The National Party has gone back to local farming roots to appoint farmer Mike Butterick as its candidate to defend its hold on the Wairarapa electorate, which includes Central Hawke's Bay.
He replaces two-term MP Alastair Scott, the Wellington-based owner of Matahiwi Estate Winery, near Masterton, and who announced in June last year he would not be seeking re-election.
Understood to have been one of at least three who sought the candidacy, Butterick moved to Wairarapa in 1990 as a shepherd from Canterbury. He bought a farm five years later.
The 48-year-old father-of-three is Federated Farmers Wairarapa meat and wool sector chair and led the FiftyShadesofGreen outcry against escalating afforestation of productive farmland.
A decade ago he led opposition to a Combined District Plan banning clearing of native vegetation more than 14 years old, referring to part of the plan as "legislative land theft" by the Department of Conservation.
Wairarapa, which has appeared as an electorate name for all but six years since 1859, has a history of fluctuating boundaries and party triumph.
Since the halving of the number of electorates and creating about 60 party list MP positions with the advent of MMP in 1996, it has incorporated the former Pahiatua electorate, extending to north of Waipawa and famed for the tenure of 1960-1972 Prime Minister Sir Keith Holyoake.
It has been National since 2002, when it took hold after the retirement of history-making two-term Labour MP and transgender leader Georgina Beyer.
Scott had comfortably won two elections, among the few genuine three-way battles at the ballot box nationwide, against Labour's Kieran McAnulty and New Zealand First's Ron Mark, both of whom are list MPs,
Uniquely, Scott increased his vote by almost 300 votes from 2014 to 2017, but in the election three years ago saw his majority cut by 3899 votes and his proportion of the vote drop to 41.4 per cent.
McAnulty, whose 13,642 votes in 2017 was greater than Beyer had at her last win in 2002, has been confirmed as Labour's candidate for the expected September 19 election, but New Zealand First is yet to confirm whether Mark will again be its candidate.