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The RDU Election Broadcast – the rest

Written by on 20 September 2017

There are a couple of other electorates that skirt Christchurch that we’re going to feature in this series.. Selwyn and Waimakariri are rural electorates on the fringes of the city that have become more and more tied to Christchurch since the quakes. Both electorates absorbed a large number of people displaced by the quakes, being further away from the shaking, but also having more flat land that they were able to quickly open up for new subdivisions. As a result, the populations in the main centres – Rolleston, Templeton and Lincoln in Selwyn, and Rangiora, Kaiapoi and Woodend / Pegasus in Waimakariri – have grown significantly. This has led to them having their own issues, which are overlapping with the city proper, but also unique to them. The main one is transport, with much of the population that live in these satellite towns having to commute into the city for work. This has resulted in congestion on the main roads in, and a significant expansion in roading construction by the National government.

Selwyn is held by National Cabinet Minister Amy Adams, with one of the largest majorities in the country. This is in part due to Labour’s embarrassingly poor candidate selection at the last election. I also think – and this is just my theory, but hey, whatever – that a large number of the voters in the urban areas of these two electorates are the “aspirational” John Key voter. Having been displaced by the quakes, they needed to find somewhere to live in a hurry, and many of them chose to up sticks and move to one of these satellite towns. Here, they could buy a piece of land much cheaper than they would within the city limits, build a much bigger house than they would have in town, have a bigger backyard. It is the last gasp of the “kiwi dream” – a big house on a big section with quiet neighbours. Even though their boy John isn’t in charge any more, they are still down with the version of New Zealand that he aspired to, and which Bill English is trying his best to espouse.

Adams will win comfortably, and so will Matthew Doocey in Waimak. Doocey won at the last election, after proving he was a good solider by having a tilt at the Christchurch East by-election, which National was never going to win. He’s been National’s best performing local backbencher, which is a nice way of saying he’s not done anything stupid. Though Labour’s Dan Rosewarne seems like a decent candidate, I think the party vote in this electorate would show that this is no longer a winnable seat for Labour. This is not the Kaiapoi of Norm Kirk’s day. Of course what all of these developments bank on is the ability to drive everywhere, forever. There is barely public transport; you can’t bike to town. These voters want roads. Lots of them. Bigger ones. Even though they are more tied to town, they’re in the country. National’s play for the rural vote will also have cut through – it might not effect them personally, but it effects the town, and they are the town.

The other electorate that some Christchurch voters might be in is Te Tai Tonga, the biggest electorate in the country. This is the Maori electorate that covers the whole South Island, as well as part of Wellington, the Chathams and Stewart Islands. It is massive. Speaking of massive, the current MP, Labour’s Rino Tirakatene, is unlikely to lose this seat. While it is former Green co-leader Metiria Turei’s only chance of getting back into parliament, she’s very unlikely to take the seat. That said, I don’t pretend to speak for Maori voters, so there are other authors out there who are better qualified to opine on this contest.


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