Word of the day


Gimlet – a small T-shaped tool with a screw tip for boring holes; a sharp boring tool, similar in general design to a corkscrew; a small tool with a screw point, grooved shank, and cross handle for boring holes;  a cocktail of gin (or sometimes vodka) and lime juice.


Sowell says


Rural round-up


That’s Northland’: floods follow droughts and tests farmers’ resolve – Brad Flahive:

While most of the floodwater in Northland has receded after the weekend’s deluge, the silt it left behind is a frustrating reminder of how vulnerable farmers are to the extremes of mother nature.

After months of near-crippling drought, more than 200mm of rain fell during two storms last weekend, and now the silt-laden paddocks can’t be used for pasture at this crucial time of year.

“The cows just won’t eat it, they just walk around in the mud and make a big mess,” said farmer Nick Bishop from his dairy farm, 10 kilometres east of Dargaville. . . 

Farm interactive learning platform – Yvonne O’Hara:

Chris and Desiree Giles, of Waimumu Downs, use their property as a giant interactive learning platform for children from the 16 eastern Southland schools.

“We are in the process of putting a classroom down on the farm. Getting the kids involved is a means of bringing in their parents and getting their buy-in,” Mr Giles said.

The couple, who have two children — Danielle (9) and Andrew (7) — have a 306ha dairy property (206ha effective), which was converted in 2014.

The family bought the original property six years ago and since then had almost doubled the acreage. . . 

Lowest number of of non-compliance’s in Taranaki since 2015 – Mike Watson:

Covid-19 and Taranaki residents’ growing environmental awareness have resulted in a record number of environmental incidents reported to the Taranaki Regional Council, but also a record low for the number of actual non-compliances.

During the past 12 months, 529 cases were reported – the highest figure for five years, the council’s consents and regulatory meeting was told on Tuesday.

But the number of non-compliances during the same monitoring period was 185 – the lowest in five years.

This was partly because of more consent holders following the rules but also because of reduced monitoring during the lockdown. . .

Group to set beef’s priorities – Annette Scott:

Grant Bunting never thought he would become so passionate about sustainability but says the sustainability challenge cannot be ignored if New Zealand producers want to improve their standing on the world stage. He talked to Annette Scott.

Grant Bunting has long had a genuine interest in farming systems and practices but new and evolving industry challenges have somewhat changed his outlook.

The inaugural chairman of the recently formed New Zealand Roundtable for Sustainable Beef said the growing importance the world puts on sustainability credentials across the supply chain has changed many a view.

“I have to admit I am quite traditional in my views but these sustainability challenges can’t be ignored.  . . 

Events celebrate rural communities :

Agritech industry transformation plan leader David Downs is returning to his roots as part of Pride in our Land events being held throughout the Manawatu-Wanganui Region.

Whanganui-born Downs, a general manager at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise who is head of the Government taskforce behind the agritech plan, is guest speaker at events in Raetihi and Whanganui next Thursday and Friday, July 30 and 31.

They are part of a wider series of get-togethers that began at Mokotuku’s Black Dog Pub on July 9 and wind up at Makoura Lodge at Apiti on August 15.

Whanganui Federated Farmers president Mike Cranstone says it has been a rough start to the year for landowners dealing with the adverse weather conditions and supply chain disruptions of the past six months. . . 

Farming is a great way of life – let’s make it a safe one – Jacqui Cannon:

There’s no doubt that farming, one of Australia’s most important industries, is also one of its most dangerous.

Big open spaces, big animals, big machinery, big workload.

In the past 18 months, more than 200 Australians have died in farming accidents, tearing apart families and communities – one in six are kids under five years old.

This goes beyond tragic; it’s horrifying. But the most horrifying aspect is that it’s so readily accepted by many as “just a part of life on the land“. . .


Anne Tolley’s valedictory


National MP Anne Tolley delivered her valedictory speech last night:


Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Deputy Speaker—National): I stand here as the 74th woman to be elected to the New Zealand House of Representatives, and I want to begin tonight by recalling when I stood to deliver my maiden speech and acknowledging, in particular, my granddaughter Madeleine. She was here then, just months old, and she turns 21 this October. So for her whole life, her grandma has been a member of Parliament.

