After all she has one of her back-bench MPs, Paul Eagle, running for the position and he has her Party’s backing.

from Karl du Fresne’s blog

l to r: Whanau (Green), Eagle (Labour-backed) and sitting mayor Foster (independent).

I remarked to a friend this morning that if the Wellington mayoralty is determined by the number of times Tory Whanau’s photo appears on the Dominion Post website, she’s a shoo-in. The other candidates might as well go home.

From the time the paper reported her campaign launch last June with a massive splash of publicity – one that could be described as unprecedented for a candidate virtually no one outside the Green Party had heard of (note the four photos, plus a video) – Whanau has been given the type of exposure her rivals can only dream of.

Today the Dom Post website featured not one but two stories simultaneously about the Green Party-backed candidate, both accompanied by prominent photos. The stories concerned a petty spat with fellow contender Paul Eagle over the placement of billboards, so were of no great consequence, but when I checked at midday one was the lead item on the website. Whanau’s face was the first thing readers saw.

If you accept that facial and name recognition are crucial in local government elections, especially when voters often have little else to go on, Whanau may have a head start even against putative frontrunner Eagle, a former deputy mayor who became Labour MP for Rongotai and now appears to have had second thoughts about the wisdom of that career move.

You can see why the Dom Post loves Whanau. She’s young, Maori, female and Green; the dream woke candidate. Eagle ticks only one of those boxes, and against that, he’s a bloke.

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