Word of the day


Satisdiction – the action of saying enough; enough said.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


A ticking time bomb – Sudesh Kissun:

Our dairy industry risks been exposed to a ‘ticking time bomb’ of unethical players unlawfully passing off New Zealand-made and packed milk powder products in China as supplements for babies.

A Kiwi entrepreneur has warned Rural News that the issue could easily become another food safety headache for the NZ dairy industry in the lucrative Chinese market.

Jane Li, a China dairy market consultant who operates retail stores in China, says formulated milk powders with added whey protein concentrate, lactoferrin and colostrum are being repacked by some Chinese-owned companies here and sold as supplements for infants and toddlers in the China market. . . 

MPI says it will act:

MPI says it takes the claims made by Jane Li seriously and where it has evidence that exporters are not meeting their requirements, it will take action.

Li says New Zealand’s dairy industry risks being exposed to a ‘ticking time bomb’ of unethical players unlawfully passing off New Zealand-made and packed milk powder products in China as supplements for babies. 

“We take complaints against New Zealand businesses very seriously,” a MPI spokesperson told Rural News.

He says that the safety and wellbeing of the public is central to the rules and requirements New Zealand has in place to ensure food and beverages are safe and suitable. 

Expecting flight attendants to become dairy workers is unfair:

An Auckland academic and innovation advisor at Tech Futures Lab Richard Rowley is not surprised that former Air New Zealand flight attendants don’t want to become dairy hands or social workers, describing such change as too confrontational, not to mention unfair.

“The slow start to fill 1000 vacant dairy farm jobs, and the fact that employers in several sectors are struggling to fill vacancies isn’t because everybody’s happy to be on welfare,” says Rowley. “It comes down to the fact that what we do is tied to who we are, and for some, the leap of faith is just too great.

“Our education system has largely not produced adaptable people. The people who struggled at school will be the same people who are challenged by changing careers because it was drummed into them that they are not good learners.”

Rowley says that when it comes to shifting career, self-esteem and confidence play a huge part. As a result, most people will see only obstacles, including age, experience, and physical ability. . . 

Seeds sown for strong elderflower future –  George Clark:

If you think a trip overseas could inspire a future career, you may be right.

Just ask Addmore owner Kate Addis.

The seeds for her Geraldine-based elderflower business were planted in 2002 after a stint abroad in Dorset, England, where she had been travelling.

Her elderflowers were grown locally and the beverages bottled in North Canterbury. . . 

Right tree right place, the solution to New Zealand’s afforestation question:

With discussion growing around NZ’s afforestation targets and farm conversions to forestry, like many groups, the New Zealand Forest and Wood Sector Forum is advocating for the right tree in right place for the right purpose as the obvious solution.

The farm vs forest debate is not a new one, but has certainly been more heated in recent months, with industry commentary from both sectors.

As with many groups, the New Zealand Forest and Wood Sector Forum is advocating for a unified approach, with the right trees, in the right places, for the right purposes as the answer.

This means taking a measured approach to the question of land use. Rather than buying a title and saying it will be solely for one use or another, we need to examine the land under the title, and decide what the best use is for each piece of land. In other words, some hill country farmers would benefit from having some of their land under forest, while some forest land could be better used for food production. . . 

Continued growth for the mighty avocado industry :

The New Zealand avocado industry has finalised the 2019-20 season results. The 2019-20 avocado season saw avocado export volumes up to 3.8m 5.5kg trays, an increase of 26% on the previous season. Asian markets including Thailand, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan received 35% more volume, meeting the industry’s objective to grow volume to the Asian markets.

Industry returns for the 2019-20 season are $154m, and increase on the previous year of $10m. The New Zealand market sold a record 2.7m trays worth over $50m demonstrating kiwis growing love of the wonderfully healthy avocado. For the first time in a number of years there was no break in avocado supply, as growers held on to one crop while the new crop matured on the trees. This also avoided the spike in pricing that often accompanies the lower supply but increasing demand.

Investment into new plantings continued in 2019 with over 120 new avocado properties registered between May 2019 to May 2020. New Zealand Avocado Growers’ Association Inc. Chair Tony Ponder says New Zealand’s avocado industry is in a position of growth and development. . . 

Quotes of the month


Nearly every day….I get a random stranger go out of their way to walk up to me in the street and say ‘I want to let you know I’m very grateful for what you do’. So at some point you decide do you want to listen to the one negative person, or 50 positive people?.’ – Paula Bennett

Homeowners in Kelburn who like the idea that we lead the world in banning plastic bags (we don’t) and seeing statues of Captain Cook replaced with Pohutukawa trees are going to spill their almond milk at the prospect of paying an annual two per cent tax on their unrealised capital gains. Wealthy Green voters, I am willing to wager, prefer looking good to doing good.Damien Grant

Let’s understand that dying is an intrinsic part of life. Let’s talk about what end-of-life care actually is and strengthen, extend and improve what we already have in our palliative care. Such care is a commitment, one we need to make. Euthanasia is an avoidance of this commitment. – Serena Jones

Without food, there is no life. The trick is to produce it in ways that also yield rich soils, thriving forests, healthy waterways and flourishing communities. As the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment pointed out 10 years ago, in tackling climate change, it’s vital to avoid perverse incentives and bad ecological outcomes. he farmers are right. At present, the incentives in the ETS are perverse, and they’re taking us in the wrong direction. It needs to be fixed before it’s too late. – Dame Anne Salmond

 Don’t jack up taxes during an economic crisis. Don’t add to the burden. Give us a break. What’s the better alternative? Blitz the low-quality spending and accelerate economic growth to generate the revenue to deal to the debt. – Mike Yardley

If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.” – J.K. Rowling

When transgender women and women are indistinguishable, women are unable to access the rights they would have if they were distinctive. . . Yet being tolerant of transgender women does not mean that one loses the ability to defend the rights of women who were born female. . . The main reason for this silence, as I see it, is the twisted logic of identity politics and its adherents. This ideology promotes a worldview that is wholly based on power structures and relationships. All of society is viewed through the prism of oppressors and oppressed. The ideology focuses on traits, such as race, gender or sexual orientation, some of which are deemed unalterable, others a matter of personal choice. Yet individual agency is generally devalued, to the benefit of collective identities that are increasingly ideologically fixed. An individual has less and less room to carve out room for her own views within each collective. A matrix has formed where those who have a higher number of marginalized traits rank higher on the victimhood ladder; their “truth” therefore counts more. – Ayaan Hirsi Ali

More funding does not address the issues of choice, accountability, value for money, and individual and community needs.Brooke van Velden

If your test is, it doesn’t matter whether someone is nice to the Labour Party, it matters if they are nice to the waiter, then Judith Collins is a very nice person. – Ben Thomas

Collins does not deal in ambiguity and nor is she likely to deliver it.Liam Hehir

You can’t be focussed on New Zealanders when you’re busy playing politics.One of the things I’ve learned over the years is you only ever learn from your mistakes, you don’t learn from your successes. The National Party is very focussed on not repeating any mistakes.” – Judith Collins

Elections are the means by which the Government has legitimacy and power; not minor inconveniences on the path to Covid-19 recovery.Henry Cooke

