If loyalty to the leader is highly valued, it's not hard to see why new New Zealand First MP Fletcher Tabueau rocketed his way up the party list from number 11 in 2011 to number 4 this year.

The Rotorua candidate offers only one name when asked about his political heroes, or what awakened his political consciousness.

"It was Winston Peters. When he speaks, the recollection of facts and the detail, the passion and the fire, it definitely sparked me up when I was a young fella."

When the party released its list, Mr Tabuteau was the only unknown in the top five. Now he is one of five new MPs for the party, which grew its support to 8.9 per cent on Saturday.


Mr Tabuteau, whose parents owned a clothing store, joined the party when it first launched 21 years ago as a fresh-faced 19-year-old. He has always lived in Rotorua, where he has stood three times for NZ First already.

The 39-year-old has spent the past 10 years working as a teacher in the secondary and tertiary sectors, and currently heads the business school at Whitireia Polytechnic, where he also lectures in economics.

He thinks the National-led Government has been too short-sighted.

"One of the biggest indictments is the [partial] asset sales. That's pretty cynical. They sold off highly profitable assets that would have made us the same sum of money over a longer period of time, but once they're sold, it's hard to get them back."

He also describes as "flawed" National's flagship education policy of pouring $359 million into teacher quality and professional development, which National says is the number one factor to lift student achievement.

"There's other research just as valid which says class sizes are one of the most significant factors in a child's learning," Mr Tabuteau says.

He doesn't like to pigeon-hole himself into a political ideology. He is in favour of gay marriage and gay adoption, keeping the drinking age at 18, and the status quo on prostitution. He wants a referendum on cannabis decriminalisation.

But he refuses to say where he stands on the death penalty, or why, offering only "no comment".


He says the party's policy of regional royalties would help Rotorua lift its game. Under the proposal, 25 per cent of the royalties from extractive industries would go back into the region.

"It's about giving back and making sure the region benefit from some of these corporates operating in their backyard.

"I'm Rotorua born and raised. For me, the locals are part of what gets me active and makes me this political beast."

Fletcher Tabuteau

* New Zealand First list MP, candidate for Rotorua
* Fond of action movies
* Part Maori; wants the Maori seats abolished
* Supports the current NZ flag
* "No comment" on the death penalty