Kaikoura politicians give their take on Andrew Little's resignation

Election hoardings featuring Andrew Little, like this one in Blenheim, could come down after the Labour leader's resignation.

Election hoardings featuring Andrew Little, like this one in Blenheim, could come down after the Labour leader's resignation.

The resignation of Labour Party leader Andrew Little on Tuesday has drawn a mixed reaction in the Kaikoura electorate just eight weeks out from the election.

Party stalwarts have commended his integrity and "guts", saying the elevation of Jacinda Ardern and Kelvin Davis to the ticket will bring a new dynamic to the campaign.

While Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith said it hammered home the choice for voters, between the stability offered by National and an opposition struggling to manage its own affairs.

Little first raised the possibility of resigning as leader on Sunday, after his party recorded its lowest ever result in the One News Colmar Brunton poll, at 24 per cent.

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He confirmed it on Tuesday morning, handing over the reins to Mt Albert MP Jacinda Ardern, who will be joined on the leadership ticket by Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis.

"The Labour team of MPs and staff have worked incredibly hard during my leadership, however recent poll results have been disappointing," Little said.

"As leader, I must take responsibility for these results. I do take responsibility and believe that Labour must have an opportunity to perform better under new leadership through to the election."

Labour candidate for Kaikoura Janette Walker said she had enormous respect for Little, and did not believe him stepping down would hurt Labour's chances heading into the election.

"I think it showed strength of character that he was prepared to make the call, and nominating Jacinda to be leader of the Labour Party to replace him - it takes guts to do that," she said.

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Walker said the media was fixated on poll results, and the ensuing negativity around Labour's performance had diminished the party's ability to put out its key messages.

"Jacinda and Kelvin will bring a different dynamic to the campaign, and maybe the media might want to actually focus on the real issues around housing, education and health."

The Labour candidate for Kaikoura said she had about a dozen hoardings featuring Little's face. There was a conference call on Tuesday night to discuss what would happen to them, she said.

Walker said she assumed they would be replaced, adding it was lucky she had not got around to putting them up in Kaikoura or other southern parts of the electorate.

Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith said the National Party was not concerned about who led the opposition parties, but said pressure from the Government had ultimately taken its toll on Little.

"We've been performing and they haven't, and the pressure has finally taken its toll. He's stepped aside," he said.

"We're a functional Government, there's a clear choice at the election between us and three parties with quite differing ideas that have difficulty managing their own affairs, let alone the country."

At current polling levels, Labour would need both the Greens, which it has a memorandum of understanding with, and New Zealand First to form a Government.

Smith said changing leaders eight weeks out from the election would create some chaos, and Labour would need to change their hoardings featuring Little to run a credible campaign. 

 - The Marlborough Express


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