It's raining election promises in Northland.

NZ First leader Winston Peters will have struck a proactive nerve with many people who have lamented Whangarei's deep water port not having its full potential exploited.

Proactive because for years there has been talk about the logic to connect rail to the port, so exports and imports can be delivered by rail. Northport is by no means a lemon, but it's underutilisation has left a sour taste with many who want to see its economic potential unleashed.

Peters wants imported vehicles coming to Northport, and then containers, to provide a boost to Northland's economy and free up wharf space in Auckland.


The Northland MP made the announcement, which confused some media types further south who thought Whangarei was in Peters' electorate. It's not - Shane Jones is the NZ First candidate in Whangarei.

But the rail announcement will also curry party vote favour in Auckland, and it's the party vote that is worrying National at the moment, if Peters swings into the predicted king-maker role on September 23.

Look out for a big money capital announcement for Whangarei Boys' High School - something that has been worked on for years, and will be conveniently announced on the hustings, with National at the forefront of the multi-million dollar news.

Voters are also getting an unprecedented opportunity to hear candidates at public meetings.

On Sunday, Forum North is hosting a Te Hiku Media organised meeting which will feature a select group of major party candidates from all three electorates in the region, and on Thursday the Northern Advocate is organising an evening for the Whangarei electorate.

We'll be at the Sunday event too, reporting on it and also taking notes so our Thursday meeting hopefully provides some variety.

Colmar Brunton polling tells us that the party vote will be tight between National and Labour, and NZ First will have a king making role.

The NZ First factor means our region is getting a lot of attention right now, and so we should - we have some catching up to do.