Wairoa locals say their town offers more than a pitstop for holiday makers travelling along North Island's east coast and want council to help take them forward into the 21st century to prove it.

Faces of local government candidates are spliced throughout the riverside town on a handful of street-corner billboards. Locals wander along Wairoa riverbank instead of the Marine Parade - a place several said needed an injection of vibrancy - something possible only if Wairoa District Council moves to bring people into the 21st century.

Andrew Hume, owner of local business Curve Technology Ltd, said this now needed to be the priority. He and his wife Alma both said they would be voting without a doubt.

"We want the town to transition into the 21st century," Mr Hume said.


Current Mayor Craig Little is standing against stiff competition in Benita Cairns and Roland Matley. There are 14 candidates from which six councillors will be elected.

Connected communities, desirable lifestyle and treasured environments is council's current tag-line and Mr Hume said they had so far echoed the beginnings of change.

"I can see that everything Craig, the council and Fergus Power (council chief executive officer) are doing is in line with that. I think it's just transitioning the economy from primary sector to the information age."

While he enjoyed living in Wairoa he said there was no "lifestyle".

But this could be improved should council increase jobs and keep pace with the rest of the country.

"The council really is to facilitate change. If the council doesn't support it then things won't give way."

Mr Hume supported this year's binding poll to decide whether the district should be divided into one or more Maori wards.

"They're unrepresented in the local body," he said.

The current mayor's name was bandied around as a favourite but most residents kept tight-lipped about issues they wanted addressed.

Several expressed concern for the state of the Marine Parade - Wairoa's main street and often travellers' main stop-off point.

Bloom'n Loco florist recently moved from Auckland to its spot on the main drag.

Much like the store's decor, florist Tamara Rudd had a bright and breezy outlook on her new home, but she said business owners needed to take more pride in their buildings as they were "a little run down".

"The people are amazing and it's such a pretty place. Although it is unloved," she said.

Ms Rudd said she saw potential in Marine Parade and business owners needed to "jazz it up".

Opening a shop on the waterfront wasn't the only drawcard for the florist. House prices, mortgage-free lifestyle and weather topped her list.

Teresa Zielstra was looking forward to casting her vote at the end of this month.

She was concerned about population decline the rate of unemployment in "our beautiful little town".

She was saddened the community had been reduced to just one supermarket, a New World on Queen St, where allocated parks severely under-catered for shoppers, especially at peak shopping hours.

The 2013 census shows the district's total population is 7890 with 63 per cent of Maori ethnicity. Wairoa's median age is 38.9 and median age for Maori is 29.6.

Total population, Maori population and total dwellings has shown a decreasing trend since 2006.

Patience Tipuna supported Benita Cairns for mayor as she had development of youth as her top concern.

"I have a six-year-old daughter and I want her to have a good childhood," she said.

"There are no programmes here for them. We need educational programmes and something for sport. The sport used to be really big around here."