Central and Southern Hawke's Bay have been taken for granted for too long.
It's time the area between Dannevirke and Waipawa had an MP that doesn't just look upon these districts as a way into Parliament, but rather one that sees them as the sole reason for being there.
We're now only days away from the General Election. It's fair to say things have become pretty interesting over the past few weeks. With Jacinda Ardern at the helm, the Labour Party is polling well and is likely to be in a position to form a government.
Unlike 2014, where the result was all but confirmed this far out, this election could go either way. It is in this situation where MMP gives us a chance to vote for the government and the representation we want - to use our votes strategically.
I'm campaigning for two ticks Labour because a Labour government will deliver jobs and growth, as well as improved funding for health, education and police. I am campaigning on a platform of policies that looks beyond the three-year election cycle and plans ahead for future generations. This includes a long-term vision for primary industries and improving the state of our rivers.
Regional development is my particular area of interest. As a company director also working in economic development, I understand the difference central government can make in rural areas.
Parts of the Wairarapa electorate are doing well. However, in many respects Central and Southern Hawke's Bay are missing out. We could be doing much better with targeted investment from central government.
I am proud to stand for Labour. Our regional development policy - a fund dedicated to investing in areas like Waipukurau and Dannevirke - demonstrates a commitment to grow the economies of rural New Zealand.
Investment that supports local business and creates good paying jobs with decent conditions and support for the services and infrastructure that maintain a sustainable community long term. This will make a big difference here.
I want to see the opportunities for our young return. Labour's apprenticeship policy will incentivise tradespeople to take on new apprentices - giving our young a chance to gain a qualification and set themselves up for the future. It is a forward looking policy that acknowledges the skills shortages in our region, which will only increase as our workforce ages and ultimately retires.
While I am campaigning for two ticks Labour, I have been overwhelmed by the support from locals who, while they are not Labour supporters, have pledged their electorate vote to me.
They are frustrated that Central and Southern Hawke's Bay are overlooked. And they appreciate the effort I have made to recognise that the northern end of the Wairarapa electorate is just as important as Masterton, Carterton or Featherston.
They see that with other candidates set to be elected through their Party list, if we are to see the change in MP that many people want, then giving me their electorate vote is the only way to achieve that change. It is a way to use their vote strategically, and their support is appreciated.
There is a chance I may also qualify as a list MP, however it is far from certain. Nevertheless, it is the opportunity to represent my home region in Parliament that motivates me.
I'm proud of where I am from. My family has lived in Wairarapa for seven generations - 171 years - and that means a lot to me. It is part of the reason why I am so passionate about this place.
People in Wairarapa often ask me why I so often advocate for a change of name for the Wairarapa electorate. It is quite simple. I may be a Wairarapa man, but it is not fair to have Central Hawke's Bay overlooked.
Wairarapa would not like being part of an electorate called Central Hawke's Bay, so why should it be the other way around. We have Clutha-Southland, Taranaki-King Country and West Coast-Tasman, so why can't our electorate name acknowledge the Hawke's Bay part?
Changing the name of the electorate might appear to be a symbolic move, but given the fact that people here feel neglected and ignored, I think it is important - a daily reminder to our MP that this electorate has more than just Wairarapa within it.
We need an MP who is loud and proud about this place - one who will promote and advocate for it at every opportunity. And with your support, that's exactly what I intend to do.
Kieran McAnulty is the Labour Party candidate in the Wairarapa electorate. Views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org