Wairarapa is famous for its wild coast and down to earth people. The Wairarapa electorate takes in all of that "hard-core" Wairarapa and expands to include parts of the Manawatū and Hawke's Bay.

The electorate boundary is just north of Waipawa and Waipukurau, following the central range south to include the towns of Dannevirke, Woodville, Pahiatua, Eketāhuna, Masterton, Carterton, Greytown, Featherston and Martinborough.

Wairarapa has more Māori and Pakeha than the rest of New Zealand, so there's a lack of other ethnicities, but they're there. In Martinborough's wine country the most common language after English is French.

Primary industry is key, with three times the national average employed in farming, forestry and fishing.


Local newspaper editor Steve Carle said farming is the backbone of the electorate.

"I think it is a very stable area," he said. "People tend to live here and stay here. Farms are handed down from generation to generation."

The electorate has seen a lot of newcomers. Carle said in South Wairarapa the number of residents commuting to Wellington has grown since the last election and many former commuters from Palmerston North decided to settle in Tararua District. How this changes the vote is yet to be seen.

The incumbent MP, National's Alastair Scott, is resigning after two terms. His replacement is farmer and lobbyist Mike Butterick who will seek to defend National's winning majority of 2872 in the last election.

Second place went to Labour's Kieran McAnulty in his first attempt at the seat. McAnulty has been a list MP and is standing again in the electorate.

New Zealand First list MP and Defence Minister Ron Mark is also standing, with the Green Party also fielding a strong candidate with former Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown. A fifth candidate is Act's Roger Greenslade.

Carle says Wairarapa can't lose when it comes to representation, with the top three candidates all having very strong ties to Wairarapa.

"We're actually spoiled for choice," he said. "We are provincial New Zealand and we want people representing us in Parliament that know how our electorate works.


"Here are three prime candidates that are in the know with first-hand experience of living in our communities. They know what we want."

While the electorate is provincial in geography it is not provincial in outlook. In 1999 Wairarapa chose the world's first openly transgender Member of Parliament - Labour's Georgina Beyer.

Proving anything can happen in the Wairarapa electorate.

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