New Whangarei MP Shane Reti has hit the ground running, already working on plans to deliver on his promise to create an extra 3000 jobs in the district during his three year term.
Dr Reti swept into power in Whangarei on Saturday to replace retiring five-term National MP for Whangarei Phil Heatley and immediately made a commitment to focus on "jobs, jobs, jobs."
The political newcomer won the Whangarei electorate with 18,747 votes, a majority of 12,379 over second place getter, Labour's Kelly Ellis, and said the results gave him a mandate to work for Whangarei as part of a National government committed to economic growth and creating more employment opportunities.
Dr Reti said he was humbled, but honoured, that the people of Whangarei had given him their mandate to represent them and his first priorities as an MP would be "jobs, jobs, jobs." He would also push for National's Roads of National Significance (RoNS) project - that has seen consents for State Highway One to be widened from Puhoi to Warkworth and later Wellsford - extended.
"I want to get the four laning of SH1 all the way to Whangarei. That will also help create jobs, while I will work hard on economic development for Whangarei and Northland," he said.
Dr Reti said he also wanted to get a slice of the cruise ship repair industry for Whangarei.
"We've got $24 million worth (of cruise ship repairs) that are just sailing past to New Plymouth or elsewhere and while I don't want to take work from other parts of the country, I want to grow that industry so that we get a slice of the pie in Whangarei. We built the navy frigates here and have an extensive history of ship building in Whangarei and we can do it." he said.
Dr Reti said he hoped to create "at least" 1000 jobs a year during his tenure and had already started working on a plan to create them.
"I've already met with (regional development body) Northland Inc and some of the ship building companies and I want to develop a consortium of local businesses and a comprehensive plan (to create jobs) and I will open as many doors for the industry to facilitate that expansion."
He would eventually like to see cruise ships stop at Marsden Pt, but first Whangarei needed a major attraction to take cruise ship passengers to.
"We need a major attraction first, but what that is is up to the council and public to decide. I don't care if it's something like the Hundertwasser Centre or the (proposed Hihiaua) Maori Cultural Centre, but once it is decided on I will help get Government support for the council's plans."
Another area Dr Reti - a GP and one time member of the Northland District Health Board before being awarded a New Zealand Harkness Fellowship to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School - wanted to address was the mental health sector, which he said needed fixing.
"I understand the health system and I've fixed broken health systems overseas. I want to do more for the mental health system here. There's a gap there I want to fill," he said.
"There are too many people, particularly young people, committing suicide in Northland and while there has been a reduction this past year, that's part of the mental health system that I want to address - drugs and alcohol and that whole wraparound of issues that affect youth mental health."
First time candidate Ms Ellis said she had learned a lot from the campaign and congratulated Dr Reti on his win.
Perhaps the strangest part of Dr Reti's election night gathering at Spier Pavilion was seeing National Party supporters cheering a Labour candidate winning his electorate.
As news came through that Kelvin Davis was beating Mana movement leader Hone Harawira for the Te Tai Tokerau seat many of the true blue party faithful cheered and applauded the demise of Mr Harawira and Mr Davis' success.
Saturday night also saw Whangarei get a second MP to accompany Dr Reti to Parliament, with NZ First candidate Pita Paraone getting in through his number 8 ranking on the NZ First party list. Mr Paraone was a New Zealand First list MP from 2002 to 2008 when he lived at Pakuranga, Auckland.