Labour Leader David Cunliffe has confirmed former Alliance Party President Matt McCarten as his new Chief of Staff.

Unionist Mr McCarten, who started his political career with the Labour Party but more recently worked with Hone Harawira's Mana Party, was announced as Wendy Brandon's replacement as Chief of Staff by Mr Cunliffe this afternoon.

Mr McCarten served as president of Jim Anderton's New Labour party in 1989 and later became president and then leader of of the Alliance Party in the early 2000s.

Since then he has worked with the Maori Party, the Unite union as well as Mana, and is currently a Herald on Sunday columnist.


Mr McCarten, who has suffered cancer, said his health was good and while he had been told his condition was terminal some years ago, he now had "the all clear".

He said this year's election was "an evenly split tight race" and it was up to Labour to convince the one million New Zealanders who either didn't vote or weren't registered last election that "they have a stake in the game". If Labour could do that Mr Cunliffe would be prime minister later this year.

Mr Cunliffe also confirmed David Talbot as his campaign director for this year's election.