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Act candidate Neil Christensen dies, by-election to be held

Derek Cheng,
Publish Date
Mon, 9 Oct 2023, 4:21PM
 Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

Act candidate Neil Christensen dies, by-election to be held

Derek Cheng,
Publish Date
Mon, 9 Oct 2023, 4:21PM

Act Party candidate Neil Christensen has died.

“On behalf of the Act Party, I’d like to offer my condolences to Neil’s family and friends. Our thoughts are with you,” Act leader David Seymour said in a statement today, adding the Port Waikato candidate was a valued member of the party.

“I wish to pay tribute to Neil, who was an infectiously charismatic and fascinating man and was New Zealand’s only registered specialist poultry veterinarian.

“He was a dedicated member of the Act Party who will be immensely missed.”

According to electoral law, the candidate election for Port Waikato must be cancelled if a candidate dies after the close of nominations but before polling day. The party vote will still be counted.

A by-election will then be held for Port Waikato after the general election, with the date to be set by the Prime Minister.

This means the election result will be based on a 120-seat Parliament with 71 electorate seats and 49 list MPs, rather than 72 electorate MPs and 49 list MPs.

Port Waikato is currently held by National MP Andrew Bayly, who is likely to win the seat again. He won 38.74 per cent of the candidate vote, while 36.17 per cent of the party vote went to National despite Labour’s strong nationwide showing.

Bayly will now likely be a list MP - he is number 15 on National’s list - after the election, and if he wins the byelection, National would gain an extra MP off its list.

“When the by-election is held in Port Waikato and an electorate MP is elected, it will increase the size of Parliament to 121 seats,” said Chief Electoral Officer Karl Le Quesne.

“For voters in the Port Waikato general electorate – if you haven’t voted yet, please go and vote. If you have already voted, you don’t need to do anything more,” he said.

”Your party vote will be counted and contribute to the overall results of the General Election. Your vote is important. You will have an opportunity to vote for a member of Parliament for the Port Waikato electorate when a by-election is held.”

Act leader David Seymour. Photo/TVNZ

Act leader David Seymour. Photo/TVNZ

Christensen was born in the UK and grew up in Africa, relocating to New Zealand in 1984.

He was New Zealand’s only registered specialist poultry veterinarian, according to his biography on Act’s website.

He received the Dennis O’Meara Award in 2017 for contributions to the egg industry.

Bayly said he had known Christensen not just through his standing for Act but also as a poultry veterinarian.

“It’s pretty devastating, I’ve got to say,” he told the Herald.

Bayly described him as an expert in his field, “a real guru”.

He said Christensen had looked “very lively”. He would be speaking with his family shortly to convey his condolences.

Bayly wasn’t concerned about the impending byelection, saying it was not the most important issue right now.

Christensen was ranked 35 on Act’s list, meaning he was unlikely to become an MP without winning the seat of Port Waikato.

Derek Cheng is a senior journalist who started at the Herald in 2004. He has worked several stints in the press gallery and is a former deputy political editor.


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