Mt Albert - the political home of Labour leaders for almost 100 years

MONIQUE FORD / STUFF

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern chats with Stuff political reporters Tracy Watkins and Vernon Small.

ANALYSIS: There's something in the water in Mt Albert.

The Auckland city electorate has been a nursery for Labour leaders for nearly 100 years.

Jacinda Ardern, who is little more than 24 hours into the Labour leadership, currently holds the Mt Albert seat but its leader origins actually go all the way back to 1919.

Jacinda Ardern has had a busy few months since winning the Mt Albert seat in February. She was quickly appointed deputy ...
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ.

Jacinda Ardern has had a busy few months since winning the Mt Albert seat in February. She was quickly appointed deputy leader and on Tuesday was promoted to top dog.

Is the electorate really that old? Well, Mt Albert has only been around since it was first contested at the 1946 election but it's one that's only ever elected Labour MPs.

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Jump back to 1919 and a man by the name of Michael Joseph Savage won the Auckland West seat.

Why is that relevant? Well, the Mt Albert electorate was carved out of Auckland West in 1946 and from 1919 to 1940 it was the home of Savage, who as we know went on to become Prime Minister of the first Labour government.

MICHAEL JOSEPH SAVAGE

Savage died in office triggering a by-election in 1940, which was won by Labour MP Peter Carr, who also died while holding the electorate, shortly before the 1946 election when Mt Albert was born.

Former Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage is held up as one of the country's greatest leaders of all time.
ALEXANDER TURNBULL LIBRARY

Former Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage is held up as one of the country's greatest leaders of all time.

Savage is known as the architect of the country's welfare state and is held up by many as one of New Zealand's greatest and most respected Prime Ministers.

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After a state funeral in Wellington his body was taken by train to Auckland where he was buried at Bastion Point on the Waitemata Harbour.

Fast forward to 1981 (Labour MPs Arthur Shapton Richards and Warren Freer held Mt Albert between 1946 and 1981) and that's when Helen Clark's tenure begins.

HELEN CLARK

Former Prime Minister. Aunty Helen.

Clark winning Mt Albert was her ticket to Parliament and she held the seat right through until 2009 when she left to accept a position with the United Nations.

Former Labour leader and Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, is a friend and mentor of the party's newest ...
LAWRENCE SMITH/STUFF

Former Labour leader and Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, is a friend and mentor of the party's newest leader, Jacinda Ardern.

The boundaries for Mt Albert have changed over the years and for one term between 1996 and 1999 it was split up and a chunk of it was renamed Owairaka, which Clark also held.

Her Prime Ministership spanned three terms from 1999 to 2008 when she was beaten by National's John Key.

Clark was replaced by Labour's Phil Goff, who has since gone on to become Auckland's Mayor. She was also the first defeated Labour Prime Minister to immediately resign from the leadership rather than taken on the role of Opposition leader.

The Mt Albert electorate changed under Helen Clark.
STUFF

The Mt Albert electorate changed under Helen Clark.

She went on to be the first woman to lead the United Nations Development Programme and in 2016 she was nominated as New Zealand's candidate for the UN Secretary-General. Clark missed out on the role, which was eventually won by Antonio Guterres.

DAVID SHEARER

Clark's departure in 2009 triggered a by-election in the seat, which was won by David Shearer.

Former Labour leader David Shearer triggered a by-election in Mt Albert earlier this year, which was won by the party's ...
Phil Reid

Former Labour leader David Shearer triggered a by-election in Mt Albert earlier this year, which was won by the party's newly-minted leader Jacinda Ardern.

In 2011 Shearer was elected leader of the Labour Party after Goff resigned.

Any chance of Shearer following in Clark's footsteps wasn't to be however when he announced his resignation less than two years later in 2013.

Shearer's leadership was marred by persistent speculation that then-economic development spokesperson David Cunliffe was planning a challenge for the leadership. While Shearer got the backing of the caucus initially and demoted Cunliffe from the front bench, he ended up resigning in 2013, stating he no longer had the "full confidence" of his caucus.

David Shearer in South Sudan.
NERRIS MARKOGIANNIS/UNMISS

David Shearer in South Sudan.

Cunliffe went on to become leader of the party and led it to its worst general election result since 1922.

Shearer stayed on in Parliament until last year when he was appointed to head a United Nations peace keeping mission in South Sudan.

Once again a by-election was triggered and that brings us to Ardern, who won the seat in February.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern.
MONIQUE FORD/STUFF

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern.

JACINDA ARDERN

Only days after claiming the Labour strong-hold seat there was speculation Ardern was in line to take over the deputy leadership. On March 7 Ardern was promoted after Labour veteran Annette King stood aside.

Ardern spent time in her earlier years working in both Goff and Clark's office as a researcher. She considers Clark a friend and mentor.

On Tuesday then-Labour leader Andrew Little announced he was stepping down from the top job and endorsed Ardern to replace him. Within an hour Ardern had been unanimously voted in as leader alongside her deputy, Kelvin Davis.

When Ardern's time in Mt Albert comes to an end expect to see Labour candidates lining the streets to take over the mantle.

And as for life after politics? Apparently the United Nations is a good place to start.

 - Stuff

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