National Party spokesperson for climate change and environment Scott Simpson was in Whanganui this week, after accepting an invitation from locally based list MP Harete Hipango.
He was given a tour of the Whanganui Resource Recovery Centre by manager Dale Cobb, before meeting Whanganui District Council's senior stormwater engineer Kritzo Venter at Te Repo o Kokohuia - Castlecliff's Kokohuia Wetland.
It was once home to the Balgownie tip, which closed in 2000.
Simpson said the former landfill site was an example of "decisions made in history coming back to haunt us today".
"The real challenge is what to do and how to do it, so our children and grandchildren won't have a clean-up issue of the sort our generation is confronting now.
"Right here, in the middle of an urban environment, with industry on one side and residential on the other, is an opportunity to make good on some of the well-intentioned but ultimately poor decisions that were made in the past."
Development of the wetland is part of the council's long-term plan.
There had been a big shift in public consciousness about climate and climate issues in the last few years, Simpson said.
"From the National Party's point of view, these are issues that are too important to our country and to the planet to be allowed to be party political issues."
The Zero Carbon bill (2019) passing without dissent, and that unanimity of political consensus, was really important, Simpson said.
"That means people, communities, businesses and councils can, with confidence, plan their investments and life decisions based on a direction of travel towards net zero in 2050, safe in the knowledge that travel isn't going to change with a change of government."
Simpson, the party's associate spokesperson for transport, said the future of public transport in provincial centres like Whanganui may not be in conventional, traditional bus systems and routes.
"I visited a council in the South Island recently (Timaru) where they effectively have on-demand public transport.
"Previously they had a system that was costing the ratepayers an awful lot of money, with buses ... going round and round on a schedule, more often than not empty."
The new system in Timaru is called MyWay and uses minibuses to pick up and drop people off at their destinations.
The service co-ordinates passengers heading in the same direction to pick up people along the way at the nearest main intersection.
They can carry about 12 people and need to be booked in advance via phone or online.
"They [Timaru] have changed their model and I think that's exciting. It might be a very plausible solution for a city like Whanganui."
Marton fuel-dispensing technology company PEC is currently exploring opportunities in hydrogen fuel, an energy source Simpson said would be a part of the country's "transport mix" without doubt.
"Whether that is going to be for light vehicles and private passenger cars, I'm not so sure, because there are some issues in developing a network."
Because the country imported vehicles by and large, the technology the rest of the world adopted would ultimately be the technology New Zealand adopted, Simpson said.
"I think there will be a mix of energy sources to drive vehicles, but one thing we do know is we will still need roads and highways.
"We are still going to need something to travel on."