Rangitikei hopeful returning ‘home’
Conceived in Rangitikei, born in Northland.
That’s the pedigree of farmer Rob Stevenson, this year’s New Zealand First candidate for Rangitikei.
His great-grandfather was postmaster at Taihape, and his grandfather farmed at Moawhango, when he wasn’t being a rabbiter, a ‘‘very good’’ horseman and a rugby referee.
Another ancestor was a government surveyor at Raetihi. His mother was a Taihape native.
So for Stevenson, a 49-year-old father of two, the area is not without its connections, even if he has been living at the other end of the island for years.
He said he would be down to flat with a friend in Feilding when campaigning-proper began in August for September’s election and hoped to build on the near 4000 party votes NZ First scored in Rangitikei in the 2014 election, when the party placed third after National and Labour.
Stevenson said with party leader Winston Peters dominating the Northland political landscape, he had to look elsewhere for somewhere to stand and was offered Rangitikei before anyone knew of his family ties to the region.
Peters opened his regional campaign in Palmerston North recently, saying the regions had been neglected by National and pledging to return the full GST from tourists back to the regions in which they spent their money. He cited unsealed roads, single-lane bridges and lack of toilets, parking and ’’basic infrastructure’’ as leading issues in the provinces.
Stevenson followed this up by saying the regions were ‘‘crying out for help’’
NZ First candidate Rob Stevenson