New Zealand could soon have its first female Muslim MP.
The Herald on Sunday understands Hamilton chartered accountant Anjum Rahman performed well at a recent Labour Party conference, and is expected to be ranked inside the party's top 30 candidates for the September 20 general election.
In 2011, Raymond Huo was number 21 — the lowest ranked Labour candidate to win a list seat.
Labour Party president Moira Coatsworth and general-secretary Tim Barnett did not respond to calls from the Herald on Sunday. However, Rahman, 47, this week said: "Who told you that?
"I don't have expectations but I'm working to get as high as I can. The list is decided by a whole lot of people in a couple of weeks."
The mother-of-two unsuccessfully stood for the Hamilton City Council last year, but has helped set up an ethnic women's centre in Hamilton, is a member of the Interfaith Council and the board that runs community radio station Free FM. "For me, running for public office is an extension of the community work I'm already doing."
She has been a Labour Party member for 10 years, and previously stood for a list seat — with rankings in the 60s — in 2005 and 2008.
Among her top priorities are supporting small businesses and creating a society where everyone felt included, she said.
I'd be really pleased to be the first,
but that's not the only thing about me.
I want it to be that no one even bats
an eyelid, when people realise NZers
come in all hues, shapes and sizes.
"I think a lot of social issues are around people not feeling part of the community, not feeling valued."
Rahman, who wears a hijab or headscarf, emigrated to New Zealand from India as a child, and is a staunch Kiwi. "I'd be really pleased to be the first [female Muslim] MP, but that's not the only thing about me.
"I want it to be that no one even bats an eyelid, when people realise New Zealanders come in all hues, shapes and sizes. But for that to happen, someone has to be first."
Ashraf Choudhary was New Zealand's first Muslim MP when he was elected on the Labour list in 2002. Pakistan-born Choudhary had to provide his own Koran for the swearing-in ceremony.