The no-surprises-there announcement Shane Jones would stand for New Zealand First in the local seat was met with excitement outside a bar in Whangarei's main street.

Later, asked if this was a marriage of minds or a marriage of convenience, Mr Jones described what sounded more like a civil union.

"It's definitely a union between two guys from the North - one who is extraordinarily experienced and another who has been given a second chance."

Mr Jones said he had moved on from the Labour Party; this "second chance" put the former Labour cabinet minister on the right road to help "the North".


Beforehand, people had spilled on to the road awaiting confirmation of the widely expected news which came at about 1.15pm at Pure Bar.

NZ First Leader and Northland MP Winston Peters arrived in the NZ First bus without Mr Jones, who was waiting patiently at the back of the bar to make his entrance as his name was announced.

Stalling for time when he arrived, Mr Peters told the waiting crowd - a media pack, party officials, party faithful, political figures including former Labour MP Dover Samuels, interested bystanders and bemused bar patrons - a joke about a gecko and 12 Elvis impersonators.

Then, he launched into his characteristic fiery speechifying, railing against a few wealthy immigrants being able "to buy New Zealand citizenship", Northland having the best port in the country "without trains going to it", how the country, particularly Northland, would benefit from revitalised coastal shipping.

The Government showed "no desire to direct resources to where we all know they should be", and New Zealand didn't need more "dodgy language schools", Mr Peters said.

"Parliament should be asking about every decision, what does the North think of this?"

And Whangarei did not need an MP who was still using training wheels, he said when introducing Mr Jones.

The oratorial former Labour MP - and one-time, failed applicant for that party's leadership - outlined his credentials as the son and grandson of Northland farmers. He did not play his often dealt card, that he is also of Maori and Croatian descent.


Like Mr Peters had, he said it was time to revise New Zealand's ''indiscriminate immigration'' policy.

Mr Jones donned a hat carrying the slogan "Put NZ First Again", saying, ''If the cap fits ...''

Later, referring to opportunities for Northland on the back of the America's Cup win, the farmer's son said: "It might surprise people to know I'm a pro-industry person.

"Often that sounds a little imperious, but I see no future for us unless we have substantial development that gives people the putea [money] to bring their kids up and aspire to a decent lifestyle."

Targeting Whangarei builds on Mr Peters' own successful bid for the Northland seat in the 2015 byelection after National's Mike Sabin's departure.

Whangarei is considered a safe National seat which Shane Reti won in 2014 with a majority of 13,169.

Dr Reti was gracious about another Shane making a play for his seat.

"I welcome every candidate, and every candidate has my respect."

Asked if he might enter Parliament as a list MP should Mr Jones take Whangarei, Mr Reti said that was for the National Party to decide.

"Certainly, our attention is on winning the seat. I'm confident that the hard work we've been doing in the electorate will pay off."

Labour's candidate is lawyer Tony Savage while the Green Party's is Ash Holwell.