Former Progressive leader Jim Anderton has come full circle and is now running Labour's campaign for the Christchurch East byelection.

Once a former Labour president, he split away from Labour to form a breakaway party but eventually made his peace with them and governed with Labour for nine years.

The 75-year-old retired from Parliament in 2011 but with his campaign experience with Labour, then the Alliance and the Progressive Party and 27 years representing Christchurch seats of Sydenham and Wigram, he was asked to do the job.

Party president Moira Coatsworth told the party's annual conference the byelection on November 30 would be "an absolute fight for us to win".


While it was won by Labour's Lianne Dalziel in 2011, with a majority of 5334, National won the party vote by 46.10 per cent to Labour's 31.65 per cent.

"Thousands of people have gone and local people are tired," she said. "More than anywhere else, this byelection campaign needs all of us."

She urged delegates to stay on to help the campaign effort.

Lianne Dalziel resigned to become Mayor of Christchurch.

Mr Anderton himself had been considered a shoo-in for the job in 2010, shortly before the first Canterbury earthquake.

But the disaster changed everything and Bob Parker stayed for another term.

Mr Anderton's campaign was boosted on Saturday by several busloads of Labour Party conference delegates and MPs who descended upon some of the worst quake-affected parts of Christchurch to canvas door to door.

They were armed with a new policy of a state-owned insurance company, which Labour leader David Cunliffe had just announced to the conference.


On Sunday Mr Cunliffe announced the 10,000 of the houses in the party's Kiwibuild policy - 100,000 homes to be built in 10 years - would be built in Canterbury within four years of a Labour-led Government taking office.

Housing spokesman Phil Twyford also unveiled a rebuild vision for New Brighton.

Labour's candidate is Poto Williams, the regional manager of the St John of God Hauora Trust, which works with family violence.

National's candidate is Matthew Doocey, a healthcare manager at the Canterbury District Health Board.

The Greens' candidate is David Moorhouse, a software developer in community health.

Leighton Baker is the Conservative Party candidate, and the only one of the field who stood in the electorate at the last general election.