Whichever way you say it, Tauranga is one of New Zealand's fastest growing cities, and the Tauranga electorate represents the urban heart of the Bay of Plenty.

Taking in Tauranga's western and central suburbs, Tauranga electorate does not include the eastern suburbs of Maungatapu, Welcome Bay or Pāpāmoa, but it does include the western end of Mount Maunganui.

In general, the Tauranga electorate tends to include the more established and middle-class areas of the city, and its population reflects that.

"It's still a popular place to retire," said former mayor, Greg Brownless. "But it's also popular for younger families now and people looking after those people that come here to retire, as the population becomes more age heavy."


Over-65s make up 20 per cent of the electorate - 6 per cent more than the rest of New Zealand and there's more Pākehā than average too. No surprise then that Tauranga has been a stronghold for National or NZ First since the 1930s.

From Bethlehem to Mount Maunganui residents flock to the area for a sun-kissed lifestyle near the harbour and beach. And with 16km of golden, sandy beach to enjoy, there's room for everyone. But the subdivisions and new homes are putting pressure on the city – especially on the roads during rush hour.

Local councils have failed to solve mounting transport issues and are calling on the Government to step in with funding.

"Although we have the largest port, and the most efficient port in New Zealand here, we don't have the infrastructure leading to that port in the right condition," Brownless said.

"The railway line is pretty poor. The roads leading to and from it for road transport are poor and unfortunately our local people intersect with that transport as well. So you're finding the city has got all these choke points at certain times of the day."

Besides the port, the electorate hosts much of the region's industry as well as a busy airport and the Tauranga business district.

Heading into the election, the key issues to be hotly debated will include shortage of housing, transport around the region and employment.

If Tauranga is to continue its rapid pace of growth, these issues will need to be met head-on to ensure the city and its residents thrive. Then, maybe one day, the city will finally shake off its unofficial "ten-dollar Tauranga" label.


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