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The RDU Election Broadcast – Port Hills

Written by on 18 August 2017

In the lead up to the election James Dann talks us through each electorate in Christchurch and gives us his perspective and predictions for each one. This week:

Port Hills

Held by: Ruth Dyson (Labour)

National: Nuk Korako

Green Party: Eugenie Sage


A couple of weeks ago, local journalist and friend of the show Philip Matthews quipped on twitter that his choices for the Port Hills electorate were a good Labour MP, a good Green MP, and a camper van. He was referring to Ruth Dyson, the sitting electorate MP, Eugenie Sage, the Green List MP who lives on Banks Peninsula, and National List MP and mobile-billboard fan Nuk Korako. Referring to Korako by his camper vans might seem a bit unfair – but it’s possibly better than looking too hard at his record in parliament.

Call it the Todd Barclay effect – if you hear about a government backbencher, then it’s probably for all the wrong reasons. Earlier this year, during the fires that spread across the hills that give the electorate its name, Korako found himself in the headlines after his twitter account started sending out messages that could best be described as “off message”. Just last month, he was in the news again, after some over-eager members of his campaign stuck one of his blue hoardings over the top of his red rival’s. But Korako’s most notable achievement in parliament – and I’m willing to bet that this will be the high point of his political career – was the “lost luggage” bill. This was a totally pointless piece of legislation that was called out by journalists and academics. It achieved nothing, except for the politically cynical attempt to deny any other bills being debated in parliament. It was eventually shelved, but not before the damage had been done to Korako’s reputation.

Port Hills is a large electorate, that stretches from Scarborough around the hills to Halswell, taking in areas on the flat like Woolston, St Martins, Somerfield and Lower Cashmere*. Dyson has held the seat, despite boundary and name changes, since the 90’s – except a term in which she lost and went on the list. The 2014 election was the first contested with the new boundaries, which had to be made to compensate for loss of electors due to the earthquakes. While Dyson retained the electorate with a good majority, she and Labour only converted about half her candidate votes to party votes. While the challenge from Korako cannot be taken for granted, getting the two-tick Labour message will be her most important priority.

The electorate’s unique mix of affluent areas (the hills) and reformed hippies (St Martins, Roimata, Heathcote Valley) means that Port Hills returns the highest Green party vote in the city. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, given the recent shift to Labour and away from the Greens. Big local issues have been, well, the fires, obviously, but also the government’s attempt to close Redcliffs School, which Dyson has been strongly opposed to.

Prediction: Dyson to win the seat, increasing her majority. Labour to improve the party vote, but still lose it. Nuk Korako to go missing for a number of days, eventually to be found on the domestic baggage carousel at Christchurch Airport.

*the author grew up in, went to school in, and lives in the electorate.

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