“Welcome to parliament,” said the voice on the phone. The Labour Party moderating committee, which sets the party list, had slotted Merivale Primary School principal Jan Tinetti in at number 14, more or less writing her own ticket to Wellington.
“I can't remember much else about the call because I was gob smacked, blown away,” says Jan. “I know it doesn't sound very academic but I am still fizzing at the news.” That's five days later.
It means that after the September 23 general election, Tauranga will have Labour Party representation in parliament. Definitely one and possibly two MPs – because if the numbers stack up there's just a chance Angie Warren-Clark could be headed to the corridors of power too.
“Wouldn't that be awesome?” says Angie. “Two local Labour candidates in parliament.”
“If we get up around that 35 per cent of the vote, which is what we are aiming for because we are currently around 30 per cent, then we would almost get Angie in as well,” says an optimistic Jan.
“That's where the cut off would be. It's hard to say because as soon as you lift the party vote you are starting to win some of those marginal seats as well.”
The school teacher was hoping to slot in the party list up to the mid-20s. “That would have been really good. So number 14 is very surprising really.”
She says it's exciting for her but it's also exciting for Tauranga to have alternative representation in parliament.” And I will provide an added dimension because I come from a social justice background.”
But Jan's not planning on waiting for a slow comfortable ride into parliament. She intends to be even busier.
“We are really looking to ramp up the campaign and use my list position as leverage for the campaign.”
Angie Warren-Clark says it'll be an advantage that people now understand Jan is headed from the principal's office in Merivale to the parliamentary benches in Wellington.
“Tauranga will have Labour representation no matter what – it will certainly support and grow our profile in the community. And help spread the Labour messages.”
Jan Tinetti told RNZ National she is unfazed by the cold, cut throat reality of central government politics. She has been running a difficult low decile school with all the associated day to day problems for 11 years. “So surely I can cope with politicians.”
“She has been running a massive business and very successfully,” says Angie. “She will transition very easily.”
Meantime they are hunting as a pack. The teacher and the women's refuge manager continue to campaign together. “Doing it together,” says Angie. “It's always been about the party vote, our community and our values.”