Maungakiekie-Tāmaki is considered a "bellwether" ward that could reasonably be won by Labour's Josephine Bartley or National's de facto candidate Josh Beddell.
The ward has been held by Labour's Richard Northey and Denise Krum, who briefly held the seat before becoming National's MP for Maungakiekie at a byelection in 2017.
The addition of Ellerslie and the eastern part of St Johns at this election adds about 7500 potential centre-right voters to create a roughly even split between left- and right-leaning voters.
The well-to-do suburbs of One Tree Hill, Ellerslie and St Johns hug up against the city side, the working class suburbs of Glen Innes, Pt England and Panmure lie to the east and the industrial areas of Southdown, Westfield and Mt Wellington sit down south.
There's a massive housing programme in the suburbs of Glen Innes, Point England and Panmure to replace 2800 state houses with a mix of 7500 public and private homes, council's development arm Panuku is leading a regeneration of Onehunga and work is underway on the long-planned Eastern Busway.
Despite these big issues changing the face of this diverse and growing community, the fight for the ward seat has a lot to do with who is the best person to represent Maungakiekie-Tāmaki, the sitting councillor Josephine Bartlett or Josh Beddell, standing under the Communities and Residents ticket.
Ōrākei Local Board deputy chairwoman Carmel Claridge is also running. She is standing under the Better Auckland ticket for the ward seat and a seat on the Ōrākei Local Board after not being re-selected for the Communities and Residents ticket.
Panmure Historical Society president Patrick O'Meara is the fourth ward candidate.
In February last year, Bartley - who was chairwoman of the Maungakiekie Local Board - won the seat vacated by Krum, beating Beddell by more than 1500 votes.
The first woman Pasifika councillor, Bartley lives by a Samoan proverb, "o le ala i le pule o le tautua", which translates to "the path to leadership is through service".
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Life for Bartley, who grew up in Māngere and has lived in Tāmaki for 13 years, is all about community. From a young age she was a volunteer at Women's Refuge, the SPCA and a local law centre, and active in the Catholic church.
"My whole life has been about service and that's how I approach it. I love it," said Bartley, who doesn't distinguish between local and central government issues that crop up, whether it's drains, buses or people living in cars wanting a home.
The boundary changes, said Bartley, will absolutely play a factor at this election but hopes voters in the right-leaning suburbs of Ellerslie and St John will look beyond party politics and look at the candidates and their track records.
Bartley said the main issue she was picking up for people was traffic, due in part to delays caused by Watercare works to improve infrastructure in the Tāmaki area and more people moving into the western side of the ward and clogging up roads.
At a local and regional level, Bartley wants people to be able to go to the beach without swimming in sewage and is keen to tackle homelessness, saying it's not just a city problem but it affects suburbs like Onehunga and Panmure. Breathing life back into Glen Innes town centre is another goal.
Beddell's connection to the ward goes back to the 1950s when his grandfather got veteran housing in Glen Innes. He was born in the ward and lives in Onehunga.
He worked for Maungakiekie MP Sam Lotu Iiga for three years and currently on leave working in the electorate office for National's finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith.
There, Beddell works with community groups and stakeholders, saying it is a passion to help people struggling to get a better deal with Government and council.
Beddell is a young man cut from the traditional C&R cloth of cutting costs, keeping rates down - but he doesn't say by how much - and reprioritising spending.
Asked where council should cut costs, Beddell has no specific answers: "The first thing they have to do is open the books. You can't tell me Auckland Council is running as efficient as it can.
"It's a must-win seat. If we don't win here we won't get change that everyone is calling for and end up with the status quo," he said.
The number one issue at this election, said Beddell, was Auckland Transport, saying every suburb was having an issue with the council-controlled organisation, which needed to be brought under control. He disagrees with AT "demonising the car owner and slowing traffic down".
The other big issue is the cost of living and the regional petrol tax, "which Josephine voted for but for me, it is a poll tax, it's regressive and fundamentally hurts the poor". He wants the tax gone and Government to pick up the tab.
