The Labour Party is establishing a permanent and very visible presence in their Tauranga heartland.
The party, which now boasts four MPs across the Bay of Plenty region, is opening an office beside Countdown on Cameron Road on the fringe of the Greerton Village shopping precinct.
“Because Greerton has a vibrancy,” says new Labour list MP Jan Tinetti. “It's an amazingly go-ahead place and we wanted to be part of it.”
The 90-square metre office at 1356 Cameron Road will be the full-time electorate base for Jan. She will share the space with another Labour list MP, Angie Warren-Clark, who will also work out of Rotorua.
And it will be a part-time base for Tamati Coffey, who won the Waiariki seat off the Maori Party.
“We wanted to be away from the city centre – be more accessible for people and be more visible,” says Jan. “Being on Cameron Road, I think we will achieve that.”
It's also a nod to the suburb which pitched in for Labour at the election. “We took two Greerton booths and went very close in a couple of others. We did very well out here. And obviously, we wanted to be close to those people. We are now happy to be here for them.”
It's something quite big for the party and for the Bay of Plenty according to Jan. “That was the whole aim - by putting candidates high on the list in the first place, the party wanted a presence, not just in the Bay of Plenty, but in Tauranga.”
Now, she says, the party has four MPs across the region including Kiritapu Allan in Whakatane. And it has visibility.
The team had to jump through some hoops first. The facility had to be inspected by the Parliamentary Services security team to ensure it met standards.
The new Greerton office will require some reconfiguration, with a reception area, offices and a consultation space being built before MPs and support staff move in.
“It's also an opportunity for us to make a connection with the many interest groups out this way– that's another reason for us being here – the social service groups, education groups and other groups that we need to be connecting with and hearing their stories.
“So it's a perfect setting for the Labour Party.”
For the last six years the party in Tauranga has operated from an office in the Historic Village.