Ending homelessness, lifting people out of poverty, and addressing climate change were among the big promises made by those hoping to be Napier's next MP yesterday.

About 50 people spent their Sunday afternoon at Napier's St Paul's Presbyterian church, listening to five of the electorate's six candidates make their case for why they should be the city's next elected representative.

Hosted by the EPJ Network and chaired by lawyer Martin Williams, the social-issues focused meeting saw candidates field questions on the environment, housing, and inequality.

There was some barbs flying between the candidates - mostly between Labour's Stuart Nash and National's David Elliott.


They were joined in the hot seat by Green Party candidate Damon Rusden, Maori Party candidate Maryanne Marsters, and Democrats for Social Credit candidate Karl Matthys.

With a stark wealth divide in the Napier electorate, all were asked how they would seek to counter inequality.

Mr Nash - who said he went into politics to promote quality of opportunity - said his party would begin by legislating targets around child poverty in the first 100 days, before outlining how this would be reduced.

As well as concrete policies to "eliminate poverty by 2025", Ms Marsters said her party would ensure people's perspective continued to change, as "the biggest thing when it comes to lifting us out of inequality is how people...see the aspirations of others".

Mr Elliott took a different approach, speaking about the "good figures" which showed the National Government was doing its best to reduce inequality - from raising the benefit, to the number of children living in material hardship drop 40 per cent since 2010.

Napier's growing population of homeless provided a local slant on questions about housing, with candidates explaining how their party would solve the crisis.

While their approach differed, all agreed more homes needed to be built in the region, and that the standard of rentals needed to improve.

Mr Rusden said things needed to change to ensure the most vulnerable of the population were not locked out of the housing market - "Housing is a right, it's not a privilege".

He cited his party's pledge to build 10,000 affordable homes in three years, which would be part of a rent to buy scheme.

The Democrats for Social Credit party had a number of plans to promote home ownership, Mr Matthys said, including allowing local authorities to build low cost homes.

They would also ensure all rental accommodation complied with certain requirements, and put regulation around rent increases.

Questions were also answered on raising the refugee quota, euthanasia, the Napier War Memorial, and raising the pension age.

Candidates also spoke on their own topics of interest - ranging from socialism, the prison system, and changing regulations around medical marijuana - from an unexpected (blue) candidate.

Conservative Party candidate Laurence Day did not attend.