It was seeing poverty in Afghanistan in 2011 - then poverty back home in New Zealand - that jolted Tim Easton out of his comfortable public sector desk job.

He has put his hand up to be Whanganui's Labour candidate in the 2020 election.

"I have always had in the back of my mind that I would be keen to represent where I come from in Parliament," he said.

Easton, 33, and his lawyer partner Rebecca Hay moved to Whanganui in August last year. Since then he has commuted to Palmerston North to work for Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway.


But he's just got a job that will keep him in Whanganui. He starts as Whanganui and Partners' business advisor on September 16.

Since moving here, Easton has become a Whanganui Community Foundation trustee and a trustee of the new Whanganui Advocacy and Support Trust in Whanganui East.

He has formed a charitable trust that's looking to bring the Invictus Games - for people harmed during their military service - to this region.

Easton has a wide range of experience - a commerce degree and jobs with the army, within Parliament and in the Health Ministry.

Easton was brought up in Whanganui and went to Whanganui High School. His mother, Ginny Carey, lives here with his stepfather Stephen Palmer.

Easton went to Victoria University for a degree in commerce, majoring in public policy and commercial law. He needed a part-time job while studying and joined the army reserve as a commissioned officer.

He moved from study to work for the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) in Wellington as a civilian. In 2011 he was deployed to Afghanistan for seven months in a finance officer role with the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamiyan.

While on sentry duty there one -15degC night he watched a family walk by in bare feet, carrying a rug as their only possession. It made him think about poverty and New Zealand's social welfare safety net.


"When you are standing on sentry in the dark you have quite a lot of time to think."

Returning to New Zealand, he started to see similar poverty and decided to do something else with his life. He got a job in Parliament as executive assistant to Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove.

After that he worked as an adviser to the Ministry of Health. One of his jobs was to decide which health outcomes were most important and should receive funding. That was hard and he felt the system was underfunded.

He had another stint with the NZDF - six months in Egypt where an international group supervises the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

After that it was back to Parliament, where he helped the new Labour-New Zealand First-Greens government set up its offices and processes. He was there for about four months before he and Hay moved to Whanganui for a more relaxed lifestyle.

Nominations to be Labour's Whanganui candidate close on October 25 and Easton won't say who else has been nominated. He hopes for an amicable selection process and is lobbying party members to vote for him.