NewZeal leader Alfred Ngaro is running in the Port Waikato by-election.
NewZeal leader Alfred Ngaro is hoping to return to Parliament by pulling off an upset in the Port Waikato by-election.
While some voters in Port Waikato might be surprised they’ve got to head back to the polls, NewZeal leader Alfred Ngaro is relishing the chance to have one more crack at getting into Parliament.
Ngaro, who is the only Pacific candidate running in this electorate's by-election, says there seems to be a mix of frustration or fatigue from those he’s spoken to on the campaign trail.
“As we’ve gone out in the markets, some have said, ‘oh we hardly see politicians out here’ but others say, ‘we’re over it’ or ‘we’ve already voted once’."
The by-election has been triggered as a result of ACT Party candidate Neil Christensen dying a week before the general election, with voting for this run-off closing on 25 November.
Ngaro has been holding community meetings and door-knocking right across the electorate and has found many are appreciative of his efforts to engage with a range of voters.
“What we’re hearing is that this community has been taken for granted and they haven’t felt like they were always heard," he says.
"You see the discrepancies between the different areas in the electorate and people feel neglected.
"No one has known how to heal the rifts so the prosperity [in the area] is for all people, not just for one part of the electorate."
Nine candidates have put their names forward in this by-election, with ACT, Labour and the Greens deciding to not run someone, while incumbent electorate MP, National's Andrew Bayly is considered the favourite.
But Ngaro hopes voters take a more strategic approach.
“It’s a three for one opportunity," Ngaro says.
"With Andrew Bayley and [NZ First's] Casey Costello are already going into Parliament [due to their list ranking], what I'm saying is that if you vote for me, you’ll get three local representatives who can represent you.
"We’re a political party but we’ve also got a conservative Christian heart, and we just felt that the Lord was saying to put yourself forward and stand again.
"So this is a window of opportunity for us. We want to connect with the community, and we want to hear their concerns."
Ngaro, who is a former National Party MP and was the Minister for Pacific Peoples from 2016-2017, says his new party NewZeal is showing signs it can be a serious contender in the next election.
"We got just over 16,000 which was just six weeks of getting up and down the country and we’re probably the highest polling conservative party.
"People have said to us, 'please don’t stop, please don’t give up' so we’re building up to the next election.
“We put our toe in the water ... and we know that the possibility is there, so we’re going to continue to build on that.”
And given the incoming government’s lack of Pacific representation, Ngaro says it’s important more politicians like him are willing to make a stand.
“The big issue is that people still don’t understand the value our Pacific people have.
“When I was the minister I used to say we need to learn how to articulate our point of difference. But what happens is that MPP is just seen as a token gesture to engage with our Pacific people and people don't see the value of what we can bring.
"Too often we’re serving the table of decision-makers, but we need to be at the table not just for our Pacific people but also for others.”
Watch the full interview with NewZeal leader Alfred Ngaro: