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For a first-time candidate, the Labour Party’s nominee for the Waitaki electorate has her sights on some tough issues in the lead-up to the September election.

Oamaru businesswoman and mother of three Zelie Allan wants to improve access to healthcare and address concerns about the student loan system and income inequality for her potential constituents.

“Health is the most important issue for me. Without good health, we don’t have anything.”

She also wants to encourage voters to take part in this year’s election.

Every vote counted and people needed to take part in their democracy, she said.

Mrs Allan, who was born in Waimate, believed with work she could pull votes from incumbent national MP and minister Jacqui Dean, who has held the area’s seat since 2005.

Mrs Allan grew up in Morven and attended Waimate High School.

Her employment history includes 18 years at Oamaru Gillies Foundry and Engineering. She started off as an office junior and worked her way up to being in charge of production and manufacturing planning, and now she runs two clothing shops in Oamaru’s North End.

Mrs Allan, who has been a member of the Labour party for 20 years, said her family supported her decision to run. She has five siblings. Her mother lives in Waimate and her father died late last year.

The huge Waitaki electorate includes the towns of Roxburgh, Wanaka, Oamaru, Waimate, Lake Tekapo and Fairlie.