The region's Labour Party candidates have thrown their full support behind their new leader Jacinda Ardern after Andrew Little resigned today.
Labour candidate for Rotorua Ben Sandford and Labour candidate for Waiariki Tamati Coffey both told the Rotorua Daily Post Mr Little's decision to step down was a brave one to make so close to an election, but it was now time to focus on policies and changing the Government.
Just a few hours ago Mr Little said he was "proud to have been leader of the Labour Party, and have given this position my absolute and unwavering dedication, just as I have done so for more than 25 years in the Labour movement".
He was quickly replaced as Labour leader by his former deputy Ms Ardern, MP for Mt Albert.
The new deputy Labour leader will be Kelvin Davis, MP for Te Tai Tokerau.
Both were elected unopposed.
Mr Coffey said Mr Little had united the party and "while the order of paddlers has changed, the waka of Labour will still be paddling to the finish".
"I wish him all the best, but we have an election to win so can't spend too much time dissecting it.
"Jacinda, who grew up in Murupara, understands our area and she has been really popular with voters in the region.
"I think there will be plenty of voters happy with this.
"We have a big task ahead of us engaging young New Zealanders and I believe Jacinda has a fresh and modern view on New Zealand politics and people will find she will represent them very well."
Mr Coffey said the appointment of Mr Davis as deputy was a "game changer" for Maori as well as the party.
"Kelvin's appointment is a strong signal to Maori voters of the importance of Maori to Labour and a recognition of the growing support we are getting from Maori voters."
He said the pair had his full support.
"I've had Waiariki voters already telling me this has sealed their vote for Labour."
He said the party was not in chaos as some people had suggested.
"We are a party that listens and are governed by our members ... we have the ability to opt for change if we feel change is needed.
"It's now up to us to prove ourselves to New Zealanders and we hope people take another look at our policies away from the distraction of who delivers that message."
Mr Sandford said Mr Little had done an incredible job as leader and it was an honour to work alongside him "and to see his passion for making New Zealand a better place for everybody give rise to the best modern policies on offer for the September 23 election, especially in the areas of housing, mental health and employment".
"Our fresh new leadership team has my full support.
"They reflect a modern and dynamic Labour Party, one that is vastly different from those of previous years in terms of its candidate list, clearly representative of our country and in touch with both traditional Labour values and the needs of the next generation.
"Her [Ms Ardern's] appeal and strong sensibilities are unrivalled across New Zealand's current political leadership options and I'm sure she will have the same effect across the country as Kiwis relate to and feel heard by this remarkable woman.
"As a fresh alternative myself to the status quo, I am excited to be able to work with such great people towards changing our ineffective Government.
"With a new youthful, bicultural and hardworking leadership team, Labour is now the perfect fit for Rotorua, reflecting our community's own powerful characteristics.
"With less than eight weeks remaining until the election, I will continue to pour all my energy into campaigning in the Rotorua electorate and highlighting the clear difference that exists for this year's election."
Green Party candidate for Rotorua, Richard Gillies, said his party welcomed the new Labour leaders.
"At a local level I'll continue to work constructively with Ben [Sandford] and Tamati [Coffey] to change the Government this September.
"Andrew Little deserves thanks for standing up for New Zealanders for two and a half years, working to bridge the gap between rich and poor, and calling out the National Government's failures.
"What's important now is that we show New Zealanders we have answers to the problems we as a nation face," Mr Gillies said.
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick, a former Labour Party cabinet minister, said leadership change was an exciting time for Labour and just what the party needed before the election.
She said Mr Little had done a wonderful job and it saddened her he didn't have the public's backing.
"His concession speech said it all, but he was not gaining resonance and I knew that here locally.
"People were telling me 'he has not got what we are looking for' and I found that sad because he rebuilt a divided caucus."
She said she liked the look of Ms Ardern as his deputy but it "wasn't going to cut through".
"He saw it, he felt it and he made a move for party Labour."
She said it was fantastic news to have 37-year-old Ms Ardern as the new leader.
"At a young age that woman was going places."
Mrs Chadwick said she liked to "claim a small part" of Ms Ardern because she was her first mentor when she started in Parliament.
Annette King then took over mentoring her.
"They had to get a circuit breaker and it had to be either a big policy or a leadership change.
"Jacinda is well groomed, and well poised and I get incredibly positive feedback about her."
She said Mr Davis was also a great choice as deputy.
"Kelvin is highly regarded and valued. He won his seat and he has Maori support. He is values driven and isn't a game player. This combination is exciting."
Rotorua MP Todd McClay said it was "probably not" a good move to change leaders so close to an election.
"But I remain focused on delivering for Rotorua," he said.
Waiariki MP and Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said he wished Labour's new leadership team all the best.
"I feel for Andrew Little and the situation he found himself in, but politics is a ruthless business," he said.
"It is encouraging to see another Maori in a senior role who supports kaupapa Maori-run prisons and charter schools.
"It will be interesting to see if the change in leadership heralds a change in their approach or if it's just all steam and no hangi.
"At the end of the day we all want to do the best for our people. That's why we're in politics - to make a difference.
"For the sake of our people we're willing to work with any party - blue or red - to do just that."
New Zealand First list MP based in Rotorua, Fletcher Tabuteau, had not yet responded to requests for comment.