The leader of the National Party says the party will focus on winning the Tauranga by-election, and is not concerned about whether Winston Peters stands or not.
Christopher Luxon was at the launch of National candidate Sam Uffindell’s campaign in Mount Maunganui this morning.
Winston Peters, a former Tauranga MP, has not yet indicated whether he will stand in the 18 June by-election.
Luxon said the party will present itself as the one for the people of Tauranga.
“It doesn’t worry me. What we’re really focused on is actually making sure we do the very best that we can presenting the principles, the policies, the values of the National Party to the people of Tauranga.
“And if we do that right, we earn back their trust, and the rest will take care of itself.”
Uffindell is targeting roading issues as one of the biggest concerns among voters.
He said while issues around crime and the cost of living are worrying people, traffic congestion is a problem.
“Local people keep telling me that they’re sick and tired of sitting in their cars trying to get from A to B.
“For a city of 150,000 people, it is madness that we face the daily congestion that we do.
“And the only real positive about it is they get to look at my signs for longer.”
Uffindell told around 400 supporters in Mt Maunganui that he returned to New Zealand so that his children could grow up in Bay of Plenty.
Uffindell, 38, is currently the Head of Financial Economic Crime for Rabobank and owns a small agribusiness based in the Bay of Plenty.
Before settling in the Bay of Plenty with his family last year, he was vice president of Deutsche Bank in Singapore.
He said he wants to make sure Tauranga remains the best place to raise a family.
Uffindell said if he is elected, he will prioritise investment in roads and restore local democracy to the city.
The Tauranga City Council is currently governed by commissioners.
Simon Bridges, the former National Party leader and MP for Tauranga since 2008, announced his surprise retirement in March and gave his farewell speech this week.
National is widely expected to retain the seat.
Labour’s Jan Tinetti, who ran against Bridges in 2020 and received 39.2 percent of the vote, is also running again. ACT’s Cameron Luxon and several minor parties are also expected to contest the seat.
Luxon said the seat can not be taken for granted.
“We are gonna go out there and work incredibly hard, knock on doors, deliver pamphlets, be on street corners, so that we can get all the people in Tauranga to get the vote out, and to elect Sam as our new MP for Tauranga.”