Chris Tremain’s valedictory

Hon CHRIS TREMAIN (National – Napier): In life there are many different definitions of success, and in Parliament the same goes. There are many different definitions of what makes a successful politician. Nine years ago I entered Parliament, and I have got to say I was pretty naïve. Some would probably argue that that has not changed too much. I had just won the Labour-held seat of Napier, the first time in 50 years, and I thought I had been pretty successful at that point in time. But like all politicians across this House, I entered this place with the intention of helping to create a better New Zealand. We all have the same purpose, just different ideas of how we might achieve that goal. But success in Parliament is not defined by just winning a seat or becoming a Cabinet Minister. Success comes with many different faces. I recall in my first year a gym session with * Rodney Hide—you might not want to think too hard about that—at the Bolton Hotel. We had a discussion about what made a successful politician. “You’ve got to take scalps.”, was Rodney’s advice, as he sweated away on the cycling machine. “You can’t be successful in this place unless you take scalps., was his advice. Shortly after, I was presented with a completely different face of success, from the * Hon Jim Sutton, who in his valedictory reflected on the importance of retaining family to ensure a successful political career: “Public life is often a selfish business. It can be all-consuming.”, he said. “Those closest to public figures often pay a high or unfair price. To those I have hurt, I say ‘sorry’.”, said Jim. “To those who follow me here, I say ‘try to do better than I did’.” Throughout my own political career I have reflected on these words of sage advice. For most, however, political success is defined with a more public face. On a daily basis we politicians are built up and we are cut down. Whether it be the number of bills you pass, the number of times you are mentioned in the press, or your performance in select committees, success here is very transparent. This all culminates in an annual ranking of Ministers and MPs. It is a humbling experience, and for some a crumbling experience. It is definitely not for the faint-hearted, that is for sure. The fact of the matter is that only a few of us make it to the very top of this game. There is only a small number of John Keys and Bill Englishs, and Helen Clarks and Michael Cullens. To those from across this House who make it to the very top in this game and who then stay there, you have my absolute respect. It is no mean feat, and staying there is even more difficult. To John Key and to Bill English, I applaud you for your outstanding partnership and your leadership. I have been a member and a leader of many teams in my life, so I can genuinely say that being a part of this team has been an absolute privilege. To Cabinet and to my wider caucus, I congratulate you on leading our nation through one of the most difficult periods in our history. There is a depth to our team, often overlooked by commentators, that continues to provide new and exciting talent when others such as myself decide that their time in this place is at an end. That is exciting. Rejuvenation while a team is on top is often the hardest, but actually it is the best thing to ensure longevity. Can I thank all of my team for your support of both my wife, Angela, and my family throughout my time in this place. I have not been one of the political rock stars. I have not climbed to the very top of the political ladder. In saying this, I am proud—I am very proud—to have been part of a team that has made, and continues to make, a huge contribution to this nation. I am proud of the part that I have played in that team. To use one of my dad’s analogies: it is all very well for the wingers to take the glory, but if the props and the hookers did not win the ball—[Interruption] That is right. There are some good props around, Mr Sabin.

Listen to this. If the props and the hookers did not take the ball, there would be no applause for the Twinkletoes*. . I guess I have been one of those in the middle of the ruck. Some commentators say that you need to watch those behind you more than those across the other side of the House. Well, that has not been my experience—far from it. I have absolutely loved my time here and the friendships that I have made, including many across the other side of the House and in the media. Thank you very much as well. Recently I attended the Aspiring Leaders Forum*, , where the Maxim Institute* brings together 120 of our young leaders. My own son Sam, who is in the gallery today, was fortunate to be an attendee there. The Warehouse* chief executive officer, Mark Powell*, , gave the keynote address and had another definition of success. He defined success as when you are part of something bigger than yourself and when you help others to flourish. It is a great definition of success and to this end Parliament has many, many more examples of successful people who by other measures have not risen to the top or who have by their actions allowed others to shine. I have many examples of these people whom I want to acknowledge this evening. Can I start by thanking the people who have supported me while I have been in this place: my electorate office team—Tania Wright, Vicki Sanders, Sue Boyle, Sharon Coates, Sue Page, and Mary Crarer. Tania and Vicki have been with me from day one*. . Electorate agents, as we across this House all know, are the unsung heroes of a MP’s business. Day in and day out they deal with all spectrums of our society. Being an electorate MP is an incredible job. The diversity of the role is both challenging and rewarding. I want to thank the people of Napier, Wairoa*, , and the Hawke’s Bay for giving me the huge privilege to represent you over the last 9 years. One of the more memorable experiences was being asked to be the guest of the Go Natural Lifestyle Club to open its new gazebo. I consulted my wife, Angela, as I was too scared to go on my own. She agreed to join me. I spent more time that Saturday morning deciding what to wear than to any other occasion I have ever been to since. Should I be in casual or formal dress, or should I be in my birthday suit? Who knows? Well, we arrived at 11.30 a.m., in time for a tour and lunch. To this day I will never forget driving up the pine-enclosed complex, pulling over in the car-park*, , and watching the reception party walk down to greet us both. Ange leaned over and whispered in my ear: “My God, CJ, they really are naked.” In