The recent announcement of Katrina Bungard, deputy chair Howick Local Board being selected as a National candidate for Manurewa came as a surprise to many.
It is no coincidence that just two weeks prior, Ms Bungard was a strong contender for the Pakuranga seat which eventually went to Simeon Brown.
Ms Bungard being selected as a National candidate for what is traditionally a safe Labour seat in Manurewa speaks a lot about her strong sense of determination, grit and political aspirations.
“I have been involved in the National Party for a number of years and have recently put my name forward as a candidate in this year’s elections,” says the 33-year-old mother-of-two.
Mrs Bungard currently juggles many roles including chair of Manukau East Council of Social Services, an elected member of the Counties Manukau District Health Board and head of department of Fine Arts at Elim Christian College.
It was decided that the electorate of Manurewa was a good fit for her as she had already represented the constituents of Manurewa on the Counties Manukau District Health Board, she says.
“Manurewa is traditionally a red seat and I am looking forward to the challenge,” she enthuses.
“I believe that it is important to embrace every opportunity that life presents, and I am certainly excited about the campaign ahead.”
She says that she is already involved in serving constituents as an elected member at local government level “but have always had a desire to serve at a central government level as well.
“My candidacy for National is a reflection of this ambition.”
She says she will soon be running a very active and visible campaign with plenty of door-knocking and meet the candidate opportunities.
And on wearing two hats – that of deputy chair of the Howick Local Board and of national candidate going up against Labour MP for Manurewa, Louisa Wall, she says: “There is no rule precluding candidates standing for central government positions while they are involved in local government.
“This is something that often occurs. It is still too early to tell at this stage what might happen. We will need to wait and see what the results of the election are on September 23.”
What if she wins the National seat in Manurewa?
“If I am elected into a central government position in September, I will be discussing the best way forward with the National Party Board.”
As for her husband Mark’s reaction to the big commitment, she says: “I am very lucky to have a very supportive husband and he is very much looking forward to helping out on my campaign team as well.
“He enjoys putting up hoardings and being involved in the elections. Both he and my mother-in-law, who lives with us, are supportive and understanding of the commitment involved.”
Talking about her future aspirations, Ms Bungard, who has two research scholarships awarded through the Ministry of Education, and has completed a Masters research thesis in Educational Leadership says: “I have had a long term ambition to one day serve our country as the Minister of Education and will continue working towards this goal.”