Housing, homelessness key issues for Hutt South voters
Hutt South will have a new MP in just over a week after long-time MP Trevor Mallard decided to step down from the seat and on to the Labour list.
The electorate, based in the southern part of Lower Hutt, has been held by the Labour MP since 1996 and covers Eastbourne, Petone and Wainuiomata.
At the 2014 general election, Mallard won over National's Chris Bishop, a former tobacco lobbyist, by 709 votes.
Since Mallard announced he would not seek re-election to pursue his dream of becoming Speaker of the House, Bishop and Labour's Ginny Andersen, a former policy manager for New Zealand Police, have gone toe-to- toe trying to win over votes.
* Hutt South election: A day in the life of MP and Hutt South candidate Chris Bishop
* Hutt South election: a day in the life of candidate Ginny Andersen
* Suicide and boot camps feature in Hutt political meeting
Talking with people on the streets of Lower Hutt, it is clear housing and homelessness are the biggest issues facing the electorate. A quick drive through the suburbs of Epuni and Naenae confirms this, with several plots of vacant Housing New Zealand land on display.
Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace has made it no secret housing is his biggest concern, giving the Government a C-rating on the issue earlier this year.
To address the problem, National announced in July that, if re-elected, it would build and refurbish 700 homes across the Hutt Valley over the next five years.
Its announcement was met with criticism from opponents, who said it was a knee-jerk response to public pressure two months out from the election.
Labour announced in April it would build 400 new homes in Lower Hutt on land where state houses had been demolished.
While people were mostly concerned about housing and homelessness, they also said poverty, education and local retailing were important issues for the area.
In 2013, the Hutt South suburb of Moera was given a 10 on the Index of Deprivation, indicating the highest level of socio-economic poverty.
Also contesting the seat are candidates from TOP, NZ Outdoors Party and an independent.
- Article written by students from Massey University School of Journalism
Ginny Andersen, Labour Party: Labour candidate for Hutt South
The Hutt is a beautiful place to live but we could make it better. I want to see every child in the Hutt go to sleep in a bed – in a warm, dry and safe home.
I want us to swim in the river like we used to. I want our kids to grow up knowing they have a future here – that they can get a quality education and a job that pays enough to buy a house.
Chris Bishop, National Party: List MP
I want to keep working hard for the Hutt as the local MP. The Hutt is where I was born and raised and I want my home to be the best place possible to live, work and play.
I'm proud to be a champion for our great businesses, community groups and young people. I'm backing the Hutt to be a hub of innovation, science and technology, and where all kids get a great start in life.
Alok Gupta, New Zealand First: Editor/publisher
I should be the local MP because I very strongly feel for my community and my party's policies are the only true nationalistic policies which can intrinsically benefit each individual member of society and New Zealand as a nation.
I am committed to make New Zealand First, as the name says, in all spectrums of social wellbeing, which includes: health, safety, education, good public transport, affordable housing, better wages and a society of mutual trust, respect and credibility.
Virginia Horrocks, Green Party: Chair of Eastbourne Community Board
A strong Green Party vote in Hutt South is essential for the core Green Party values to be well represented in the next government. Unlike Labour and National, we take climate change seriously.
Our economic plan would dramatically reduce our climate emissions and begin the vital process of protecting our communities as sea level rises. Lower Hutt is particularly threatened by rising sea levels and increasingly violent storms.
The Green Party speaks for those living here now and future generations.
Andy Parkins, ACT Party: Accounts and logistics in recycling industry
I am asking for your party vote for ACT, who stand as the only party where individual freedom and responsibility are at its core, housing policy focused on encouraging and allowing people to build rather than government, and education that focuses on what's best for our kids, rather than unions.
National need direction and new ideas, and since ACT is one of only three parties that are guaranteed an electorate win, every party vote for ACT counts toward more MPs.