Wellington Scoop

TOP’s Geoff Simmons standing for Rongotai, critical of Paul Eagle

News from TOP
The Opportunities Party (TOP) today announces a new tranche of candidates for the 2020 election with leader Geoff Simmons standing for Rongotai, south Wellington. Simmons, longstanding Rongotai resident and former Treasury economist, says that though Rongotai is a fantastic place to live, it has been plagued by issues which previous MPs have failed to address.

“Transport in the Capital is our Achilles’ heel, especially when it comes to cycling,” says Simmons. “Current MP for Rongotai Paul Eagle has consistently failed to reconcile the concerns of residents in the electorate with real transport solutions. He is publicly on record saying he won’t be pushing a cycling agenda this election and is so far short on other transport ideas other than driving.

“I mean Eagle is 39th on Labour’s list,” continues Simmons. “If they don’t really want him, why should Rongotai? He’s under-performing for Rongotai.”

“In the other corner, National’s Rongotai candidate David Patterson has kicked off his campaign demanding a ‘no-nonsense’ road network, which sounds like more driving-as-usual to me.

“Wellington must house 80,000 more people in the next 30 years. There simply isn’t space for all those people to have cars. We need to provide safe transport alternatives for Wellington residents, such as improved public transport, walking, and separated cycleways,” says Simmons.

“Safe cycling offers a vital and obvious mode of transport for an electorate so close to the heart of Wellington city and I will be campaigning on ways to encourage more cycling as part of a package of options to reduce car commuter traffic in Rongotai,” Simmons is an avid cyclist and does not own a car.

Housing supply as well as the environment impact of climate change on the sea-bound electorate are also key issues Simmons will campaign on.

“We’ve got a lot of urban sprawl out along the South Coast of Wellington because we’re not seeing enough incentives for property developers to build up instead of out,” says Simmons. “A core plank of our evidence-based Housing Policy, Building Aotearoa NZ, is focussed on reducing red tape to support concentrated urban development, reducing draconian restrictions on builders and empowering local councils.

“Our housing policy, launched in April, is so relevant to Rongotai where we need a more strategic use of land to address our dire housing shortage,” says Simmons. “Frankly, it’s a disgrace. Rongotai desperately needs to build more houses for its growing population.”

“Rongotai as an electorate has been consistently underserved by its MP, and this election is an opportunity for the people to not leave change to chance,” says Simmons. “As a Rongotai resident, I know I’m not alone in my frustrations with transport and housing. We desperately need change on the South Coast. This change needs to create housing affordability while also future proofing against the impacts of sea level rises and the increased frequency of storm events.”

ACT have announced their candidate standing for Rongotai, Nicole McKee, a notable firearms advocate with a history of importing firearm components to New Zealand.

“While I don’t think the good people of my electorate would ever seriously consider voting for someone with this background, it amazes me that now, of all times, just over a year on from the Christchurch mosque shootings, ACT would be putting someone of this political bent on their ticket.”

TOP has also added seven new candidates to their diverse line-up: Abe Gray, founder and former curator of the Whakamana Cannabis Museum in Dunedin will join TOP as a list MP and its cannabis spokesperson. Ben Wylie-van Eerd PhD, a research scientist, will represent TOP in Hutt South. Joel Rowlands, a multi-talented everyman and community advocate, will stand for TOP in Southland. Rob Hunter, a civil engineer and small business owner with a background working in environmental management, will be running in the Coromandel. Andrew Caie, a physiotherapist, will run in Tauranga. Helen Jeremiah, a community advocate who brings the wisdom of her years to the TOP team, will run in Northland. Ben Atkinson, a social entrepreneur and support worker, will run in Banks Peninsula.

These new candidates will join other TOP candidates across the country:

Geoff Simmons, Party Leader, former Treasury economist – Rongotai
Shai Navot, Deputy Leader, former Crown prosecutor – North Shore
Adriana Christie, entrepreneur, Waitematā local board member – Epsom
Ben Peters, scientist, gene editing spokesperson – Dunedin
Brendon Monk, architect, business owner, housing spokesperson – Te Atatū
Cameron Lord, quantity surveyor, community advocate – Mount Albert
Jessica Hammond, policy advisor, housing and families advocate – Ōhāriu
Mathew Pottinger, business owner, entrepreneur, UBI and tax spokesperson – Nelson
Naomi Pocock, education spokesperson – Hamilton West

“Each of our candidates bring a different set of experience and skill to the team, such as Ōhāriu candidate Jessica Hammond who’s passionate about affordable housing and income security,” says Simmons. “Mathew Pottinger in Nelson is a big tech advocate, and deputy leader and former Crown Prosecutor Shai Navot is focused on electoral reform and the real drivers that send people into the criminal justice system.”

“We’ve got a really well-rounded team of experts across the country here to ensure that TOP continues to base its policies on evidence and expertise,” continues Simmons. “We’re in really good shape to tackle the issues that matter most to Kiwis this election.”

TOP expects to announce more candidates in the coming weeks.


  1. Kara, 9. July 2020, 19:34

    Although cycleways will be good when completed, these are not the issue that the MP for Rongotai would have to deal with. The WCC is responsible for cycleways around our city. MPs assist many people in their electorates and the MP for Rongotai is no exception. I suggest that the TOP candidates sort out what their policies are.

  2. Groggy, 10. July 2020, 13:54

    @Kara, yes it does sound like Geoff is mixed up between council and Central Govt responsibilities. This sounds like it would have been a great platform to stand for the eastern ward for the council. But not much meat in there for a general election platform.

  3. John M, 12. July 2020, 21:38

    Another great day for cycling around the bays from the Eastern Suburbs in to the CBD today! “Howling gale, driving rain and bitterly cold!”

  4. RPNZ, 13. July 2020, 12:41

    When your primary policy article is specifically focused on cycling, and not better public transport in general, you come across as a super privileged MAMIL.

  5. Dave B, 13. July 2020, 12:52

    John M, what is your point? There are days when many things in Wellington are made a bit rough by the weather. Are you suggesting there should be no provision for cyclists because the weather is sometimes bad? Or are you aying that you disagree with transport-funding being spent on cycling because you want every cent of it to be spent on more roads for more cars?

  6. michael, 13. July 2020, 15:57

    It is all very well to keep pushing cycling as the answer to all our transport woes, but this is unrealistic as the majority of the public will not or cannot cycle. The only way cars are going to be reduced is by having a sustainable, effective, efficient, safe and environmentally friendly Wellington-wide public transport system. Unfortunately Wellington is far away from this.

  7. John M, 13. July 2020, 21:32

    This obsession with cycling is truly extraordinary. This candidate’s first uttering is, guess what? “cycling”! Here we are in the middle of a Worldwide pandemic, we are facing an economic crisis of huge proportions nationally and internationally, and this candidate wants to get into our halls of power to promote cycling from the Eastern suburbs of Wellington to the CBD. Really!

  8. Rich, 14. July 2020, 9:21

    Today in the news: cycling is up by 40% year on year in Wellington. So obviously there is a demand for safer cycle routes!? Looks like a valid cause to campaign for?