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Election candidates locked for hotly contested Rangitata seat

Election candidates locked for hotly contested Rangitata seat

Eight candidates are standing in what is set to be a hotly contested Rangiata electorate in the upcoming general election.

Incumbent Rangitata MP, Labour’s Jo Luxton, will go head-to-head with National’s James Meager, who is out to reclaim the traditionally National seat in Canterbury.

The Rangitata electorate was among those that swung left as the red wave swept the country in the 2020 election.

It meant Luxton achieved a first for Labour in the region, turning the National stronghold of Rangitata from blue to red as part of Labour's landslide victory.

Former Rangitata MP and National candidate Andrew Falloon quit in the lead-up to the last election amid allegations of him sending indecent images to women.

In 2017, he easily won with 56% of the vote, compared to Luxton's 36.6%.

That flipped in 2020, when Luxton beat Falloon's last-minute replacement Megan Hands, with 49.2% of the vote, while Hands received 40%.

Meager is the newcomer for National, hoping to turn the electorate back to blue.

Even if Meager does win, Luxton sits at 19 on the Labour list so she would likely retain her place in Parliament.

It is tipped to be a traditional two-horse race in Rangitata between the Labour and National candidates, but the minor parties are well represented, except for ACT.

ACT had a huge boost in 2019 claiming 9.7% of the electorate’s party vote, but will be without a candidate in 2023. Elaine Naidu Franz resigned as the ACT candidate after historic social media posts came to light and the party has not put forward a replacement.

The other candidates standing in Rangitata are Robert Ballantyne (NZ First), Barbara Gilchrist (Green), Karl Thomas (New Conservative), Wayne Shearer (New Zealand Loyal), Karl Thomas (New Conservatives), and Dolf Van Amersfoort (New Nation Party).

For those on the Māori roll in the district, they will vote in the Te Tai Tonga electorate.

Labour’s Rino Tirikatene has held the seat for four terms and is standing for a fifth.

He is running against Tākuta Ferris (Te Pāti Māori), Geoffrey Karena Fuimaono Puhi (Independent), and Rebecca Robin (Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party).

Advance voting opens on October 2, with the polls closing at the physical voting booths at 7pm on October 14. Provisional results are expected to start coming through from 7pm that night.