An election deal between the National and Act parties in the key seat of Epsom seems destined to continue, after an endorsement in a public debate last night.
The National Party's candidate in the central Auckland seat, Paul Goldsmith, said he was "focused on the party vote" rather than winning the seat, and praised Act Leader David Seymour for doing a "good job".
It will be make it the fourth consecutive election in which National has stepped aside in the electorate to allow Act to gain seats in parliament without meeting the five per cent party threshold.
The debate, at Remuera's Somervell Presbyterian Church, opened with a reminder from Labour candidate David Parker that Epsom was the wealthiest electorate in New Zealand
"which makes people in this room some of the wealthiest people who ever walked this Earth - but we still can't house our people".
He said issues like homelessness and people sleeping in cars was a "disgrace". Green Party candidate Barry Coates and Seymour agreed New Zealand had severe housing issues.
"We used to pride ourselves on being egalitarian and giving a fair go - what has happened to that?" Coates asked, receiving a huge round of applause.
Seymour said the Resource Management Act was a large part of the issue, and regulations needed to be looser, but Goldsmith countered that houses were being built.
When asked by moderator Tim Watkin how many in Auckland in the past year, Goldsmith said 16,000. Watkin said it was actually 6000. Goldsmith conceded more were needed.
That concession was about the only time candidates broke from their party lines, except when asked their personal feelings on euthanasia - a bill put before the house by Seymour. All said they wanted more information, but Goldsmith and Parker were most unsure. Seymour said it was a key issue.
Asked if there was a "point" to Seymour for centre-right voters, Seymour argued there definitely was. He said he was a good local MP, but also that if people in Epsom wanted a centre-right government "they had to have the Act Party".
"You can't govern alone, you can't have Labour. You can't have Greens. New Zealand First are unreliable and the Maori Party are a fair-weather friend," he said.
When asked his position, Goldsmith said his focus was on the party vote, and he was aiming to get 25,000 for National.
The deal between National and Act began in 2008, when John Key signalled over a symbolic cup of coffee he wanted Epsom voters to give their electorate vote to then-Act leader Rodney Hide.
The stunt was repeated over a cup of tea with John Banks in 2011. But a sideshow ensued when the pair's conversation was recorded without their knowledge and later leaked.
In 2014, Act got 43 per cent of the candidate vote, but just 3 per cent of the party vote.