National’s Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger delivered her maiden speech last week:
Tena tatou katoa, te paremata hou
te kaikorero tena koe
te pirimia tena koe
Ko nga mea nui, nga wai, te whenua me nga tangata katoa o aotearoa
Na reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa
Mr Speaker, Prime Minister, Ministers, Members of Parliament, Party President, Mr Peter Goodfellow.
And welcome to my guests in the Gallery.
My husband Louis, you’ve been a fantastic support and friend to me. We will be celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary 12 days from now at an electorate event in Otorohanga, which in itself indicates the level of support you have given me during the campaign.
Craig, Rachel and Tony, dad and I are very proud of you all, and I appreciate that you have all made it here for this special occasion. Tony, I know you are watching. I want to mention your partners Kenneth and Zoe at home, and our four special grandchildren Zak, Max, Aislinn, and Theo.
Mum and dad, Leo and Leonie, thank you for coming. I would also like to acknowledge my grandmother Joan Jeffries in Opunake, who recently turned 98.
Peter Goodfellow, Peter Osborne, Leveson Gower, and National HQ staffers, Young Nats, and party members; from selection to election you have all welcomed me and supported me in my quest to become a Member of Parliament. Together we asked lots of questions and took good advice, and here we are. Thank you.
I was brought up on a Taranaki Dairy Farm and I had one goal – never to marry a Dairy Farmer. Louis, I’m very pleased I did because I learned the ropes, developed a passion and enjoyed my time on the farm, raising our family and developing an award-winning business which continues today.
This led to many of my industry roles, the longest of which I completed last week at DairyNZ. I would like to especially acknowledge DairyNZ Chair, friend, and colleague – John Luxton, who is in the House. John, you and I were elected to the Board on the same day in 2003. Over the past 11 years I have learned a lot from you, and respect the wisdom and knowledge you impart.
I’ve served on a range of boards over the past few years. Primary Industry Training Organisation, Taratahi, and Dairy Training have provided me with the skills needed for the training industry. I was a NZ Young Farmers’ Board Member, where I suspect I own the honour of being the only grannie to have been a board member. As an Industry Partner to this group I was able to enjoy working with young people having their first board experience, who I know will feature in many areas of leadership in New Zealand over the next 30 years.
In 2006, I was fortunate to travel as an Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust Scholar on a food and agribusiness market experience to China, Japan, US, and Europe looking at supply chains and customers. This experience really highlighted the fact that New Zealand is favoured for its exports, indicating New Zealand’s standout place in the international trading arena.
In 2012, the Dairy Women’s Network awarded me the Inaugural Dairy Woman of the Year, which was one of my proudest moments to date. It was not a one person accolade, as it was a result of all the experiences I have had to this point in my life, and of all the people who I have met. The information learned on this course and friendships formed emphasises the rural and regional woman that I am, always looking to the future for ways the primary industry sector can grow. I was also a board member of the Venture Taranaki Trust. In recognition of my governance roles, I was recently awarded a Fellowship of the Institute of Directors.
Taranaki-King Country is a large electorate, which extends from Waingaro right down to Toko on the border of Stratford, thus including Waipa and parts of Waikato. Upon selection, one of my new constituents offered to buy this Naki girl a Waikato Rugby jersey. I told him I would wear it with pride. The respective mascots for the local teams, Mooloo the cow and Ferdinand the bull, always manage to create a great herd. And best of all, when Taranaki play Waikato, I can only win as the Taranaki-King Country MP. Minister Smith, we are looking forward to the Taranaki versus Tasman final this weekend.
While I have an interest in rugby, it is not necessarily my favourite sport. The excitement of V8 Supercar racing is another passion that I have to thank Louis for sharing with me. I have been a passenger at 260 km per hour on a racetrack with a professional driver, and I can categorically say that my own driving skills are not quite up to that standard. I’ll be honest and say that I’m happy to be a spectator; supporting Louis as he drives his Star Car, much like he supports me in my campaigning.
In the large electorate that is Taranaki-King Country, we have eight district councils, about 17 towns, and many little villages. Our largest town is Te Awamutu. Whangamomona is one of the smallest. I am the MP who will not forget about the Forgotten World Highway. I encourage you all to take the tour, an excellent tourism business set up on the old railway. I am the MP who will not forget the natural beauty of our electorate, which can be seen in the Waitomo Caves and the huge number of visitors that visit annually to experience the beauty of the glow worms and the history hidden in these caves. I am the MP who probably doesn’t have the willpower to drive past our famous whitebait fritters in our towns, including Mokau and Raglan, without stopping for that quintessential Kiwi lunch. Ultimately, I am the MP that is here to serve every one of our towns to ensure the future of Taranaki-King Country is bright.