She came with a busload from Napier, all pretty excited as it was about 50 years since Napier had had a National MP, and she’s here today, with my extremely supportive family. My son Heath and his wife, Cathy, and—I can’t see the little granddaughters; oh, yes—Cassandra and Alexis. My daughter Imogen—mother of Madeleine—and my grandson, Joshua. My husband, Allan, of course—and I’ll come back to him. My London-based daughter, Andrea, who’s watching and is with us in spirit—and goodness only knows how long it’s going to be before I can give her a hug. My mother, who is in a rest home in Havelock North—and I hope she’s got the channel right. My sisters, Kate and Bronwyn; my sister-in-law, Miranda; my cousin; and my niece and nephew. They’ve all put up with years of my political career: the good, the bad, and a little bit of the ugly.

In 2002, as a list MP, I lost my seat. I went out into the private sector, and Tony Ryall and Simon Power convinced me to try to win the East Coast electorate. I was selected as the candidate in late December 2007, and took off for a last Christmas holiday to Lake Waikaremoana with my family. Well, come Boxing Day, and Tony Ryall’s on the phone. He had started a campaign for me to save the eastern bay rescue helicopter, and poor old Robyn Watchorn—who worked for Tony before her 15 years for me—was in the office on Boxing Day, faxing petitions to all the local businesses, and for the younger members of Parliament, faxes are things that look like phones that print out at the end. It was a great introduction to the relentless work ethic expected of an MP, and that family will take second place.

I’ve been very lucky to have support from my husband, Allan. To win the East Coast seat, we had to move to Gisborne. We had to leave Napier, where Allan and I had both grown up, met, wed, and raised our family. All our friends were there, and all the contacts and influence that we’d built up over the years. What an enormous sacrifice that was that Allan was prepared to make for me, and I will always be so grateful.

After almost eight years, he’d just settled down, and I then moved him again as the electorate moved across into the Bay of Plenty. Thank you, Allan—you’ve been a great partner and supporter throughout my political career.

I want to thank also my electorate chairs, Pat Seymour and Wayne Marriott. They ran the local party machine, they kept me out and about, they paid the bills, they kept up the support base and the volunteers, and they play a huge role in the life and times of an electorate MP.

I’ve been fortunate to have incredible staff, both in my electorate and in the ministerial offices, and some of them are here with me tonight. Thank you, Robyn Watchorn. What an extraordinary woman she is. She was recently honoured for her outstanding community work over many years, she is a talented artist who made our commemorative camellia broaches that all the women wear so proudly, and, as I say, she’s worked in my Whakatāne office for 15 years. Caroline Taylor worked in the Gisborne office for over 10 years. Sharron Wilson was in both Te Puke and Gisborne, and Shirley Whitwell in the Kawerau office—I don’t know where they are; they’re in different places—Carolyn Meihana in Murupara; Amanda Hillary in Wellington; and Marie Rolls and Grace Hickson and Wendy Tozer. Thank you for all your help and dedication over the years. I really couldn’t have managed without any of you, and it’s great to have so many of you here tonight.

As a Minister, I was also blessed with great staff, and two in particular were with me almost entirely throughout my ministerial life: Michelle Morehu and Gillon Carruthers. Michelle came first as a receptionist, but took over as my senior private secretary within months and continued almost until the last, and, boy, she ran my life. She was outstanding, and I quickly forgave her for the fact that she had previously worked for Clayton Cosgrove.

Gillon managed my media team and, I guess, presented my life, and his advice kept me out of trouble on more than one occasion. Our greatest challenge was probably the riot and subsequent fire at Spring Hill prison—a corrections Minister’s worst nightmare. But with Gillon’s management, Ray Smith and I stood shoulder to shoulder and dealt with the media and the unions, recognising the enormous bravery of our staff, but never showing for a moment in public how dangerous the situation really was—so much so that many of my colleagues hardly even remembered there had been a riot.

There were several other staff in my office who spent some time in my office, and I was always pleased when they went on to successful careers and I hoped that I had been able to contribute in some small way to their successes. Gareth Richards, Monique Lepine, Stephen Jones, Maggie Beaumont, Antony Harvey, Ashley Murchison, Zach Castles, Cameron Olderfield, and Ashleigh Muir—thank you sincerely. To those who came from the State agencies to work with me, at times I made their jobs difficult, I accept. They were often caught between what a Minister wants and what the agency can or is willing to deliver. But, without exception, I valued their expertise and knowledge and I thank them for all their help.

