With nine weeks to go until polling day in this year's general election, Laurel Stowell looks at how the local electorate races are shaping up and hears from those who have put their hat in the ring so far.
National's Harete Hipango and Labour's Steph Lewis were first-time candidates in 2017 and are back to contest the seat again - this time Hipango is the incumbent and Lewis aims to overturn a 1706-vote margin in what has now been a National seat for five terms.
Both are confident of a win.
Lewis said she was taking nothing for granted but believed she was primed to take the Whanganui seat.
She and her husband have moved to Whanganui and her daughter is in daycare here.
Asked whether they would stay if she lost the election, she said: "We don't plan to lose".
But Hipango said she has the "experience, commitment and good cause" to retain the seat.
"I didn't choose to go away and stay away, and then just resettle back into the community for the sake of an election," she said.
Hipango said she had "invested a lifetime" in Whanganui, as had the generations that had come before her.
"I didn't go into this job for the money or the kudos, it's all about service for the people, and I mean to hold my seat.
"I understand that there will be times of being conflicted around the party and the politics of that, but I am true to Whanganui, that's who I am."
Lewis plans to open a pop-up in Victoria Ave next week and said the people she and her team talked to when door-knocking were impressed with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her team's leadership through the Covid-19 crisis.
The Green Party is standing candidates in Whanganui and Rangitīkei though neither has been formally selected yet.
Neither intend to win but instead campaign for the party vote.
The likely Whanganui candidate is Alan Clay who is a writer, teacher, clown and film director.
He is based in Putiki but lives overseas at times. He's been a working clown, written a clowning textbook, four novels and film scripts, and directed two award-winning movies, Strawberry Crush and Courting Chaos.
He imagines being an election candidate will be a bit like his arts practice - "working with the community creatively".
His only previous foray into politics was standing unsuccessfully for Labour in the East Coast Bays electorate in Auckland some years ago.
He is endorsing Lewis for the seat.
"There's no need to vote for me, but I need to be there telling people to party vote Green. That supports the current Government," he said.
The Act Party says it plans to run candidates in Whanganui and Rangitīkei but is yet to announce any, national secretary Danae Smith said.
It is unclear whether New Zealand First will stand candidates in the Whanganui region this year. The party did not respond to questions.
The Māori Party is only standing candidates in the Māori seats.
National's Ian McKelvie is back seeking a fourth term in one of the strongest National seats in the country.
McKelvie won almost double the number of votes of his nearest rival, Labour's Heather Warren, in 2017 but he says the popularity of Ardern changes the game.
"Absolutely anyone who stands for Labour has got a chance," McKelvie said.
That person is former Rangitīkei district councillor and Ngāti Rangi leader Soraya Peke-Mason. She has been approached for comment.
Her roots are in the region, but she has worked in Australia. She has business qualifications and experience.
McKelvie said he intended to work hard to keep the seat National and said he was relishing the role of opposition spokesman on forestry, fishing and racing.
Ali Hale Tilley is the approved Rangitīkei Green candidate. Her background is in health and fitness, but she is also an artist who loves academia.
She teaches yoga fulltime in Marton, to a very broad client base, and has participated in Whanganui Artists' Open Studios twice.
"Labour is in a very strong position to win this election. The Green Party wants to keep adding favourably to that," she said.
Te Tai Hauāuru
Adrian Rurawhe took Te Tai Hauāuru back for Labour in 2014 and now faces a challenge from new Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer.
Ngarewa-Packer said she was taking nothing for granted but feeling optimistic about being elected.
She and Rurawhe have been tribal CEOs and worked for their people.
"I have great respect for him and I'm really committed to campaigning positively alongside him," she said.
She has a reasonably high profile as an iwi leader and fighter against seabed mining, but is new to party politics.
She said it was important to get an "unapologetic Māori" into Parliament to address equity issues in the post-Covid environment.
Rurawhe was equally "very confident" of being re-elected.
"I've done a lot of work over the past six years, and advocated throughout the electorate for whānau, hapu and iwi," he said.
Rurawhe said that Māori Party candidates had tended to underestimate him in previous elections. He beat Howe Tamati by just over 1000 votes in 2017.
"They seem to make the same mistakes, they underestimate me and my abilities, and they underestimate the strength of my campaign team.
"I have a pretty formidable team, and we've proven that we know how to win in Te Tai Hauāuru.
"One of the big ones that people have commented on is winter energy payments, especially since we've doubled it."
Nominations for this year's election can be officially lodged from August 10.