Putting a stop to regional decline was a prevailing theme delivered by West Coast-Tasman's hopeful candidates during an election debate.
Six candidates voiced their policies for a small crowd in Motueka on Friday, with the focus often turning to national issues.
The first question posed to the candidates by Grey Power Motueka, who hosted the meeting, asked what the main challenge was for the region over the next three years.
Labour's Damien O'Connor, the current MP for West Coast-Tasman, said the region needed further investment in housing, while also addressing inequality and healthcare issues and improving resilient infrastructure.
"If we don't have that, then people feel very exposed and feel insecure, and that undermines the value of collectivity within our community. Generally, in small communities like this, we work really well, but we're stretched for resources."
He also asked voters to consider Labour's performance in the region over the last six years rather than the messages coming from opposition parties.
"Please judge us and judge me on my record, not on the rhetoric that we have heard."
Maureen Pugh, National's challenger and a current list MP in parliament, said an exodus of young people was a driving factor for regional decline and without a strong economy, they would keep leaving.
"We need to focus on our young people, break that dependence on welfare support, get them into work training, upskilling, and get them into paid employment. There is ample opportunity in this area for young people to be working."
Patrick Phelps, an independent candidate and current Westland District councillor, also highlighted the region's decline as a critical issue but said that he could truly deliver as he wasn't also beholden to a party.
"We're in the fortunate position as an electorate where we've got two outstanding MPs in Damien O'Connor and Maureen Pugh who'll both be in parliament after the election anyway because of the party list system," he said.
"[West Coast-Tasman] needs independent representation in parliament where the person representing you, their loyalties lie only with you - the people living in the region."
Inequality was Green Party candidate Steve Richard's main concern for not only the region, but the country, and reiterated the Greens' proposed wealth tax which he said would have flow-on effects to help address other issues like crime and homelessness.
"It all comes back to money, there's plenty of it, if we can just share it more evenly."
Co-leader of the Outdoors and Freedom Party, Sue Grey, said the region need to overcome divisive rhetoric and return to grassroots and local approaches to dealing with issues.
"We have to find ourselves again, and we can, we just need a change in leadership that gives us that inspiration."
Richard Osmaston, leader of the Money Free Party, used the meeting to reiterate his position that money was the root of all troubles plaguing the country.
"We are never going to fix the multiple problems that we have today for all the time we have a monetary system."
ACT's Kelly Lilley, New Zealand First's Jackie Farrelly, and New Zealand Loyal's Sebastian Marinkovich were not able to attend.
Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air