A trailblazing visit to Napier by prime ministerial hopeful and Opposition Labour Party Leader David Shearer on Friday was not without surprises, despite rigidly sticking to an itinerary of seven stops in just six hours.
At stop No 6, an interview with Hawke's Bay Today, Mr Shearer expressed surprise not so much at the concerns the people of the city had, but at the scale of of them.
In one stop, he backed-up Keep Our Assets petitioners in the Marewa shopping centre for about 20 minutes, reflecting later: "There weren't too many that turned me down."
In fact, he couldn't remember any, and those who did sign appeared from the widest spread as could be imagined in such a short time. Some might not ever vote Labour, but they still opposed any assets sellout, he said.
Tales of 60 empty state houses and units in the Maraenui left him lost for words, the body-language a sign of concern for families he'd been told were double-bunking, house-sharing, or garage-sitting.
His first visit through the Napier electorate since taking over the leadership nine months ago, also included Nelson Park School, the Port of Napier, two businesses, and a Hawke's Bay Regional Council presentation on the Ruataniwha Water Storage Project proposal, followed by cooling-it for "Pizza and Politics" with Labour Party supporters and friends at a West Quay bar in the evening.
He was accompanied by Napier candidate Stuart Nash, the fellow 2008-2011 parliamentary first-timer he employed for a few months as chief of staff after becoming party leader.