9 Nov 2011

Dunne faces tough fight to retain Ohariu seat

9:35 am on 9 November 2011

United Future Party leader Peter Dunne says he is confident of retaining the seat of Ohariu and keeping his party in Parliament.

Mr Dunne has represented Ohariu since 1984 but has seen his majority reduced in the last two elections.

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In 2002 he had a majority of 12,534 but that fell to 1006 at the 2008 election.

The National Party has offered Mr Dunne a lifeline and is urging voters there to support him for the electorate and give National the party vote.

Mr Dunne says his switch to support National before the last election did cost him votes.

However he says he is getting more positive feedback than this time three years ago, and while he is not taking anything for granted, he believes he will retain the seat.

List MPs from National, Labour and and the Greens are contesting Ohariu.

Labour candidate Charles Chauvel says people won't be told which way to vote and the deal with Mr Dunne may backfire on National and United Future.

"I think in Ohariu there has been a tradition of independence and of people looking at the merits of the candidate rather than accepting dictats from National Party head office or the leader of that party as to how to vote."

National's candidate Katrina Shanks says voters will decide on election day who is the best person to represent them.

"The most important vote for all members of Parliament and all candidates is the one that determines who is government. I want a strong John Key-led government after 26 November and that's what I'm focussing on."

In a tactical move, the Green Party candidate Gareth Hughes is seeking the party vote but urging voters to look at either Labour or National to represent the electorate.

United Future is struggling to even register in some polls so the party's parliamentary hopes rest on Mr Dunne retaining the Ohariu electorate.