Prime Minister Bill English experienced an election campaign first in Te Puke this afternoon.

As the candidate entered the Te Puke RSA and Citizen's Club, young Corin Jack handed him a handmade invitation and told him he wanted the Prime Minister at his birthday - in May next year.

English told the packed house that it was the first birthday invitation he had received for after the election.

Joined on stage by wife Mary English, local Te Puke MP Todd McClay, Tauranga MP Simon Bridges, Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry, English told the crowd there was "a lot to fight for" this election.


In a 25-minute speech, he talked about the economy, roading, housing, jobs, trade, tax and asked voters to "cut out the middle man" - Winston Peters.

He repeated the promise he made in Rotorua earlier on Saturday , that if elected his Government would four-lane the city's Te Ngae Rd.

"We'll end up with four lanes from Whangarei to the foot of the Kaimais - that's where we're heading. Five or six years ago people couldn't imagine that, but within 10 years that will be the case."

On New Zealand's housing shortage, he pointed to the reversed immigration trend between New Zealand and Australia.

He said in five or six years it had gone from net 39,000 leaving New Zealand to net 1000 migrating to New Zealand.

"We reckon over the last five or six years, over 150,000 Kiwis we thought were going to leave have stayed. So it's no wonder there's a bit of pressure in the housing market because the houses didn't empty out for the next lot to move in."

He promised to build houses and help home buyers with deposits through an upgrade to the Kiwisaver Home Start grant.

"You know how big Hamilton is - well over the next six years the industry tell us we will build three-and-a-half times Hamilton. And you know a reasonable amount of it is going to be here."

Concern about Labour's plans for a water tax was palpable in the room when English turned to the subject towards the end of his speech.

People clapped when he said New Zealand had "the toolkit" now to have high environmental standards and improve food production and water quality.

He said a water tax was not the answer to stopping pollution.

For first-time voter Alamdeep Mahesh, 18, jobs were at the top of his mind as he worked to complete his degree.

"Hopefully there will be more jobs for people like me," he said.

"I feel they are the right party to vote for."

So what about Corin's birthday party? English told the Bay of Plenty Times he would have to be re-elected Prime Minister first.

"He won't want me to turn up if I lose the election so I'll have to have a look next week."

"I'd love to go."