Front-runners woo Northland voters as by-election gains momentum

The Northland by-election campaign is heating up with the two front-runners targeting the seaside village of Mangawhai today where the Prime Minister had a warning for voters, while Winston Peters had a tussle with hecklers.

As the by-election campaign heats up, John Key has delivered a clear message to locals. Source: 1 NEWS

The by-election follows the surprise resignation of Mike Sabin who won the Northland seat for National in last year's election with a majority of more than 9000.

If National loses the seat, it will only have 59 seats in Parliament and will heavily rely on United Future and the Maori Party to pass crucial legislation.

"If you don't vote for National, we can't pass our RMA reforms and that means we can't help developers and business owners," John Key told locals today.

National's new man is the relatively unknown Mark Osborne and he's up against a seasoned campaigner in the New Zealand First leader.

Mr Peters was heckled during his first speech today but quickly gained the ascendancy.

Both main candidates are selling themselves as the underdog and National isn't taking any chances with ministers flocking to the region every day to campaign with Mr Osborne.

"I think people just want someone who can work in the best interests of Northland," Mr Osborne says.

NZ First didn't stand in the electorate in the last election but Mr Peters won't contemplate a deal with Labour's Willow-Jean Prime in order to get enough votes to take the safe National seat.

"I never do deals," he says.

Last week he told TVNZ's Q + A programme that Northland's facilities and infrastructure have become badly neglected.

"We've got the worst economic circumstances in many cases in the country in what should be the jewel in this country," he said.

Q&A will have the results of a poll of Northland voters, tomorrow at 9am.