A tide of people filled the streets of Whangarei today in anticipation of the announcement confirming Shane Jones as the New Zealand First candidate for the Whangarei electorate.
It's a move that's been long anticipated with the former Labour MP having just ended his term as the Ambassador for Economic Development in the Pacific.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says, "I'm saying to Whangarei if you look around here and the assets you've got, we're not doing nearly as well as we should have done. We've had years of neglect you've got the best port in the country and no train to it. How much more neglect do you want to put up with? Or do you want to change it which you can and you can change it right now on the 23rd of September!"
Shane Jones says it's a union of two Northland boys, one is extraordinarily experienced and the other whose being given a second chance in politics. Jones told the crowd, "Now our friends from National they deny that theirs something in the air. They're too deep in corporate clover they've ended up being the upper crust of politics whilst they expect our regions like Whangarei and the broader north to survive on a few economic crumbs. Those days are over."
Jones says "We have to be alert not to leave it for the doctor (Whangarei MP Shane Reti) to lead Whangarei forward because Whangarei is dragging behind in current economic statistics and many other things."
Jones told the audience, "We've got the most fantastic port here just down the road Marsden Point. Do you think we you can find anyone in Wellington or in the current government who is prepared to invest either in the rail coastal shipping or revitalising areas like that, no! You will get no change until you vote for both Winston, I and our colleagues because there's no point being back in politics folks unless you're going to make a meaningful widespread difference."
Amongst those at the gathering were long time supporters of other parties like the former Labour MP Dover Samuels.
Samuels says, "Now that they have two strong leaders it makes them very powerful. I've always voted for the party and at this point in time the party thats just been launched is the party."
Shane Jones says, "I want to use the skills I've used in economic development throughout the Pacific here in our own region."