On the night a poll was released showing Wellington Central to be a knife edge battle – with Labour’s Marion Hobbs on 48% to Richard Prebbles 47% - Clyde Quay School was the venue for another round of bait the candidates.
Attending were Hobbs and Prebble, the Alliance’s Phillida Bunkle (who has withdrawn from the race), National’s John Luxton (now a list only candidate), and two independents Marion Smith and Lea Barker.
Marion Smith is something of a dark horse in the race and was accused by Labour supporters at the meeting of trying to manipulate the result in the election through confusion using her name.
Smith left half-way through the meeting to fly – Richard Prebble told us during the half-time break – back to her home town Auckland. Prebble said he had known Smith for more than 10 years and was as mystified as everybody else as to why she was standing in the seat.
The format of the evening meeting allowed questions from the floor to be put to candidates who had to answer within a minute. They were then judged by three judges and a clown displayed the results on a giant election meter.
Marion Hobbs ended as the clear winner with 47 points. Prebble did relatively well on 32 to John Luxton’s seven and Phillida Bunkle’s 42.
As a Wellington Central voter Scoop took the opportunity to ask the candidates their views on development of the Chaffer’s Park area of the Wellington Waterfront – a long running festering sore in Wellington local body politics. There answers are recorded with photos below.
SCOOPS PICK OF CANDIDATES: Lea Barker, Independent candidate for Wellington Central, former Hansard Reporter, did not have a lot to say but as a former contributor to Scoop deserves special mention. Barker said she was in favour of open space on Wellington’s waterfront .
THE BATTLER: ACT: Leader Richard Prebble received a fairly hard time as he explained how much he was a supporter of the arts. He had even defended the NZSO against David Lange back in the days of the last Labour Government. He supported building buildings around Te Papa on the Wellington Waterfront.
AND THE WINNER IS : Judges Steve Lahood, Clyde Quay School Principal , and Jim Scott awarded points to the- 1 minute - answers to questions from the floor - guided by barracking from the floor.
THE OTHER MARION - (Standing) Marion Smith a late entrant - from Auckland - to the Wellington Central race at the Clyde Quay School electoral fundraiser last night. An independent candidate, Marion Smith is apparently an old acquaintance of ACT leader Richard Prebble. With the race for Wellington Central so tight Labour campaigners are suspicious that this candidate's name has something to do with her standing. (left before the question on waterfront development.)
LUXTON AUCTIONS HIS GIFT: Food and Fibre Minister John Luxton representing National auctioning his gift – a bottle of wine – said he thought the Herd St Post Office should be moved and a park built in front of it. Labour’s Marion Hobbs far right – the winner – received the biggest and most colourful picture and said that Chaffer’s Park had a “wind” problem. Phillida Bunkle, second from right, said she was fully in favour of a Park on the Chaffer’s site.