Ala' Al-Bustanji says the biggest problem people have with him is not his politics. It's his name.
"Just call me Al," says Al-Bustanji, the Labour Party's candidate for the Taupō electorate.
Al, or Ala' is short for Aladdin, Al-Bustanji's full name. For the record, his name is pronounced exactly as it is spelled, with a hard j in Bustanji.
Name recognition is something Al-Bustanji has been building. He ran against incumbent National MP Louise Upston in 2017 and was selected again this year.
His pitch to voters is that if he wins the Taupō electorate seat, they will be getting two MPs for the price of one. Upston's high position at ninth on the National Party list means she is virtually guaranteed a seat in Parliament regardless of the Taupō vote. At 71 on Labour's list, Al-Bustanji needs to win Taupō.
He says as he moves around the electorate campaigning he is hearing support for the Government's strategy of dealing with Covid-19, even if people recognise it has brought pain for many.
"Some businesses have had to shut down but a lot are saying it's been better than expected.
"Many people are worried about Covid-19. This is an urgent situation and it's unpredictable. Jobs and business recovery from Covid-19 are very big issues. Affordability of housing is a number one concern. People under the age of 40 in Taupō have one of the lowest rates of home ownership in New Zealand. Rentals are hard to find and expensive."
Al-Bustanji says he's standing because he wants to make the Taupō electorate a better place, to push for environmental gains and to represent all people, with a particular focus on small business.
He is a former small business owner. He ran a dairy on Tongariro St in Taupō, but has since become a Corrections officer, a job that he says is challenging but rewarding and one that gives him a view of all parts of the community.
Al-Bustanji is originally from Jordan and has been "living the Kiwi lifestyle" in Taupō since 2009. He says the March 15 Christchurch terrorist attack gave him an extra reason to stand.
"As a member of the Muslim community I was shocked and terrified like everybody else but the reaction from locals and from our nation, the love and solidarity, the kindness and support was heart-warming and gave me an extra reason to be proud to represent my local community in Parliament as a thank you and to look after their wellbeing and their interests."
When it comes to the two referendums, Al-Bustanji is conflicted but thinks he will vote yes to both.
"Cannabis, I see it as a health issue just like alcohol. This is not about providing cannabis, it's already out there, it's a huge industry probably worth billions of dollars avoiding tax so I'm voting yes to stop the illegal trade and for this issue to be taxed as a health issue rather than a legal issue.
"End of life is a really tough one. Life is so precious in my beliefs and no one should have the right to decide life or death. But after listening to people talking about their own terminal illness or their loved one's, the pain and suffering and the lack of any quality of life, that made me think again that if it's unbearable pain they probably should have the right to decide."