Colin King’s valedictory

Colin King delivered his valedictory statement last week:

Thank you Mr Speaker for this opportunity to make this, my final statement in the debating chamber of the 50th Parliament of NZ.

May I begin by acknowledging some of those that have put up with thee four metre swells of the cook straight to be with us.

My Electorate Chair Brian Moore and his wife Roberta, Campaign Chair Alan Holdaway, Branch Chair and Hoarding Manager Barry Holdaway, Branch Chair Don Moore and his wife Sue. And may I also acknowledge Sir Doug and Lady Kidd. Also my staff, my most valuable staff in Blenheim and Amberley, Cathie Ferguson, Willie Kaulback, Rose Parsons and Jan Chisnall. My parliamentary staff over the year Margaret Traill and Karen Scarlett.

Thank you for all your support -support that went well beyond what could ever be expected.

I must also acknowledge with great pride and satisfaction the support I received from my wife Lynnette and our children Nickolas, Natasha, Laressa, and Katrina.

I must also acknowledge the wonderful support of the National Party, both the political wing and the party membership – thank you all for the guidance and support over those 9 years. I wish the National Party every success for the general election on the 20th of September.

Last week I did something Mr Speaker that I had hoped to do for a number of years – visit the whale counting operation that occurs at this time each year out at Tory channel and the Cook Strait.

Fortunately, on the day we went out, the observers perched up above Tory channel had sighted a large Humpback whale cruising through on its way to the tropics.

We were able to just motor straight out and meet the guys in the run-about as they were darting and taking the DNA sample from the whale in 3 metre swells. Just to give you some understanding how difficult it was, I could hardly hold my camera to actually capture the moment to post it on Facebook.

And from the point of view of what’s gone before us in history, in the context it was most uplifting. You could entitle it, “Whaling from Decimation to Restoration” – these old ex-whalers now spending endless hours looking into the mist of the Cook Straight to identify the pencil shape of a whale coming towards them. The good news is that about 100 whales came through the Cook Straight during the month and this year’s numbers are up on previous years – isn’t that fantastic! Now there’s more ways for the whales to go but through the Cook Straight it’s a bit like a drafting race, you can count them. So from that point of view it’s a good measure.

I want to make the point that while we may have a strong view on how people once earned their livings in years gone by, they did sustain themselves, and we should neither condemn nor ridicule.

Sure the land based whaling operation never contributed to the decimation of the whales. The damage was done by the fleets of whaling vessels from other nations that hunted the whale to near extermination taking up to 4000 a whale year on year

I have a serious concern about our attitude toward sustainable management around the coastline food. There are 10 times the number of people harvesting kai moana from along our coastlines, methods of targeting fish, catching crays, paua and other delicacies have greatly improved and yet we still argue that it is our birthright to help ourselves to such a resource.

Mr Speaker, as rational human beings we know that continuing such a rate of harvesting kai moana will result in serious consequences for us today and for our future generations.

It is therefore with much pride that I draw on the example of the community of Kaikoura who over the last 8 years based on the principles “gifts and giving” were able to reach an agreement across the full range of stakeholders – Iwi, commercial fishers, recreational fishers, Forest and Bird and wider community. They were able to agree amongst themselves as to the best possible outcome for the management of their coastline between the Conway to the Clarence Rivers. I was amazed to witness the cooperation between the Te Korowai grouping. It is with pride that I look forward to the “Te Tai o Marokura” Bill passing into law to the enduring benefit of Kaikōura and all who visit in the many years ahead.

What made this achievable was that all clearly understood what was at stake. The local Iwi, that’s Ngati Kuri, led because it held the Kaitiaki over the area, the commercial fisherman pulled in the same direction because they owned the right to quota and knew the importance of sustainable management, and the wider community stuck to the task because they knew and valued the employment and environment.  

There’s no doubt in my mind that this situation will need to be replicated throughout New Zealand. Such iconic places as the Marlborough Sounds, the Hauraki Golf, the Wellington headlands, Bay of Plenty and Northland coastlines to name but a few to address this situation as pressure remains and grows.

Again it will require skilful leadership, a willingness to agree, and make those gifts and giving. We must face up to this challenge, otherwise well end up exactly the situation of those whalers who lost their careers, their opportunities, their profitability over night because of a culture of greed and race to catch the last whale.

Mr Speaker, my second point I wish to make is the importance of valuing hands on learning within our education system. We must appreciate these very important students who in the future will fix things, build things, be it trucks, motor cars, be it buildings, be it bridges, roads, essential infrastructure and all manner of other things.

To do this the education system must equally value these people as much as we do doctors, nurses, lawyers and accountants and design an education curriculum accordingly. Putting it simply, we want to create many Einstein’s, but to create an Einstein you also need 1000 skilled technicians to make those things.

I wish to mention two people by name at this time who guided me in policy development – firstly, Stuart Middleton from Manukau Institute of Technology who, when I first came into Parliament, was already talking about what was lacking in our education system. He’s gone onto do some wonderful things to do with empowering our youth especially our Pasifika youth. And I take the opportunity here to say how heartened I am to see the Pasifika people taking grasp of education and being aspirational. I also want to make mention of Stewart Thompson who worked with me in developing the Trades Academy policy which was introduced by this government in 2009.

Stewart Thompson convinced me that a passionate inspiring teacher is what makes the difference– Stewart’s technology classes were full to overflowing and total engagement with education existed in spades.

I ask those responsible for education in the future to maintain the momentum we have for hands-on learning and skills-based education. Education must be relevant to the learners for them to remain engaged and develop the needed skill to be successful in life. And that is a pretty high threshold and we must keep them engaged. We are beginning to do better but there is a lot of work to do yet.

