An organiser of 'Rotorua Green Drinks' is "very disappointed" after only two of 10 election candidates agreed to attend and answer questions.
The event, planned for this evening was cancelled after eight Waiariki and Rotorua candidates from major and minor parties declined the invitation.
About 75 people were expected.
An organiser, who NZME agreed not to name, said: "the whole thing has surprised me".
"The whole idea was this would give candidates a voice, basically ... It obviously hasn't been viewed that way."
"The straw that broke the camel's back" was when a candidate withdrew yesterday.
That only left Rotorua Labour candidate Claire Mahon and Rotorua Greens candidate Kaya Sparke, and the night was cancelled.
"We were really disappointed," the organiser said.
Candidates were given questions weeks in advance, to prepare.
"Whether that has put candidates off, I don't know," she said.
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"One would like to think that the science and what is happening in the world is actually touching everybody but it's obviously not."
The event, in conjunction with Forest and Bird, had been rescheduled from last month due to the change in the election date.
Mahon said the cancellation was a "frustrating" outcome, as she had done "a lot of preparation" and was "looking forward to meeting more people".
She felt environmental issues were "central to any government work" and she had discussed them with "all walks of life" including students, farmers, business owners, as Labour's candidate.
Sparke said she wondered whether "some people were maybe a bit afraid of being held to account for their environmental policies".
In particular, she "expected more" from Rotorua MP Todd McClay to attend, "considering it is his job to be a voice for Rotorua's community".
"I'm finding that more of the general public are asking about ecological and environmental issues ... These are some of the most pressing issues of our time and they need to be addressed."
McClay said it was "a great shame" the event was cancelled.
"I had put in an apology fairly early on, I had a prior commitment."
He said he had arranged for another National Party representative to attend on his behalf but travel restrictions on airline seats meant it was "logistically impossible" for them to make it.
McClay said this month he was attending other events, such as those held by Grey Power and the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce, and his own public meetings.
Waiariki MP Tāmati Coffey said sending apologies for the public meeting was a reality of campaign season.
"I have been out right across the Waiariki - one of New Zealand's biggest electorates - highlighting the record investment in our region this Government has made and how we can't risk slowing down. As a result of that mahi, this was simply due to a scheduling conflict across such a large electorate."