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Labour, NZ First at war over Wairarapa as Ron Mark calls out 'cocky', 'arrogant' opponent

Newshub logo Newshub 18/09/2020 Jenna Lynch
a man wearing a suit and tie: Watch: Jenna Lynch's report. © Newshub Watch: Jenna Lynch's report.

Labour and New Zealand First have gone to war over Wairarapa with Ron Mark calling out his "cocky" and "arrogant" opponent Kieran McAnulty. 

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was out and about in the Wairarapa electorate on Friday with her candidate McAnulty, currently a Labour list MP, who is confident he's in for the win. 

"Yeah, absolutely, I nearly did last time," he told Newshub. 

In 2017, National's candidate Alistair Scott - who is not standing this year - took out Wairarapa with a majority of nearly 3000 over McAnulty. The wildcard, NZ First's Ron Mark, trailed 6000 behind that. 

Labour, NZ First at war over Wairarapa as Ron Mark calls out 'cocky', 'arrogant' opponent
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"That's when the party was polling 36 percent. We're obviously polling a lot higher than that now, and on paper, I can win this seat," McAnulty said.

His main competition is now National's Mike Butterick. But NZ First's "underdog" Ron Mark thinks he's in for a win too. 

"Labour do not deserve the votes out of Masterton, they don't," he told Newshub. 

Labour has done analysis that it says shows if the party gets about 42 percent nationally, Wairarapa will swing red. In Newshub's last poll, Labour got 60.9 percent. 

"Kieran is very confident. He's telling everybody Labour's going to govern alone with the Greens wiped out," Mark said. 

McAnulty thinks there's a "real chance" Labour could govern alone, but he said he hasn't been telling people that, "Newshub's poll has said that". 

Mark described McAnulty as "so cocky" and "so arrogant" and believes the Labour MP "might get a surprise". 

McAnulty, when asked if he's arrogant, laughed and said: "No, I don't think so". 

As the Wairarapa candidates go to war, Labour has twisted the knife by scrapping New Zealand First's flagship $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund. It would be replaced with a piddly $200 million regional fund. 

With polls showing New Zealand First on around 2 percent, their future is on the line and up in the air. The succession plan for what happens after leader Winston Peters is still not finalised. But Mark has said "maybe". 

"I would like to but you know it is what it is," he told Newshub. 

Ambitions like that are not really supposed to be said aloud, especially when your party has been through a leadership crisis - but no one told Dr Shane Reti that - when asked if he wanted to be leader, he didn't say no.

"I think that's a decision for the National Party caucus but if they wanted that it would be a privilege."

Collins didn't see me put off, saying it was entirely possible Reti could step in.

"One day he may well be the leader of the National Party."

Not something the popular leader of the Labour party needs to worry about. 

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