A lot of ground was covered at Thursday's Hawke's Bay Today Tukituki candidates debate with the minor party representatives offering some refreshing views on the issues.

It's likely, however, that this will be a two-horse race between National's Lawrence Yule and Labour's Anna Lorck who both strove to highlight their respective parties' policies, as well as stress their commitment to the region.

All the candidates were quizzed on water, which has become a major election issue, especially in Hawke's Bay where the safety of drinking water, river quality and water bottling have been thrown into the spotlight over the last three years.

For Mr Yule the first priority was safe, clean drinking water, and then there was a joint priority to collaborate to ensure there was enough water to live on, to export and create jobs and to ensure better river quality, he said.

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"I am optimistic we can the get the drinking water sorted and clean up the rivers without some Wellington-based conservation order," he said referring to the Ngaruroro River water conservation order that is provoking the ire of Heretaunga Plains farmers and growers.

Fresh, safe, secure drinking water for people, animals and crops was a birthright, said Ms Lorck.

"We have got to clean up the rivers and Labour will put a local levy on water bottling - most of that money will come back to Hawke's Bay to protect and clean up the rivers."

Candidates were asked about the Labour Party's policy to tax commercial water users, and she said it was not as onerous as some made out.

"We will charge a local royalty on water bottling of one cent a litre, with an irrigation charge of 1c a cubic metre. I have talked to growers - it takes 1200cu m to grow 1ha of apples - that's $12 a year."

Mr Yule also supported some sort of levy on water bottling, but not the charge for irrigators, which would see orchardists forced to pay when they did not cause rivers to be polluted, he said.

"You also have to be careful charging for water - it brings up questions around ownership where iwi have significant expectations. I do not think it's a fight worth having."

The pair's stances also diverged on the possibility of restoring the Napier to Gisborne railway line.

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While Mr Yule supported upgrading the Napier to Wairoa section, he said the Wairoa to Gisborne line was some of the most expensive rail in the country to maintain because of its exposure to severe weather events.

"I do not believe the investment is worth it at the moment - it would be better spent on the likes of health and education."

Ms Lorck, however said the Labour Party did support reopening the line and one of the first things she would do would be to conduct a feasibility report on the possibility.

The Hastings district's GE Free status was an area that both candidates agreed they wished to retain.

Although it diverged from his party's stance, Mr Yule said that if elected he would go to caucus and argue the case.

Through her company Attn Marketing, Ms Lorck said she had worked behind that campaign and that the Labour Party would get rid of the 360D clause that stopped communities from making their own decision on GE.

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They were at odds, however, on Labour's proposed capital gains tax, which Ms Lorck assured would not apply to the family home or land.

"I do not support a capital gains tax on anything - period," said Mr Yule.

For the voters in the Tukituki electorate, both candidates promised they would lobby hard to address local concerns if elected.

Ms Lorck said she had a "can-do" approach to putting people first and would work hard to further her aspirations for Hastings.

Mr Yule said he believed his qualities included strength of character, faith, determination, experience, and above all he cared.