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Labour of love

Kieran McAnulty’s election party at the Wairarapa-Bush clubrooms in Masterton. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

The results are in
Third time’s a charm for Labour’s Kieran McAnulty

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Having worked with the drive and commitment expected of a Wairarapa electorate MP for three years, on Saturday night Labour list MP Kieran McAnulty got handed the job for real.

McAnulty won the most candidate votes in the electorate at 19,519 with National’s candidate Mike Butterick gaining 14,108. Behind National in 2017 by more than 2000 votes, on Saturday McAnulty won by more than 5000 votes.

Ron Mark came in third with 2884 votes, next was Green candidate Celia Wade-Brown on 993 then Act’s Roger Greenslade at 910, New Conservative’s Warren Butterworth 502, Advance NZ’s Nigel Gray 356, and Independent Aileen Haeata 72.

Wairarapa Labour held a thronging party at the Wairarapa-Bush rugby clubrooms on Saturday night with a dream result for the party and their candidate.

People were hugging and some were crying.

McAnulty was excited and relaxed.

He was with his proud parents Marie and Mike McAnulty and about 100 volunteers delighted with him and the party.

This was a result they had been working towards for 15 years.

But in McAnulty’s speech, he said that the death of his beloved grandmother Betty McAnulty [85] two weeks ago was a difficult blow during the campaign.

“I would do anything to have her here to see my win tonight, I have wanted this for a long time for my hometown and for my friends and family and supporters,” McAnulty said.

“To my parents Marie and Mike, thank you for your love and support – it has been wonderful to know you are there for me, I have wanted this job since I was a boy.

“Thank you very much.”

He never thought Labour would be in the position to win the candidate vote and party vote as well in Wairarapa.

About 47 per cent of Wairarapa voters gave their party vote to Labour; 29.2 per cent voted National.

“I am grateful and thankful for the level of trust in me to represent the community,” he said.

“There has not been a Wairarapa MP with the level of influence I can bring to government for a long time. I am determined to deliver for the region.”

He thanked his delighted supporters for the hard work done and the 11,000 contacts by phone or on the streets to get the more than 5000 majority.

In particular, he thanked his campaign manager Callum Penley. After the speech outside, Penley took a call from his mother in Australia and tears started flowing.

He could not be with her, but they shared the victorious moment over the phone.

“It is just overwhelming what we have done, it is fantastic.”

Acknowledging the other major candidates McAnulty said Butterick should be proud of what he did in a short campaign and pledged to work with him. He said outgoing NZ First MP [the party not making it back to Parliament] Ron Mark should also be “incredibly proud” of his career and his work as defence minister and wished him all the best.

After these words, McAnulty let loose, had a dance with his mum, and soaked up the cool air on the deck.

National candidate Butterick congratulated McAnulty and later turned up to the Labour event.

Wairarapa’s Green Party candidate Wade-Brown also came to the party with her supporters.

The two hugged and then those gathered watched the broadcast of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delivering her speech at the Auckland Town Hall.

After this, the music pumped up again, the red dance floor lights set the mood, drinks flowed, and the long-awaited party took off.

‘Ins and outs’ post-election

NZ First’s Wairarapa candidate and cabinet minister Ron Mark’s album was playing at the Buckhorn Bar and Grill on Saturday night and his smooth voice kept the mood stable when it was clear by 7.30pm that the party was over and he was out for the count.

Ron Mark with his partner Christine Tracey, and Buckhorn owner John Kennedy. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND

Mark enjoyed his three years as Minister of Defence and at 66 years old was looking beyond Parliament to his lifestyle block and to spend more time with his family.

But the diplomacy aspect of his ‘dream job’ was what he loved, and he told the Times-Age on Saturday he had his ears open should an ambassador position be suggested to him.

“I’ve had lovely messages from veterans thanking me for my support for them and this is a highlight of my career for me,” Mark said.

He said his campaign was long, hard, and focused right to the end with more billboards and New Zealand flags going up as the campaign went on.

But he would soon be packing up his Parliament desk, as would his colleague Tracey Martin, of NZ First, who also lives in Carterton.

National and former Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott packed up and left Parliament when the election was called and with Mike Butterick losing to Labour’s Kieran McAnulty, National now has no Wairarapa representative in Parliament.

But newcomer to Wairarapa Kris Faafoi is a Labour minister and number 15 on the party list.

This means Wairarapa now has three Labour MPs based in the region: Kieran McAnulty, Faafoi, and Meka Whaitiri who won the Ikaroa-Rawhiti electorate for a third time.

Ikaroa-Rawhiti candidate Elizabeth Kerekere would also be in Parliament as a Green Party list MP.

Mike Butterick, centre, and National Party supporters. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

At the National Party election event at the Hood Aerodrome’s Kittyhawk Cafe, Butterick was quick to wish McAnulty all the best.

He said McAnulty had a big job of the covid-19 recovery to deal with and that meant creating jobs and supporting businesses.

Green candidate Celia Wade-Brown was happy with the Greens getting well over the five per cent threshold to get into Parliament for another term.

At her dinner party event at Don Luciano, she was excited to see Chloe Swarbrick take the Auckland Central seat.

She was also delighted for McAnulty.

Whaitiri has mandate for third time

A majority of Ikaroa-Rawhiti voters have supported the Labour Party, awarding the seat to Labour’s incumbent Meka Whaitiri with 10,833 votes. About 67 per cent also gave Labour their party vote.

Maori Party candidate Heather Te Au-Skipworth was second, gaining 5781 votes. Green Party candidate Elizabeth Kerekere gained 1535 votes.

The seat covers a large area from Gisborne down to the outskirts of Upper Hutt so campaigning across the electorate is a big task.

But Whaitiri increased her 2017 majority and the party vote.

“We wanted to return Jacinda Ardern, retain this seat and, increase the party vote and we did all three things so I am very pleased,” Whaitiri said.

“My goal is to rebuild our regional economies and ensure whanau have the chance to work locally. Together we are doing this, Ko Tatou Ko Ikaroa-Rawhiti.”

After the win, she thanked those who voted for her and her general seat colleagues across the region for their support.

Meka Whaitiri, second from right, has secured the Ikaroa-Rawhiti seat. PHOTO/FACEBOOK

“It made a difference. He mihi nui Ki a koutou. To my whanaunga [fellow candidates] Heather Te Au-Skipworth and Elizabeth Kerekere thank you for the way you ran your campaigns … nothing but respect, mana wahine at its best. Ki a kaha korua.”

As a cabinet minister previously for customs, forestry and agriculture, she was keen to support the government with portfolios that were vitally important for the government’s second term throughout the vast electorate.

She said she was “ecstatic” about Kieran McAnulty’s win of the Wairarapa seat.

“National supporters could see he was a ‘stand-up’ type of guy and he won their trust,” she said.

“I am very pleased for him; he worked hard and earned the seat.”


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