National blew balloons while Labour hammered hoardings in the Napier electorate yesterday, as the official election campaign period commenced.

National candidate Wayne Walford had an official launch at the National Club's monthly meeting at the Napier RSA.

"If you know people who are National Party supporters who haven't been voting, make sure they do," he said.

Northland MP Mike Sabin gave Mr Walford sage advice about campaigning, saying he had brought his own boots to his electorate instead of trying to fill his predecessor's.


"Be your own man," he told Mr Walford.

Mr Sabin said National was a powerful brand.

"Have a look at Don Brash. As leader of the National Party he was polling in the 40s, but as the leader of Act he was 2 per cent and dropping. That wasn't about Don Brash, that was about the brand he represented."

The mainly elderly audience were encouraged to support Deputy Prime Minister Bill English when he visited next month. In April, shortly before his limousine was egged in Maraenui, Prime Minister John Key said more National Party officials were to be expected in Napier before the September election.

"We always knew Stu would put up a good fight," he said.

Labour candidate Stuart Nash said he launched his campaign three months ago.

"It was a really hot summer's day down in Ahuriri with a whole lot of members," he said.

"I gave a rousing talk and away we went. We have been out and about for quite a while - I'm surprised Wayne is having a campaign launch now."

He said he would continue "engaging with people and going hard on the issues we think are important. We have eight street corner meetings happening over the weekend ..."

Mr Walford now drives the repainted utility vehicle of current MP Chris Tremain. "I'll be shaking hands, meeting people, door-knocking, acknowledging the party and just getting out there and doing the campaign," Mr Walford said. Both men take leave from their jobs from August 8 to campaign full-time.