Electorate Watch: West Coast-Tasman
Ancient land of good keen blokes and alternative folks.
Continuing my series on interesting electorates, today it’s West Coast-Tasman.
A long thin electorate running down the northern half of the west coast of the South Island. Think sand flies, beautiful landscapes, lots of rain, Pike River, alternative lifestylers, whitebaiting, and the spiritual home of the Labour Party.
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Ethnically the electorate today is much like New Zealand was when I grew up - a lot of white people, quite a few Māori, and bugger all of anything else.
West Coast-Tasman has the highest proportion of people of European descent in the country. Of the 65 general electorates in NZ it comes in 63rd, third lowest, for both the proportion of Asian and for Pacific Island people.
In terms of religion the second highest proportion of people in the country indicated “no religion” in the 2018 census. Although it also came second nationwide for those who follow “Spiritualism and New Age religions”.
West Coast-Tasman has the second highest rate of home ownership in the country, and more people use coal to heat their homes than in any other electorate. Cheaper houses and good wage growth are making this region an attractive re-location option for some, as you can see in this clip:
The area is associated with people like award winning author Keri Hulme, Viaduct Trump - Leo Molloy, our longest serving leader - Richard “King Dick” Seddon, and coal miner, playwright, and occasional tree-hugger Mervyn Thompson.
Anyone who has followed the Pike River tragedy, and the subsequent fight for truth and justice, could hardly fail to be moved by the courage and determination of the families affected.
The electorate was created for the first MMP election in 1996, combining the old West Coast electorate with part of the Tasman electorate. Of the nine electoral contests so far the current MP, Labour’s Damien O’Connor, has won eight of them, the exception being National’s Chris Auchinvole, who won narrowly in 2008.
This election there are eight parties, and one independent, battling for the seat:
FARRELLY, Jackie - New Zealand First Party
This is Jackie’s third run in the electorate, she received 4.8% of the electorate vote in 2017 but just 1.6% in 2020, which was a tough election for New Zealand First.
Jackie lists her three top priorities as:
Restore farm and land ownership rights. Significant natural areas and emissions targets are unnecessary.
Entrench equality, equal rights and responsibilities. One person, one vote, all equal.
Remove Three Waters scheme. It is inappropriate, impinging on rights of councils and ratepayers.
Which is a long way of saying that she’s opposed to climate change action, and co-governance.
You’d have to assume that with a list position of 27 Jackie will not be heading to parliament this election either.
GREY, Sue - NZ Outdoors & Freedom Party
One half of the dynamic duo that are Freedoms NZ, Sue is well known for her opposition to things like 5G, and 1080. She went so far as to say that the roll out of voluntary vaccinations for Covid was “Government-mandated genocide”.
Sue came under fire for spreading disinformation about the vaccinations, receiving multiple bans from Facebook. It’s easy to receive a ban from that site, but usually it’s for being too honest about something. Those telling lies are usually just fine.
You might recall that Sue was the lawyer for the family who didn’t want their critically ill baby to receive life-saving medical treatment, lest they receive vaccinated blood.
Not all conspiracy nutters are harmless. Speaking of which, you might recognise the woman on the right as Liz Gunn, more on her in a bit.
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