Candidate profile

Tamati Coffey knows what it is like to finish university with a $30,000 student loan to repay.

He relied on a student loan to fund his four years of political studies and that was why the Waiariki candidate for Labour stands behind the party's policy of free tertiary education.

The 37-year-old wanted to encourage more youth into education and was concerned with the increasing number of people aged 18-24 not in education or employment.

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"It is common for these young people to come down from their studies with a bill of $30,000 and we do not think that is good enough," he said.

Mr Coffey hoped to deliver on the party's promises which included getting more people into education and building more houses.

He also wanted to boost Labour's Dole for Apprenticeship scheme which offered employers who are willing to train an apprentice the equivalent of the unemployment benefit.

Mr Coffey said he was the first in his family to go to university and decided politics was what he wanted to pursue after weighing up all of the study options.

"Politics really floated my boat," he said.

But politics was put on the back-burner when Mr Coffey decided to chase a 10-year career in the broadcasting industry.

He became a familiar face as a television presenter before he left fulltime television in 2013 and began to actively pursue a career in politics.

"Television was a whole lot of fun for me," he said. "For a while there people just saw me as Tamati the TV guy."

But Mr Coffey said people started to take him seriously once they began to recognise his political interest.

Mr Coffey said he had worked with Auckland Regional Council in iwi relations which he said was "eye-opening".

He was also the Rotorua Deputy Chair for the Rotorua Energy Trust charity and was responsible for distributing $750,000 worth of education grants each year.

The political candidate also sat on the board for Rotorua Citz Club. He has also acted on his whakapapa's land trusts, including one in Te Tumu at a development in Papamoa.

Mr Coffey was unsuccessful at the last election, but he said that did not dampen his spirits.

"People are a bit more familiar with me and my role in politics," he said. "I have not stopped campaigning since the last election."

He said one of his biggest stances was against the merger of Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and Waiariki Polytechnic, which was now Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.

"I was concerned with the number of job losses for Rotorua there would be," he said.