Collins, like Muldoon, speaks to a New Zealand that sees itself above class and race. She imagines a country where the language of political correctness has no place and anyone who works hard can get ahead. Don’t underestimate how many New Zealanders share that vision. – Josh Van Veen

Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor. As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space. Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions. I was always taught that journalists were charged with writing the first rough draft of history. Now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing molded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative. – Bari Weiss

To me, the point of a strong economy is to enable New Zealanders to do the most basic things in life well. A strong economy improves our chances of finding satisfying and well-paying work so that we can look after ourselves and our families – the most fundamental task each of us have. A society based on the assumption that its average citizen can’t or shouldn’t be expected to look after themselves and their families is doomed. – Paul Goldsmith

Here we had intimations at least that the prim, prissy, prudish neo-Puritanism, the Woke-Fascism unleashed on the nation by the Marxist Jacinda Ardern might have met its match. – Lindsay Perigo

She is creating a climate of terror designed to keep people cowed and bowed. It’s cynical, and I believe she was acting in the best interest of the country in the beginning, and now it’s become almost a mania. – Kerre McIvor

National’s approach to infrastructure is simple: Make decisions, get projects funded and commissioned, and then get them delivered, at least a couple of years before they are expected to be needed. That is the approach that transformed the economies of Asia from the 1960s.Judith Collins

It wasn’t that long ago when much of the global elite had conclusively decided that climate change was our world’s top priority. Then came a massive sideswiping by a global pandemic, of which we have only seen the first wave, along with an equally massive global recession. It serves as a timely reminder that an alarmism that cultivates one fear over others serves society poorly. – Bjorn Lomborg

I have no doubt that in the ranks of both main Parties there are numerous MPs with a strong Green personal agenda. If the Greens see a Parliamentary role then that should be to go into coalition with any majority Party so as to push their agenda. The indisputable fact is they’re frauds. – Sir Bob Jones 

A wealth tax is far more punitive than a capital gains tax, since rather than being raised on profits after an asset is sold, it must be found each year by people who may be asset rich but cash poor. It would become an unaffordable burden on many New Zealanders, especially those who are retired. – Dr Muriel Newman

Increasingly throwing money at dysfunctional families provides no assurance parents will suddenly become better budgeters, or not simply spend more on harmful behaviours. Gambling and substance abuse don’t just hurt the parent. They hurt the child directly (damage in the womb, physical abuse or neglect under the influence) not to mention indirectly through parental role-modelling that normalizes bad behaviours, especially violence, to their children.-  Lindsay Mitchell

My warning, however, would be that it’d be dangerous for National to become a conservatives’ party rather than a party with conservatives in it. It’s better to share power in a party that governs more often than not than it is to be the dominant force in a party that reliably gets 35% of the vote. . . The National Party is not an ideological movement. It is a political framework that allows members unified by their opposition to state socialism to pursue their various goals incrementally and co-operatively. Nobody ever gets everything they want but that’s a fact of life. – Liam Hehir

And that defines the New Zealand First dilemma. They must now campaign on the basis that they were part of a Government so they can’t credibly attack it, but they were not a big enough part to have a major influence. Richard Harman

We think it’s very important that we have everybody involved in it (planning). But I think it’s really important too is that consultation actually should be consultation, not the farce we have at the moment where everybody gets a say, and nobody gets the answer. –  Judith Collins

For me every day is now what they refer to as ‘Blursday’ because I really wouldn’t know. – Melina Schamroth

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. – Maggie Barry

It is about this time in the election cycle that the media starts crying out for policy. They want to know exactly what a party will do if elected. The problem for parties has always been that the amount of effort that goes into writing an election policy is not reflected in the amount of consideration given to it by voters. – Brigitte Morton

Laying hundreds off is no different to laying one off if you’re that one. And the reason this will play into the way we vote is because the halcyon days of the lock down are well past, and we have moved on with the inevitable, what next scenario. . .If The Warehouse, having taken the wage subsidy, can still lay off the numbers they are, and they’re far from the only ones, how many more join that queue come September 1st? And how many of those jobless quite rightly ask themselves whether teddy bears in windows, closed borders and a tanked economy with no real answer outside welfare is really worth voting for. – Mike Hosking

Hypocrisy is a normal but irritating aspect of human behaviour. We’re all hypocrites to some extent, but true hypocrites are almost admirable in their chutzpah because, unlike hypocrites who are caught doing what they try to hide, real hypocrites are outraged by vices which they themselves do in public. Their hypocrisy is so blatant that, after a while, nobody notices – it fades into the background like muzak in a shopping centre. – Roger Franklin

On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem.  – Michael Shellenberger

Peters can only win if voters see only his crafted image and ignore the reality of who he really is. But once the tricks become obvious – when the threadbare curtain concealing him is pulled back – the show man can no longer pass himself off as the Wizard of Oz. – Andrea Vance

By any measure it is the coming together of the narcissist and the plain wacky coated in self-delusion. – The Veteran

A strong economy improves our chances of finding satisfying and well-paying work so that we can look after ourselves and our families – the most fundamental task each of us have.
A society based on the assumption that its average citizen can’t or shouldn’t be expected to look after themselves and their families is doomed.  
Paul Goldsmith

Just think about it, when you step into a polling booth on September 19 you will be a bit like a practising Catholic going into a cathedral, dipping your fingers into the holy water font and blessing yourself.

After you’ve washed your hands with the sanitiser, you’ll bow over the ballot paper in the booth and be reminded how lucky you are to be alive.  – Barry Soper

Those on welfare don’t need sympathy. They need to be backed, encouraged, and supported to plan their future and see a path off welfare dependency. . . . I have always believed the answers to long-term dependency, child abuse, and neglect, and violence are in our communities. There is no programme that a politician or a bureaucrat can design that will solve these complex issues – Paula Bennett

Money is currently being thrown around but with no accountability. We have to be bold, brave. How can throwing millions and millions of dollars around and hoping some gets to those that need it most, through Government agencies and community organisations, and yet watching more people in despair be OK. – Paula Bennett

I’m far from perfect, and I know that, but my intent, my heart, my integrity has meant that I have slept well. This place is brutal. It will pick up the spade and bury you if you let it. It is relentless, but we sign up knowing that. So I went hard and full-on. For me to have not made a difference and not given it everything I’ve got would’ve been wasted time. So I end this chapter half the size but twice the woman thanks to this experience.  – Paula Bennett

Why is it through the toughest moments of our lives we learn the most, we feel the most, we have the greatest power to contribute and experience beauty? Through COVID, we saw this. Through fear, desperation, and hardship, heroes emerged. Teachers taught children from their living rooms while supporting their own families. Nurses, doctors, and checkout operators had the courage to turn up even when they were petrified. The lesson is: character and courage emerge out of trauma and hardship. The question for any generation of political leaders is: have we had the courage and character to step up and solve the hard economic and social issues of our time?  – Nikki Kaye

The National Party has been a strong force in New Zealand politics because of its values of freedom and personal responsibility—a place where social conservatives and social liberals can work for the common good. As a party, we are at our best when there is balance. That is when we are truly representative of this great nation. – Nikki Kaye

