Former Silver Fern and Black Fern Louisa Wall was yesterday celebrating winning the candidacy for one of Labour's safest electorate seats after a bitter selection battle.

Lasting more than eight hours, it was one of the most controversial selection battles seen in recent times after sitting MP George Hawkins warned his party he would resign early and force a byelection if one of the candidates - Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union organiser Jerome Mika - won the selection for Manuwera.

Yesterday Ms Wall, 38, said she was delighted by her win which will almost certainly see her return to Parliament. Mr Hawkins had a 6726 majority at the 2008 election and his pledge to support her in the campaign will help maintain that.

Mr Hawkins, who has held the seat for 20 years, said yesterday that he believed his actions were justified and he had no regrets about his stance against Mr Mika, who lived on the North Shore.

"It might have caused some heartache for one or two people but I was quite comfortable with it. Obviously, people with local connections are better than someone being foist upon us by a union. The locals didn't want him."

Mr Hawkins said he would now stay on in Parliament to mentor Ms Wall and help in her campaign.

Ms Wall first became an MP in 2008 when she replaced retiring list MP Ann Hartley. However, she was placed too low on the list to return at the 2008 election. Yesterday, she said securing an electorate would allow her to focus on a community's needs.

"I'll have a completely different take on it. As a list MP I was there representing different sections of the community."

Yesterday, one of Ms Wall's supporters, Service and Food Workers' Union head Jill Ovens, said Ms Wall would be the first Maori and first woman chosen to stand in a South Auckland seat. About 450 local members turned up to vote, effectively outweighing the party's ruling council.

Since 2008, Ms Wall has worked with the Office of the Children's Commissioner, and the health and education needs of children in Manurewa would be her focus.

During the 2008 campaign, Ms Wall stood for Labour in the Maori seat of Tamaki Makaurau and displeased some in the Labour Party by publicly saying she was campaigning for the party vote, rather than the electorate vote.

"I was rather idealistic because I did it actually for the benefit of the party ... but it wasn't my right or authority to do that. That's a leadership decision and I learned a lesson."