Nominations for Tauranga's next National candidate have begun today, but it could likely be another month before the final shortlist will be named.
On March 15, Tauranga MP Simon Bridges announced he was stepping down from the role after 14 years, during which time he rose to become party leader.
National Party Central North Island regional councillor Andrew von Dadelszen said the party was taking the unusual step of having the next candidate chosen by the party faithful, instead of the party board.
"The selection is going to be 100 per cent selected by the members of the National Party in Tauranga, because of our strong numbers [here]."
Von Dadelszen said the board would retain the power to veto candidates "but it won't be participating in the selection process".
"It's a truly democratic process that's a bit unique."
Nominations close on April 13, when the board would begin a vetting process of candidate hopefuls.
The candidate list would be whittled down to five "and that last list will be made public".
However, the date for this announcement was yet to be confirmed. It was expected to happen mid to late April.
Tauranga City councillor Kelvin Clout had already indicated an interest in the role and Rotorua Lakes councillor Tania Tapsell had been tipped as a runner by former National leader Don Brash.
However, once candidates were nominated, they were unable to speak publically about it until the shortlist was released.
Party president Peter Goodfellow said local members were looking for a candidate "who is passionate about fighting for the issues that matter to communities across Tauranga".
"Like addressing the crushing cost-of-living crisis, restoring local democracy and delivering better transport solutions to get the city moving."
Pointedly, given the criticism levelled at the party board for alleged interference in selection at the last election, Goodfellow said the party was "proud of our democratic selection process".
Asked in her weekly post-Cabinet press conference on Monday if she thought Labour could win in Tauranga, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was a seat that hadn't been held by Labour since the 1930s.
Ardern promised to set a date for the by-election soon, saying she was seeking one point of clarification with the Electoral Commission in terms of timing.
"Once I get that back I imagine I should be able to make an announcement in short order."
In 2020, Labour won the party vote with Jan Tinetti coming within 2000 votes of winning the seat from Bridges.
His 2017 margin was just over 11,000 votes.
Last week, National leader Christopher Luxon said the party was trying something different and, over the summer, it rolled out the "National 101", a course for people interested in candidacy.
The programme was aimed at helping to find people who might not have been interested in becoming an MP before and educating them about how National works.
Luxon said the party wanted to "reset" some of its "core processes" - and not just candidate selection.
- additional reporting NZ Herald