To the parliamentarians: I’ve always said I believe there are two types of parliamentarians in this place. Those that are in it for themselves and those that are in it for the country. Be the latter. Be brave and have courage. Don’t leave anything in the tank. – Nikki Kaye

In my three years as justice Minister, it very quickly became clear to me that the best thing we could do to reduce crime was to intervene many, many years before the offenders ever turn up in court. That was the basis of my absolute adoption of the importance of social investment as championed by Sir Bill English. Yes, it’s early intervention but it’s so much more and involves radical change to our delivery models if we’re going to make progress on the hard intergenerational issues.  – Amy Adams

Colleagues, the jobs we hold matter. They matter so much more than any one of us. We need good people to want to step into this arena, and we need them to do it for the best of reasons. I worry that increasingly the scorn and the vitriol that is heaped on politicians—often fairly—discourages those good people from stepping up. These jobs are tough. The life is brutal, and the public will never really see the hours, the stress, the impossibility of the perfection that is required, and the impact that life in the public eye has on our families. While you are here in your political role, it is your life. Friends, family, and our health get what’s left over, and often that’s not much. But this job deserves that level of devotion. – Amy Adams

If I have any advice for those who follow me, it would be pretty simple: do the right thing and let the politics take care of itself. Be brave, stand up on the divisive issues, and never lose sight of the difference you get to make in the time that we are here. – Amy Adams

I had the privilege of sharing a breakfast with Julia Gillard, the Australian Prime Minister at the time. Neither of us were into cold pastries or cold meat, so she ordered toast. I thought, “What are we going to put on this toast?” She said, “Don’t worry, Nathan. I’ve got it in hand.”, reached down—”Craft peanut butter. Vegemite.” We had a great discussion. The Anzac bond is incredibly strong. – Nathan Guy

It’s easy to sit on the side lines and criticise. It’s a lot more difficult to stand up and be counted. – Nathan Guy

While everyone is in recession it is a wee bit difficult to believe that we are going to be out of it. . . . We are heading into massive deficits. Households will tend to buckle down in the face of that and eventually government will have to tighten up as well. One of the things about this recession is the way it cuts across your usual categories of who is hit and who isn’t. Get ready for a long haul.- Sir Bill English

You should be concerned about systems that randomly allocate public resource to businesses under pressure. – Sir Bill English


Nathan Guy’s valedictory statement


National MP for Otaki Nathan Guy delivered his valedictory statement this week:

Hon NATHAN GUY (National—Ōtaki): Today is exactly one year to the day that I announced I was retiring from this place. I learnt politics as a teenager at home. My father, the late Malcolm Guy, was the Horowhenua county chairman and the first mayor of the district. Angry ratepayers would ring constantly. My father was at endless meetings or out on the farm, and it was my job, along with my mother and brother, to try and pacify these people, and that’s when I learnt about putting people first and hearing them out. I would write a summary in my father’s diary when he came home. Occasionally, I’d write “M-A-D” next to their name.

Fast forward to 2004: the National Party started ringing me. I was and still am happily married to Erica. We had our first child on the way, Henry, and the National Party said, “We want to rebuild and attract some young people, particularly some young farmers.” I said, “Thanks very much for the offer, but could you come back and see me in 10 or 15 years’ time?” They said, “No, we’d like you now, thanks very much.” We came down to Parliament here—I had to find a suit and a tie and things—and we had 45 minutes with Bill English. It was an amazing time. Bill summarised it quite nicely. He said, “You’ve got this triangle of conflicting things happening.” He looked at Erica and said, “Your family’s obviously very important.” He said, “You’ve got your political aspirations and your farming.” He said, “These three corners of this triangle won’t work. You have to remove yourself from one of those.” So I went home and told Dad that I was going to run for the National Party and, effectively, leave he and Mum to run the farm.

Two of us stood for selection late in 2004. It was a close match, and Henry arrived just a couple of days before the selection, so on the final selection night, Erica turned up with Henry in one of those baby capsules, passed him along the front of all these voting delegates—Henry, I owe you a lot, mate. The party hierarchy, they toned my expectations down. Darren Hughes—formidable MP, had a majority of 7,732. They said, “You won’t win. Just work hard for the party vote.”, and I thought, “Bugger them—I’m going to show them a thing or two.” So I worked really hard, and on election night I was devastated: we missed by 382 votes the most marginal seat in the whole country. But I worked hard from then on. There’s a saying in politics: you turn up to every cat burial and envelope opening, and I did that. In 2008, we had 500 people turn up to our campaign launch, which was huge in Levin—it was probably because John Key was there that attracted all those people—and as they say, the rest is history.

Can I acknowledge my Massey mates, who are here today, who turned up every term without fail during the election to support me and wave placards. I came up with this idea of a 1972 HQ Holden, three-on-the-tree, and I put a full graphic of myself down the side. It was a bit different: I was in jandals, shorts, hairy legs, all that stuff—short sleeves—and I had a cut-out that I would put in the driver’s window of muggins with thumbs up. It was a real head-turner and conversation starter, but it had a couple of faults. It loved petrol, and it had this wonky petrol gauge. Those of you that have driven HQ Holdens or Belmonts before, it sort of bangs around between quarter of a tank and E quite regularly. I was on State Highway 1 at that Ōtaki roundabout there—many of you would’ve been held up there in the past, but thankfully the National Government’s sorting that out for you. Anyway, the old Holden, it ran out of gas—State Highway 1, the middle of the roundabout. So I thought, “What do I do? I’d better get out and push.”, so I pushed. BP was right there, but there was about 300 millimetres’ difference between coming off the road up on to the forecourt of BP. I pushed this 1-tonne tank up on to the forecourt. I could see them running to get a camera to try and get a pic—fortunately, I was quicker than them.

Can I thank my loyal team in Ōtaki electorate and campaign chairs: Ted Cobb, the late Mike Gilbert, Bryan Milne, Grant Robertson, John Riding, Terry Wood, Shirley Sari, and Gavin Welsh, and in particular John Tanner, who was an amazing fundraiser. Thank you to your support of me and the party and the wonderful volunteers behind you.

I love rugby. I still do. I joined up with the Parliamentary Rugby Team. I heard there was a trip on to play the poms at Twickenham and also to get over and play the French in Paris. So what happened is we got out there. They were building the south stand. There was a massive crowd of about 10 guys in hard hats—they were spending most of the time laughing at the lords and commons and a few Kiwi guys running up and down. I managed to get the ball, and I ran over a couple of these rather large lords and made a couple of tackles. Then what happened: McCully reports back to the hierarchy that Guy has got enough mongrel to be a whip.

So I found myself suddenly as junior whip and then senior whip. I spent a huge amount of time in this House, understanding, debating—actually, just understanding how it works. It was interesting for me the cut and thrust of this place. It’s intimidating. It’s a bear pit—that’s its nickname—and it probably will never change. But, for me, that was my opportunity, ultimately, to pick up a ministerial warrant. Thank you very much, Prime Minister, for that opportunity.

