Nominations for Labour and National for the Hamilton West byelection close on Wednesday and National will be breathing a sigh of relief that this time round there is more diversity in the lineup than for Tauranga.
At least seven people are understood to be putting their names in the ring for National, while Labour seems to have lower interest to run in the byelection forced by the resignation of Gaurav Sharma after his expulsion from the Labour Party.
Those interested in the selection for National include business director Rachel Afeaki – Taumoepeau, health professional Dr Frances Hughes, former Mayor Andrew King, and the former Hamilton West MP Tim Macindoe, who lost the seat to Gaurav Sharma in 2020.
Some National Party supporters are pushing for a more diverse shortlist than the party delivered for the Tauranga byelection – the party's board sets the shortlist, but local party members select the candidate.
The mockery over the photos of the four Pakeha men in blue suits for the Tauranga shortlist – and leader Christopher Luxon having to try to defend National on the question of why the party had not used the selection to try to improve its diversity - may prompt something of a diversity push this time round.
That could count against both Macindoe and King, especially with the entry of Afeaki-Taumoepeau and Hughes into the contest, both of whom are considered impressive.
Hughes has a long career in nursing management and health and in 2020 was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for her Services to Nursing & Mental Health. She returned to New Zealand in 2019 after spending a few years in Queensland as chief nursing and midwifery officer and in Europe as chief executive of the International Council of Nursing. She is now the Group General Manager Clinical and Care services at Oceania Healthcare.
Afeaki-Taumoepeau, a New Zealand-born Tongan raised in South Auckland, is a business director and involved with charitable, church and NGO work. She was chair of the New Zealand Tonga Business Council and is involved in local Waikato business groups.
The party’s board vets those nominated, and a selection panel then decide on a shortlist of a maximum of five.
Meanwhile, Labour sources have pointed to Georgie Dansey as their potential candidate, although a few others are said to be weighing it up before nominations close also on Wednesday.
Dansey is understood to have said she is keen to stand again after contesting the Hamilton West selection in 2020 and losing to Sharma in what one source said was a close vote.
Dansey is currently the electorate chair for Labour's Hamilton East electorate. She was 84th on the Labour list – the last placed MP - and – wrote a good-humoured piece in the Spinoff about it.
She revealed she had briefly left Labour to help on Green MP Chloe Swarbrick's campaign before returning to Labour for the 2020 election. She and partner Ruby have two children.
Sharma has said he will contest the byelection as an independent and plans to set up his own political party.
Other parties are expected to confirm this week if they will contest it.