Helen White's take on Waiheke Island

rose davis/ Stuff.co.nz

Helen White offers her views

Concerns about social justice sparked Helen White's decision to stand as the Labour candidate for Auckland Central.

White has had significant victories in her 25 years as a lawyer specialising in employment law, but said becoming an MP would increase her ability to make a difference.

"I have always done social justice employment law, but I want to move into a position where I can effect social change properly," she said.

Labour's candidate for Auckland central, Helen White, says housing affordability is a major issue on Waiheke.
ROSE DAVIS/STUFF

Labour's candidate for Auckland central, Helen White, says housing affordability is a major issue on Waiheke.

One of the big issues she sees for Waiheke is the struggle to maintain a diverse community when housing has become unaffordable for many.

"A lot of this comes back to how much people earn.

"We've got two parents working and not able to buy a house or make ends meet and there are another bunch of people with incomes so different from that, they don't realise how it is for people in that position."

She supports more state houses being built and policies that improve rental housing standards and security.

A crack down on property speculation and stricter rules for overseas investors are needed, she said.

Our Waiheke's bid to break away from Auckland Council and form a council on the island seems "too radical".

"We need to try to keep the benefits of the Supercity, but go back to the original idea, which would have preserved the ability of Waiheke to control its own destiny."

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As a teenager, White visited Waiheke regularly for weekends with friends.

She supports Ron Walden's application to the Environment Court to stop Auckland Council removing the Rural Urban Boundary that protects Waiheke's green spaces from intensive development.

She has worked as a barrister for unions and been involved with the Labour Party for years, but this is her first time standing as a candidate.

The 49-year-old, who lives in Morningside, has a Bachelor of Arts in history and a law honours degree from Auckland University.

Two of her three children, aged 16, 18 and 22, are studying at the university.

"Labour has come up with a pretty good policy on tertiary education, which includes people getting three years of free study.

"It's enormously important people can access education at that level."

White has been pleased to see a shift over recent weeks, so people are no longer holding today's Labour candidates to account for the sins of the party in the 1980s.

"Richard Prebble and Roger Douglas lost the plot.

"Those things have informed the way I think a society should be run and made me better at holding the line.

"As a lawyer, I've stood up to a whole lot of big businesses - I know how important it is to be brave and to stand up to those forces and how powerful those forces are."

In her free time, she adores her "ridiculous" dachshund, Shilo, walking in the bush and on beaches, watching birds, reading and blobbing on the couch watching movies.

 - Stuff

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