Family court lawyer Dr Emily Henderson will be contesting the Whangārei electorate as the Labour Party candidate in this year's general election.

The 47-year-old former Tikipunga High School student's candidacy was confirmed last night, as Labour looks to unseat National's Dr Shane Reti, who has held the position for two terms.

"It's an honour to have the Labour nomination for my home town," Henderson said.

"We know this is an awesome place, but we have big challenges with poverty and joblessness."

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Emily Henderson, who was raised in Kauri, believes she has what it takes to unseat National's Dr Shane Reti. Photo / Supplied
Emily Henderson, who was raised in Kauri, believes she has what it takes to unseat National's Dr Shane Reti. Photo / Supplied

In 2014, Reti bested Labour's Kelly Ellis with 56 per cent of the vote (Ellis - 19 per cent), before overcoming Tony Savage in 2017 with 46 per cent (Savage - 19 per cent).

Henderson, a mother of four, works as a consultant for Whangārei law firm Henderson Reeves, of which her father Stuart was a founder, alongside her research which examines whether techniques used by family court lawyers do more harm than good.

Excluding experience advising high-level policy-making for the judicial system, Henderson is a relative newcomer to politics but said she was attracted to the role when she was shoulder-tapped by the party in February.

"I was in the car with the kids and my husband and this call comes in, and it was an instinctive moment from the heart that this is the answer that I've been wanting, a way to give back to this community and to try and advocate for Whangārei."

Henderson had been approached to stand as the Labour Party candidate in 2017, but she said she turned it down because her children were too young.

Emily Henderson, 47, is passionate about growing jobs, reducing child poverty and improving housing. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Emily Henderson, 47, is passionate about growing jobs, reducing child poverty and improving housing. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Henderson said her key areas of focus would be jobs, housing and child poverty - specifically referencing her desire to see all five of Northland's 'Kia Kaha' projects implemented.

"I want them yesterday," she said.

"We need to be careful, we need to be sensitive, we need to consult, but I do support them."

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As a family court lawyer, Henderson said she saw many local children living in poverty and she believed further financial support for early learning centres and Oranga Tamariki was necessary.

Regarding housing, Henderson said Whangārei's inner city had great potential and felt further investment was required to accelerate the resource consent process for papakāinga.

Of Reti, Henderson admitted he was a "good man", but said change was needed.

"We need more energy, we need new energy and we need new vision here and I'm not getting it from [Reti]," she said.

"I don't see National as offering the comprehensive commitment to our people that Labour gives and that's what I want to be part of."

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National's Dr Shane Reti. Photo / File
National's Dr Shane Reti. Photo / File

Henderson believes the Whangārei electorate should be a strong supporter of Labour and she hopes that through the Government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic people could see what help the party could give to the city's most vulnerable.

Henderson said her campaign Facebook page would be operational in the next few days and she hoped to be making her face a familiar one in the community soon.