Mrs Hayes may take over from Mr Hayes

EYEING WAIRARAPA: Joanne Hayes is seeking the nomination for National in the Wairarapa Electorate.
EYEING WAIRARAPA: Joanne Hayes is seeking the nomination for National in the Wairarapa Electorate.

National's Mr Hayes could make way for National's Mrs Hayes in the Wairarapa electorate this election.

Joanne Hayes, the party's newest MP, has announced she will be seeking the nomination for Wairarapa following the retirement of incumbent John Hayes.

The seat stretches from the south-east coast of New Zealand up to the southern Hawke's Bay and includes the towns of Dannevirke, Pahiatua and Woodville.

It also includes Eketahuna, where Mrs Hayes was born. "I felt this was an opportunity for me to basically, to go home," she said.

There had been speculation that Mrs Hayes would stand in Palmerston North this year, meaning the competition for the city seat would have been between two sitting MPs.

Mrs Hayes, until recently the chairwoman of National's Palmerston North branch, had previously deflected questions on whether she would stand in the city.

She had been unsuccessful in seeking the nomination in Palmerston North in 2011 and ran in Dunedin South instead.

Speaking to the Manawatu Standard in Feilding last month, Prime Minister John Key said Mrs Hayes would be "a great representative for Palmerston North".

The prime minister's office later clarified that Mr Key had not been endorsing Mrs Hayes as the Palmerston North candidate. John Hayes is one of several National MPs who have announced their retirement in recent weeks. He will step down at the next election.

Mrs Hayes - no relation to John Hayes - entered Parliament last month on the National list after Katrina Shanks left to take up a role with the Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand.

Mrs Hayes said she would be moving from the Apiti farm she shared with her husband to her mother's house in Masterton. She said she felt she had good ties with the Wairarapa electorate and an understanding of some of the issues there. John Hayes retained the Wairarapa seat for National at the last election with a majority of about 7000.

Manawatu Standard