The Labour Party conference over the weekend brought Jacinda Ardern to Whanganui for the first time as Prime Minister.
She spoke to Zaryd Wilson about regional development, welcoming refugees and what happened to those election promises.
Jacinda Ardern's last visit to Whanganui came during the height of the 2017 election campaign and the days dubbed "Jacindamania".
Hundreds turned out to Majestic Square on an August afternoon to see the newly appointed Labour leader speak.
It was a "memorable" day, she recalls.
She had only been leader of the Labour Party for 18 days. Two months later she was Prime Minister.
Labour and Ardern rallied around regional development when she rolled through Whanganui that day and gave a "firm commitment" to spending $3 million on repairing the south and north moles.
A week earlier the then Prime Minister Bill English had announced $6 million for the velodrome roof project and Ardern said she wanted it "firmly noted that Labour will uphold that commitment".
No cheques have been written for those two projects yet.
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"We were at a point of making individual project announcements and then moved into a coalition government where instead what we created was a significant but contestable fund where everything goes through a process," Ardern told the Chronicle during an afternoon tea break at the conference on Saturday.
That fund is the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) set up by the coalition Government which includes New Zealand First.
"Actually there's been a number of (campaign promises) that have come in and been funded through the PGF as well but it has been a different process," she said.
While the PGF has funded a business case for the north and south mole, money for the rebuild has not yet been forthcoming and now sits with a PGF application from Horizons Regional Council.
The "firm commitment" of 2017 is now dependent on an application.
"We set out a plan of those things we wish to expedite when we're in Government but we also accept that sometimes there'll be compromise and sometimes there'll just be different sequencing."
Whanganui's re-selected Labour candidate, Steph Lewis, says the party believed the velodrome money was already allocated, but it wasn't and now says the PGF is the mechanism for such funding.
"There's a process to go through the Government set up," Lewis said. "You've got multiple different parties that you've got to bring to the discussions before the funding can be provided."
Despite some promises not yet being realised, Ardern defends her Government's record in the regions.
"I think anyone would be hard pressed to say that as a result of our coalition government the region have suffered," she says.
"I know there a people in this region that benefitted from the winter energy payment, that benefitted from our families package, that are benefiting from our housing plans but there'll be other things that because of our coalition government might be just sequenced differently or done in a different way."
"We can't underestimate the impact of the PGF. That has probably exceeded my expectations in terms of the impact on regions."
In many way the focus of the regions, especially Whanganui, has shifted markedly since 2017.
Then it was about attracting people to the regions and staving off decline.
Now, population growth and a housing market boom means the focus needs to shift to supporting that rapid growth.
Despite its challenges, Ardern prefers that scenario.
"I'd rather be the place of having a discussion about how do we meet the demand in a region that's growing than one that's neglected," she says.
"When you have regional growth and development that of course brings population growth, that puts a lot of pressure on infrastructure - that's why we've never looked at these things in isolation.
"We have a housing programme, we have regional transport investment and we have investment that's focused on economic development that generates jobs and incomes.
"You have to have every part of that puzzle. If you're only focused on jobs then of course it puts a squeeze on everything else."
Part of Whanganui's future growth will also come from refugees after it was announced as a resettlement location by Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway in February.
Up to 110 refugees are expected every year.
But just months out from when the first families were scheduled to arrive, Whanganui is the only location where an organisation hasn't yet been awarded a refugee settlement services contract.
An Immigration New Zealand refugee resettlement meeting in Whanganui in July was ended early when Tupoho iwi representative Ken Mair said iwi did not support the resettlement of refugees in Whanganui without further discussion, citing already unaffordable housing for some.
Iwi and ministers was due to meet last week to discuss the issue.
Ardern says refugees will "only add to this region" and the Government needed to "demonstrate to community that we have that pipeline and that we have a plan".
"We are considered gold standard when it comes to our resettlement programme," she says.
"We often hear our refugees and migrants almost spoken about as if we are the ones providing something to them but they provide a huge amount to us. Many of them have professions that are useful, they start their own business and social enterprises.
"They've had 10 lifetimes in sometimes just a small young person and their gratitude for being here after all the disruption is humbling."
Ardern says it is possible to meet the demand for infrastructure that Whanganui now requires.
"Had the last Government been building state houses at the rate we're building them now they would have built enough state house for the waiting list.
"It takes a while to build up and for us to get the momentum but we're starting to do that now. Several thousand built, several thousand in the pipeline, we just need to show communities we have that plan."