Saturday night: When the voting's done

Kaikōura MP, National's Stuart Smith, visits businesses on Grove Rd, in Blenheim, in the last days of the campaign.
SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

Kaikōura MP, National's Stuart Smith, visits businesses on Grove Rd, in Blenheim, in the last days of the campaign.

Two will be at the pub, one will be at home, the incumbent has hired a hall.

By Saturday night, the politicking will be done, the billboards will be down (supposedly) and the ballots will be counted.

And regardless of where the candidates are watching the results come in, they will be surrounded by family and friends.

As the campaign winds down, election hopefuls from the four main parties vying for the Kaikōura seat reflect on a tumultuous six weeks.

READ MORE: 
* New Zealand First candidate Jamie Arbuckle says Marlborough has 'had enough'
Labour candidate Janette Walker on 'working at the coal face'
Green Party candidate Dr Richard McCubbin on the campaign trail ... in Canada
Kaikōura MP and National candidate Stuart Smith on economic growth and 'sharing the benefits'

Kaikōura MP Stuart Smith, National

Labour candidate Janette Walker has to juggle her work at Crossroads Charitable Trust with her campaign work.
SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

Labour candidate Janette Walker has to juggle her work at Crossroads Charitable Trust with her campaign work.

Kaikōura MP, National candidate Stuart Smith said his campaign team would watch the results at the Ukaipo Rangitāne Cultural Centre, in Grovetown, on Saturday night.

"Friends, family, supporters, all the people who have had a hoarding on their fence are invited.

"I'm confident I'm going to win. I'm not being arrogant, but you go in it to win, you don't go into it to lose."

New Zealand First candidate Jamie Arbuckle describes party leader Winston Peter's visit to Blenheim as a campaign highlight.
SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

New Zealand First candidate Jamie Arbuckle describes party leader Winston Peter's visit to Blenheim as a campaign highlight.

In his second campaign for the Kaikōura seat, Smith said he had to juggle his MP duties with electioneering.

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"Last time I was fulltime campaigning for nine months leading up to the election. This time I haven't had the time to do that much doorknocking. I haven't covered the country like I did in 2014, simply because of the earthquake disruption and because Parliament was sitting until six weeks ago." 

Smith thought the public meetings had worked well for him.

Green Party candidate Dr Richard McCubbin travelled through a snowy Lewis Pass to meet voters in Marlborough for the ...
SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

Green Party candidate Dr Richard McCubbin travelled through a snowy Lewis Pass to meet voters in Marlborough for the "last push".

"Personally I don't think they change people's minds, it just confirms people's prejudices, they've usually got their minds made up anyway."

Win or lose, he would run again if the party allowed him to, he said.

"Even John Key and Bill English had to reapply for their jobs."

Janette Walker, Labour

Labour candidate Janette Walker described the last few months as a campaign of two halves.

"First we had Andrew Little as leader. Then it all changed, then we got Jacinda [Ardern]. The change in voter attitudes since then has been massive. She's clearly someone that resonates with a wider variety of people."

That change in attitude was obvious when doorknocking this year compared to her first campaign in 2014, she said.

"People have actually been thinking about this election. People are more engaged, they're more aware, you're not going 'do you know there's an election in a couple of weeks'."

A downside was the amount of travelling involved in reaching people across the electorate, from the Marlborough Sounds to North Canterbury, since the November earthquake caused the closure of State Highway 1.

"You do start to get physically tired doing that drive all the time."

Walker was looking forward to catching up on housework on Saturday, before casting her own vote, and then watching the results roll in at the Woodbourne Tavern, she said.

"People are more than welcome to come along. My whole team will be there, the guys who deliver flyers, the guys who put up the signs, they've all helped so much with the campaign, and we're looking forward to it."

Jamie Arbuckle, New Zealand First

New Zealand First candidate Jamie Arbuckle said just being nominated for the job was a highlight of his campaign.

"That was a real buzz, I got a lot of energy from that. And having [New Zealand First leader] Winston Peters come here and spend the morning, that was quite special."

The three-term Blenheim Ward candidate for the Marlborough District Council was no stranger to campaigning, but standing for the Kaikōura electorate proved "a little bit different". Voters called him at all hours to quiz him on various issues, he said.

"People ask where you stand on things like euthanasia, abortion, prostitution ... I did find that quite difficult. With council, phone calls are more about their rubbish not being picked up or cracks in their footpath."

After selling fruit and vegetables at the farmers' market on Saturday morning, as usual, Arbuckle would watch the election results come in at Biddy Kate's Irish Bar in Blenheim.

"We've invited all of Marlborough to Biddy Kate's. Everyone is welcome. I think it is going to be an interesting night. We've got a huge support base."

Arbuckle was keen to run for the seat again in the 2020 election, he said.

Dr Richard McCubbin, Green Party

After returning from his daughter's wedding in Canada last week, Green Party candidate Dr Richard McCubbin hit the road to reach as many voters as possible.

He and his wife Deborah Howell travelled through the snowy Lewis Pass to go doorknocking in Marlborough.

"We were in Blenheim [on Tuesday] handing out leaflets and trying to get them to vote Green. It's the last push.

"And we'll be calling some voters. I've been using Facebook a lot, I had to create my own official page. I'm sure the future of campaigning is social media, and accessing the younger voters, making videos. It's a bit scary, but that's what you do when you're a brave candidate."

McCubbin, running for the Kaikōura seat for the first time, said he underestimated how much work went into a successful campaign.

"To my surprise I really enjoyed the candidate debates. They're a bit scary because you never know what questions are going to be thrown at you. But I loved it, it's a very old-fashioned way of campaigning."

The team would not be at the pub to watch the results, but celebrating at McCubbin's home in Waikari, North Canterbury, he said.

Win or lose, McCubbin would "seriously consider" running again, "if the local party will have me".

How they fared last time

Kaikōura electorate results 2014

National's Stuart Smith: 57.18 per cent
Labour's Janette Walker: 22.72 per cent
Green Party's Steffan Browning: 8.30 per cent
New Zealand First's Steve Campbell: 5.20 per cent

Kaikōura electorate party votes 2014

National: 18,963 votes
Labour: 5628 votes
NZ First: 3338 votes
Green Party: 2872 votes

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 - The Marlborough Express

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