my neighbouring electorate, I want to acknowledge my good mate Craig Foss* and his electorate staff, particularly Susanna Clark. We have worked closely to take Hawke’s Bay forward. Reflecting back on my maiden speech, I set goals around Napier health, Napier community policing, the Hawke’s Bay Airport*, , business growth, and apple exports to Australia. Nine years on, I can confidently say that we have made good progress. We have secured a 10-year commitment to the Wellesley Road Health Centre*. . We have got community police in at Maraenui* and in Tamatea*. . We extended the Hawke’s Bay regional airport runway, and we have championed business growth, trying to get an oil and gas industry and new irrigation up in the Hawke’s Bay. There is still more work to do there, Fossy, actually. Although still only small volumes, our efforts did help to ensure that apples can now be exported to Australia. I want to thank both Phil Goff and Tim Groser for their efforts in achieving that for us. Thank you. The partnership between Craig and I, under the brand “Backing the Bay”, was a key factor in holding our seats for three consecutive terms. Craig, I have appreciated your friendship and support. In that regard, can I thank my Napier electorate team, who are out there supporting my replacement, Wayne Walford, as we speak. Some of you are here tonight. There are so many who have contributed, and too many to mention you all, but to my electorate chairs over the last 9 years, Tom Johnson, Marshall Savidge, Lynne Trafford, and now Ian Mayne, thank you very much. To the National Party board, particularly my regional chairs, Patricia Morrison and Malcolm Plimmer, and national chairs, Judy Kirk and Peter Goodfellow, thank you for your support behind the scenes, enabling your MPs to bask in the sunshine. To all the people of this House, from the cleaners to the security guards, who ensure the smooth running of Parliament, thank you. If there was ever a group of people who quietly go about ensuring that others came first, it is you. My time in the backbench was a huge learning opportunity. There is no better place to learn the craft of politics than on the Opposition backbench. It is a great place to make a few mistakes and to live to fight another day. One big mistake that I made requires an apology to my leader at the time, Don Brash. Early in my time as a constituent MP, we received a visit to Napier by the Earthrace* biodiesel boat. One Peter Bethune visited my electorate office asking me to visit his boat in the Port of Napier*. . I was busy, but in the course of the conversation I worked out that he would be in Wellington during the next parliamentary sitting, so I agreed I would come and visit with a few colleagues. I suggested to Nick Smith that this would be a great opportunity to give Don some much-needed profile. Ah, not such a good idea! Nick agreed to invite Don. The rest is history and has become the stuff of walk-the-plank legends. Don, please accept my sincere apologies for that particular idea. To Mac Dalton, Alistair Shelton, Pat Humphries, and Stefan Slooten, who have supported me in my parliamentary office, thank you. In particular, can I acknowledge Pat Humphries, who has worked in this amazing institution for much of her life. From junior backbench MPs to two Prime Ministers, Pat Humphries has supported MPs to rise to the top of the ladder. Pat, thank you. [Interruption] Yeah, give her a clap. To my whip’s office team, a huge thank you for your support over the 3 years I served as a junior and senior whip. At the heart of that office is Sue Reid, who has guided many new whips in the right path. Thank you, Sue. I have often described the whip’s role as 50 percent sergeant major and 50 percent local pastor in the church. It is a role that requires the trust of the caucus. We were a tight team, as we are today. There are lots of stories that the whip becomes party to, many of which are not appropriate to share. However, I have one story I would like to tell that involves another apology, and this one is to Louise Upston. She is thinking “What the heck have I done here?”. During the start of my parliamentary year, I was asked by the Young Nats* to send a party representative to the Massey campus to participate in O-Week*. . I asked Louise to be our representative, to which she agreed. At 12 p.m. I received a call from the Young Nats: “Where is Louise?”. I called Louise. “I’m at the front gate,” she said. “We’re at the front gates as well,” said the Young Nats. It turns out that I had sent Louise to Palmerston North instead of to Wellington. I am sorry about that, Louise. Can I thank my ministerial team, headed by Keith Mason, Jenna Raeburn, and Mary-Jane Rendell. Like Pat, Keith, who is up in the gallery today, has been a senior private secretary in this Parliament for over 20 years, working to support the success of Ministers across both sides of the House, for that matter, and now he is supporting Minister Parata. Although I was a Minister for only 2 years, it is an incredible workload that goes through a Minister’s office, with huge diversity. During my time it was great to lead a review of the Fire Service*, , to initiate significant change in the gambling sector, to introduce the right-hand turn law, to introduce online passports, to oversee the whole-of-Government* information and communications technology* strategy, and to lead the second tranche of local government reform, amongst all manner of other things. I want to pay a huge tribute to the public sector, especially to the team at the Department of Internal Affairs.* . Under the leadership of Colin MacDonald, the Department of Internal Affairs has transformed into a modern, forward-looking department. Congratulations. There are many in the department who deserve a mention, none more than Marilyn Little. She has worked tirelessly for both sides of this House, providing outstanding advice, helping others to take the credit from her work. When one comes to Parliament, we are all fortunate to give maiden speeches, and one’s valedictory is the chance to reflect on that speech. In my maiden speech, I commenced with a mihi: “Whaia te pai Tawhiti ki a tata. Whaia to pai tata. Whakamaua ki a u kia tina.” The mihi speaks of reaching for the stars, pursuing one’s dreams. At the time it was remarked how unusual it was for a Pākehā* New Zealander to use so much Te Reo* in his maiden speech. I actually think our intake surprised more than a few and set a tone for the National Party, one that has truly connected us with middle New Zealand, not the far left* or the far right*. .

