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Q + A - Kelvin Davis

Q + A
Episode 29
Interviewed by CORIN DANN

SUSAN Well earlier this morning, just before we came to air in fact, Corin spoke to Kelvin Davis, one of the big winners of the night, the new MP for Te Tai Tokerau.

KELVIN DAVIS – New Labour MP for Te Tai Tokerau
Well first of all I just need to acknowledge Hone, he was the MP for nine years in Te Tai Tokerau and I've got a lot of respect for him. But that was the easy part was winning the election, the hard part is now doing what needs to be done to raise outcomes for Te Tai Tokerau.

CORIN He didn’t want to concede did he? What did you make of that?

KELVIN Yeah I think he's doing it hard. I know how he feels, I've been there three times now, and I'm certainly feeling better this morning than I did three years ago. But it is a hard thing to do, but really you just have to take it on the chin and move on.

CORIN What do you put your victory down to though, given that the night was bad for Labour yet you managed to win.

KELVIN Well we had a plan, we sat down and analysed our strengths and weaknesses and the opposition's strengths and weaknesses, and we tried to raise our strengths, exploit the opposition's weaknesses, and it worked.

CORIN One of those weaknesses it seems pretty clear now was actually the Dotcom factor. Did you ruthlessly sort of apply that to convince people not to vote for Hone?

KELVIN Well absolutely, but it wasn't just you know – the people of the North we knew they didn’t like the Dotcom factor, they didn’t like their relationship, they didn’t like the exchange of money, they didn’t think that Tai Tokerau should be up for sale. So yeah of course we exploited that, but we also looked at the aspects of Hone's personality and pressed the right buttons when we needed to, lifted and promoted my strengths when we needed to as well.

CORIN What were the bits of personality that you exploited of his?

KELVIN Oh, well I don’t want to go into any trade secrets there, but you know certainly when he's under pressure we could see that he was going flat, you know wasn't really responding how he should and so kept up the pressure…

CORIN Are you part of a new movement that wants to see Labour move back to the centre. How do you describe yourself?

KELVIN Look I've never really sat down and had a think about whether I'm left of Labour or the right of Labour, I just think you know it's just about talking the right stuff, and focusing in the right outcomes. That’s what I did as a Principal when I went into a school that was struggling. If you focus on the right things then you'll get the right results in the end. You know the Labour Party will meet on Tuesday or go into caucus and we need to have some pretty hard-out conversations, brutally honest conversations about where things went wrong.

CORIN Well tell us what some of those things are. What were the things they were focusing or had been focusing on that they have been getting wrong?

KELVIN I think there's too much factionalisation in the Labour Party, that we need to be one team. I can't help but use rugby analogies wherever I go, and you know in a rugby team you’ve got people of different positions, different sizes, weights, have different roles, but you're still working together as a team. And that’s what we need to do is come together as a team and not be so factionally driven. What we believe in is the same stuff, but you know so we've just got to pull together as a team, and do what's good for New Zealand.

CORIN What now for David Cunliffe and the leadership, you come up with the expected process, what do you think should happen for David Cunliffe?

KELVIN Oh I think it's just part of the conversation that’s going to go on in caucus on Tuesday. So we've all got to be brutally honest and we've got to stand up and say what we think and you know hopefully we'll get the right result, but at the moment David Cunliffe is our leader. I'm 100% behind our leader and you know it'll be over to caucus to make decisions …

CORIN Did he run a good campaign? Did he get the campaign right?

KELVIN I actually really liked the vote positive campaign. The thing is you can't just come out two months before an election and say we're going to be positive. We've got to actually be positive for three years and we've got to drive that positive message the whole time, and not just shortly before an election campaign, say this is how we're going to be if you haven't been that way for a long time. And I just think that we were sort of, even after we came out with vote positive there was still a lot of negative messages and a lot of criticisms instead of just promoting what we have to offer and doing it well.

SUSAN Kelvin Davis, one of Labour's few success stories last night.

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