There is no business more cruel than politics. Just look at the list of candidates standing in electorates and on the party lists. Sometimes a candidate can stand out but you know they haven't a dog's show of making it to Parliament. Maybe they are standing in an unwinnable electorate or are just too far down the party list to gain a seat. Others come from nowhere during the campaign with a pitch or a smile that says "pick me" but you can't bring yourself to vote for their party. Come Sunday, the result is a group of good people who miss the cut. Some will give it another shot, others are being groomed for the future. Most, though, take it on the chin and get on with life.

Stuart Nash, Epsom candidate and 60 on Labour list

Being the great-grandson of third Labour PM Sir Walter Nash is as good as credentials get, but this 30-something Mt Edenite has also impressed on the hustings amid the Epsom battle between Act's Rodney Hide and National's Richard Worth. Business-savvy and handsome to boot, Nash could be the kind of new blood Labour is looking for, particularly if the red brigade find themselves on the opposition benches.

Graham Scott, 5 on the Act list

The former Treasury boss is unlikely to follow former Reserve Bank Governor and soul-mate Don Brash into Parliament. The number cruncher knows the odds of making it into the House are infinitesimal but is smitten by Act's classic liberalism. Could he have a role under a National administration intent on shrinking the government?

Russell Judd, Rotorua candidate and 11 on the United Future list

Already a Rotorua District councillor, Russell Judd is a young man in a hurry. Young, appealing, articulate and with just the right balance of conservatism. Just a shame he is number 11 on the United Future list. National, take note.

Simon Wi Rutene, 4 on the Maori Party list

This former Olympic skier has profile aplenty but no Maori seat to give him a realistic chance on election day. While high on the party list, the Maori Party is set to get all its seats via the electorates, leaving Mr Wi Rutene high and dry.

Nicola Young, Rongotai candidate and 61 on National Party list

National is in desperate need of talented women and Nicola Young would seem to fit the bill - urbane, liberal, career woman and mother of two adult children. Father Bill Young held the Miramar seat from 1966 to 1981 but these days the renamed Rongotai is firmly held by Labour's Annette King. Sister Annabel Young is another former National MP but there is something about Nicola, a former journalist, holding her back among National's higher echelons.

Brendon Burns, Kaikoura candidate and 48 on Labour list

The former political journalist, known as Lord Burns for his sartorial style, is having a second tilt at the Kaikoura seat which is being vacated by National's Linda Scott. Winning will be a tall order for the former Marlborough Express editor who went over to the Labour Party and set up the infamous 'Burns unit' to spin the Government's message in the provinces. At 48 on the party list, his chances of making it into Parliament by an alternative route are also slim.

Susan Baragwanath, 8 on NZ First list

When you've got former Act MP Deborah Coddington singing your praises as a hidden bright light under NZ First's bushel it can be a blessing in disguise. A former associate principal of Porirua College who set up a school for teenage mums, Baragwanath is tough and knows her stuff, says Coddington. If NZ First polls well, she could yet make it into Parliament.

Paul Goldsmith, Maungakiekie candidate and 59 on National Party list

Historian Goldsmith first brought you the tale of John Banks, then Don Brash and his corned beef diet. He has worked as a press secretary for Phil Goff, Mr Banks and Simon Upton. The 34-year-old calls himself a generalist, always asking questions, seeing other people's points of view and speaking plainly. He may just have to go back to his paper-thin box on a windswept hill in Wellington and wait his turn. Besides, there's a lot more political history to write.

* Please refer to picture gallery link above for photos of the candidates.