If anyone thought running for Parliament was easy, ask Paulo Garcia.

"I'm over my head with the things I need to get done," he says.

Garcia is the National Party candidate in New Lynn, stepping into the space left by former Cabinet minister Tim Groser who never quite managed to seize the electorate from Labour's former leader David Cunliffe, despite National levelling the party vote.

Groser and Cunliffe are now both out of Parliament, giving voters fresh new choices from the two parties that have attracted roughly 80 per cent of their vote in recent elections.


Into Groser's shoes steps Garcia, a lawyer who moved to New Zealand from the Philippines in 2005. Cunliffe's replacement is Labour candidate Deborah Russell, who moved from Palmerston North.

Garcia - a lawyer - doesn't live in the electorate and Russell is new to the area. Both are earnestly tacking the task of convincing New Lynn electorate's 52,000 eligible voters they are deserving of one of the precious 71 electorate seats in Parliament.

Getting hold of Garcia to ask why he deserves that seat isn't easy. Messages are left unanswered, resulting in a call from National's campaign coordinator Clark Hennessy wanting to know why the NZ Herald wants to talk to him.

It could be nervousness about Garcia's anti-abortion stance, or his comments about sex being only for procreation.

Hennessy wants to know questions. The NZ Herald refuses - candidates should be able to stand on their own two feet - so we go back to leaving messages, resulting in Garcia asking for an emailed list of questions.

"I just think he's apprehensive," says Hennessy in a later phone call. "These new guys get scared of the media and scared of f***ing up. When you're a candidate for the governing party, you are more risk averse."

Or the governing party is more risk averse.

Garcia eventually calls, explaining he's struggling to keep up with the demands of the campaign. "I'm trying to do the best I can."

And he is, earnestly. He's been talking to people who are frustrated over transport, crime and security of their own homes.

"The most glaring (issue) is no one to get to speak to about their concerns. That's a shame. There are so many organisations and people that are supposed to be helping with that and apparently it's not happening."

Housing is another. "I would love to own my own home but it's not that easy."

It's not exactly "on message" but it is sincere, and sincere representation of the people of New Lynn is what Garcia is promising if he is elected.

"I want to give back to the country that has taken us in and let us live safely and happily and prosper."

Not that he's expecting to get elected, though. "I think I'll get creamed," he says, but the act of standing has been "an inspiration" to his four daughters. "It's a life story for them and builds character for them."

Regardless of the electorate vote, Garcia has a pretty good shot on the list at National's current polling.

So, too, does Labour's candidate. Russell is a tax whiz and policy wonk who stood in the Rangitikei electorate last election.

Her family of four moved to the New Lynn electorate at the beginning of the year with the support of her two daughters.

She's renting, hoping to buy next year but - phew - those house prices. It's somewhat telling the Auckland house market is off-putting to two aspirant MPs who stand to earn $160,000 if (or when) elected.

Russell has been chasing votes on street corners, by doorknocking, at public meetings.

She's had her predecessor (and old university friend) Cunliffe helping, too. "He's been delivering leaflets," she says. Other than that, he's keeping his profile thankfully low to allow her to put her candidacy before voters.

"He could have hung around like a bad smell."

She doesn't mean it in a derogatory way but it would be awkward if the previous MP was too obvious.

That's the only time Russell threatens to wander off-message. The rest of the time she has a machinegun-like rat-a-tat-tat of policies and problems.

Housing is the biggest concern she's hearing. "People owning their own homes worried about their children being able to buy their own."

Even the rents are astounding, she says. It's $500-a-week to rent a three-bedroom home in New Lynn. And health is an issue - there's procedures which require West Aucklanders to travel to North Shore hospital rather than Waitakere Hospital in Henderson.

As to why she is standing, that's easy - and they're the same core Labour Party reasons espoused so clearly by former Prime Minister David Lange when he trounced Sir Robert Muldoon in the famous 1984 leader's debate.

"A commitment to fairness. The emotional reason is I'm driven by children and what we can do for them - that every child in New Zealand should have the best opportunity possible.

"For people to be free, you have to enable freedom."

That means a public education system, access to medical care and a universal family benefit - the last her personal target if elected.

Making that happen will play to her strengths, she says. "I happen to enjoy policy-type work. Turning ideas into workable policy and workable law."