The people tell us – it’s time for a change
To get an understanding of what people think and what their problems are sometimes you have to get out there and talk to them.
That is what New Zealand First has been doing.
On Friday, June 30, after naming Shane Jones as our candidate for Whangarei we set out on an epic nationwide Campaign for the Regions bus tour (Shane is not on the bus!)
At first, we travelled through my Northland electorate then down to New Plymouth, Whanganui and to Wellington stopping off for speeches and to meet the locals at numerous small towns.
On Wednesday we went over Cook Strait, on to Motueka. We have since travelled through the West Coast over to Christchurch. In the next few days we will be in Timaru, Oamaru, Balclutha, Gore and Invercargill.
We’re getting to feel the pulse, to get the mood of the country.
Everywhere we go we hear the same thing: why has central government ignored us? Why do they treat us as if we don’t matter?
The great irony is it’s our provincial areas which pay our bills internationally – all the dairy produce; the logs, the glorious scenic attractions.
Tourists don’t come to New Zealand to wander down Queen St, in Auckland, or Willis St in Wellington. They come here for our great outdoors.
People are delighted to meet us. They’re not used to politicians coming to their town and taking an interest.
Here’s what one person posted on our Facebook page.
“Good to see a politician that’s actually getting out to meet with the public and actually campaigning instead of sitting on their - talking rubbish and false promises.
Another said: “It’s awesome that you are taking the time to not just speak at people but to listen.”
That has been the key: listening.
And the people are telling us they’ve had enough of hospitals, roads and tourism infrastructure being under-funded by government and of out-of-control immigration when thousands of New Zealanders, many of them young, can’t get a job.
They’re fed up with the government sucking wealth out of the regions and giving little back.
They don’t like the way we’re headed with some of our most prime land being grabbed by overseas buyers, or our major industries, like dairy and red meat, slipping out of our control.
Most of all we have found there is a mood for change in this country.
It is coming.
(After we finish our South Island leg, on Tuesday we will be travelling from Wellington to Napier and then will make our way to Auckland. Check our progress on my facebook page)