Sri Lankan born Vanushi Walters of New Zealand’s Labour Party has won the race to be Upper Harbour MP in northwest Auckland, taking over from retiring National MP Paula Bennett, Stuff. CO. NZ reported today.
She claimed a narrow victory over National candidate Jake Bezzant, a former tech company chief executive and cricketer for Hamilton, receiving 14,142 votes to Bezzant’s 12,727.
During the campaign, Walters, a board member of Amnesty International, said she was passionate about the electorate because of its “diverse” and “warm” communities. Upper Harbour covers the north-western reaches of Waitematā Harbour. It stretches from Massey in the west, through Hobsonville, and across to Greenhithe and on to Glenfield and Unsworth Heights on the North Shore.
Karen Chhour was the ACT nominee, and said she wanted to empower mental health patients by setting up a mental health and addiction agency. Ryan Nicholls was the Green Party nominee and Catherine Giorza ran for the NZ Outdoors Party.
Vanushi proudly acknowledges that her great grandmother from her father’s side was the second woman to be elected to the then State Council of Ceylon, Luisa Naysum Saravanamuttu. She held her Colombo North seat until 1947. Naysum’s husband was Sir Ratnasothy Saravanamuttu, the first elected Mayor of Colombo, Ceylon.
Sri Lankan-born Vanushi moved to New Zealand with her parents, father Late Jana Rajanayagam and mother Prithiva, when she was just five years of age. She is married to Rhys Walters, has three young sons and lives in West Auckland.