I found myself as veterans’ affairs Minister in Gallipoli in 2012. I did a battlefield tour—incredibly emotional, understanding what happened to our soldiers over there was horrific. They landed at the wrong place—piss poor planning and execution. I saw the battles that they had—from one end of the tennis court to the other. Incredibly emotional.

Then, the next day, it was my turn to speak at Anzac Cove. That was incredibly emotional too: 6,000 people, most of them had stayed overnight; the gentle wave-wash of the surf at the beach; the birds, just coming into song. I looked across at the New Zealand Defence Force when the roll call was on, and the lady had tears streaming down her face. I thought, “Shivers; I’ve got to speak shortly.” So I got up. I got to a really emotional part in my speech. A tear came out of my eye, on to my nose, and dropped on to my speech. I thought, “Holy hell; I’m going to lose this.” But then I thought about those thousands of young Kiwi men that had lost their lives. I hardened up and battled on.

After that, I had the privilege of sharing a breakfast with Julia Gillard, the Australian Prime Minister at the time. Neither of us were into cold pastries or cold meat, so she ordered toast. I thought, “What are we going to put on this toast?” She said, “Don’t worry, Nathan. I’ve got it in hand.”, reached down—”Craft peanut butter. Vegemite.” We had a great discussion. The Anzac bond is incredibly strong.

Back home, we were into building roads. Steven Joyce was under way as transport Minister, announcing four lanes through the Kāpiti coast—wonderful, wonderful project. Every time I get on that road, I’m so excited. I had to bear the brunt of that in my electorate office, with people coming in in tears. They were angry about Steven’s road going through their living room. But, ultimately, it was the right decision, and I backed it all the way. It’s connected communities and proved a huge amount of economic growth for our region. The Hon Simon Bridges and I had a wonderful opportunity to cut the ribbon on that amazing piece of infrastructure.

Then Prince William arrived. He wasn’t married to Kate Middleton at the time. I got invited along—or probably, knowing me, invited myself—to Kāpiti Island. It was all going to be hush-hush. The public weren’t meant to know. Well, what had happened is a British media contingent of about 50 had turned up with all of their cameras and got on the launch, so the secret was out. There were hundreds of people lining the beach wanting to get a glimpse of the prince, and probably the Prime Minister. So we arrived in the bus there, drove on to the beach, and John said to Prince William, “Right, let’s go and meet these people.” The handshaking began.

I thought, “What do I do?” Never miss an opportunity, of course, as a local MP, so I carried on behind handshaking, until it got to a point when I think it was one of my constituents said, “Who on earth are you? Are you the security guy for the prince?” I thought, “Shivers; I’ve got some more work to do.”

Then we got on the launch. There were two young females, about 16, 17. We’re in the launch heading out and the police were trying to hold them back. They were yelling out “Prince William, please marry me.” They were out in the water there, and we carried on. And then, of course, the prince went bright red and the Prime Minister started giving the prince cheek. And of course, what I do I do? I joined in too, and then I suddenly thought, this is the guy that’s second in line to the throne. Pull yourself into line, Nathan. He’s an incredibly likeable gentleman.

We got on to the island and the prince was able to release a kiwi. Of course, Kāpiti Island is well known as a bird sanctuary, with kiwis at large over there. He’s holding this kiwi. Just at this point, the British media contingent obviously saw the money shot and their shutters on their camera went off at that point. It sounded like a rifle going around Kāpiti Island. This kiwi freaked. Feathers went everywhere. Fortunately, the prince had a reasonable hold on it and he turned to the British media and he said, “Told you I’d score a kiwi while I was here.”

The Prime Minister gave me my dream job as Minister for Primary Industries, the biggest Government regulator, and a massive economic footprint. I’d just got my feet under the desk and we had meat locked up on the wharves in China. Then we had the Fonterra botulism false alarm that the Hon Nikki Kaye just spoke about a couple of moments ago. Both of those incidents tested the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and tested me.

Then along came an idiot who sent a letter, a criminal blackmail hoax, where he wanted to contaminate infant formula with 1080. The Prime Minister stepped up an all of Government response and, at some point along the way, the Prime Minister said to me, “Nathan, you’re the lead on this one.” I thought, holy moly, here we go again. I was worried about an infant baby dying. I was worried about our international markets closing on us. MPI did a fantastic job. It’s one of my proudest moments that MPI stepped up, worked with the dairy industry. We set up a whole testing regime from cow to can, and the day that it became public, there were no border ramifications. Martin Dunne, I acknowledge you and the MPI team for the work that you did.

Erica knew that I had something on my plate for months. I wasn’t sleeping well, I was irritable, and I wouldn’t tell anything confidential to Erica. She nicknamed it “the bloody issue”. We were going away on summer holiday—Ōtama beach, a beautiful spot in Coromandel—and Martin Dunne said to me, “Well, how are we going to get hold of you if you need to front this thing?” And I said, “I dunno. There’s no cell phone tower out there. The signal’s crap.” He said, “Don’t worry, I’ll send a police car out to get you if you need to front.” So every day the sun went down, Martin, I thought, now I can have a beer; the cops haven’t arrived. I was loading the car up for camping and I’d done a pretty good job, ticked off everything. I put my suit bag across the top of it. Erica came out to check everything off. She said, “What’s that bloody suit doing coming away with us on our summer holiday?”, and I said, “It’s the bloody issue.” She slammed the boot on the car, and, of course, the day that that story broke, she duly texted me saying, “I see your bloody issue is in the media.” Can I congratulate the Government on stepping up with the M. bovis response. You’ve done the right thing. I salute you.

Things got a little bit interesting with fishing for me. Remember Snapper 1, which is the area Hauraki Coromandel. I let a discussion document go out, and it had one option there that said “reducing the bag limit from nine down to three.”, and all of those fishers wanted Guy on the hook. Ultimately, I made the right decision in the end for sustainability purposes, reducing that bag limit to seven. At the time, the Prime Minister was under the pump with GCSB, a law change, in here. He got about 50 submissions on his bill; we got about 50,000 on snapper. So the Prime Minister would come into the House when he was getting attacked from this side and he’d say, “No one cares about GCSB. They all care about snapper!” I was thinking “No, Prime Minister, no. Don’t drop me in it.” Anyway, David Shearer did that for us. Remember him? A nice guy. He came in with two dead snapper, standing here, and moments later he was burley bait. Fishing politics can be problematic.

I really enjoyed getting out and about and travelling with the Prime Minister. We went to various countries around the world. One of the ones that was a great highlight for me was travelling to Mexico, Columbia, Brazil, and Chile. I need to tell you this funny story. We were on this amazing farm in Chile and I decided I’d show off to the Prime Minister with an electric fence with a blade of grass—trying to get him to do it. Of course, he thought I was pretty mad. So in the end I grabbed hold of this electric fence; then he thought I was stupid, and said so to the media. But I did have, close by, seasoned journalist Barry Soper, who I managed to talk into grabbing the electric fence. I looked down: John Key and I had on good, rubber gumboots. I’d worn my woolly socks for insulation. Barry Soper had wet, leather shoes. So Barry dutifully obliged—got hold of this electric fence. For those of you that have burnt yourself, you know that it’s going to hurt, but it takes you a few seconds for your brain to tell you. Barry got hold of it and went: “It’s not turned—oh, shit!” Then for the rest of the trip, I said to Barry, “You’re looking a little bit pale.”

