The fight gets tougher in Mount Roskill

Issue 358 November 15, 2016

Ordinarily, a by-election in New Zealand would not cause a kerfuffle, especially in an electorate which has been the stronghold of a single political party for 35 years.

By-elections are usually a foregone conclusion with the sitting party easily taking the seat vacated by its incumbent.

But Mount Roskill, which faces a by-election on December 3 following the election of Phil Goff (who represented this Parliamentary Electorate since 1981), has become a critical political equation with the entry of the recently formed New Zealand People’s Party. Ordinarily, a new Party would have to wait at least three years before it could make its impact.

People’s Party impacts

But not this one. Its Founder-Leader Roshan Nauhria, unlike his National Party opponent Dr Parmjeet Parmar, has been a resident of Mt Roskill for more than three decades and is known to the people of the area well. Apart from being a successful businessman in an extremely volatile industry such as construction and building, he has been a community and social leader by his own right. The Balmoral Temple, which comes in the neighbouring electorate of Mt Albert, has had the benefit of his generosity for long. If the number of people turning out to his meetings is any indication, he has emerged as a strong candidate on his own turf.

Labour Man

Michael Wood, whose candidature as the Labour Party man was announced long before even the Mayoral race began to move, is also a man of the location. He has lived in Mt Roskill for the past 13 years, long enough perhaps to be known as the ‘kid of the block.’ He says that he understands the electorate well and has his youth and experience as a local board member to give him strength.

The by-election result would depend on the voter turnout.

Demographic changes

Mt Roskill has undergone significant demographic changes since the past four decades. People of Asian origin (mostly Indians) claim the largest share of 40.3%, followed by Europeans (38.9%), Pacific People (14.6%) and Maori (5.8%)

Out of the estimated population of 53,120, only 46,794 persons had registered with the Election Commission as at October 31, 2016. Young people in the 18-24 age group accounted for the largest share of the population at 7640, followed by those between 25 and 29 years (6660). There were 5290 persons aged 70 years and above enrolled.

(Source: The Electoral Commission).

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Prominent People

Mt Roskill has been the home for several well-known people including billionaire Graham Hart, All Backs Coach John Hart, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, Former Reserve Bank of New Zealand Governor Alan Bollard, many Rugby Union and Rugby League players, New Zealand People’s Party Leader and as mentioned, by-election candidate Roshan Nauhria and his Labour counterpart Michael Wood.

Mount Roskill is located on the western edge of the former Auckland City, bordering the Manukau Harbour. It is anchored around the suburbs of Mount Roskill, Three Kings, Hillsborough and a large section of Balmoral. The 2008 election boundaries added in Lynnfield and New Windsor at the expense of Onehunga, which returned to the Maungakiekie electorate after being cut out in 1999. The Mount Roskill electorate is working class and multi-ethnic, with a high Pacific Island and Asian population, and has the highest number of overseas-born residents of any New Zealand electorate, nearly 40 per cent (as of 2001).

During the past week, semblance of dirty politics has emerged but we hope that these would not go beyond limits of decency.

We will watch and report the developments with interest.

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