National Party deputy leader Paula Bennett says she is surprised to hear of a lack of housing in Whanganui and how it is affecting those at the bottom.

Bennett was in Whanganui on Monday as part of a visit to the electorate and spend some time talking to local business and industry leaders.

About 20 people attended the session with Bennett and Whanganui MP Harete Hipango at Bayleys Whanganui.

Concerns around both central and local government issues were raised with some in attendance saying it was often hard to build apartments in or on top of heritage buildings, while another highlighted the lack of available houses and a drop in the market.

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Housing was one of the topics Bennett took note of.

"I'm really surprised around housing and that lack of supply, and how much that is affecting those that are struggling at the bottom," Bennett said.

"Rents must be increasing if there's a lack of supply and that will be having real effects on those that are struggling."

Others said there needed to be changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) to free up more land for housing.

Bennett told the group that National's RMA reform spokesperson Judith Collins was currently working on the party's policy on the Act.

Bennett took notes on the issues raised by those attending the session. Photo / Abe Leach
Bennett took notes on the issues raised by those attending the session. Photo / Abe Leach

Bennett also said healthcare was one of the most interesting sectors of New Zealand's future.

"Health is probably one of the most expensive and interesting areas for the next two decades, but part of the problem is that we now have access to such better drugs, and that all of that work put in over the last 30 years as far as cancer research is paying off and we can see things fundamentally make a difference for people," she said.

"Understandably people want access to it, so there's all the expense involved, there's the machinery in terms of radiation but it's so expensive, so I harp back to the economy because to get the health system we want we have to be supporting economy and supporting business so that we can get more taxpayers' dollars to provide the healthcare that we need."

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Bennett also planned to meet with locals in Hawera during her trip in the Whanganui electorate.

"I always learn something because people are always pretty direct in telling you the issues, and that does have a direct effect on our policy development."