I’ve had an amazing career as both junior and senior whip, as a Minister, and as a Deputy Speaker, and I want to acknowledge and thank my chief executives: Karen Sewell from the Ministry of Education, Graham Stoop from the Education Review Office, Peter Marshall and Mike Bush—who’s with us tonight—from the New Zealand Police, Ray Smith—who’s also here—from the Department of Corrections, Julie Reid in the Serious Fraud Office, Brendan Boyle from the Ministry of Social Development, and Grainne Moss from Oranga Tamariki. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have worked with you all such highly competent professionals, and I’m delighted that some of you have been able to come tonight. I think we accomplished much together.

Thank you to all the people that make Parliament work: the Parliamentary Service and staff—and I see Raf up the back there—the hard-working House staff, all the people in the Clerk’s Office—David, you and your team that support presiding officers—and especially thanks to the VIP Transport Service men and women, with whom I’ve probably spent more time than with my husband. They’ve all looked after me so well over the years.

But as I consider my life and my time in Parliament in its closing days, I am reminded of the meaning of the word “politics”. From the Greek “polis”, meaning “city”, comes the Greek word “politēs”, meaning “citizen”, and I’m sure that if Chris Finlayson was here tonight, he’d correct my pronunciation. But, in other words, it’s all about people. When I look back on my career, the moments and the highlights that defined my time are the people, and I thought I’d share with you tonight some of those people.

I remember well the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of parents who contacted me about national standards. They talked to me in airports, they talked to me on aeroplanes, they talked to me in cafes and restaurants, they emailed me, they faxed me, and they phoned me, and all with the same story: “If only we had known earlier, if only the school had told us, if only the teacher had said to us that our son or daughter was falling behind, couldn’t read properly, had no grasp of maths, or was really struggling to keep up with the basics, instead of telling us that they added value to the class, were delightful personalities, or were good participants.” They said, “If only we had known, we could have helped them and got them extra assistance. Instead, we only found out that our child was way behind when they started at high school, and then they told us, and then it was way too late.”

As education Minister, I negotiated the trades academies, which enabled young people to begin their trades qualifications while still at high school. Years later, my own grandson raved to me about his own experience with the trades academy. I knew that too many of these kids who learnt by making things—kinetic learners, they call them—were finding school irrelevant and, with the global financial crisis upon us, would struggle and drift into unemployment or, worse, into gang life. I remember taking PM John Key to the Whakatāne-based academy, where we met a large group of excited but very focused young people, and two stood out for John and me. They came from way up the coast. They left home at about 5 a.m. to ride—possibly a horse—down to catch the bus to Whakatāne, which was over three hours away. They told us they were still in school only because of that day, Friday, in the trades academy. Of course, that huge trip was repeated at the end of the day. I know one of those boys. He secured an apprenticeship at the end of that year and is working locally in Whakatāne to this day.

As corrections Minister, I took an enormous risk and OK’d the Rimutaka Prison taking part in Wellington on a Plate. Martin Bosley was the chef who sought that approval and over the years has been joined by a number of well-known chefs, and the prison event is one of the most popular. But I remember going out into the kitchen that first night and talking to a man who, with a real light in his eye, told me that in his whole life he had never been good at anything. But he had found that he could cook, and a famous chef had told him that he was talented and would help him find a job when he got out. Martin and many others did find jobs for some of these men who did have talents and have supported many of them on their release.

I also remember visiting a prison that had just started a puppy training programme where the prisoners took care of the initial training of the puppies. You know, they did the toilet training, the walking on a lead—basic things—before their intensive training started as assist dogs. I remember talking to this enormous man. He was huge. He was covered in tattoos. He was a real fierce-looking dude. He wouldn’t meet my eye, because many of them wouldn’t, of course. But I did ask him had he had dogs previously, and he nodded. I said to him, “Were they fighting dogs?” And he nodded. Then this great big fierce man bent down and picked up this little puppy, this golden Labrador ball of fluff, and with this gooey look on his face tucked it into his neck and told me that Daisy had scratched at the door to go out to the toilet for the first time the night before. That programme was about teaching empathy to people whose past crimes showed little evidence of it, and I saw that in his face that day, and I knew that the programme had made a difference.

