Labour chooses candidate to replace Grant Robertson

MP Ibrahim Omer will run in the Wellington Central electorate for Labour after winning a hotly-contested candidate selection race.

Omer beat highly-rated former party president Claire Szabo to become the candidate of a seat formerly held by Grant Roberston, who was the electorate’s MP since 2008.

“I’m honoured to have been chosen as Labour’s candidate for Wellington Central,” Omer said.

“I love Wellington and I’ll be a strong advocate for this city and its people. This is a city that has given me so many opportunities and I will be a champion for all the different communities that make Wellington what it is.”

Omer entered Parliament in 2020 as a list MP, having arrived in New Zealand as a refugee and moving to Wellington where he worked as a cleaner before enrolling at Victoria University in 2014.

While studying, he worked nights, cleaning the lecture theatres he would study in during the day.

Omer has chaired the board of Change Makers Resettlement Forum, been involved in governance for the Living Wage Movement, and worked as a union organiser representing low-wage workers.

He paid homage to “friend and mentor” Robertson.

“Grant has been a tireless advocate for the people of his electorate. I want to follow in his example by promoting our city, celebrating everything that makes us wonderful and unique, and working hard to make the improvements we need.”

Robertson chose not to declare a favourite, unlike former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who unsuccessfully advocated for MP Camilla Belich to become the candidate for her Mt Albert electorate, which was secured by MP and local resident Helen White.

In the last two elections, Robertson had to fight off challenges from National’s now deputy leader Nicola Willis and Greens co-leader James Shaw.

Willis has since been confirmed as her party’s candidate in Ōhāriu and Shaw has chosen “with some regret” not to contest the seat of Wellington Central, leaving it for second-term Wellington City Councillor Tamantha Paul.

National hasn’t yet gone through candidate selection with applications having just recently closed.

The party’s candidate would be chosen through delegate selection, meaning about 60 representatives nominated by the wider membership would vote on who contested the seat in the upcoming election.

A candidate was expected to be decided on by late April.

By Adam Pearse