Pugh confirms National Party bid

By Christine Linnell

Former Westland mayor Maureen Pugh confirmed today she was trying for a seat in Parliament, but there is no word yet on who else might be hoping to take the place of retiring list MP Chris Auchinvole.
“All I’ve done is put my name forward for the selection process,” she told the Greymouth Star. She did not expect the National Party board of directors to announce a decision until mid-December.
Mrs Pugh had been vague about her future plans since September, when Mr Auchinvole announced he would be retiring after nine years in Parliament; however she had not ruled out the possibility.
Today, National Party West Coast-Tasman electorate chairman Andy Thompson said
he was not in a position to announce who was standing until the board held their pre-selection meeting with the potential candidates in Nelson next Monday, after which party delegates would make their selection.
Nominations closed last week.
In October, Mr Thompson said he had some “preliminary discussions” with Mrs Pugh about standing for Parliament, but also talked with some other candidates. He said there had been some “very positive interest from very high quality people”.
“I’m very confident with the quality of people that we can give (Labour electorate MP) Damien (O’Connor) a really good run for his money.”
Mr Auchinvole, who will turn 70 shortly after the 2014 general election, said another three-year term would be “quite a lump of my life” and he could not do parliamentary work “half-pie”.
During his term, he “broke the Labour stranglehold” on the electorate, winning the seat from Mr O’Connor in 2008 before losing it again at the next election. National had won the majority of the party vote for three elections.
In September, Mrs Pugh was recognised as one of New Zealand’s most influential women when she was named as one of 10 finalists in the Westpac Women of Influence awards.