He got me back when we stopped at Easter Island for a bit of gas on the way home, and we went and had a look at the statues there—the moais. He got me to pose in front of one. He said, “Don’t smile. Just look normal.” And then he tweated it out and said, “This is where the Guys have come from. Look at their monobrows.” It was one-all, Barry, I think.

Can I acknowledge my staff before I forgot and before I get closed down on time: Anne Rogers and Heather Shaw and Pauline Coupland for doing a huge amount of work for me in my electorate office, thank you; Tricia Benny and Sue Reid also. Sue followed me into the whip’s office. Lorraine Jones and Viviana Marsh for running my ministerial office. Nick Kirton, Phil Rennie, and Bill Delamere were the engine room. Thanks, fellas, for the long hours and strategic advice.

I also had the opportunity to travel down with Boris Johnson. You might have heard of him; he’s now the Prime Minister of the UK. We went down to have a look at Kaikōura and the earthquake damage. I was civil defence Minister at the time, and we got on the NH90 helicopter. We were taking off over Cook Strait nicely. Then he said to me, “What’s all that sort of vineyard over there?” And I said, “Well, foreign secretary, that’s the Marlborough area where we grow grapes.” He said, “Oh, god! Marlborough sauvignon blanc. I drink gallons of this stuff.” At this point in time, I thought, oh, shivers. I could feel the captain of the NH90 veering off thinking we’re going to need to stop and fill the NH90 with cases of wine, but we carried on.

Then we had a full pōwhiri, and I was rehearsing with Boris about the hongi, showing full respect. That all went very, very well. We got into the morning tea after that, and he stood up to speak and he said, “Oh, it was a bit like a Liverpool kiss.”, which is a head butt. I thought, “Oh no. Oh no. We’ve offended iwi. There was nervous laughter, and then applause. Everyone joined in with it.

I also had the opportunity to travel with Richie McCaw around farms when he was a pilot—or still is—dropping off food parcels to farming families that had been impacted by the earthquake.

Can I wish Tim Costley well. He’s going to be a great MP for Ōtaki.

We came home, Erica and I, from a fundraiser a Te Horo one night. There was this car sitting there—or a ute, actually—helping itself to our farm tank of petrol, and suddenly property rights came blaring into my head. So I backed up—this ute was high speeding it out—and I smacked into the side of this ute—got it on two wheels, actually, did a good job. And then a high-seed pursuit followed. We were heading along out to Foxton and Erica rang 111, and they said, “Can you tell us the speed that you’re doing.” I said, “Erica—no, no, no, no.”—no, no, no, no, no. Anyway, we were just 101 kilometres an hour, from memory. The police did the rest in Foxton.

Then I thought, “Shivers; I’ve smashed up the VIP self-drive. What do I do?”, and I thought. “Gosh, this’ll have to be reported through to the Minister of Police.” So I walked in the Cabinet—Judith Collins, Minister of Police at the time. I went up to her and I said, “Excuse me, Judith. Can I tell you an incident on the weekend.” She said, “Don’t worry; I’ve already heard about it. Well done, Nathan. One less crim on our streets.” I wish Judith all the best for this election campaign. She’ll be a fantastic Prime Minister.

Summary: in our lovely garden at home, we have a magnolia tree. It’s majestic and protected. My father rests underneath the magnolia tree, but he’s on my shoulder every day. When I’d be under the pump, he’d ring up and say, “Don’t let the bastards get you down.” I miss you dad. To my lovely mother, Betty—an amazing lady, recently awarded 50 years of voluntary service in the Horowhenua, happy always to be in the back row, and always puts others first—my success, mum, is your success.

To our children, Henry, Frankie, and Jeremy, I’m very proud of you. You’ve got a nice blend of Rawlings and Guy genes: dogged determination, that’s probably on your mother’s side; a bit of a good work ethic, maybe that’s mine; and, combined, a great fun spirit and outlook on life. It isn’t easy being a parent. I’m determined to do more and support you through your teenage years.

Erica, an amazing wife and business partner, an amazing mother, and the best political brain around, learnt from your days in agriculture journalism. We make a great team. We ran the New York Marathon together. Erica, you had a sore leg—you’re a gutsy girl to finish that. Thanks for always pushing me in the right direction.

I was looking in my office the other day—got boxes galore, cleaning it out—and I came across the article that the Manawatū Standard did in a long-form interview of me in August 2009. There’s a quote in there that I want to read out to you: “It’s easy to sit on the side lines and criticise. It’s a lot more difficult to stand up and be counted.” I won’t forget the last 15 years. I’m sure Parliament won’t miss my booming voice. Kia kaha, my friends and foes. Haere ra.

Amy Adams’ valedictory statement


National MP for Selwyn Amy Adams delivered her valedictory statement this week:

Hon AMY ADAMS (National—Selwyn): In rising to make my valedictory statement, I feel every bit as humbled and as privileged as I did when I rose to make my maiden speech from the very back row of this Chamber 12 years ago. It’s always seemed to me that time has its own rules in this place. My maiden speech feels both just like yesterday and at the same time a whole lifetime ago. I battled my emotions during that speech, and I give the House fair warning that I’m highly likely to succumb again tonight. I remember giving a pretty emotional speech in the general debate shortly after the first major earthquake had devastated much of Canterbury and losing the battle on that occasion not to cry in this House. As I tried to get a grip on myself, I recall Hone Harawira yelling out, “Kia kaha, sister.”, and I remember thinking, “Holy cow, if Hone is feeling sorry for a Tory like me, I really must be a mess.”

I spent a good portion of my maiden speech casting back to some of the debates in the battle for women’s suffrage that reflected on the benefits that women members would bring to politics. I’m incredibly proud and actually quite shocked to find that I was just the 98th woman member in New Zealand’s history to become an MP. Over my time as an MP, I’ve tried to use the role to encourage more women to see their futures without limits and to push back on the still unlevel playing field. As any woman in this place can tell you, we continue to face a type of scrutiny and criticism that is unique to us, and often a different measure of competence. While the number of women in politics is growing, we still have some way to go. But as MPs we have the ability to model possibilities for so many New Zealanders, and that’s something we should never lose sight of.

One of my proudest moments came five years after I’d been asked to give a speech to the seniors at my old high school, Rangitoto College. I talked about the fact that I’d never won a prize of any sort at school, and while I’d done OK, I certainly wasn’t someone who was marked out for bigger things. Years later, a woman came up to me and told me that she’d been in the audience that day and after hearing me, she decided she would go to law school, too. She’d just graduated, and she came up to thank me for making her believe that she could. I have to say, I was lost for words that our stories could have such an impact, but they do.

