East Coast MP and Conservation Minister Kiri Allen had a busy day in and around Te Puke last Friday.
She met with representatives of Te Puke Economic Development Group, Zespri, NZ Kiwifruit Growers Inc, Federated Farmers and Western Bay of Plenty mayor Garry Webber. She caught up with local singer Moone to record a quick TikTok video and finished the day meeting three year 10 students currently on the Graeme Dingle Foundation's He Ara Akonga programme.
Kiri used to live in Paengaroa and Te Puke, and part of the district east of Te Puke falls within her constituency. She says days like Friday enable her to "be a loud beating drum" for the area.
"I grew up here. I know these places intimately inside and out, the challenges that we face being disconnected from those larger population centres with the various things that come with those more resourced towns. I genuinely see that my job is to shout from the rooftops about things that impact our people in this place.
"People like me that are sitting in these very privileged positions making decisions for all New Zealanders need to constantly be stepping in the waters and having free and frank yarns like... today."
She says she spoke to a broad cross-section of the community.
"They are all coming with really important views. [Government] decisions impact them and their lives, our lives, every single one of them has a really important view to bring to the table.
"For me, it's just being out in the community without fanfare because you want to hear what's really going on and also put a bit of a kibosh on anything that's rubbish as well.
"So, say there's anxieties about housing or water or drug addiction or education - it's about sitting and trying to get through to the real crux of the issue - what's the real genuine fear here? Have I genuinely made sure we've looked at this perspective?"
The next step, she says, is to form a plan.
"All of the various discussions I've had with sector groups, basically, we go through at the end of the day and say, these are all the actions I've agreed with the various groups and I'm going to follow up with x minister on roading issues, housing issues, then go through again and say what's the plan of attack, the timeframes?"
Issues raised covered everything from labour and housing shortages to how Resource Management and local government reforms are going to play out.