Newly nominated National Party Napier candidate David Elliott said Hawke's Bay was never far from his heart even when jetting off to some of the world's most glamorous spots.
The Havelock North airline pilot and father-of-three will stand in this year's general election.
"For me, it is about making Hawke's Bay the best place to grow up," he said. "I have achieved quite a lot and I want to let people from similar backgrounds know that you can achieve your dreams and goals if you apply yourself, take some responsibility and work hard."
His parents had divorced when he was young and, for a time, he lived with his gran.
"We didn't have much money when I was growing up, but still it was a great place to grow up."
He went to Hastings Boys' High School before working at a radio station, studying maths in his spare time so he could pass the Royal New Zealand Air Force exam.
He was inspired to join by a TV advertisement "back in the day when they could afford to run one-minute ads". He passed, joining the air force in 1991, and became a helicopter pilot in Auckland and Ohakea, where he taught Hawke's Bay Rescue Helicopter pilot Charlie Beetham to fly.
Today Mr Elliott flies long haul for Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific, based in Melbourne.
"It is supposed to be the most liveable city in the world but I choose to live here."
He traces his Hawke's Bay ancestry to 19th-century pioneers, with his father and two preceding generations born in Napier.
With wife Raewyn, they chose to live in Havelock North with their school-aged children in 2008 after living in Hong Kong "cheek-to-jowl with eight million people". If elected, he could leave the Havelock North hills, but with a special-needs daughter, it would be a serious step.
"Napier has a great special character and great vibe - it has always been the coolest little city in New Zealand. Growing up, I was always in Napier and I love it.
"I have spent most of my life in and around Napier and my family history goes back to year dot, so I don't know how much more local I could get."
No matter where he lived, he would provide representation all the way to Mahia Peninsula, where Rocket Lab would soon launch satellites into space.
"As a pilot I am very excited." He first hoped to run in Tukituki but lost out to Lawrence Yule. Napier selectors saw his presentation and invited him to apply.
It took a few days to decide and he applied because of his Napier ties "and a chance to represent Hawke's Bay".
Labour Napier MP Stuart Nash said he had never met Mr Elliott "but, from all indications, he is a really nice guy".
"I am a little surprised National picked a candidate from outside the electorate but that is up to them. They obviously thought he was the best man for the job and onwards and upwards."
He was sure candidate relations would again be courteous and National's choice made no difference to his campaign on working hard on the important issues.
Mr Elliott said he was disappointed with Mr Nash's "scaremongering" campaign against the possibility of a stake in Napier Port being sold. "The port needs to expand and I would hate to think it might miss its opportunity to capture jobs - thanks to the great things happening with the economy - and secure its place as a major port."
Selling a stake would not be the end of the world if the regional council maintained control, he said.