Pugh's hand up as MP retires

By Laura Mills

The search is on for someone to replace National Party MP list MP Chris Auchinvole, and the party has confirmed it has already had preliminary discussions with retiring Westland Mayor Maureen Pugh.
Mr Auchinvole, who will turn 70 shortly after the 2014 general election, has confirmed he will be stepping down.
He said another three-year term would be “quite a lump of my life” and he could not do parliamentary work “half-pie”.
He next planned to explore some “good commercial opportunities”.
During his term, he “broke the Labour stranglehold” on the electorate, winning the seat from Labour’s Damien O’Connor in 2008 before losing it again the next election, and National had won the majority of the party vote for three elections.
The party had already received expressions of interest from prospective candidates of “remarkable worth,” Mr Auchinvole said.
National Party West Coast-Tasman electorate chairman Andy Thompson confirmed he had held some “preliminary discussions” with Mrs Pugh, but also some other candidates.
The formal process will see the party call for nominations and, depending on the numbers, may enter into a pre-selection process. Party delegates then get to choose the candidate.
Mr Thompson 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 Damien a really good run for his money.”
Dates have not been set yet, but they hoped to get someone selected later this year or early next.
The decision to retire opened the door for new blood, and was an exciting opportunity, Mr Thompson said.
Mr Auchinvole said he was impartial on his successor, which was a decision for the majority of the party.