A baby and a campaign at the same time for Labour candidate

Warwick Smith/Stuff

Labour candidate for Rangitikei Heather Warren talks about juggling her election campaign and her new baby.

Timing is supposed to be everything in politics – but the drama of the past few days has scuppered that old nostrum.

As did the baby of Labour’s Rangitikei candidate Heather Warren.

Her baby was scheduled for September 29, comfortably after the September 23 election day – but instead arrived a fortnight ago, at 31 weeks. 

Heather Warren's campaigning took an unexpected turn when her baby arrived early.


Heather Warren’s campaigning took an unexpected turn when her baby arrived early.

Warren won’t yet say what her baby’s name or gender is.

But the tiny youngster is in the Whanganui Hospital baby equivalent of an intensive care unit and Warren is splitting her time tbetween her home in Crofton, near Marton, her mother’s home in Kai Iwi, west of Whanganui, and the hospital.

This brought the 33-year-old’s campaigning in the safe National seat, held by former Manawatu mayor Ian McKelvie,  to an abrupt halt.

But then came another unexpected event – what’s become known around the country as the “Jacinda effect”.

Even in rural Rangitikei, light years away from the fevered Wellington political hothouse, the sudden elevation of Ardern to the Labour leadership has boosted Warren’s campaign.

Warren said that within three hours of Ardern’s accession to the top job, two new volunteers had been in touch and a “substantial” donation offered.

At last count, she had 39 new volunteers to get back to. “I’m thankful to Jacinda,” said Warren. “It feels like she’s been doing my campaigning for me.”

She says the baby is doing well, so she expects to get back into campaign mode shortly.

Warren, an education union worker and former teacher, said she was on a mission to improve the Labour party vote in Rangitikei, which last election came in at about a third of National’s nearly 19,000 ticks.

But she also said some of the questions posed to both ex-Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei and Ardern in recent days, such as should women tell a prospective employer if they plan to have children, raised issues of gender equity that had been left to slide under National.

“It blows my mind that in 2017 people still have these questions.”

There were “underlying issues” involving gender and justice that New Zealand society was still far from facing up to, she said.

Warren said Rangitikei was one of those electorates where there was a smattering of small towns often facing different issues – such as the Manawatu Gorge road closure in Ashhurst and access to health care in Taihape.

 – Stuff

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