Hastings mayoralty candidate Simon Nixon freely admits he knows nothing about cooking paua.

But at his first attempt yesterday he proved a real champion as the six candidates for the November 24 byelection too part in a My Kitchen Rules battle of the kitchen at the Royal New Zealand Show in Hastings.

The hot favourite was acting mayor Sandra Hazlehurst - not merely because she was the only woman in the race but because she seemed to know quite a bit about cooking when she spoke to the small crowd in the first stage of the mid-afternoon contest.

But she didn't get a look in against Mr Nixon, who reckoned he doesn't do much cooking "when Dorothy's away". She was also beaten by Allister Tosh, who claimed second place with his bit of tasty prime beef.


He had to overcome all odds, for among the judges was former Hawke's Bay A and P Society president Peter Tod, who earlier in the day had claimed first and third prizes in the show's Affco Best Beef in the Bay competition, and might thus have been assumed to have a leaning for the product of the land rather than that of the coastline.

Mrs Hazlehurst and other candidates Bayden Barber, Stuart Perry, and Waitawhara Tupaea were otherwise "first to leave the show", as it was put by host Henare Heke, running the kitchen with wife Monique. "Only two of you will remain," he said as the six waited nervously for the announcements.

The candidates were split into two groups of three, each facing the crowd for 40 minutes as they prepared their meals.

"I don't expect any of our candidates to cook the same meal, even though they have the same ingredients and the same tools," Mr Heke said.

Ultimately, with the cooking out of the way, all six of them remain in the race for the to replace new MP Lawrence Yule as Mayor of Hastings.

They are having to show some diversity, next-up a Mayoral Debate on November 2.