21 July 2024

Jamie Strange ‘humbled’ by win, vows to work hard for city

The Labour List MP, Jamie Strange was “pleasantly surprised“ and felt “humbled” to win by a significant margin of nearly 2000 votes when the Hamilton East electoral results trickled in on election night.

Hamilton Boys’ High School’s alumni and the former Music teacher and Church Minister, Jamie Strange had emerged as the chosen advocate of the city with a clear mandate of 15,254 votes.

Traditionally held by National, both the local parliamentary seats could not survive the onslaught of Labour’s red that swept across the nation. David Bennett lost Hamilton East electorate to Jamie Strange while Labour’s Dr Gaurav Sharma wrested the seat from Tim Macindoe.

Results heralding the victory of Labour party
Results heralding the victory of Labour party (Photo: NewsViews)

Labour Party’s campaign office in city – a hub of intense activity during elections, wore a deserted look today when NewsViews met with the newly-elect Hamilton East MP, Jamie Strange. Except for a few posters of Labour leaders left on the wall to be removed, a couple of folded chairs and a two-seater couch, the main hall was bare signalling the job’s been done, and it’s time to move.

In his first exclusive candid interview to NewsViews after his victory, Strange expressed his gratitude to the constituents of Hamilton East.

“I’m incredibility humbled (and) honoured that over 15000 people have voted for me and I look forward to working hard for residents over next three years to make their lives even better…I would like to say express my thanks to those who have put their faith in me.”

In his first exclusive interview with NewsViews after his victory, Jamie Strange outlines his commitment to work and lobby for Hamilton community. Read on...

He disagreed with those who believed the switch from blue to red in Hamilton was the result of the ‘Jacinda’ tide, especially when his predecessor, David Bennett had held the seat for past 15 years.

He attributes the win to three factors. “In terms of Hamilton East electorate, I think there are three reasons why it turned red. First one was the nationwide leadership of Jacinda Ardern, particularly during the Covid challenges.

Ham East MP, Jamie Strange with Gurbir Singh, NewsViews
Ham East MP, Jamie Strange with Gurbir Singh, NewsViews

“Second was the significant government investments in Hamilton over past three years…The fact that our PM visited Hamilton twice during two months leading up to elections, indicates her view of the importance of Hamilton in New Zealand’s future.

“And, thirdly, I live in the electorate and the fact that our family is embedded in the community. I’m passionate about community and active in community. These three things all played a role in terms of Hamilton East (win).”

Unlike Bennett’s strategy of door knocking to maintain contact with community, Strange insists he remained ‘very active’ and ‘constantly kept engaged with community’ in more than one way.

“I’ll also heard that narrative, first I’ve been doing community engagements, door knocking, phone calling (and) I’ve been very active on social media …engaging, supporting thousands of members of the public and business owners.

“Secondly, even though David Bennett knocks on doors, people aren’t sure what he has delivered for the city, but they have clearly seen some of the key things that I’ve continuously lobbied for, and received the investments in Hamilton city.”

When NewsViews asked what the biggest change he envisages from being a backbench List MP to an elected one, Strange says he would now be representing the residents of Hamilton East in Parliament, instead of whole Waikato.

“I’ll (now) have more government resources to support community, in terms of constituency work, in terms of supporting people, whether it’s business owners, or community groups or schools…(my) lobbying will continue, with particular focus on needs of residents of Hamilton.”

ob Done - Labour party's campaign office was also vacated today
Job Done – Labour party’s campaign office vacated now (Photo: NewsViews)

The Hamilton East MP empahsised that over the next three years his focus would primarily be the economic development and economic growth as “Hamilton is growing quickly.”

“We are one of the fastest growing cities (and) I expect we will be the second largest city in New Zealand in the next 30-50 years, and challenges are how we grow well…in terms of having good (and) diverse transport networks… ensuring people can move around the city easily as the city grows both out and up…

“Housing continues to be a challenge, and in Hamilton city, we are about 4000 houses short. I’m excited about some of the developments  that are about to come past, with the likes of Peacocke Housing …So, I’ll be doing everything I can to ensure that housing is delivered as quickly as possible.”  

The Labour MP was aware of the high expectations of the community and admitted there could be times when expected or promised outcomes may not be achieved.

As funding projects is a nationwide conversation, “I’ll continue to advocate case strongly for government investments in Hamilton. I’ll do my very best, and challenge to me is to utilize my lobbying skills and I feel I’ve been fairly successful over the past few years. Hopefully, this success will continue.”

When NewsViews raised the concerns of some people about the burden of the huge debts and what’s the world going to be like for their children when they grow up – will they be able to afford to buy a house or enjoy a good health system, etc, the Labour leader reassured his government had things under control.

“In terms of the debt our country has taken on, our debt levels are relatively low compared to other OECD countries…we have borrowed at low interest rates and we have a plan to pay it off,” he says.

With regard to the worry about future, “I also share those sentiments… and one of the reasons why I entered politics was because I wanted (my family also) to have good future – in terms of a good health system, good education system, be able to afford to buy a house, good opportunities, for them moving forwards, and I think New Zealand is a wonderful place to raise a family. There are a diverse range of opportunities for our children, and as a government, our goal is to continue to provide opportunities for people to be able to get ahead.”

When NewsViews asked if he expects to be given any ministerial berth or a step-up in the party’s hierarchy (from the current 40th on the list),  Strange was non-committal, and was “happy to be part of the Labour team.”

However, “I’ll have a conversation with the PM over next two weeks, to indicate to her my subject areas of interests and it will be her decision how she utilizes her team.”

Jamie Strange wanted to thank again everyone for supporting him to win and had a special word of praise for the two outgoing local MPs. I acknowledge the work of my predecessor, David Bennett who has served the Hamilton East electorate MP for past 15 years, and Tim Macindoe – a very genuine person, who cares about his community and has done lot of good work in his constituency.”

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  1. It is extremely good to know the working of political class in New Zealand, while sitting quite away. Hats off to Gurbir Singh for presenting the first interview after the announcement.

    SABBY from Vancouver BC

  2. A Very good article written by Gurbir singh about MP Jamie Strange….regds..Renuu paatil .. from ( India, Mumbai)

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