Nikki Kaye poised for tight contest
National's Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye describes herself as a compassionate person.
The 37-year-old considered resigning after she was diagnosed with breast cancer late last year, but former prime minster John Key encouraged her to take a brief break instead.
While the experience was "terrible", Kaye has recovered her health and learned from her battle with cancer.
"When you stare death down, everything comes into focus," Kaye said.
"I'm a better minister and a better MP - I'm more focussed on delivering because I don't think there will always be a tomorrow.
"I was a compassionate person before, but I'm more compassionate now because I have a high antenna for the pain of other people."
She is pleased the government is providing more funding for housing and support for homeless people.
"There have always been rough sleepers in central Auckland, but the housing situation has meant there has been absolute pressure and more people have been rough sleepers since I first became an MP.
"It's something for which we have to do more," Kaye said.
The National government's amalgamation of Auckland's eight councils into the Supercity in 2010 has allowed an Auckland Unitary Plan to be developed that enables hundreds of thousands more houses to be built, she said.
"We've priced out a generation of housing, because we haven't had the space to go either out or up.
"I've been doing a huge amount locally to try to address the situation," she said.
Immigration needs to continue to provide enough workers for the construction industry to build affordable housing, Kaye said.
"If we want to continue to fund education and health, we have to support a growing economy and that means some of those people who come will take up housing.
"If we slash immigration, we won't have the people to build those houses in an affordable way."
Reforms of the Resource Management Act are also needed to allow housing to be built quickly, she said.
"We have to keep costs down by ensuring there are not unwieldy resource consent processes."
Kaye, who lives in Ponsonby with a flatmate and two cats, visits Waiheke about once a month.
If elected again as MP for Auckland Central, she says she aims to help Waiheke groups win a share of the $40 million the government recently announced will be available for pest control over the next four years.
Kaye supports the National government's plans for a recreational fishing park in the Hauraki Gulf, but is more equivocal about proposals for marine reserves around Waiheke.
"I'm not opposed to a marine reserve if it's what the community want.
"The island was very split on the proposal that was put up."
Kaye does not support Our Waiheke's attempt to break away from Auckland Council, because of concerns about the financial viability of a Waiheke council.
As Minister of Education and Minister for Youth, she is proud to see a $40 million redevelopment about to begin at Waiheke High School and Te Huruhi Primary.
Kaye has a Bachelor of Science in genetics and a law degree from Otago University.
She worked in policy and project management for councils in London and as an IT project manager for a Scottish bank, before returning to Auckland in 2007.
Auckland Central was historically a left-wing electorate before Kaye became the first National MP to win it in 2008 at the age of 28.
Her victories have been by narrow margins, with more voters in 2014 supporting Labour and the Green Party overall than Kaye.
"It's always a tough fight," she said.
Outside work, she enjoys sports, walking, fishing, camping and reading biographies.
"I've become a bit of a hippy since I got sick last year.
"I used to eat a lot of processed food, but now I eat fruit and veges and I'm a kombucha addict," she said.
This is one of a series of stories profiling candidates in the Auckland Central electorate.