Jobs in the post-Covid world, reforming the Resource Management Act and mana for Māori were common threads at a Rotorua and Waiariki candidates' meeting on Tuesday night.
The event, run by the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce, was held at the Novotel and attracted six Rotorua candidates, three Waiariki candidates and about 100 attendees.
Apologies were received for Waiariki candidates Tāmati Coffey and Rawiri Waititi.
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said the meeting was "very civilised, very gracious and very respectful".
"They didn't agree, but they disagreed agreeably."
Standing in for Waititi, Māori Party list candidate Merepeka Raukawa-Tait said Māori should be able to thrive in Aotearoa in warm, affordable housing, and be healthy and well-educated.
Striking the lectern firmly twice, she said Māori were "never destined to live on their knees" and there was systemic racism within the health system.
"We think and believe that Māori are mad, bad and sad. They are not."
She said Waititi was a "great New Zealander" and would make a "wonderful" MP for Waiariki.
Next up was Labour candidate for the Rotorua electorate Claire Mahon, who said while she spent her life living and working overseas she always considered Rotorua home.
"For those who are interested in whakapapa … I'm a Ford … the original owners of Ford Block. Original in the colonialist sense."
Mahon said she had seen changes in Rotorua over that time that hadn't been "the right kind".
"My career for 20 years has been about being an advocate. A voice. That's what I want to be for you."
Outdoors Party Waiariki candidate Rawiri Te Kowhai said he had experienced homelessness, drug addiction and had spent time in prison.
"These candidates up here who are talking about homelessness and the struggle, that's where I came from. I've been there, I've lived it and now I'm not it."
A traditional Māori healer, Te Kowhai said he wasn't a politician.
"I've come a long way. I'm the voice for a lot of the people that aren't even sitting here."
National Party Rotorua candidate Todd McClay said Te Kowhai's story was "why many of us want to be Members of Parliament".
The 2020 election was one of the most important New Zealanders would face "for many generations".
"The next government of New Zealand faces choices of how to spend money and borrow on your behalf that your children and grandchildren will have to pay back.
"Every dollar that is spent is not ours, it's yours, and every dollar that's borrowed has to be paid back."
He said the Resource Management Act (RMA) needed to be "thrown away" and restarted.
Green Party Rotorua candidate Kaya Sparke, campaigning for the party vote, did not want people to vote for her for the electorate.
She said the Green Party's "wrap-around approach" could address many of the "complex issues facing Rotorua".
"We acknowledge the intersect between climate and social justice.
"We don't see them as two separate issues … they need to be looked at together."
Karri-Anne Vercoe, running in the Rotorua electorate, said the One Party represented the Christian vote and the "Treaty of Waitangi as a constitutional document covenant."
She said the Party wanted to see more jobs created for the city and to ban 1080.
New Conservative Rotorua candidate Alan Tāne Solomon said if elected, his party would introduce a $20,000 tax-free threshold to income tax, and economic growth should come from a "broad base of sectors".
He said the party would also look at reforming the RMA and reducing fuel taxes and "getting rid of tax on tax" such as GST on rates or ACC levies.
Employment law reform was also on the table; Solomon saying his party would "allow employers to release underperforming employees".
"If you have an employee that is a lemon, they're going to destroy your business."
Solomon opposed cannabis legalisation and euthanasia.
Leader of Vision NZ and Waiariki candidate Hannah Tamaki said her party was about making "our people aware of their potential".
"If New Zealand wants to do well, then the first people need to do well. Māori need to do well."
"What I don't intend to do is make a whole lot of promises that can't be kept.
"I'm not a political person, but I'm a people person."
NZ First deputy leader and Rotorua candidate Fletcher Tabuteau said he "wanted to make a difference".
He said NZ First had entered into a coalition with Labour because for the nine years before the last election, "nothing much was happening".
"Capitalism, it's not a bad thing, but it needs a human face. That was what we were trying to achieve."
He said NZ First was at the "heart" of the current Government and had affected change within it in housing, health and education and the development of the regions through the Provincial Growth Fund.
He agreed the RMA needed to be "refreshed".