National and Labour have picked their young guns to battle it out in the Northcote byelection on June 9.

Both candidates are 35, of Maori descent, and well-educated professionals.

That's where the similarity ends though.

Shanan Halbert lives in the electorate and bought his first house in Birkenhead seven years ago. He stood for Labour in the electorate in last year's general election.

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 Shanan Halbert, who stood against National's Jonathan Coleman in the last election, said he never stopped campaigning, and that put him in a strong position going into the byelection. Photo / Doug Sherring
Shanan Halbert, who stood against National's Jonathan Coleman in the last election, said he never stopped campaigning, and that put him in a strong position going into the byelection. Photo / Doug Sherring

Dan Bidois lives in Epsom but will be moving to Northcote in a couple of weeks. He tried for selection in Maurice Williams' Pakuranga seat last year but lost out to Simeon Brown, who is now an MP.

Bidois was born and raised in Auckland, Halbert hails from Greenmeadows in Napier.

Between now and June 9, voters will have to decide which of the two understand what their concerns are and who will represent their interests best.

Since 2005 their local MP has been National's Jonathan Coleman, who took the seat from Labour. It has been a safe National seat since then but now Coleman has retired from politics, mere months after the general election, voters feeling short-changed may be seeking change.

National Party Candidate for Northcote Dan Bidois, who is confident he would come away with a strong victory, pictured with National Leader Simon Bridges. Photo / Doug Sherring
National Party Candidate for Northcote Dan Bidois, who is confident he would come away with a strong victory, pictured with National Leader Simon Bridges. Photo / Doug Sherring

Halbert, who stood against Coleman in the last election, said he never stopped campaigning, and that put him in a strong position going into the byelection.

He cited housing, health and immigration as top priorities for people in Northcote.

"That was consistent across our research when we talked to people at the door and on the phone.

"What's important for housing locally is that we ensure we have the right mix of rentals, rentable, affordable and social houses. The priority for health is obviously that we ensure, with population growth, that we have good primary healthcare in place locally."

Bidois cited traffic congestion on Onewa Rd as a priority for local voters.

"It's not working. The feedback from residents that I've heard so far is that congestion backs up and we need to fight hard with council and also look for innovative new ideas to solve congestion."

Bidois was confident he would come away with a strong victory in the byelection.

Halbert said it was going to a tough fight but he was up for it.
"I'm up for the hard work that I'm going to put behind it."

The byelection, with a price of around $1 million, was triggered by Coleman's retirement.

He's moving on to the private sector, taking up the role of chief executive for Acurity Health Group at the end of April.

Northcote will be the first public test of new National leader Simon Bridges and a litmus test for the mood of the public on the way Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Government are running the country.

If Labour manages to wrest the seat off National, it'll gain a seat in Parliament and National will lose one.

But with 64 seats to 56, Labour would still rely on both NZ First and the Greens to pass legislation.

Shanan Halbert

Shanan Halbert lives in Birkenhead with his partner, a specialist at an Auckland Hospital. Hailing from Napier, 35-year-old Halbert grew up in Greenmeadows. On his father's side he is Rongowhakaata and Whitikaupeka.

With a Bachelor of Education and as a Maori speaker, Halbert was once a presenter on Maori Television and now works as head of recruitment and relationships at Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

He bought his first house in Northcote seven years ago.

He stood against National's Jonathan Coleman there in last year's general election. Although unsuccessful, he managed to whittle Coleman's 9700 majority from the 2014 election down by about a third.

Dan Bidois

Dan Bidois is a school dropout who was once a butcher's apprentice at Woolworths.

Bidois, who is European and Ngati Maniapoto, was born and raised in Auckland. He lives in Epsom but will be moving to Northcote in a couple of weeks.

He sought selection in Pakuranga, Maurice Williamson's seat, but lost out to Simeon Brown, who is now an MP.

The 35-year-old is currently strategy manager Foodstuffs North Island but has worked as an economist here and overseas.

He graduated with a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard which he attended on a Fulbright Scholarship. He also holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Arts.