Sharon Duff has been living in Whanganui for almost three decades. She's standing in this year's election because she says good housing is essential for a healthy community and she would like to offer her experience.

"I was with the GP the other day and I said 'what's the point in looking at mental health if someone's living in the car'," Duff said.

"The most important thing is a place to stand, a place to live in, a place to feel safe - and we all need that. So that's the reason why I have stood."

In a video interview, Duff told Local Focus there is a need for advocates to make sure people know what housing is available and how to take advantage of new housing initiatives.

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"I've been working in housing for about 15 years, so I've been working on insulating homes, working on accessible housing for people with disabilities or people who are ageing - so they can age in place.

"And I've been working on emergency housing during that time as well, so I know the challenges that people are experiencing."

Duff says heritage buildings are an important part of Whanganui life and time is of the essence to save them.

"I've been working already on helping with the heritage buildings and I'd like to continue to do that because they are also another way people could find housing, you know upstairs in some of the heritage buildings," she says.

Duff is a passionate grower of heritage plants and says Whanganui has established a real niche in this area.

"We've got some really amazing products. We've got the Monty's Surprise Apple which is the highest polyphenolic apple in the world, so a lot of people are making products out of it and selling them at the market.

"We've got to be really careful with our environment and make sure we protect our environment and that we have the very best environment to grow and produce primary produce."

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