Of course, I loved being Minister of Police. We are so lucky in New Zealand with our police because they’re so professional, and they’re not only law enforcers but they’re social workers and mental health workers all at the same time. I was so proud to be their Minister. The work my colleague Amy Adams and I began with the whole-of-Government response to family violence was led by a passionate policewoman, Tusha Penny. I well remember her recounting the story of a woman whose history of abuse was only really uncovered by agencies when they finally sat down together and began sharing her information, especially ACC—because this woman was extremely accident prone. She’d managed to shut her own fingers in car doors on several occasions. She’d had a car engine drop on her feet, breaking toes, twice. She’d spilled boiling water over herself, had fallen down stairs, and walked into doors numerous times. She’d come to the attention of the police and then the family harm group as a low to medium risk of harm. But with the full knowledge of her past injuries and violent experiences, she was immediately moved to extreme risk, with huge support and assistance provided for the first time ever. This woman I remember I never met, I never knew her name, but I know we saved her life.

I want to mention two young people from Child, Youth and Family, which is now Oranga Tamariki, and everyone who knows me understands my lifelong determination to make sure that these, the most vulnerable children in our communities, are safe and are able to thrive if they have to be in State care to keep them safe from harm. I finally grabbed the opportunity to address the system that was failing them so badly, despite the very best of intentions. You can only do that by talking to the people who live under that system and experience it. So I set up an advisory group of young people who had either been in State care or who were still in State care.

The first young man’s story didn’t actually have a happy ending. He was just 14 going on 15 when he came into my office. He was sullen. He was cynical of the process, and he was a little over-awed, and all of those three at once. Next thing, he’d run away from his foster home. But he turned up to see me at the Gisborne A & P show. I think he’d been with cousins up the coast. With encouragement, he returned to Wellington and he came alive around the table when we started discussing youth justice services, because he knew about them. He’d had a lot of experience of them. His contribution was invaluable and insightful, and I was so grateful to the officials that listened to him and made changes accordingly. Sadly, I know that this wasn’t enough to make up for everything else that had damaged him.

But one of that group, a bright, intelligent, and determined young woman, took every opportunity to contribute to the redesign process. She came along to Parliament and she sat up here and she watched the lawmaking process when she could, because she was at university studying to be a social worker. I ran into her a year ago at a local school. She had a very successful career. She was highly respected. As we hugged, I knew her eyes were on not only her future but the future of the people she was bringing up behind her. I wish her all the best.

Finally, it’s been a huge honour to represent the East Coast electorate for 15 years—so many wonderful people; such a rich and diverse cultural and social electorate. Many people have crossed my path in that time. I’ve been lucky to work with some great mayors, and we’ve dealt, through the office, with some characters, with some tragedies, but, mainly, with some wonderful, hard-working, innovative, and generous locals.

But my best memory is of Bruce, whose kidneys were slowly dying. He came to me in great distress, not for himself but for his wife. He was still able to have his dialysis at home, but his wife’s health was deteriorating, and the strain on her was overwhelming. In those days, in Gisborne, when it was no longer possible for home-based dialysis, people had to move away. They had to move to Hawke’s Bay or to the Waikato. Bruce was really worried that his wife would have to leave her home, all her family and friends, and all the support and be alone over in Waikato looking after him. So, with the help of a generous Minister of Health, the Hon Tony Ryall, we built a dialysis unit in Gisborne Hospital, and I visited Bruce there several times. In fact, he had a picture of him and I on his coffin. He was always happy to see me, he always had a big smile on his face, and he always thanked me that his wife was able to be well-supported in her home as his health slowly deteriorated. He was a lovely, lovely man and a loving husband, right to the end.

Over these past three years, I’ve met many people from across the world, focusing particularly on increasing the number of women in decision-making roles, especially in the Pacific. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me these opportunities. I also chaired an amazing committee on your behalf developing a code of conduct for the entire New Zealand Parliament, and I met and talked with staff, unions, officials, media, and MPs over the past almost 12 months. Anybody who works here or out in our electorate and community offices has the right to feel safe and respected. It’s a tough environment—we all understand that—but that’s no excuse for some of the behaviour that we know takes place. I spoke with staff who were genuinely frightened to come to work at times. I spoke with MPs who were bullied by colleagues and tolerated sexual harassment as part of the job. None of them had any expectations that something could be done about such behaviour. Well, that is simply unacceptable.

