National Party Leader Christopher Luxon says he’s committed to having a more diverse range of candidates for the 2023 general election.
His concession came as Sam Uffindell launched his campaign for the Tauranga by-election to replace outgoing National MP Simon Bridges.
At Uffindell’s official campaign launch at Mount Maunganui College on Saturday, Luxon said while the party wasn’t where he wanted it to be in terms of diversity, progress was being made.
“I am confident the National Party will have a very diverse candidacy for 2023,” Luxon said.
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Sam Uffindell was selected as the National Party’s Tauranga candidate last Sunday.
Having someone like Uffindell – with his experience and expertise – would add a lot to the team, Luxon said.
But he admitted the party had “more work to do” in attracting diversity.
“We’ve been very clear that since the 2020 election we had a very diverse set of candidates, but we actually did really poorly in that election and as a result we didn’t have the diversity that we want.
“I think what has been encouraging is that we’ve had a lot of people reaching out to us, very talented people from very diverse backgrounds.”
Earlier, Luxon told Stuff he would begin focusing on a myriad of tasks to revitalise the National Party’s outlook, including learning te reo Māori.
On Saturday, he said he had begun doing te reo classes for two hours every Monday evening.
“It’s been really fun. It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time.”
Uffindell agreed that more representation was needed on the team.
He said his main areas of focus for Tauranga would be prioritising investment in infrastructure, addressing the cost-of-living crisis, restoring local democracy and attracting talent to city.
“I’m aspirational for Tauranga and want it to remain one of the best places to live, work and raise a family. I’ll work tirelessly to address the barriers standing in the way of that aspiration.
“People in Tauranga are sick of sitting in traffic caused by poor roading infrastructure and are finding it harder to get ahead due to the cost-of-living crisis.”
He said he also aimed to bring local democracy back to the community, after the dissolution of the elected council in February 2021.
“Tauranga currently doesn’t have local democracy, and we would like to see that brought back,” he said.
“But ultimately I just want to be a part of the … Chris Luxon team.”
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