Beddell opposes light rail down Dominion Rd and mayor Phil Goff's stadium plans. Locally, he opposes a poorly designed cycle lane in Ellerslie that is "not used and not safe" and wants a masterplan and better community facilities for Mt Wellington.
Claridge describes herself as a fiscal conservative. She believes "car-centric" policies are a mistake and backs more spending on public transport, cycling and walking.
One issue that excites Claridge is the rapid growth in Glen Innes and Panmure, but she is concerned about how dense new housing has become.
"That is fine as long as it is balanced with provision of good parks, good playgrounds and access to public transport," she said.
Jim Jackson and Keith Sharp know a thing or two about their Onehunga and Panmure communities and the politicking that goes on at election time.
For many years, Jackson has been front and centre of the Onehunga Enhancement Society, pushing for a new $28 million beach, to clean up Manukau Harbour and rallying against the east-west highway ploughing through the suburb.
Ditto for Sharp, the voice of the Panmure Action Group, which has been fighting a wave of plans for the suburb for the past 20 years.
"Panmure is a microcosm of many of the issues facing wider Auckland," said Sharp.
There's the Eastern Busway, a masterplan for the town centre and the Tāmaki Regeneration Company turning state houses into a mix of public and private homes.
The three projects, he said, are long-term, delays keep occurring and having a paralysing effect on the community.
Sharp said the community was not opposed to development, but often felt plans were not designed to benefit the people and town of Panmure, but planners' academic vision of what an urban community should look like.
Another problem, he said, was getting caught up every three years in the political warfare of two opposing camps who wanted to control Panmure for their own ideological purposes.
Jackson, who runs a large electrical company in Onehunga, is frustrated at slow progress connecting a new beach with the Onehunga wharf, which has been acquired by the council's development arm Panuku.
"In the community, there is a lot of negativity towards that," he said.
Jackson said there was no masterplan for Onehunga, and it had been that way for 15 years with nothing more than window dressing, officers in charge of the process and a weak local board.
"Panuku has been given the job of doing the (wharf) development but I don't think they have the right skills to do it," said Jackson.
The community is well served by regional facilities and open space, with Maungakiekie-One Tree Hill, Maungarei-Mt Wellington, Mutukaroa-Hamlins Hill and Panmure Basin all located within the local board's boundaries.
It also has the large retail areas of Sylvia Park, Onehunga and Panmure town centres.
The board is home to the regional Mt Smart Stadium facility and the industrial areas of Southdown, Westfield, and Mt Wellington.
This area is an employment hub for manufacturing, bulk storage and distribution.
The Tāmaki Transformation project is a key initiative in the area.
At this election, the ward seat has inherited the suburb of Ellerslie and the eastern half of St Johns.
Ethnicity: European 48 per cent, Asian 24 per cent, Pasifika 26 per cent, Māori 13 per cent
Median age: 33.4 years
Median household income: $68,100
Incumbent councillor: Josephine Bartley
Labour versus National
Josephine Bartley (Labour), Josh Beddell (C&R - Communities and Residents), Carmel Claridge (Better Auckland), Patrick O'Meara (United Locals)
Local Board candidates
Don Allan (C&R - Communities and Residents), Debbie Burrows (C&R - Communities and Residents), Clera Matafai (City Vision), Bryan Mockridge (United Locals), Godfrey Rudolph (City Vision), Jeanette Thorne (City Vision), Tony Woodcock (C&R - Communities and Residents)
Tania Batucan (C&R - Communities and Residents), Josh Bedell (C&R - Communities and Residents), Leanne Cross (United Locals), Hainoame Fulivai (C&R - Communities and Residents), Nerissa Henry (Labour), Chris Makoare (Labour), Peter McGlashan (Labour), Maria Meredith (Labour), Violetta Petersen-Lesatele (C&R - Communities and Residents)
Over these two weeks the Herald is reporting on six wards where the contest is especially fierce.
Wednesday: North Shore
Monday Sep 30: Waitematā-Gulf
Wednesday Oct 2: Albert-Eden-Puketāpapa
Friday Oct 4: Waitākere