We came from vastly different walks of life: nurses, builders, diplomats, shearers—Colin King—teachers, shoe salesmen, teen parents, and even real estate agents. We understood what made Kiwis tick. A few of our number have risen through the ranks and many of us have been the solid core of the National caucus, providing stability, consistency and connection to people at the coalface. We have been the props and the hookers of the team. This connection has been continued through the 2008 and 2011 intake, which is absolutely fantastic. When a mainstream party loses that connection with the aspirations of middle New Zealand, the results speak for themselves. To my colleagues, I say to never, ever forget that. In regard to the goals I set in my maiden speech, I am proud to see how much progress has been made in the area of Treaty settlements and to see the huge progress in my own rohe. Although there are still settlements that need to be completed, we are in a totally different place from where we started. The Hon Chris Finlayson will be knighted at a future time for his service in this area. You can hold me to that! In my maiden speech I expressed concern at the lack of progress in our nation, at the lack of opportunities for my children and at the huge numbers of people leaving our shores. In spite of the Christchurch earthquakes, the global financial crisis, and the meltdown of our second-tier finance sector, New Zealand is now judged as one of the best economies in the * Western World. Just today Australia’s Treasurer, Joe Hockey, called New Zealand’s economy the envy of the world. It is fantastic to see the turn-round in the migration statistics. I am exceptionally proud to see that. Nothing else reflects people genuinely seeing a brighter future in Aotearoa than those migration statistics. In addition to the goals that I set in my maiden speech, I am proud of my affirmative votes in the smacking legislation, the seabed and foreshore legislation, and the marriage amendment bill. In each of these bills I learnt that leadership is not always about following the status quo or majority opinion; leadership is about challenging the status quo for something that you believe is genuinely better. Under John Key’s leadership we have made huge progress. I am excited about the future of this country and the prospects available to all children in our nation, including my own children. With the economy in such great shape it is an excellent time to leave this House in search of new opportunities. I have already bought into two new businesses and am exploring a third. I am looking forward to re-engaging with my entrepreneurial passion. It is going to be challenging but exciting. In particular, I will have more time to spend with my family, and it is my family whom I would most like to thank as I come to the end of my valedictory. In my maiden speech I said that I would endeavour to put families at the pinnacle of Government policy, because, I said, without strong families we have nothing. I have a strong family and they are here tonight, and even some of the members of my wider family in the provincial club—you know who you are. To my mother, Pam: thank you for your support, for giving me the opportunity and the independence to do all that I wanted from a very young age. To my father: I miss you hugely and wish that you could be here with your family tonight. Dad, I am wearing your cufflinks tonight. To my brothers, Mark and Simon, we have often been measured against our father’s success, on the sporting field and in life. Each of us, however, has cut our own different paths. I am confident that he would have been very proud of each of us and of our young families. In saying that, I was never able to emulate my dad’s prowess on the sporting field. However, let the Hansard record for eternity that I did captain the parliamentary rugby team to victory in the 2011 parliamentary * Rugby World Cup. To my wife Angela’s parents and family, particularly to Trevor and Jeanette—thanks for Angela and for your huge support of me and our family. To Ange, Sam, Will, and Lily—I love you all dearly. Thank you for giving me this opportunity. So, have I been successful in this parliamentary career—by some measures, certainly; by others, not as well. Sorry, Rodney, I did not take any scalps while I was here, but I have been part of something bigger than myself, most definitely, and my efforts have allowed others to flourish. Yes, I have achieved that. I started my maiden speech in Te Reo, and will end it in our first language. In 2012 I took the Prime Minister to * Wairoa, honouring a commitment I had made to the wonderful, wonderful people of that part of my electorate. On that day we had a number of * pōwhiris, where we did not have a speaker to introduce the Prime Minister. That role, and the * waiata, fell to me. Upon our return to the caucus on the following Monday, I was required by the Prime Minister to sing that waiata in the caucus room, possibly the first person ever to do so at the National Party caucus. It was rough. I will not make you suffer that again. But I will close with a * whakatauāki—a proverb—that talks of a new beginning, a touch of frost, a new dawn. I think it is appropriate as I leave this place and pursue an exciting new future.

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