There’s one thing that really bugs me about living in Cambridge.
Why the hell do we live in the Taupō electorate?
It’s been that way since 2007 when, because of declining population growth in Taumarunui, Raetihi and Ohakune, those places were taken out of the old Taupō electorate and into Rangitikei.
Taumarunui and Cambridge tend to be add ons after the powers that be get their jigsaw puzzles out and add pieces until they have the right numbers for an electorate; plonking each of them into electorates with names neither of the towns identify with.
The Taupō electorate, having ditched Taumarunui, Raetihi and Ohakune, needed more people in 2007 so in came Tokoroa, Putaruru and Cambridge’s 10,000 plus voters.
Thus, in the 2008 general election Taupō, after years of being a marginal seat, became one of the safest National seats around.
With all due respects to Louise Upston, who won the seat for National back in 2008 and has held it ever since, Taupō used to be one of those seats pundits on election night would keep their eyes on.
For example, in 1981, National’s Roger McClay held on by 36 votes to beat incumbent Labour MP Jack Ridley.
They used to call Ridley a real Jack in the Box, he was in and out of Taupō, voted in on a Labour wave in 1972, ousted in 1975, back in 1978 then out again in 1981. He fell out with Labour and stood in the new Tongariro electorate as an independent in 1984 but Labour, again on a roll, delivered Noel Scott as its MP.
Throughout the same period, Cambridge was part of the Piako, Matamata and Karapiro electorates – all very safe National seats. Other parties would try out their candidates on us. In 1975, Helen Clark stood for Labour and was well beaten by Jack Luxton, 1996 Tim Macindoe stood for United NZ and Sue Moroney for Labour and then in 2014, Jamie Strange threw his Labour hat into the Taupō ring.
Clark, Macindoe, Moroney and Strange all went on to become MPs; Clark our 37th Prime Minister.
And so to today. Cambridge, despite having a population of nearly 20,000, arguably New Zealand’s fastest growing town and a population which before 1989’s Local Government reforms, would have made us a city, languishes in the Taupō electorate, a name which most of its residents have little affinity with.
It’s a question which could feature in a pub quiz or be the million-dollar winner in Who Wants to be a Millionaire – name the electorate the town of Cambridge in the North Island of New Zealand is in: a) Waikato b) Taupō c) Taranaki-King Country d) Hamilton West.
The majority would probably go with Waikato the electorate which skirts around Cambridge’s boundaries taking in parts of Thornton, St Kilda, Swayne, Bruntwood and Hooker Rds.
If you stand near the intersection of Racecourse and Forest Rds, you can have one foot in the Waikato electorate and the other in Taupō.
Or bizarrely, there’s a whole lot of new housing and industrial area which is integral to Cambridge’s growth, firmly in the Waikato electorate.
What do we have to do to be in an electorate with a name and a community connection we can readily identify with?
Can we be in Waikato? That would make sense. Even Waipā would be palatable. Cambridge would be a dream, just not Taupō please.
What do you think of Cambridge’s electoral positioning? Email firstname.lastname@example.org