I’ve never really seen myself as a politician. I didn’t come from a political family. I wasn’t a youth MP. I wasn’t a member of a youth wing of any party, nor did I study political science or work in the halls of power before coming here as a member. My path to this place grew out of a deep love of my country and an overriding sense of optimism of what being a New Zealander could and should mean for everyone. After my children were born, I found myself increasingly thinking about what their futures in New Zealand looked like and worrying when I thought we as a country were getting it wrong. I grew up in a household where sitting on the sidelines complaining simply wasn’t an option. If you thought something was wrong, you had two choices: you could suck it up or you could do something about it. So the opportunity to step into the ring and try and make a difference became everything. Standing for Parliament and nailing my political colours to the mast was one of the scariest things I have ever done in my life. It involves doing that very un-Kiwi thing of stepping forward and saying out loud that you think you’re good enough. But it has been, without question, one of the best decisions of my life.

I have to say that I started my time as an MP in a relatively bizarre way, and I’ve seen it end in a similarly unusual way. My selection and initial election involved a candidate being selected for the seat then unselected after a public furore, then a new process being commenced, then a High Court injunction, and finally a rare Electoral Act challenged based on a disgruntled aspirant challenging the party rules. After a hearing before a panel of judges in the High Court in Christchurch, which some of my colleagues will member for a number of reasons you can ask them about later, I had to come to a question time early in my first term to listen to the Speaker deliver the judgment of the court, without any idea how the court had ruled and knowing that if the applicant had won, then the Serjeant-at-Arms would be called upon to eject me and I would’ve had one of the shortest terms as an MP ever. I have to say that keeping a poker face while the judgment was being read involved acting skills my famous namesake would have been proud of.

After a beginning like that, it’s only fitting that the end of my time as an MP has also been somewhat non-traditional. It’s always good to hold some of the firsts in this place, and I’m pretty sure that I am the first MP to have retired, unretired and then re-retired all without actually leaving. When I told my son a few weeks ago that I would be announcing I was stepping down, he said, “OK, thanks for the update, mum. Just let me know when you un-retire again.” It was a bit harsh, Tom, but I do admit that I must seem a little bit like the A J Hackett of New Zealand politics.

Michael Cullen described a valedictory as like being asked to give the oration at your own funeral, and I have to say it does feel a little bit like that. It’s a surprisingly uncommon thing to be able to say you are going at your own time, of your own choosing, and, in recent times particularly, to know that you leave with your reputation and your integrity intact. I’ve been here for less time than some, but for longer than most. And I’ve been fortunate to hold a vast number of roles, including holding 13 ministerial roles over six years around the Cabinet table. I do have one perspective, though, that those of you who are staying on don’t yet have. And that’s of being in the position to reflect back on my time here as I think about what really matters when you come to say goodbye.

That reflection puts our work here in a different light. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day, the relentless news cycles, the parliamentary skirmishes, the never-ending papers to read, and the palace intrigue. Years can pass like that, filled with unbelievable hours of hard work, little sleep, and high stress. But that’s not why any of us come to Parliament. Simon Power, who was an MP I greatly admired, said in his valedictory, “People don’t spend years getting elected, more years waiting to get into Cabinet, to then say ‘Well, I managed that week well. I minimised risk, I had no view, I took no decisions, I stayed out of trouble. Well done, me!’ Once you’re in office, you’ve got to do something. People come and go, but ideas endure.”—and I agree with that.

In the words of Teddy Roosevelt I have a horror of words that are not translated into deeds, of speech that does not result in action. None of us should measure our contribution here by our goals, our hopes, or how much public money we spend in pursuit of them. The only measure that counts is the difference that our actions, ultimately, make for people. It’s not good enough just to deliver a programme if that programme doesn’t actually make the difference it was supposed to. In my view, we don’t spend enough time as a system looking back and answering those sorts of questions.

I don’t think anyone leaves this place without some things left undone. I have plenty of things I would have liked to achieve, including—Mr Speaker, I’ll admit to you now—a secret desire to have been thrown out of this Chamber. There is still time, however.

SPEAKER: Three more days.

Hon AMY ADAMS: Ha, ha. But for all the things not done, there are many more that I do reflect on with pride. The Parliamentary Library tells me that I was responsible for the introduction or carriage of 74 pieces of legislation—each one of which I reflect on with pride and, as far as I know, none of which have yet been repealed, but you’ll be very pleased to know I’m not going to list them. Legislation aside, there are a few things that are being part of here that I do want to mention.

In my three years as justice Minister, it very quickly became clear to me that the best thing we could do to reduce crime was to intervene many, many years before the offenders ever turn up in court. That was the basis of my absolute adoption of the importance of social investment as championed by Sir Bill English. Yes, it’s early intervention but it’s so much more and involves radical change to our delivery models if we’re going to make progress on the hard intergenerational issues. Last week in her valedictory, the Hon Anne Tolley talked about the work that she and I had led to change the delivery model for family violence and to force agencies to come together to treat it as everyone’s problem, not just something for the police. The integrated safety response pilots we set up in Christchurch and the Waikato are embodiments of that and hearing from those involved that many lives have been saved as a result of that new way of working makes me incredibly proud.

As environment Minister, putting in place comprehensive environmental protections for our exclusive economic zone; delivering New Zealand’s first ever national standards for fresh water; and mandating regular, independent, environmental reporting feel like substantial pieces of work to have been involved in in that critical area.

In my maiden speech, I extolled the importance of long-term thinking and planning when it comes to the infrastructure needs of New Zealand. And in my longest-held ministerial post, I was fortunate to play a central role in providing better internet connectivity across New Zealand. To me, good internet connectivity is a great leveller, both for New Zealanders looking to trade globally and domestically across our communities. Our ultra-fast broadband, Rural Broadband Initiative, and mobile blackspot programmes were transformative in that regard, and I want to acknowledge John Key and Steven Joyce for their vision and commitment in that area.

I’ll never forget visiting a tiny school on Great Barrier Island with John and Nikki Kaye to launch the connectivity upgrade there, and watching a group of gifted students being able to study astronomy via remote learning, or listening to the story of a small baby on the West Coast of the South Island being able to be quickly diagnosed and treated in their local medical clinic by specialists at Christchurch Hospital through their dedicated fibre link. Of course, those stories were just a taste of what that vision and investment will mean for New Zealand for many generations to come—and didn’t we see that during the COVID lockdown, when we all worked from home.

One of the amazing things about being an MP is getting to experience parts of New Zealand life we wouldn’t otherwise get to see. When I became the MP for Selwyn, and knowing that my area included Burnham Military Camp, I realised that I also knew absolutely nothing about our defence forces, so I decided to go about changing that. During my first term, I convinced the Minister of Defence to let me set up a New Zealand equivalent of the UK parliamentary defence forces scheme that saw MPs embedded with either army, air force, or navy for a week, in uniform, and living on base. As the guinea pig, I did a rotation with each service, and I have to say they’re experiences I will never forget.

Now, I’m a massive coward when it comes to all things adrenaline. I scream on Ferris wheels—it’s really embarrassing. I never thought I would skydive. Yet my week with the air force saw me throw myself out of a plane at 12,000 feet. The only thing that made me do it was knowing that there were two bloody Labour MPs in the plane with me, and I was damned if I was going to wimp out in front of them! During my navy stint on the inshore patrol vessel Pukaki, I got to see a man overboard drill. When the man went over, I was somewhat startled to hear the command go up, “Get the rifles.” I commented to the captain that that seemed a pretty harsh consequence for falling overboard, to be reassured by him that the weaponry was for the sharks and not the sailor.

