Labour announces new Palmerston North candidate to replace Iain Lees-Galloway

Labour has chosen a new face to stand in the Palmerston North electorate, replacing Iain Lees-Galloway at this year’s election.

Labour MP Tangi Utikere Source: 1 NEWS

The city’s deputy mayor Tangi Utikere, a former secondary school teacher is the new candidate.

“It’s humbling to have been chosen by local members to be Labour’s candidate for the community I grew up in. I was born here, educated here and have worked here; it is my tūrangawaewae, the place that my family and I proudly call our home,” Mr Utikere said in a statement today.

“I’ve spent my working life helping people in our community - first as a secondary teacher, then as a city councillor and now as Deputy Mayor.

“The experience that I bring as an elected councillor demonstrates that I have a proven track record, am dependable and can deliver. It also shows that I am committed to listening and responding to residents’ concerns, to attending community and city events, and advocating strongly on behalf of Palmerston North. 

“My strengths in the policy areas of education, criminal justice, local government and resource management are assets that I would bring to serve our community in Parliament. 

“As we recover from Covid-19, I want to be a strong voice for local people in Jacinda Ardern’s Government - making sure that Palmerston North gets the support it needs to grow and thrive,” Mr Utikere said.

The Prime Minister dismissed Iain Lees-Galloway as a minister last week after he admitted an affair with a staffer - he will no longer stand as a candidate in September's election.

PM dismisses Iain Lees-Galloway as minister after 'inappropriate relationship'

Ms Ardern said that at the time of the relationship the person was not in Mr Lees-Galloway's office, but was in one of his agencies.

"I do accept this has happened in a highly charged political environment," she said last week.

Ms Ardern spoke of Mr Lees-Galloway's work on pay equity and workplace reforms, but said a standard and a culture should be maintained by a Minister "and he has not done this in this case".

He had held the seat since 2008.