Merivale School principal Jan Tinetti has been named the Labour Party's new candidate for Tauranga and will take on current MP Simon Bridges for his seat ahead of this year's general election.
Mrs Tinetti was announced as Labour Party's candidate for Tauranga late on Thursday night after being nominated alongside Tauranga Women's Refuge manager Angela Warren-Clark.
The principal of nearly 11 years said politics was not something she considered until she was approached in August last year.
I never considered there would be another option for me, but this came up and I started to think how amazing it would be for the community to have that voice, that advocacy.
SHARE THIS QUOTE:
"At that stage I said 'probably not' because I love what I do here. I absolutely adore what I do here and I just couldn't see that I could do that justice at that stage. I also love the work I do with NZEI."
Mrs Tinetti said she continued to be approached by different people and by January took the idea more seriously "because I could see I could have a bigger voice for the local community by stepping in to this field".
Mrs Tinetti will step down from her role on the national executive of NZEI but will retain her position as principal of Merivale School, for now. She expects to go on leave closer to the election, with the full support of the school's board of trustees and wider community.
"I'm not altogether stepping aside because education is incredibly special to me and that will be a big part of what I bring to the campaign," she said.
"I would never have considered this if I didn't have the board's backing. I don't want to leave the school in a precarious state. This is home for me. I never considered there would be another option for me, but this came up and I started to think how amazing it would be for the community to have that voice, that advocacy."
Mrs Tinetti said a key factor in her decision to stand was having read the party's policies on key issues she was passionate about such as housing and education.
"I've always been a strong supporter of Labour but now, I'm really enamoured with the policies. They can make a difference for all New Zealanders."
Mrs Tinetti said she felt the Tauranga community had been spouted a lot of rhetoric about what was being done to help alleviate the housing issues and child poverty "but we are just not seeing that on the ground".
Mrs Tinetti will also run as a list MP in an effort to get more voices representing Tauranga in Parliament.
Currently, National Tauranga MP Simon Bridges, Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller, NZ First list MP Clayton Mitchell and Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell represent the wider Bay in Parliament.
Mr Mitchell said Mrs Tinetti was an absolutely wonderful person and he congratulated her on the selection and looked forward to getting on the campaign trail and the good discussions to be had.
Mr Bridges said he welcomed new candidates into the election race and it was a great privilege being Tauranga's MP, which he didn't take for granted.