Twelve candidates will contest the Tauranga by-election, the Electoral Commission confirmed today.
Candidate nominations for the by-election closed at noon. The seat opened up after Simon Bridges announced his surprise retirement from politics after 14 years as Tauranga MP.
Of the parties in Parliament, National, Labour and Act have candidates. Te Pāti Māori ruled out running last week while Josh Cole, who has previously stood in Tauranga for the Green Party, has backed Labour's candidate.
Several minor parties are also represented, along with four independent candidates.
The candidates are: Allan Cawood, One Party; Christopher Coker, Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party; Tony Corbett, Independent; Gordon Dickson, Independent; Sue Grey, NZ Outdoors and Freedom Party; Andrew Hollis, New Nation Party; Helen Houghton, New Conservative Party; Yvette Lamare, Independent; Cameron Luxton, Act Party; Jan Tinetti, Labour; Sam Uffindell, National; and Peter Wakeman, Independent.
NZ First leader Winston Peters, a former Tauranga MP and speculated potential candidate, ruled himself and the party out.
He said the by-election - expected to cost about $1 million - was not in the interests of New Zealanders as it was wasteful spending and "should not be happening".
"When you have a three-year contract as an MP, at election time you are promising your electorate you will be there for three years. Just because of some personal fancy you don't like what's happening in the meantime, walking off is not part of that contract," Peters told Newstalk ZB.
Peters said his party was focused on the general election next year.
Bridges was contacted for comment.
The candidate announcement followed a public meeting in Tauranga where three minor party candidates discussed uniting with the aim of causing a "political upset".
On Monday night, Brian Tamaki hosted an event for the Freedom and Rights Coalition at Classic Flyers' museum.
It featured candidates Hollis, Grey and Cawood. Houghton was originally advertised as part of the line-up but did not appear.
Candidates described the crowd as being more than 400 people.
Each candidate spoke about their views and party platforms, sharing opposition to Government vaccine mandates and other aspects of the Covid-19 response, among other issues.
Tamaki then encouraged the trio to stand, hold hands and make a commitment that they would stand together as a united front.
The candidates stood together but raised concerns about rushing the process.
Cawood said: "How many people have seen organisations come together on the spur of the moment and then fall apart?
"Put something together haphazardly and it will fall apart. I'm not opposed to uniting but there's a whole lot of structure in there that we have to get right."
Hollis said the issue with the by-election was that "it surprised us".
"Instead of just one candidate in the city there's a pile of us, but we didn't have time to come together to work out constitutional stuff ... I don't think anyone of us really cares about the umbrella, whatever it's called.
"Next year, pick an electorate, run in it, don't fight in it."
Grey said she and the others all knew and respected each other, as "some of us have stood together in the occupation [of Parliament]".
"It's not easy bringing different groups together. I'm happy to keep talking to these guys to see what we can do."
People in the crowd urged the candidates to unite.
In a Facebook post after the meeting, the Freedom and Rights Coalition said it would continue to work with these candidates "while ultimately striving for their unity".
"Join us on this exciting journey as we pursue our goal in 2023 of causing the biggest political upset this country has ever seen."
National manager of voting services Graeme Astle said the Electoral Commission will now start printing voting papers for the by-election.
Advance voting in the Tauranga electorate will start on June 4.
"There will be 17 advance voting places in locations that are easy to access, where people will be able to enrol and vote," Astle said.
Astle warned that advance voting places varied so people should check before voting.
On election day, June 18, 20 voting places will be open from 9am to 7pm.
Voters enrolled in the Tauranga electorate who are currently overseas, or who will be overseas on election day, can also vote.
From June 1, voters who are overseas will be able to download voting papers from vote.nz and be able to return them by upload to the website.