We didn’t manage to negotiate a full code of conduct with consequences—unfortunately, the COVID lockdown impacted on our time. But we did report back to you, Mr Speaker, seven statements of expectations of behaviour. They’re very simple. Let me go through them: to show that bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment, are unacceptable; to act respectfully and professionally; to foster an environment where people feel safe and valued; to behave fairly and genuinely, treating others the way we would like to be treated; to use our position of power or influence to help others and avoid harm; and to speak up if we observe unacceptable behaviour. I sincerely hope everyone in the next Parliament commits to these expectations, because—I tell you what—the public expects nothing less.

As I leave this wonderful place, my heart is full of all these people that I’ve had the great privilege to work for and with. I’m confident I, along with all the people I’ve mentioned tonight, have touched the lives of many and made a difference for the better, and that’s what politics is all about.

This is the hard part, because tonight I only have one regret. My father attended my maiden speech after the 1999 election. We sat together every election night, watching and analysing the results, and he came to Wellington every time I was sworn in as a Minister. But he’s not here at the finish, and that’s a big gap in my life. I knew I’d cry, but I couldn’t leave him out, because he’s been such a big part of my political life.

So I say thank you to the National Party and to my caucus colleagues for your friendship and support over the years. As Deputy Speaker—sorry, I can’t read.

SPEAKER: You’re not meant to read anyway!

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: As Deputy Speaker, I’ve got to know and respect MPs right across the House—[Deputy Clerk hands over tissues]—thank you, Suze—and I thank you for the collegiality that breaks out every now and then, and I wish you all the best of luck in the September elections—some more than others, perhaps.

Thank you to my wonderful family for all their support and love, and I know that they are looking forward to not having a mother or a grandmother or a mother-in-law or a cousin or an aunt in politics. Allan, the good news is that I’ve dusted off the bucket list, but the bad news is that I’ve also found a to-do list. Kia ora tātou, everyone.



Maggie Barry’s valedictory


National MP Maggie Barry delivered her valedictory statement:

Hon MAGGIE BARRY (National—North Shore): Thank you, Mr Speaker. E te Whare, tēnā koe. E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā iwi, e ngā hau e whā, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. To the leaders, to the many voices, to all the diverse people and communities of the four winds, I honour and respect and I greet you all.

I will begin by acknowledging my family and friends here in the public gallery. Many who have come to this Chamber tonight to witness my final speech, were also here for my maiden speech. I am grateful for your ongoing love, friendship, and support. It has been my honour to serve the people of the North Shore, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for giving me the opportunity and for having enough confidence in me to elect me three times, for trusting me to represent the interests of t their beloved community since 2011. In particular, I thank Gary and Leslie Monk for their ongoing friendship and support. It has meant a lot to me. To the president, Peter Goodfellow and the board member Alister Bell, for all their unquestioning help and loyalty, thank you. To Don McKinnon, a mentor and friend, and, of course, Lady Clare McKinnon, thank you. I acknowledge David McKeown, who’s been an outstanding North Shore electorate chair, a man of integrity and great fairness. I’m grateful for all he’s done for me and for all of North Shore National, and I’m also very glad he’ll be there to support the new candidate, Simon Watts, who is here in the gallery tonight.

I wish Simon all the very best for the election, as, of course, all my talented and highly competent National Party MPs and colleagues. They will thrive. I am sure, under the competent and dynamic leadership team of Judith Collins and Gerry Brownlee. I’ll be campaigning right through until election day to contribute to a National victory. So don’t worry, team. I won’t be slackening off.

To be an effective MP, of course, it is vital to have the right people walking and working cooperatively alongside you. I acknowledge at this point my staff who are here in the gallery, Miriam Wiley, Jack Boltar,and the indefatigable Pat Humphries. They have certainly been the three musketeers, and I thank you for your skills, your energy, and your loyalty. Monica Miller was for seven years alongside me as my electorate agent in Takapuna, and to Sally Guinness was with me from day one in here in Parliament, and in charge of our Beehive team, Gail and Alex/ Brent and Kayla, et al.

I have always been a hard worker and I have high standards and expectations of myself, as I do have anyone who works for me. The job of an MP is far too important not to have highly competent and dedicated staff, and I was fortunate to have worked with two of the very best. I thank you, Monica and Sally, wholeheartedly for your loyalty and for always going the extra mile.

