Ran­gi­tikei hope­ful re­turn­ing ‘home’

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Taihape - ALISTER BROWNE

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

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