Pete Hodgson, one of Dunedin’s longest-serving MPs announced yesterday he will retire from politics at the next election. His announcement opens the way for what will be a vigorous selection process in one of New Zealand’s safest Labour-held seats – Dunedin North.
Mr Hodgson, who turns 60 on June 13, told the Otago Daily Times that it was time for him to move on while he was still young enough to contemplate a post-political life. “I have mixed feelings. I love my job but it is important to me to leave politics on my own terms. “It has been a hell of a ride so far. Representing the electorate and the city is a privilege, pure and simple.” …
Nominations for Dunedin North will open on July 1 and close on September 1, in line with other electorates around New Zealand. The New Zealand Labour Party Council will then decide when the selection for the seat will take place, but it is likely to be this year. One thing is certain. The next MP for Dunedin North already lives in the electorate. Mr Hodgson has one of the best-organised electorate committees in New Zealand and there will be several candidates from the committee putting their names forward. Labour’s ruling body will bow to local wishes in the selection, just as it did in 1990 when Mr Hodgson was selected to replace retiring MP Stan Rodger.
Labour’s Council is probably wise to leave the selection of the next candidate to the local electorate. From memory the only time Labour has lost Dunedin North was 1975 when an external candidate was imposed, and local Nat Richard Walls took the seat.
Hodgson has been a workhorse, holding some of the most challenging portfolios, such as Health, Tertiary Education, and Research, Science and Technology. He’s been Labour’s campaign strategist, and spearheaded many of its attacks in parliament. A long and varied career, now he gets to be one of the lucky ones that quit politics on their own terms.