ELECTION2020_DIGIBANNER

Named after the river that runs through it, the Tukituki electorate is primarily comprised of the Hastings District.

It follows the Tūtaekurī River to the Kaweka Range, south to Central Hawke's Bay and then inland where it narrowly skirts the towns of Waipukurau and Waipawa before the boundary heads to the coast at Pourerere.

It has a predominantly rural economy, with many of Hastings' workers commuting from the neighbouring electorate of Napier.

Former Hastings deputy mayor Cynthia Bowers said the electorate was primarily about working people.

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"In the main we have a population that is very grounded," she said.

"I think that probably comes back to our rural background.

"There's a big range of people in the Tukituki electorate – a lot of diversity. There is diversity of income, there's diversity of ethnic mix.

"It depends on the specific areas you are talking about, but I don't think that's greatly different to anywhere else in provincial New Zealand."

Most Tukituki voters live in the city of Hastings, which has two very-different satellite suburbs.

To the northwest is the younger and predominantly Māori, Flaxmere and to the southeast is the older, more populous and predominantly Pākehā Havelock North.

In the previous election Havelock North outvoted Flaxmere by about 4 to 1 for the general election, but nearly half of all votes cast in Flaxmere were for the Māori electorate.

Drought weighs heavy on Tukituki farmers. After a dry summer the autumn rains never arrived, making it a very tough winter.

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Despite the hardship and dislike of new regulations Bowers, a farmer's wife, says rural communities are no longer predictable National Party voters.

"I don't think anyone can make any judgments on that anymore.

"Once upon a time you would look at a rural community – a farming community – and say 'that will be a blue area – they'll all vote National'.

"They are far more diverse that they used to be and I don't think you can make the same political assumptions about them as you once could."

Tukituki's sitting MP for the National Party is former Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule. But Anna Lorck hopes to take the Tukituki seat for Labour.

The marketing-business owner and former Miss Waipukurau lost to Yule's predecessor Craig Foss by 6500 votes in 2014.

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In 2017 she halved her losing margin against Yule and last year was elected to the Hawke's Bay District Health Board.

A similar increase of votes for Lorck in 2020 could see her take the Tukituki seat for Labour.

Locally the word Tukituki is often understood to mean the rhythmic sound of the river, but it can also mean to take down and destroy.

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