My third point I want to leave with the House is my concern around a growing reluctance in this country to undertake physically demanding work. We should be concerned when we see those who want to continue living in the one location and are not willing or courageous enough to collect up their families and move to where employment is better and more available, where the cost of living is less and the price of providing a roof over one’s family’s heads is also less.

New Zealand has one of the most generous welfare systems in the world. However, for New Zealand to remain a first world country we must possess the attitude as stated by George St John and restated by President J F Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country” –  that it is good to create wealth and seek ownership.

I admire greatly those eastern European families that came here In the ‘50s – ‘60s – I was only a child at the time – they made New Zealand their home and started life afresh after experiencing WW2, the Cold War and the Iron Curtain.

It now concerns me that we do bring enthusiastic workers from the Pacific Islands to do harvesting and cultivation within the horticulture sector. That we need to bring thousands of workers to full the needs in the dairy industry.

Isn’t it blindingly obvious to all that in doing the work that some of us despise – that these newcomers end up creating wealth for themselves and their families to enjoy into future.

It is all symptomatic of a nation that is losing its way when a newcomer can come here and see opportunities and we can’t. Individually we hold the key to our own success, “careful living and good honest hard work”.  Personal responsibility and a desire to aspire should be the aim of us all – lose this and we become no better than a domesticated animal.

Sir Henry Maine, Speaking on social structure, put it well when he said “Nobody is at liberty to attack private property and to say at the same time that he values civilization. The history of the two cannot be disentangled.”  For the institution of private property has been a wonderful institution for teaching men and women responsibility, for providing motives to integrity, for supporting general culture, for raising mankind above the level of mere drudgery, for affording leisure to think and freedom to act. To be able to retain the fruits of one’s labour; to be able to see one’s work made manifest; to be able to bequeath one’s property to one’s posterity; to be able to rise from the natural condition of grinding poverty to the security of enduring accomplishment; to have something that is really one’s own—these are advantages difficult to deny.

In crafting policy and bringing forth legislation in this House may all Members continue to recognise the value of those who toil in the sun or labour under the tin roof – neither despising the value of that work or thinking that it is beyond one’s dignity – because the wealth of this nation was created on the back of such physically demanding labour.

In conclusion, may I express my sincere thanks to all members of the House for the courtesy that they have afforded me. Thank you for the joy of working for the best interest of all New Zealanders – particularly within the primary sector and the education and Science sectors while in Parliament. I’m sure though that those coming behind us will be equal to the task. We do live in a blessed land.

To the Parliamentary Sporting Trust – what fun we had raising money for the most worthy of causes, for the camaraderie of winning two parliamentary rugby world cups one in Paris and the other in New Zealand – the pleasure of coordinating the parliamentary diplomats annual cricket challenges and winning a few. I always remember Paul Swayne leaving the House Mr Speaker, having won that yet against the diplomats. That being said, we hadn’t won for about a decade. So im asking the House to continue to support Ian McKelvie as he continues the mantle of looking after the shield and keeping that cricket match going. Its been going for over forty years and it’s an illustrious shield with some great MPs on it.  

If I have one disappointment on leaving Parliament Mr Speaker, it is that wisdom has not yet prevailed when it comes to storing water in North Canterbury – sadly, and this is my observation because I know that some of my Green colleagues will disagree, it is my view that a dog-in-the manger attitudes still prevails, making progress slow and difficult.

So finally, I wish to thank the taxpayers of New Zealand for providing the funding for three new hospitals while I was MP in Kaikoura. I’m also delighted to witness as MP the Te Tau Ihu treaty settlements for the eight Iwi of the top of the south, which re-establishes their economic base into the future. Also being a part and a witness to the eight year labour of love – the management plan for Kaikōura’s coastline – resulting in Te Tai o Marokura Bill – presently before Parliament and shortly to come into law. I thank the Minister and I also thank the Leader of the House for putting that in place.

But for me the most satisfying contribution has been around re-structuring of education and the importance being put on educational engagement and hands-on learning within it. Education that is relevant is making a world of difference for those who will make a living using their hands.

I want to thank everyone for the situation that I’ve enjoyed for that last nine years. I want to acknowledge my wife and children, and those people that have travelled across the Cook Straight. I also acknowledge those people, who are supporting departing members, and I also acknowledge all the members in the house and we have worked in the very best interests of New Zealand.

Kia Kaha stand tall be strong – thank you.  

He was a champion shearer before he was an MP, which explains the shearer in the photo and his advocacy for hands-on learning.

A shot taken by a colleague during my valedictory - one for the record

One Response to Colin King’s valedictory

  1. Gravedodger says:

    When the late Ben Couch humbly but proudly went to Wellington as MP for the Wairarapa before it absorbed the very Blue predominance of Pahiatua, he was so proud that a Shearer who was one of the last NZ workers to take a towel to work to mop up the sweat, could rise to MP.
    Colin King was a shearer who graduated to much more but I will never forget my first link to him in our very hot little two stand woolshed in Waipara.
    Someone very close to me was asked what did he think of Colin when he first stood for Kaikoura to which he quickly replied “a man who could win the Golden Shears Open Championship shearing Left handed from a right hand stand had to be a special person indeed.”

    Well done Colin King, the stupid inane media were not always kind to you but you were further evidence of the broad church political party that is National. You were a bloody good shearer as you proved many times but you were a caring hardworking educated self made man who gave much to this nation and its Primary industry base.

    Enjoy what comes next as I do not see you putting your feet up any time soon.


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