Tama Potaka will be the National Party’s candidate to contest the byelection for Hamilton West, an electorate which is without a representative following former Labour MP Dr Gaurav Sharma’s resignation from Parliament.
Potaka is currently the chief executive of Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki and previously worked as a senior adviser to the NZ Super Fund and as a general manager for Hamilton-based Tainui Group Holdings.
“I’m honoured to be selected by local party members to fight the Hamilton West byelection as National’s candidate,” Potaka said.
“Hamilton West has a unique chance to send a message to the Labour Government before next year’s General Election - New Zealanders need more than good intentions and band-aid solutions. They want and deserve direction, clear action and delivery.
“National offers that plan and delivery. Only National and Christopher Luxon have a plan to competently manage the economy, deal with inflation and tackle the cost-of-living crisis hitting Hamilton families in the pocket at the checkout and through rapidly rising mortgage interest rates.”
Potaka said he won’t be wasting any time getting out into the community.
“Labour won this seat by more than 6,000 votes last election but I’m determined to campaign relentlessly on the issues that matter to Hamilton West and turn the seat blue,” he said.
“I’m hitting the ground running and will be meeting as many people across Hamilton West as I can so I can earn the right to advocate for them.”
If elected, Potaka said a focus of his would be on building a stronger economy so cities such as Hamilton can benefit from more money being invested in public services such as the police.
The byelection was triggered when Sharma, who won Hamilton West for Labour in 2020, resigned from Parliament last month.
Sharma’s resignation followed his expulsion from Labour’s caucus and later the party for bringing the party into disrepute by accusing party members - including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern - of bullying behaviour.
Ardern announced that a byelection would take place on Saturday, December 10.
Sharma will be contesting the byelection as a member of his new but unregistered party, which he says has attracted hundreds of people who are willing to financially support it.
The Opportunities Party will also be contesting and confirmed Naomi Pocock as its candidate.
In other National party selections, sitting MP Simon O’Connor saw off a challenge against him for the seat to be reselected as the party’s candidate in the Tamaki electorate.
It is rare for sitting MPs to face challenges - O’Connor was up against Auckland Harvard-educated lawyer Andrew Grant and Sang Cho, owner of St Heliers restaurant Annabelles.
The electorate covers Auckland’s inner eastern bay suburbs - Mission Bay, St Heliers, Kohimarama and Glendowie - and was the seat of former PM Sir Robert Muldoon.
On Saturday, the party selected Suze Redmayne as its candidate in Rangitikei, where sitting MP Ian McKelvie is retiring.
Tonight the party will also select its Northcote candidate, where former MP Dan Bidios is hoping to be reselected.