Who is Harry Duynhoven?

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Moments ago it was confirmed former Labour MP and New Plymouth mayor Harry Duynhoven would be seeking a position in New Plymouth council’s March by-election.

Duynhoven, who was ousted as New Plymouth mayor in 2013, has served the Taranaki community both nationally and locally for almost thirty years. He is now viewed by many as the favourite to come first place in March after he was trounced two years ago by councilor turned mayor Andrew Judd.

Judd, who secured more than 60% of the vote at the 2013 poll, has been the centre of mass scrutiny since his election win due to controversial council decisions which have included the possible adoption of a Maori ward. Judd, who has been the subject of endless Right-wing criticism, has faced calls to resign, mostly from the Taranaki public. An online Taranaki Daily News poll at the end of last year suggested up to 72% of voters thought he should resign following comments he made about Maori representation,  where he specifically outlined he thought ‘half Maori’ councils would be ideal. Those latest set of comments inspired National Party blogger Cameron Slater to label Mr. Judd a “Muppet mayor”.

“These muppets never give in, it is bad enough in Auckland having unelected Maori board members lording it over us all, but now the Mayor of New Plymouth is proposing that all councils have 50% of council seats allocated to Maori.

It is breathtaking racism and wonky thinking.

I doubt he will be mayor for long.” Mr. Slater said.

Duynhoven, who received less than 30% support in the 2013 poll is now viewed as a potential mayoral candidate at the 2016 poll, which it is almost certain Mr. Judd will loose.

Harry Duynhoven first entered parliament in 1987 under the Lange administration. Leaving Spotswood College at the age of 16, Mr. Duynhoven perused a career as an electrician. Before becoming politically active Mr. Duynhoven spent a period working as a technical teacher.

At the 1987 general election poll Mr. Duynhoven became the first Labour representative for the deeply conservative electorate since Ron Barclay lost the seat in 1975 to National’s Tony Friedlander, who Duynhoven would eventually defeat.

In the 1990 landslide Duynhoven lost his seat to National’s John Armstrong, becoming only the second one-term MP for the area in it’s history.

Duynhoven reclaimed the seat in 1993 which saw multiple seats swing back to Labour across the country. From here, Duynhoven would serve 18 straight years as the electorate’s MP, painting the city red and turning it into a stalwart Labour fortress. In 2002 Duynhoven secured New Plymouth as the strongest rural Labour seat in the country with a 14,900 vote majority. Between 1996 and 2002 Labour’s party vote in New Plymouth remained relatively unchanged, hanging around 30%. Meanwhile Mr. Duynhoven recorded 60% personal popularity for his work as an MP.

Duynhoven bragged several Ministerial portfolios outside of cabinet in the Helen Clark era from 1999-2008. These positions included Associate Minister for Transport, Minister for Transport Safety and Associate Minister for Energy until he was defeated in 2008 by Jonathan Young and National returned to power.

Following his slim defeat at the 2008 poll, Duynhoven announced his candidacy for the mayoralty in 2010. It was to be a short term, three years, plagued with unpopular decisions. The funding of the Len Lye centre provoked division in the town, as did the removal of fluoride.

Despite almost 30 years of service, Duynhoven is not done yet. He intends to get a seat of the two on offer in March.

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