Like most of New Zealand, Hastings went blue in the 1990 election.
With Jim Bolger at the helm, National too' />

Like most of New Zealand, Hastings went blue in the 1990 election.
With Jim Bolger at the helm, National took nearly half the vote and 66 of the 99 seats.
Jeff Whittaker had 18 years of local body politics, including nine as mayor of Havelock North, behind him when he was elected the National MP for Hastings with the biggest swing in the country.
He entered Parliament and found there were two ways of being an MP: "You can be a radical that agrees on anything, except what the politics of the situation demand. Or you can be an MP that looks at the practical situation and goes with the party politics."
You can be radical and agree with your constituents who, for example, want GST removed from rates.
"It's all very well to be the hero in your electorate, but then you go back to caucus and your colleagues are against you."
But back in your electorate, you carried the can for what was decided in Wellington.
Mr Whittaker had security guards watching his home in Hastings when National made controversial benefit cuts in the early '90s.
But the biggest problem was the sense of isolation.
"It's not an environment that allows you to make a lot of friends. You make one or two, but my experience is you really never know who your friends are. Because politics is politics and everyone is vying for something."
Working for your electorate was the biggest positive.
"You could do for people things that they could not do for themselves."
Then there was sitting on select committees: "just crazy, perhaps not crazy, but totally unproductive".
"The bureaucrats tend to run everything and to penetrate the bureaucratic morass is nigh on impossible."
There was a definite pecking order - nobody ever said no to Bill Birch - but sometimes he felt the others "were just ticking the boxes".
Now busy with a pharmacy and postshop in Havelock North and a vineyard on Maraekakaho Road, Mr Whittaker admits to becoming "pretty disillusioned' with government.
But he did sponsor a Private Members Bill that allowed wineries to sell wine on Sundays, seven years before liquor laws were altered.
With Geoff Braybrooke's help, they shuffled the bill through Parliament in record time.
Geoff Braybrooke was the Labour MP for Napier from 1981 until he retired in 2002.
He has one piece of advice for electorate MPs: "Always remember that your constituents come first ... their worries and concerns are yours."
When Labour crashed to just 29 seats in 1990, Napier stuck with Mr Braybrooke, while Hastings swung to National.
"They certainly looked after me when the Labour Party fell apart."
Mr Braybrooke is still disappointed he never managed to save Napier's hospital. But he is confident it wasn't for a lack of trying.
He proposed a Private Member's Bill and took a petition to Parliament, to no avail.
"You're like a ringmaster - there's lots of people there who you can help, it's just a matter of knowing what buttons to push."
A good relationship with the local mayors and churches helped and good electorate secretaries, who dealt with the public while MPs were away, were essential.