The worst kept secret in politics has been confirmed, with former Labour MP Shane Jones announced as the New Zealand First candidate for Whangarei in September's election.

Mr Jones, who left Parliament in 2013 to become Pacific Economic Ambassador with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was confirmed as the party's candidate for the district by NZ First Leader and Northland MP Winston Peters in Whangarei this afternoon.

Mr Peters made the announcement at Pure Bar, in Cameron St, at 1pm. Mr Jones replaces long-term NZ First member Pita Paraone as the party's Whangarei candidate. Mr Paraone has stood in the electorate previously, and been a list MP for three terms.

Mr Jones' term with Mfat ended in May this year. There has long been speculation he was interested in standing for Parliament again, but for NZ First, though Jones would not confirm it while he was working for Mfat.


Since then he has often been seen with Mr Peters - including on Anzac Day, at the Lions powhiri at Waitangi and the game in Whangarei.

Mr Peters is targeting the Whangarei seat after his successful bid to win the 2015 Northland seat in the byelection following former National MP Mike Sabin's departure from Parliament.

Whangarei is considered a safe National seat - the party has held it since 1975 - and Mr Jones will be up against National's Shane Reti, who won the seat in 2014 with a majority of 13,169 over Labour's candidate Kelly Ellis.

Labour's candidate is property and commercial lawyer Tony Savage while the Green Party is standing "cultural innovator and creator of communities" Ash Holwell.

In the Northland byelection, Labour signalled its voters should support Peters to take the seat from National and reduce its numbers in Parliament. That meant National could no longer get a majority with just one of its three support partners.

A similar move is unlikely in Whangarei, given it will not affect the overall makeup of Parliament.

Mr Jones' base is in Kerikeri and he previously stood for Labour in the Northland electorate against former National MP John Carter. NZ First is not standing candidates in the Maori seats.