New Labour candidate upbeat

Janette Walker
Janette Walker

Kaikoura could become a Labour-held seat, the party's new electorate candidate says.

Former farmer Janette Walker was confirmed as the Labour Party's Kaikoura electorate candidate for this year's general election at the party's selection meeting last night. She was the only person to be nominated.

Ms Walker moved to Marlborough from Feilding on Thursday.

Labour Kaikoura chairwoman Liz Collyns said the party was thrilled to have a candidate of Ms Walker's calibre endorsed by party members in Blenheim last night.

"Janette is already known and respected by many people in the farming and grape-growing community of Marlborough, Kaikoura and North Canterbury as the person who has driven the rural debt swaps issue to the point where the Commerce Commission is now prosecuting three major trading banks," she said.

"She has already shown how she can deliver on an important issue and we know she would do that for everyone in the Kaikoura electorate as our local MP."

The party was picking up some strong disaffection from National Party members about the dumping of MP Colin King, Mrs Collyns said.

Ms Walker was the ideal candidate to win over a broad range of voters. "She's an enormously capable woman who has run her own farm, been a senior nurse, is a business graduate and has raised a family."

Ms Walker said she was thrilled to be the Kaikoura candidate and was hitting the ground running.

"I moved to the electorate last week from Feilding, we had our first campaign team meeting on Sunday and I'm now filling my calendar with appointments across the electorate. I intend to give this everything I've got."

She believed the seat was winnable given the "discourse in the community", and was looking forward to the election campaign.

Her record showed, with her advocacy work for farmers, that she would make a good electorate MP and would represent the region well, she said.

"I recognise the importance of a strong, healthy, sustainable rural economy. It's really important to maintain vital services.

"My ambition is to be an electorate MP, committed to helping people and to driving change which benefits businesses and communities in Marlborough, Kaikoura and North Canterbury. I want to part of a Labour-led Government under David Cunliffe as prime minister that restores fairness and opportunity for all New Zealanders."

The Marlborough Express