The most constant and significant influence on my political life has been my good friend Peter Kylie. It was indeed serendipitous that I was made member of Parliament for the very electorate where Peter lives. There was an outside chance it might reflect badly on him if I didn’t do well. So he’s always taken a keen interest in my wellbeing and has kept me safe from harm. Peter, I thank you for your friendship, your support, and your wise advice from the beginning until the end.

As I said in my maiden speech, this parliamentary precinct, as part of my old hood. Thorndon is my tur, Thornton is my tūrangawaewae. Dad was an accountant at the railways and my mother’s florist shop was just a few doors up from here on Molesworth Street. Our family home was around the corner in Tinakori Road, and I went to the primary school next to the church on Hill Street where my parents were married and buried from. Growing up, these leafy grounds of Parliament were part of my everyday childhood landscape, and having now spent the best part of my fifties here as an MP, you might say I haven’t come very far. But today it feels a little bit like I’ve come full circle as this chapter in my life now comes to an end.

I had been planning to wear the same frock for my valedictory as I had for my maiden speech, but alas, it seems to have shrunk rather a lot, unlike its owner, who should have done a lot less Bellamy’s and Copperfields and a lot more nil by mouth and exercised steps. But I have gained so much more than just a couple of kilograms here, in my time in Parliament. Having been in the media, examining politics closely for 30-odd years before stepping up to be an MP, I was well aware of how rare it is for members to be able to choose their time of leaving, as I am doing after six years in Government, three as a backbencher and three as a Minister inside Cabinet, and now a final term in Opposition.

I’ve been here through good times and through tragedies, the earthquakes, global financial crisis, mosque shootings, and now the COVID challenge. At its best, I think this Parliament delivered in a way that our team of five million New Zealanders can be very proud of. But at its worst, being in Parliament can be frustrating, dehumanising, and brutal. As we’ve all been reminded recently, the pressures that come with the privilege of being in the service of the public can take a heavy toll on MPs and on their families. Please don’t be too quick to judge. It’s a tough life in here, tougher than you might think from the outside, and I think that the long hours and the unrelenting 24/7 scrutiny adds up to the sort of life that doesn’t suit everyone.

In this place, you do need a loyal subtribe of your own where you can take shelter from the storms. An essential part of my survival strategy has been the weekly get-together with my class of 2011 intake year group. Thank you all for those hundreds of Wednesday nights in trusted company, trying to make some sense of it all. It’s still work in progress, of course. I value the honesty and the camaraderie, if not always the food—Goldie’s coleslaw, toasted sandwiches; they are not height of the cuisine that I’ve been used to, but good on your Goldie. That’s how he keeps so thin, I suppose.

Look, I’m not what you might call a career politician, like the predecessor, perhaps, who spoke before me. I didn’t sign on for a 30-year lag with a gold watch at the end, although I am looking forward to getting my souvenir traditional farewell silver tray soon. I have unbridled admiration for those stayers with stamina—my old friend and father of the House with the big brain and the big heart, Dr Nick Smith; our ever ebullient and fast on his feet deputy leader, the nimble Gerry Brownlee—both are National’s lifers, and we need their parliamentary debating skills, their institutional knowledge, as well as their strong sense of fairness in this House.

For my part I was raised to be a participant, and not so much an observer or a bystander. I was expected to contribute to the community and to try to help those less fortunate. I didn’t joined the armed forces as my grandfather and father had done in the two world wars. Instead, my contribution to serving my country when the time was right for me was to stand for public office. The notion of service might be seen by some as rather quaint and old-fashioned, but to me it has meant trying to be a voice for the vulnerable, for the people who don’t have a voice in this House. I’ve wanted to speak up for our seniors suffering silently with elder abuse, and to strongly advocate as well for the survival of the critically endangered plants and birds that partly define who we are as New Zealanders.

I acknowledge John Key. Thank you, sir, for believing in me and backing me from the start, and for the trifecta of portfolios you gave me for my birthday in 2014. It was the best present ever—or, so far, anyway. The commemorations of World War II coincided with my time as the Minister for Arts, Culture, and Heritage. I was privileged to represent my country on many formal occasions, perhaps most memorably, at the Western Front battlefields. It was a moving experience reading the Ode of Remembrance at the Menin Gate in Belgium, where almost every night since 1929, they have sounded the bugle for The Last Post and recited the ode to express their gratitude and to remember the sacrifices of the fallen, including some 12,500 New Zealand soldiers buried there.

