During one of the supporter scrums Jacinda Ardern spends much of her campaign in she turned to take the next selfie and realised she was facing her cousin.

Ardern is back in the Waikato and in each speech stressed her local roots - growing up in Hamilton's Dinsdale, working at the takeaway shop while at Morrinsville College and going to Waikato University.

Politicians usually talk up their local connections. When Ardern was in Gisborne last week she told a rally it felt like home because her partner is a Gizzy boy.

But if bumping into your cousin wasn't enough to certify the Labour leader's Waikato credentials, the next up were three students from her old school.


Wearing Morrinsville College hoodies, there was much amusement when they learnt Ardern was in the lowly Alex house while at school (colour: red).

"We always lost," Ardern agreed. "We were always useless."

One of the students, Angenee Nagra, read from her phone a prepared question on how Labour's proposed water royalty affect farmers such as her family.

After an assurance any charge would be minimal and set after consultation, Nagra and her mates got their photo, but she later told the Herald she wasn't convinced by the answer.

The first electorate Ardern stood in was Waikato and she is under no illusions about the difficulty in getting many locals onside - water royalty or no water royalty.

At the Grey Power meeting she recalled her first debate as a candidate, at an event organised by Federated Farmers in Matamata.

"I took my mum and my grandma along with me as moral support. And after one of the questions from the floor I gave a very earnest answer, only to hear this boo overtake the entire room.

"And it wasn't long before I realised, I'm pretty sure my grandma joined in."

Ardern found a much more receptive audience in the afternoon as upwards of 800 students crammed into a Waikato University quad to hear her speak.

Lorde played on the radio before her arrival, and school girls holding a "let's do this sign" stood behind the stage and a hoarding with the simple message: "free education".

Retiring Labour MP Annette King was the warm-up act and mentioned her own local connection - she was a dental nurse based just down the road.

"I know I didn't do any of your teeth. You're far too young," she told the crowd. "It's time my generation got out of the way."

At the Grey Power meeting some of the messaging wasn't far from NZ First - rejuvenating the regions by funding key projects and rail, returning to community policing like Ardern's father used to do, banning foreign buyers and building homes.

The focus changed at the university, where Ardern told the students the election was in their hands, and focussed on the environment.

"I am glad we are having a debate about our waterways...because our rivers are dying."

Ardern was mobbed after the speech. That morning at a breakfast event a supporter took the 37-year-old's hands and exclaimed, "talk about the parting of the waters".

But with no sign of the crowd around Ardern dispersing after about half an hour, it took some determined work from her bodyguards to extract her and drive to the OJI Fibre Solutions Kinleith Mill near Tokoroa.

A huge site with its own road signing (Pulpmill Rd and Papermill Rd), the 24/7 mill has been open since the 1950s and employs 500 and produces pulp and the material used for cardboard boxes. That requires water to be taken and returned to the Waikato River, and the company isn't sure whether it would be captured by Labour's proposed royalty on water but is open-minded so long as there is consultation.

"They take and then they put back," Ardern said. "That would treat them in the same way as for instance hydro would. We would need to work through that with them."