From getting people off the streets, charging for water bottling, to whether they'd ever taken recreational drugs - no stone was left unturned at the Hawke's Bay Today Napier candidates debate.

About 100 people attended last night's debate held at Napier Boys' High School, where five of the electorate's candidates fielded questions from Hawke's Bay Today editor Andrew Austin.

Digs were made, and fingers pointed, while a range of ideas on how to improve the electorate were shared.

L-R Andrew Austin, moderator, Stuart Nash, Labour, Karl Matthys, Democratic social credit, David Elliott, National, Damon Rusden, Greens and Maryanne Marsters, Maori party.
L-R Andrew Austin, moderator, Stuart Nash, Labour, Karl Matthys, Democratic social credit, David Elliott, National, Damon Rusden, Greens and Maryanne Marsters, Maori party.

The major party representatives explained how their party's policies would boost Napier - National party candidate David Elliott often left defending the Government's actions, returning fire at incumbent MP Stuart Nash via Labour's tax policies.


A personable Maori Party candidate Maryanne Marsters promised Napier could return to being "the land of milk and honey".

The youngest on the stage, Green Party candidate Damon Rusden passionately spoke of focusing on the environment, while Democrats for Social Credit candidate Karl Matthys was well-versed in his party's major policy - the unconditional basic income.

Key issues of the environment, water bottling and the chlorination of Napier's water were discussed - with all candidates stating the current chlorination was a necessary evil, but that the issues leading to it needed to be addressed.

"We see water as a taonga, a treasure, so we will legislate to protect freshwater and give it the status of taonga," Ms Marsters said.

The Greens would charge a levy for water bottling to go back into local infrastructure Mr Rusden said, while Mr Elliott disagreed with any charge for water bottling that could extend to the horticulture, or viticulture industries.

All candidates felt more affordable housing was needed in Napier- with Mr Nash pointing to Labour's recent housing announcement for Hawke's Bay, and Mr Elliott explaining National's nationwide housing push.

This issue was highlighted by the growing number of beggars, and homeless in Napier - which also stemmed from a "gradual whittling away" of the social welfare system, Mr Matthys said.

Mr Nash advocated for more investment in the mental health system. Although this population had "complex issues", the Government was focused on providing wrap-around services, Mr Elliott said, rather just putting them in a state house.

The candidates appeared to agree on several things- including that the Napier War Memorial situation had not been handled appropriately, but was moving toward a solution.

They were also in agreement on restoring the Napier-Gisborne rail line - with slight caveats from the Labour, and National candidates.

Personal questions were also thrown at the candidates.

Mr Nash assured the crowd he had "absolutely had the right temperament" to be Police Minister- as could occur if Labour won.

"But more than that, I've got the vision," he said, adding he would invest in officers who found, and stopped criminals manufacturing P.

Mr Elliott defended not living in Napier, as during the nomination process to become National's candidate he had to convince 60 "hardened' residents on what he offered the electorate.

"They decided that what I could do was more important than where I live."

On whether he had the required experience, Mr Rusden said his youth and background gave him an insight into social issues.

Ms Marsters declined to say which party hers should side with after the election, while Mr Matthys argued the universal basic income was not a policy for a by-gone era.

The audience enjoyed some Freudian slips - including Mr Nash assuring he did not know what was going on behind the scenes prior to Jacinda Ardern taking up his party's leadership, "in terms of rolling Andrew [Little], or Andrew stepping down."

Three of the candidates admitted to taking recreational drugs - but not Ms Marsters, or Mr Elliott.

"For some reason passengers don't like pilots who take recreational drugs," Mr Elliott said.

Conservative Party candidate Laurence Day could not attend.