' />

A political battle is set to play out in Auckland Central, with Parliament's two youngest members, Jacinda Ardern and Nikki Kaye, contesting the seat.

Ms Ardern has confirmed she is putting her name forward to be Labour's candidate in 2011, meaning the high-profile race will start almost two years before the election.

Ms Kaye won the seat for National for the first time at the last election, and Labour is desperate to get it back.

The two women are both 29, but Ms Ardern is younger by a few months.

Labour's nominations for Auckland Central and four other seats it views as winnable opened on Friday as part of a strategy to get recognisable candidates on the ground early.

Until Ms Kaye's victory, Labour had held Auckland Central since 1919 except for three years when it was held by the left-wing Alliance's Sandra Lee.

Ms Ardern, who is originally from Morrinsville, has recently moved to Auckland and said she was passionate about the city and enjoying life as an "apartment dweller".

Ms Kaye said she did not want to comment on her potential opponent, saying it was "the business of the Labour Party" and she would just continue to work hard for Auckland Central.

Ms Ardern also did not want to comment about clashing with Ms Kaye, saying she wanted to get through the party selection process first.

Ms Ardern has been able to avoid an internal party struggle for the nomination, with fellow list MP Phil Twyford deciding to go for Waitakere, currently held by National minister Paula Bennett and another of the seats Labour is holding early selection for.

Mr Twyford, the party's Auckland Issues spokesman, said he believed Waitakere should be a Labour seat and its loss was a "temporary blip".

Ms Bennett won by a majority of 600 votes over Labour's Lynne Pillay, who was returned to Parliament on the list. Ms Pillay yesterday confirmed that she would be retiring at the next election.

Mr Twyford, who lives in Kingsland, said he would move to Waitakere if selected.

Mr Twyford had set up an office in Auckland Central after being forced to forgo chasing the nomination for the Mt Albert by-election in order to defuse the so-called "Tizard bomb" - if he (a sitting list MP) had won the seat, former minister Judith Tizard, who lost Auckland Central, would have gone back into Parliament off the Labour Party list.

The urbane Mr Twyford said he was happy to turn his attention to Waitakere and believed he could beat Ms Bennett, a staunch "Westie".

Labour Party general secretary Chris Flatt said the party had also opened nominations early for Maungakiekie, the other Auckland seat it lost at the election, and for West-Coast Tasman, which also went to National, and Ohariu-Belmont, held by United Future leader Peter Dunne but viewed as marginal.

Mr Flatt said it wanted to confirm candidates by early next year, giving them time to build their profiles with voters.

BATTLE FOR AUCKLAND CENTRAL
*NIKKI KAYE National.

*Aged 29. MP for Auckland Central.

*Former staffer for Bill English.

*Vice-chairwoman of the International Young Democrat Union.

*JACINDA ARDERN Labour.

*Aged 29. List MP.

*Worked for Helen Clark when she was Prime Minister.

*Current president of the International Union of Socialist Youth.