Sam Uffindell: New Tauranga MP wants action on transport and crime

Source: 1News

Banker Sam Uffindell of the National Party is Tauranga's new MP, and he's promising his constituents he'll push hard to get moving on transport and tackle gangs.

Provisional results showed of 19,403 overall votes, 10,931 went to Uffindell. He had a lead of 6038 votes. Voter turnout is estimated to be about 40% of people enrolled to vote in the by-election.

Labour's Jan Tinetti came in with 4893 and ACT's Cameron Luxton had 1991.

Uffindell said the cost of living, crime and addressing gangs were the other topics at the top of his constituents' minds.

"I think people spend far too much time in their cars here. We've got a city of 155,000 people, and yet people are in gridlock. That's not really acceptable," Uffindell told Q+A last week.

"Those are the issues I'm going to work tirelessly on down in Wellington."

When asked why Tauranga was having problems with gridlock given his predecessor Simon Bridges was Transport Minister between 2014 and 2017, Uffindell said it was because Tauranga had been perceived as a "small city" for some time.

That meant it didn't get the investment it needed, he said.

During the campaign trail, he promised to lodge a members' bill that would fine gang convoys on Tauranga roads. The bill would give police powers to impound gang members' vehicles for 28 days if they took part in convoys and fine them $500.

However, NZ Herald reported the idea was labelled "utterly ineffectual" by sociologist and gang expert Jarrod Gilbert.

Responding to Gilbert's statements, Uffindell told Q+A he had feedback from former gang members "that this would be a good thing".

"I've walked around Mt Maunganui. People go around there with families and these convoys go through and they intimidate people."

As for the continuation of commissioners' terms on the Tauranga City Council, Uffindell said the previous council was "dysfunctional" but that people "should be able to have their say" and elect their representatives.

"When I talk to people, we have a lot of senior residents out there on fixed incomes, they're now facing year-on-year rate increases of 15%.

"There are massive projects being announced in Tauranga that'll be put on top of that. Debt will have to be taken out and they will have to pay it back.

"They're scared about that and they want to be able to have a say on these matters, and the only way they can do that is through local elections," Uffindell said.

A recent Q+A poll found 41% of those surveyed supported the re-appointment of the commissioners and 34% opposed it. The rest didn't know.

Commenting on recent concerns over local school Bethlehem College's statement of belief that marriage is only between a man and woman, Uffindell told the Bay of Plenty Times he was supportive of same-sex marriage.

He said the college held certain views as an integrated school, and that parents should be aware of it when choosing where their children attended.

As for his views on whether there was racism in Tauranga after Te Pāti Māori decided it would not stand a candidate because of threats from white supremacists, Uffindell told Stuff he was aware of white supremacist pamphlets in the region but didn't think Tauranga could be generalised as racist.

Uffindell's selection as National's Tauranga candidate in May sparked questions over the diversity of the party as the 38-year-old was among four male candidates.

Sam Uffindell, Tom Rutherford, Kelvin Clout and Matt Cowley, the four candidates National considered for the Tauranga seat.

National leader Christopher Luxon told Waatea News at the time that Uffindell brought something "really different" to the caucus "and some diversity to it in that he's really well-educated" because of his career in local and international finance.

Uffindell lives in Paengaroa in the Bay of Plenty with his wife and three children. He was born in Auckland.

Before embarking on a career in politics, he was the head of financial economic crime for Rabobank and had an agribusiness that provided soil products to farmers and growers.

He previously worked in banking in Australia and Asia.

The Tauranga by-election was triggered by the mid-term resignation of Simon Bridges.