I will never forget the sadness, standing in the windswept, empty carpark of a Belgian cheese factory in September 2015. There was no marker, nor memorial, to show the significance of that place, which was the battle site of New Zealand’s worst ever day of military loss. One year later, I was able to return to Passchendaele and unveil the first of many Ngā Tapuwae plinths, as part of our footsteps in the Anzac Trails, which tell the stories of our courageous soldiers of the Great War. It was also a proud moment for me as the MP for North Shore to dig in the first plant in New Zealand’s memorial garden at Passchendaele, part of a project that had been driven by a determined group of my fellow Devonport RSA members, Chris Mullane and Mike Pritchard amongst them. It was a bronze flax, just in case you were wondering.

With my lifelong interest in plants and nature, a highlight of my political life was as the Minister of Conservation responsible for Predator Free 2050. We launched it four years ago this week, and at the heart of National’s bold vision to save our precious vulnerable national species, to achieve that goal, we can and must eradicate the unwanted eco-invaders—the rats, the stoats, and the possums who don’t belong here and are eating our songbirds and our taonga plant species to the brink of extinction.

Sir Paul Callaghan said getting rid of the pests was essential, but it would be our Apollo moon shot, and he was right. The late Sir Rob Fenwick, who I first met on a television garden show 30 years ago, and who had a profound influence on my thinking, was a visionary who made an enormous contribution and helped convert our distant moon shot prospect into something down to earth and well within reach. We are, of course, only the custodians of this land. We are the kaitiaki, the guardians, of our grandchildren’s natural heritage. We owe it to them to do better and to try harder to save our kiwis and our other endangered native species. I encourage people to put aside their prejudices about genetic modification and also prejudices about 1080. There is no time to waste.

I’ve enjoyed being part of National’s most effective policy advisory group, the Bluegreens, and at the annual forum earlier this year I was humbled to be given the inaugural Takahe Award for tireless work encouraging all New Zealanders. Thanks to Chris Vern and the Bluegreens for all you have done. I hope that in my time here, I have made a worthwhile contribution to preserving our natural heritage. I acknowledge the Department of Conservation’s (DOC’s) greatest director-general, Lou Sanson. DOC is in his DNA, and he’s been the right man for the times to lead New Zealand’s conservation heroes and warriors.

One of the most sobering realisations as Minister for Seniors for three years was knowing the extent of the abuse and the neglect of our elderly. We would not be the country we are today without their skills and without their hard work and toil and their wisdom. For those people who have come before us, we truly do stand on their shoulders, and yet why is it that 70,000 of them over the age of 65 say they have been the victims of physical, psychological, or financial abuse?

I don’t believe we value our seniors enough and I don’t believe that as a society we are doing enough. We need to do more to keep them safe, and that’s often from their own families.

I know from my own experience with my mother, Agnes, and her 10-year journey with dementia how important it is to put the person at the heart of our policy decisions. It’s a philosophy I’ve tried very hard not to ever lose sight of, as an electorate MP for North Shore as well as a Minister.

My concern for the vulnerable and the elderly is at the heart of my opposition to a proposed law change to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide. For more than 20 years since the death of my father, I have been involved with end of life care as patron of Mary Potter Hospice and, later, of Hospice New Zealand. I chaired 28 days of public hearings into the euthanasia bill, and I’ve heard and I understand that people want more and different choices at the end of their lives and to have their suffering eased.

New Zealand has simply not done well enough in the care for the dying, and we must do better, which is why I have put together, with the palliative care community, a member’s bill to guarantee and enshrine New Zealanders’ access to world-class palliative care wherever and whenever they need it. The member’s bill is now in the ballot in the name of my friend and colleague Simon O’Connor.

Properly funded end of life care is what needs to happen before, in my opinion, we push the nuclear button on the option of euthanasia. I acknowledge Sir Bill English. Along with Lady Mary English and Professors Sinead Donnelly and Rod McLeod, it’s been a great privilege to work with you over a long number of years in our opposition to euthanasia, and I know that we all hope the public will vote against that referendum on assisted suicide at the upcoming election.

In the 10 years I have been in politics, my son, Joe, has grown from beginning in college to being a university graduate, and as I said in my maiden speech and reaffirm here tonight, Joe has taught me more about myself and about life than anyone else in the world ever has. I thank him for being him, and how proud I am of the fine young man he has become. I know his father, Paddy—alongside him, here in the gallery tonight—shares that same pride in our son.