Those experiences left me absolutely blown away by the dedication of our defence force personnel. And in 2017, when I was given the honour of speaking for New Zealand at the dawn service at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli alongside Julie Bishop and I heard the stories of those young men and saw the countless grave markers, I came to understand what true public service really means.

So other than my first and last speeches in this Chamber, four other speeches stand out particularly in my memory: the speech post the 2010 earthquake that I’ve already mentioned; giving the final speech in the passing of the recent abortion law changes; talking about the death of my own mother during the euthanasia debate; and giving the apology of this Parliament to those men unjustly convicted of loving who they love as part of expunging historical convictions for homosexuality. In each case, the emotion was real, and it was difficult, but they were all speeches that needed to be made to be true to who I was.

Colleagues, the jobs we hold matter. They matter so much more than any one of us. We need good people to want to step into this arena, and we need them to do it for the best of reasons. I worry that increasingly the scorn and the vitriol that is heaped on politicians—often fairly—discourages those good people from stepping up. These jobs are tough. The life is brutal, and the public will never really see the hours, the stress, the impossibility of the perfection that is required, and the impact that life in the public eye has on our families. While you are here in your political role, it is your life. Friends, family, and our health get what’s left over, and often that’s not much. But this job deserves that level of devotion.

Hunter S Thompson once said about politics that it is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs—and there’s also a negative side. We all as MPs face the same personal challenges and upheavals as the rest of the population, but we quickly learn that we have to put on our public faces no matter what our internal turmoil, and that can take a toll. In my time in this House, I have dealt with the death of both of my parents and my two remaining grandparents. I’ve witnessed the devastation in my electorate through the Canterbury earthquakes, the Port Hills fire, and, more recently, the mosque shootings. I’ve received death threats and abuse, and I’ve seen my children have to deal with the relentless negativity and lies that are aimed at us through the media and social media alike. Yet not for a moment do I think it all hasn’t been worth it.

I want to quote from Teddy Roosevelt again: “It is not the critic who counts … The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly … who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

If we’re honest, though, none of us get the chance to be in this arena and dare greatly without the incredible support of a huge number of people, and I’m honoured to have so many of those people here with me today. I want to start, of course, by thanking my electorate of Selwyn and to all its incredible communities from Akaroa to Arthur’s Pass, from Rolleston to Rākaia, what an honour it has been to represent you. Being chosen to be your voice in Parliament for 12 years has truly been a privilege. My thanks to the three electorate chairman I’ve worked with: the late John Skinner, Frank Brenmuhl, and John Suncle.

Thanks to all of the incredible members and volunteers who have been with me and given extraordinary service. I couldn’t possibly name you all, but you have been like a second family to me.

To all my staff across 12 years, you made me look far better than I actually was. In Selwyn and in Wellington, what an incredible team you were. I particularly think back to the times we had as a Minister, and some of the hilarity that that included. Thank you, in particular, for stopping me one day from sending out a letter which had intended to call for a meeting with the iwi leaders, but which autocorrect had helpfully changed to request a meeting with the ISIS leaders—that could have been somewhat interesting; might have been easier, I’m not sure! The professionalism, laughter, and support of you all, and all of the officials that I had the privilege of working with, made every day a pleasure, and any successes that I’ve had in this job, I share with each one of you.

There are two staff, in particular, though, who need special mention and my deepest thanks. Sharon O’Callaghan, who has run my electorate office for every single day of those 12 years, like an absolute boss; and Caron Hoare, who has been my phenomenal executive assistant and senior parliamentary secretary for almost as long. These two are legendary, and, quite simply, you are the best in the business. I thank you.

Thank you to the National Party for giving me incredible opportunities; to party president Peter Goodfellow and the board, to all the leaders I’ve served under, and to our tireless regional chairman, Roger Bridge, my thanks.

To my caucus colleagues, present and former, what a group of minds you are. I’ve been so lucky to be able to debate and collaborate with you. I’ve made some incredible friends, particularly in my 2008 year group, in a way that can only be formed by sharing such a big part of your life over so many years. Go well, all over you.

A special thankyou also to Sir John Key for taking a chance on a stroppy young backbencher from Canterbury and for your being an inspiration to me every single day that you served in office. When I started here as a young fresh-faced MP, I thought it was highly likely that the Prime Minister wouldn’t really have a clue who I was; just a few months into my first term, I found out that he certainly did, when I stepped on to the treadmill in the Parliament gym early one morning, only to find it had been left going at warp speed by the previous user and I found myself jettisoned through the air, swearing like a sailor, to land, quite literally, at John’s feet while he was doing weights. He looked down at me, somewhat bemused, smiled, and said, “Are you right, Amy? Be a bit careful, our ACC budgets are tight.” I can tell you, I don’t recommend it as a way to improve name recognition.

To my wider parliamentary colleagues, most of you I have come to respect and enjoy, even though I usually thought that you were utterly wrong. The best of this House is when it acts with its humanity taking precedence over its politics, and I’ve been lucky enough to see that on many occasions.

To my family, my mother and father were both here with me at the beginning—oh—

Chris Bishop: Breathe.

Hon AMY ADAMS: —no, you’ve got to tell me to harden up, not breathe!—but you are no longer, and I miss you both. To my siblings Belinda, Ingrid, and Cam, and your partners and kids, my amazing in-laws, my uncles, aunts, and cousins, you all mean the world to me.

Finally, my husband, Don, and my two children, Tom and Lucy. As everyone in this Chamber knows, you guys serve in these roles as much as we do, but you don’t get any choice in the matter. Tom and Lucy, you were eight and 10 when I started this journey, and you’re both now in your 20s. I’m sorry I missed so much along the way, but you’ve turned into the most incredible people—I’m very proud of you.

Don, for someone who hates any sort of public attention, you’ll hate this, so how you’ve put up with my political life is a mystery. I am sorry that I refused your very kind offer to write this speech for me, but I really didn’t think we could afford the legal bills or the counselling for the Hansard staff that had to transcribe that, so I didn’t take the option!

If I have any advice for those who follow me, it would be pretty simple: do the right thing and let the politics take care of itself. Be brave, stand up on the divisive issues, and never lose sight of the difference you get to make in the time that we are here.

For me, I head off with no regrets, with immense pride, and now with the rare delight of being able to express an opinion without having to get 54 others to agree with it first. This place and these jobs matter. Go well. Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui. Ka kite anō.

Nikki Kaye’s valedictory statement


National MP for Auckland Central Nikki Kaye delivered her valedictory statement this week:

Hon NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central): Why is it through the toughest moments of our lives we learn the most, we feel the most, we have the greatest power to contribute and experience beauty? Through COVID, we saw this. Through fear, desperation, and hardship, heroes emerged. Teachers taught children from their living rooms while supporting their own families. Nurses, doctors, and checkout operators had the courage to turn up even when they were petrified. The lesson is: character and courage emerge out of trauma and hardship. The question for any generation of political leaders is: have we had the courage and character to step up and solve the hard economic and social issues of our time? I hope that I’ve done my bit to step up. I hope that I stepped up as the member of Parliament for Auckland Central and as a Cabinet Minister.

