The Rotorua electorate is known the world over for its deep and historic connection with Māori culture. The electorate reaches as far north as Te Puke and covers the area around the city of Rotorua, including neighbouring towns Ngongotaha and Reporoa.
The electorate's population has grown by only 6 per cent in the past 14 years. With an average age of 37, over one-third of the population belongs to a Māori ethnic group, and it prides itself on its unique, multi-cultural heritage.
"Rotorua is passionate about the things that make it a special place," said Dave Donaldson, deputy mayor of Rotorua. "Its environment, its forests, lakes, geothermal spaces. So it's a sense of how important that environment is to Rotorua and its people, its economy."
While every city in New Zealand felt the impacts of Covid-19, Rotorua was one of the hardest hit. The city relies heavily on tourism and with international borders closed, visitor numbers dropped drastically.
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Repairing and rebuilding the electorate's economy is a central issue for the upcoming election.
"We're seriously impacted with 11,000 people, 23 per cent of our working population are employed in our visitor sector - tourism and hospitality," Donaldson said. "So it's how do we survive and then build that back better?"
The current Rotorua MP is National's Todd McClay, securing a third term in Parliament with 53 per cent of electorate votes in 2017. This year, Labour's challenger is Claire Mahon, a former human rights lawyer, who's returned to her hometown of Rotorua after 15 years in Switzerland.
"Historically, has this been a Labour seat or National seat? Well it's been both," said Donaldson.
"It's up for grabs I think, strong and effective representation within central government is key. But the Rotorua electorate MP, we just want the person who will continue to advocate for Rotorua and be on the same page as what is best for us, determined by the community that council represents."
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