Economic development in the regions is a key interest of mine. Getting the right incentives in place for businesses to thrive in rural locations is a must. Housing is not expensive, and the community is atmosphere supportive and embracing. The call for more skilled young people is coming from every community.
Coming from Taranaki I have been witness to the growth that comes from a region that has worked together over many years to create a vibrant region, that comes from having an open mind, a willingness to trust new ideas, and a will to work together. From this we can see that when communities actively work together, success can be achieved.
Trade and exports lead our region’s income. The dairy and beef and lamb industries are predominant throughout our electorate. Energy in itself is one of the integral parts of the Taranaki export economy. In Taranaki-King Country we also have dairy goats, Manuka honey, and a popcorn factory – something for everyone. But the young are not forgotten either, with the long established Fun Ho toy factory in Inglewood. Each of my grandchildren, the boys and the girl, all received a Fun Ho tractor and trailer for their 1st birthday, continuing the tradition of their parents receiving a similar tractor set for their 1st birthday.
Ultrafast broadband will provide a huge boost to our region. The productivity that comes with connectivity will help us attract people who want the benefits of working regionally. I look forward to working with Minister Amy Adams to ensure this rolls out across Taranaki-King Country.
Roading and infrastructure will continue to be a focus in Taranaki-King Country. I particularly look forward to the new roundabout at the intersection of State Highway 3 and State Highway 37 and the business case for the Mt Messenger/Awakino corridor. I also look forward to the development of various bridges across the electorate, which will further strengthen relationships between communities with improved accessibility and safety.
Mr Speaker, you recently came to visit Waitomo and Piopio. Louis in particular was extremely honoured by your visit, namely because it was his birthday. That day we saw some great examples of fledgling regional businesses. The new King Country Brewery and a small business in Piopio fitting out dinghies are indicative of the success that ensues when our regions work together, we thrive. We must make sure that red tape doesn’t get in the way of new and emerging businesses that will provide employment for our people. I’ve already seen some exciting technology businesses in Raglan and encouragement of more will be welcome.
Access to health, education, and community services are vitally important to rural and remote areas of regional New Zealand. Under a National-led Government over 17,000 more elective surgeries have been administered across our electorate’s two district health boards. This shows those in somewhat remote areas of New Zealand are still gaining access to those vital services and that location is not a barrier. Across our region, more children are attending ECE before starting primary school, which is impressive for rural communities considering the distance that’s often regarded as a barrier. In time we hope to improve these ECE rates even more, with a target of 98 per cent by 2016.
Volunteers connect our communities. From the Fire Service and Coast Guard, to those working in the prevention of family violence, I would like to thank all volunteers who do a wonderful job. Those who give up their time to take a neighbour to a doctor’s appointment, or those busy mums and dads who arrange play dates for the entire street; your support and continual commitment to the groups and individuals in our region is to be commended. These actions take away the vulnerability of people, knowing there is a volunteer support base to care for them.
Water will be a prominent topic, not just through the time that I spend in Parliament, but for years into the future. This is reflective of the fact we have an abundance of water in our beautiful country, and it is amongst my aspirations to ensure that we utilise our water wisely for our people, for our tourism, and for our industries. As a dairy industry leader, I appreciate how much work has been done in fencing, nutrient budgeting, and finding ways to improve water quality.
It will be a pleasure to join my first BlueGreens Caucus meeting. National’s Bluegreen’s approach has shown that successful economic and environmental policy can, and must, go hand in hand. The abundant forests, rivers, and marine reserves are of real value and importance to the National Government, who are committed to long term sustainability of these areas that New Zealanders hold dear.
On the completion of my time as Dairy Women of the Year, I set myself a target that by the year 2020, in New Zealand we will no longer be talking about the disconnect between the rural and urban. We have the collective knowledge, talent, and ability to work together to find answers. It is a big call, but one that I’m up for. I ask each and every one of you to join me in this project. We only have four and a half million people – we have to work collaboratively to take on the world.
Thank you to my colleagues for the support that you have shown over the past few months and particularly over the past four weeks. Maureen Pugh, the Class of 2014 enjoyed the two weeks we spent with you, we were sorry to see you go.
Samantha, Claire, Sharon, and Tracey welcome to my team. With your help, I know Taranaki-King Country will be well served. Penn and Doug, thanks for your help and preparation.
I am excited about joining the Primary Production and Health Committees where I can bring some of my existing knowledge with me, and embark on a new learning curve where new knowledge is required.
I commit to be a hard-working and loyal Member of Parliament.
Tena tatou katoa.