Steve Chadwick, Dennis Curtis, and Rob Kent all received enthusiastic applause from the crowd of 200 at the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce mayoral candidates debate this evening.
However, this was not the case for fellow candidate Reynold Macpherson, who received boos for his comments on Te Tatau o Te Arawa.
Chadwick, Curtis, and Kent proposed strengthening and even widening the work of the iwi partnership, however, Macpherson described it as "inappropriate".
He said all interest groups needed to be heard equally and "to select one group and allow them co-governance rights and powers is a little too far".
This was greeted with boos from some of the audience.
Incumbent mayor Steve Chadwick held nothing back in her opening speech, declaring she wanted to "ensure that the projects under way are completed" in the face of "a campaign of misinformation" from doubters.
She said the council could not deliver the 2030 projects with reduced rates but could put more tension on council-controlled organisations "to make sure that we are getting value for money".
Chadwick said partnerships were the key to reducing financial pressures on the council, and through these, it raised $70 million for the Whakarewarewa, Lakefront, Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre and Rotorua Museum projects to name a few.
Meanwhile, Rob Kent focused on council finances.
He said growth had to be carefully managed or "an increasing spiral of rates and debt" would arise from what he called "ambitious" capital projects, including the Lakefront development, which he strongly supported.
"Council must learn to operate efficiently and cost-effectively which it certainly isn't now."
He proposed simplifying the committee recommendation process and amalgamating some.
Dr Reynold Macpherson began with his credentials, describing himself as "an organisational scientist".
He said the city's stormwater infrastructure was "a major impediment to housing development at the moment" and "nonsense" legal clashes with the regional council had to stop.
Macpherson also raised concerns about overinvestment into public relations, public exclusion from too many meetings and he sought widespread forensic audits of the council and organisations under its control.
He said the Residents' and Ratepayers' Association he led had been "vilified" over the past six years.
Final speaker Dennis Curtis emphasised the value of partnerships, particularly with iwi, and businesses and central government, as well as responding directly to public feedback and having unified councillors "on the same waka".
"I congratulate Stevie and the relationships she has advocated for... they have boded well for us going into the future, but it doesn't stop there... Infrastructure and the three waters, they're the priority."
His other priorities included families and children, protecting assets and resources, and sustainability.