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Labour hoping for political upset in Wairarapa electorate

Jacinda Ardern is tipping Labour's Wairarapa candidate will cause an upset and win the seat at next month's election.

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The Labour leader visited the traditionally National electorate on September 18. Source: 1 NEWS

Today the Labour leader visited the traditionally National electorate, promising to continue investing in the provinces.

It would be a major coup for Labour to win the seat and Kienran McAnulty will be hoping a little star power might help, taking his boss for a spin in his ute across the electorate today.

At the last election, National won the seat by about 3000 votes.

This time around, the three main contenders are former TAB bookmaker McAnulty, National's sheep and beef farmer Mike Butterick, and Defence Minister Ron Mark, from NZ First.

"Well we have done a bit of work on it actually, and I can tell you it's a 96 per cent probability it will either be a National or a Labour candidate, 3 per cent probability it will be New Zealand first," McAnulty says.

"So I think in everyone's mind this is really a two-horse race."

Butterick isn't too worried about any internal polling.

"I've just got to play my game and focus on the people in this community, and that's really my sole focus," he says.

Meanwhile Mark won't be wanting his political career to slip.

"Just give me a shoot and if I'm useless, get rid of me," he says.

Labour's confident the seat will be theirs, Ardern saying: "The reason why I'm confident is because of the work that Kieran has put into this seat."

But this confidence is riling the self-declared underdog.  

"Good old Kieran, you know, he's as cocky as a little bantam rooster and good luck to him, but he might get a surprise," Mark says.

"Kieran's hit the level of arrogance on the back of Jacinda's success that I saw in National after nine years.

As for the locals, the one suggested the last MP in the seat was known as "Casper the ghost" because he was so invisible, while another says McAnulty's a "shoo-in".

Also today, Labour promised to ditch the Provincial Growth Fund for a Provincial Growth Fund Lite. 

"We're announcing a regional partnerships fund as Labour's campaign pledge on regional economic development," says Phil Twyford, Labour's regional economic development spokesperson.

"It's an initial $200 million seed fund designed to support regional economic development strategies."

NZ First leader Winston Peters isn't rolling over.

"The PGF is our idea and when the negotiations are over, the PGF will be there after this election," he says.

Both parties are promising to continue splashing the cash in the provinces if elected.