Your life is not your own when you’re an MP, and that’s as it should be for a role as important as this one. But I’ve missed, now, enough family events and milestones, and the time is right for me to get together and get stuck into the bucket list with my best friend and my husband, Grant. We first met doing Outward Bound, and I knew then that he was the man I could go into the jungle with—I could trust him implicitly. We’ve certainly been in the parliamentary jungle together for the best part of 10 years, and he has never once failed nor faltered. He has always had enormous faith in me, and for that I am hugely grateful. In politics, as in life, I am excited about the prospect of walking alongside him in this next chapter of our lives together.

My time in this place has been short, and yet sometimes it seems an eternity. You don’t get everything right every time and you can’t always get everything that you hope for and dream and strive for, but I know that I have worked and fought hard, tried my best, and not given up on the issues that are important to me. Whether I have succeeded or not is up to others to decide.

I have no regrets. I’ve done my dash, and I’m leaving Parliament with my integrity intact and in the certain knowledge that being the National Party’s MP for North Shore has been a rare privilege and a lifetime’s highlight. I thank you. Fare thee well. Haere rā.

Better medicinal cannabis Bill


National MP Shane Reti has had his Members’ Bill on medicinal cannabis drawn from the ballot:

My Member’s Bill to implement a comprehensive medicinal cannabis regime that would widen access to medicinal cannabis and license high quality domestic production, has been drawn in Parliament, MP for Whangarei Shane Reti says.

“New Zealanders deserve greater access to high quality medicinal cannabis products to ease their suffering, but we must have the right regulatory and legislative controls in place.

“My bill is a more comprehensive alternative to the Government’s cannabis bill. The Government has said it will increase access now and leave it to officials to think through the controls and the consequences later. That’s typical of this Government but it’s not acceptable.

“The Government declined the bill 18 months ago, if they hadn’t New Zealanders would have access to affordable medicinal cannabis right now.

The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill (No 2) will achieve the following:

  • Medicinal cannabis products will be approved in the same way a medicine is approved by Medsafe. No loose leaf cannabis products will be approved.
  • Medical practitioners will decide who should have access to a Medicinal Cannabis Card, which will certify them to buy medicinal cannabis products.
  • Medicinal cannabis products will be pharmacist-only medicine.
  • Cultivators and manufacturers must be licenced for commercial production. Licence holders and staff will be vetted to ensure they are fit and proper persons.
  • A licensing regime that will create a safe market for medicinal cannabis products. Cultivators and manufacturers will not be able to be located within 5km of residential land, or 1km of sensitive sites such as schools and wahi tapu.
  • No advertising of medicinal cannabis products to the public will be permitted.
  • The Ministry of Health will review the legislation in five years.

“National is determined to be a constructive opposition working on new ideas and new policies. This bill is the result of significant work, including a study I conducted overseas and reflects a blend of international best practice, tailored to New Zealand.

“I recognise there is a delayed medicinal cannabis process underway by the Government, but I encourage them to pick up the enormous amount of work done by National in Opposition and implement our comprehensive reforms to ensure this is done once and done right. So that New Zealanders in need can access high quality medicinal cannabis products to ease their suffering.”

During one of the leaders’ debates before the last election, Bill English and Jacinda Ardern were questioned on legalising medicinal question.

The former correctly answered that it wasn’t simple and needed to be based on good medical science. The latter said yes and in this government’s first 100 days legislation was rushed through that wasn’t based on good medical science.

It resulted in legislation that has created difficulties for doctors and  expensive and inferior medicine for patients.

Leading author Karen Oldfield, of the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, said cost, special approval, and a lack of strong evidence put most doctors off.

“Those who have looked into prescribing it are coming up against some problems around access and the process, and those who aren’t necessarily prescribing it have issues around the evidence base for it and the products that are available in New Zealand.” . . .

“If it’s going to be treated as a medication it needs to be tested as a medication, trialled as a medication, then it would go into the pile of medications that can be trialled for people in specific medical conditions.” . .

These problems will not be solved if the referendum of legalising cannabis is passed.

Dr Reti’s Bill will rectify the shortcomings in existing legislation and result in patients who will benefit from medicinal cannabis being able to get what they need, safely and less expensively.

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