Twelve years ago, winning the seat and becoming the first National Auckland Central MP in our country’s history was one of the best nights of my life but also challenging, in breaking up with my boyfriend of five years. In that week, I learnt that not everybody wants to be the spouse of an MP but also that the life of a good MP comes with duty, responsibility, and extraordinary sacrifice. Many in this Chamber know the price of power, as do their families. I want to take a moment to thank my family, who are here: mum, Neil, Sue—I’m not going to name everybody else, because they’re quite a large family. Thank you for all that you have done in my life. As I said the other day, I have spent most of my adult life in this place serving New Zealand. That means that I have been an absent auntie, sister, and daughter at times, but I am coming home. You know I can’t cook, clean, or drive very well, so please be patient with me. I still want to change the world, so I’m going to pull that card if things cut up rough.

It is the toughest moments of my personal life that have helped me be able to be a better member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister. Through my parents breaking up young, a stepbrother being charged with murder, and being diagnosed with breast cancer at 36, I have learnt that when your world breaks and shatters, you can be your most powerful. Random strangers in the role reach out and pick you up. Thank you to the many New Zealanders who, through their messages, picked me up. My ability to help people in Auckland Central for 12 years to reach into their hearts and homes comes from this experience. Good Ministers come from all walks of life—they can be teachers, doctors, solo mums—but they all must have good judgment, a capacity to solve problems, and a perseverance for people and policy which means they deliver.

Four terms in Auckland Central—beating Judith, our current Prime Minister, and Helen—was won through hard work and knocking on doors, a clarity of purpose in projects in the electorate, and a core group of dedicated and passionate volunteers, who I wish to acknowledge this evening. Paul Beattie, my electorate chair of more than a decade, thank you. You and Donna have been loyal rocks through many a storm; Katie and Evan, my spiritual mentors. Chris, thank you for your blue-green vision. Brad, Annie, Helen, Josh, Hamish, Tim, Jonathan, Jessie, Jim, Jan, Sheeran, and Barry—each of you have given so much. Thank you. Michelle, while I had no knowledge or involvement relating to COVID data, what occurred was unacceptable, and you have taken responsibility and apologised. I still recognise that some people make terrible mistakes, but still she has given decades of political and charitable service to our nation. To Judy Wrightson: you have been a bright light and a crucial cog in our victory.

In my maiden speech, when I first came to Parliament, I said “I believe in freedom, hard work, determination, courage, an ability to question and challenge, and a commitment to help those most in need.” I also talked about the importance of our environment, being the greatest asset that we have as a country. I told my electorate I would be a liberal who fought for freedom, a blue-green who would fight for the environment, and someone who would continue to fight for those disadvantaged while persevering for a more modern and dynamic country. My office has served not just my constituents but thousands of businesses and community organisations. As a constituency MP, I have enjoyed the many wins where you can fundamentally change the course of people’s lives with a letter or a phone call.

There have also been heartbreaking moments where you can’t make change. Many people in this Chamber know those moments—the moments such as explaining to a man dying of cancer, and to his wife, that Pharmac was not going to fund a lifesaving drug. It is out of these moments of sadness that you fight harder in the caucus room.

New Zealand has the capacity to have a stronger democracy than other countries because of the accessibility and accountability that can exist in politicians in a small nation. I am proud of the people I have helped, from long-term rough sleepers to people who have been suicidal and families torn apart by immigration. However, there are constituents and cases that stick out. One involved me helping a young New Zealand girl stuck in Japan near a nuclear accident, post the tsunami. The short version is that it was some advocacy via Murray McCully and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In a dramatic race against time, we got her and a young Australian girl in what, I think, was one of the last taxis to Tokyo.

I think that if New Zealanders knew more about the stories of politicians helping people, our democracy would be much stronger. Recent events are not a true reflection of the calibre of many of the parliamentarians that walk these halls.

As I have said, our environment is the greatest asset that we have as a country. Whether it has been my opposition to my own party’s proposals of mining on Great Barrier, which saw thousands of people marching down Queen Street, or progressing marine protection in the Hauraki Gulf, I have fought for my party and my country to do more for our environment inside and outside the caucus room. People still cross the street to thank me for stopping the mining of their baches in the Coromandel and on Great Barrier. Years later, it was a great moment to be able advocate and help secure a conservation park for the island, which will see Aucklanders enjoy this jewel for generations to come.

I want to acknowledge Izzy Fordham and Paul Downie for their work for the island. I’ve often said to people that being the MP for Great Barrier when things go wrong, there is no army of public servants, but there is the MP, the chair of the local board, and the community. The island is resilient and resourceful. I’m proud to have delivered investment in communications infrastructure, secured funding for the Aotea Learning Hub, and provided greater access to bursary payments for children off-island. I’ve also opposed marine dumping near the island, and I hope that the next MP can carry on the work done around marine protection.

I have loved the people of the Barrier for their authentic and pragmatic approach to solving issues. The island is one of my many families, my spiritual home, and where I will live for a large part of my life.

In central Auckland and the western bays, I have supported a number of projects, including securing over $150 million in the redevelopment of Freemans Bay School, Bayfield School, and Western Springs College. In transport, I advocated for the $300 million Victoria Park Tunnel—delivered under National—the urban cycleway investment, and, for many years, the approval of the City Rail Link, a game-changing artery for the beating heart of Auckland. Thank you to Steven Joyce, Simon Bridges, and the other transport Ministers for your work on these many projects.

I want to acknowledge City Missioners Chris Farrelly and Diane Robertson, and Moira from Lifewise. I’ve supported organisations such as the City Mission to secure additional wraparound support through the Housing First programme. I’ve also advocated for the National Government to provide significant funding for the Homeground project, which is being built at the moment, and which will see additional accommodation and services for vulnerable people who are homeless in Auckland.

I’ve been passionate about apartment law reform, and I’ve spent several years working with the legal and property professionals to develop a 30-page statute which is currently progressing through Parliament. It is essential that this unit titles bill passes if we want to prevent the next leaky buildings.

To the people of Waiheke—to the “Republic of Waiheke”—you’ve been about a quarter of my constituency cases. Thank you for your vocal and powerful force of nature. I’m proud to have secured over $40 million for the redevelopments of Te Huruhi Primary School and Waiheke High School. I’ve advocated for greater viability of ferry services, and I’ve helped retain funding for continued free travel, alongside Winston Peters, for oldies to go to Waiheke on their SuperGold card. I have petitioned Parliament to oppose the accommodation provider – targeted rate tax. I’ve fought for fairer ferry fares and greater accountability of services.

I want to now take this moment to acknowledge all of my electorate staff—Rita, Maggie, Amy, Sam, Alex, Elliot, Shelly, Angee, and Rochelle—for all of the work that you’ve done,

But to Maggie Bowman, thank you for the more than a decade of service that you have given to the people of Auckland Central. We have seen it all: P addicts, mental health incidents, we’ve been taped, we’ve had police incidence, we’ve had burglaries—Auckland Central is a hotbed for sometimes some of the hardest social issues in New Zealand. