Vote2020


It has been a National stronghold for over 10 years, with current MPs Tim Macindoe and David Bennett standing guard over the west and east sides of Hamilton, but with Labour flying high in the polls and the daunting task of rebuilding the economy and the continued management of Covid-19 looming over the next government, the battle for Hamilton's two electorates will be a feisty one.

On the west side of the city, incumbent Tim Macindoe will be looking to hold on to the seat he has held since 2008, but will face fresh-faced Labour candidate Dr Gaurav Sharma, who was a late entry to the 2017 election after the retirement of Sue Moroney.

Others who are vying for a shot at the Hamilton west seat are Rudi Du Plooy for the New Conservative Party and Roger Weldon for Act.

Hamilton West is regarded as New Zealand's bellwether seat. In 16 of the 17 general elections since the electorate's creation, the party that has won the plurality of seats nationally has won Hamilton West.

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The sole exception was in 1993, when Labour won the electorate but National won the plurality of the seats.

National MP for Hamilton West has been busy putting signs up around the electorate. Photo / Tim Macindoe
National MP for Hamilton West has been busy putting signs up around the electorate. Photo / Tim Macindoe

National MP for Hamilton West Tim Macindoe said he is making a strong and early push for voters, as he believes that over half the votes at this year's election will come from early voters.

"If you trace from the introduction of advance voting, about six elections ago it was slow to take off but it has gone up steadily since 2014 and last election over 45 per cent of people voted before election day," Macindoe said.

"The electoral commission was already thinking prior to Covid-19 that it would be two-thirds of voters this year that would vote early, and I believe that could go up with the combination of a September election and with the possible distancing of Covid-19 that maybe as many as three-quarters of people would be voting early.

"The last week is where you will find half of the electorate will vote by Friday lunch time, so you can't afford to leave your big ticket items until the end any more."

The number of election day voting booths across the country will be higher than usual on September 19, as officials aim to limit crowd sizes and encourage social distancing.

And the number of advanced voting booths will also be significantly bolstered in preparation for what is expected to be the highest level of advanced voting in New Zealand's history.

Officials are expecting 60 per cent of all votes at this year's election to be cast before election day.

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Labour MP Jamie Strange preparing to campaign for the Hamilton East seat. Photo / Jamie Strange
Labour MP Jamie Strange preparing to campaign for the Hamilton East seat. Photo / Jamie Strange

That's up on last election's 50 per cent figure when 1.24 million people voted ahead of election day.

Labour's candidate for Hamilton West Dr Gaurav Sharma said he was excited he was once again contesting the electorate.

"Last election I did not have much time, but this time I have had time to settle and I'm looking to take the fight to Tim," Sharma said.

"I want to continue to keep building on the progress made by Labour in the region, and in particularly the advocating Jamie Strange has done so far. I am both a medical doctor but I also have a business degree so I bring plenty of experience to the table.

"More support for mental health will be a strong focus for me if elected and to continue to turn the Waikato into a bustling economic hub for New Zealand."

On the east side of Hamilton the field is more widely contested, with National MP David Bennett looking to hold on to the electorate he has represented since 2005, with him now a part of National's front bench as well.

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Labour Hamilton-based list MP Jamie Strange will be his main opposition for the electorate seat. Strange lost to Bennett in 2017 by just over 4000 votes, while Rimu Bhooi for the Greens, Naomi Pocock for The Opportunities Party, Myah Deedman for Act, former Hamilton City councillor Siggi Henry for the New Zealand Public Party, Julie Manders for the New Conservatives, Destry Murphy for Vision NZ and Mischele Rhodes for Social Credit Party are also running in the electorate.

Macindoe and his fellow MP across the river David Bennett are both campaigning on the point that the Waikato will be key to New Zealand's economic recovery from Covid-19, with the pair supportive of the Cambridge to Piarere extension of the Waikato Expressway, while talks have started again for a Waikato medical school.

"It is a huge priviledge to represent this city, and it has been incredibly frustrating to watch over the last three years with projects and goals stalled for the city and region," Bennett said.

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"I just want to get back into government and do what a National Government does best. This is not about personal gains, this is about delivering for a thriving city at a important time in its growth.

"The National Party last month also announced plans to build an expressway from the Piarere intersection to the Kaimas with a tunnel leading into Tauranga within the next two decades.

"We have plans to turn this region into one of the main economic hubs of New Zealand, we've done the research and know what needs to be done.

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"The Waikato is strong region for farming, and as the National Party's spokesperson for Agriculture I will continue to advocate what is best for this region," Bennett says.

And while Bennett and Macindoe say the region has suffered under the Labour-led Government, Jamie Strange maintains he has continued to deliver for Hamilton and the Waikato.

National MP for Hamilton East David Bennett with National Party leader Judith Collins. Photo / David Bennett
National MP for Hamilton East David Bennett with National Party leader Judith Collins. Photo / David Bennett

"We've got the commuter rail starting at the end of the year, we've got the new national polytech head office being based in Hamilton, the Criminal Cases Review Commission and the Waikato Regional Theatre all coming to Hamilton which will be great for the economy. I've advocated strongly on behalf of the Government for the past three years and we've got results," Strange said.

"The key thing for me as a Government MP is if people want to keep my voice at the table for Hamilton then I am asking for both party and candidate votes.

"I wouldn't rule out Gaurav as well on the west. He came in late last election and still secured around 11,000 votes. He works as a doctor in Nawton and connects well with the community down there. Hamilton West has been more Labour friendly than the East as well."

Strange said that people also seem to forget that the Waikato Expressway is not a solely a National project.

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"It started with a Labour Government coming south from Auckland to about the Pokeno area, and then the National Party progressed it.

"I'm pleased that people are starting to see the National Party not doing their homework around costing."

Next Wednesday Parliament will dissolve with the deadline for parties to get their bulk nomination schedules and party list to the electoral commission on August 20.

On September 2 overseas voting starts while on September 5 voting will start with the election day on September 19.

Preliminary results will be released from 7pm on voting day, with the official results for the elections and referendums on October 9.