to his All Blacks status and knighthood for work in Pacific communities, Lewis goes on to highlight Jones' contribution to the recent Respect and Responsibility review and in grassroots rugby since retiring. This includes coaching and serving as chairman of Waitemata; coaching at St Peter's College and sitting on the school's rugby committee in Auckland.

Lewis also lists Jones as having academic ability, business acumen, senior management experience and a strong role to play in Auckland where rugby is battling to maintain traditional ties.

"We know that Michael has worked tirelessly behind the scenes for many years with teams, players, coaches and administrators – as a lover of the game, and without seeking any formal recognition.

"We believe from a World Rugby perspective he would strengthen NZR's influence globally. His stature in the game would be very influential in what is still an old boys' network in the Northern Hemisphere.

"Michael is a quietly spoken human with experience across all levels as we move into the next era. Michael does not come with "promises" as many have in the past, rather he has come with an offer "to serve" and Tasman Rugby Union is proud to nominate him."

While not officially cast until next month, Jones is thought to be in a strong early position with around 36 votes secured.

King, nominated by Wellington and Wairarapa Bush, appears to have her work cut out.

Last weekend she told the Herald her selection would represent the change in direction from NZ Rugby.

"I bring a skill set that would be a little different. I've got a lot of political experience, and experience working with communities, in advocacy, and I would be useful at this point in the cycle. I've got very good contacts back into our new government. I bring that diversity, and in fact so does Michael Jones. I certainly don't bring rugby."

Jones has opted not to comment publicly until after votes are cast.

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