Nikki Kaye is the incumbent MP for Auckland Central but will she remain so after the General Election on September 20th? Here's my prediction and why.
The Auckland Central electorate, which includes Waiheke, will be one of the most interesting to watch on election night on September 20. It was closely contested last time and will be again. However, I’m prepared to stick my neck out and make a prediction. That is, as economists like to say, cet par (other things being equal) and the same candidates stand again.
Both Labour’s Jacinda Ardern and sitting Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye remain popular. They’ve done well. Kaye is now a junior minister (for Civil Dence) and Ardern is ranked 6th in the shadow cabinet. They are both young (mid-30s), personable and attractive. They work hard in the constituency. From a Waiheke persepective their elevation within the party has meant their profiles here have suffered over the last couple of years. Nevertheless they remain attentive to the island and put in appearance as often as they can.
Roche by comparison has not fared so well within her party’s ranks. She will probably be 13th on their list having dropped back from 11th. She is over 50 and will not be as attractive to the rich, upwardly mobile inner city set of champagne socialists as Ardern. However, there is a strong green contingent amongst the the lycra clad, cycling elite, with their top of the range bikes, and lawyers suits (donned after a shower at work of course although, come to think of it, not necessarily). This can be seen by the strong party showing for the Greens in the electorate in 2011 (Nat 42%, Labour 25% and Greens 23%).
Roche’s intervention in the seat almost certainly handed it to National at the last election. Kaye won by one of the smallest majorities in the country, pipping Ardern at the post by just over 700 votes, votes lost from Labour to the Greens. Ardern presents a better face to the public than Roche. She should not lose as many votes to the Greens this time round. Kaye will find it tough to hang onto her seat given the popularity of Ardern, despite the fact that she's a good constituency MP.
From a Waiheke perspective the island electorate vote was evenly split. Roche polled well here, as you’d expect from an island resident, and her influence put the Green Party in control of the Local Board in the recent Council elections. She can again expect to poll well, but the split in the left vote might well mean Kaye is the highest polling candidate on Waiheke.
The party vote in Auckland Central might not go as well for the Greens. Roche’s poor showing at national level might not stand her party in such good stead. On the Green Party (provisional) list she’s been leap-frogged by younger, more qualified candidates, notably Julie-Anne Genter (34) and James Shaw (40) who’ve have moved up 5 places to overtake her.
So here is my prediction for Auckland Central. It will be a win for Labour by a small margin that will buck the national trend.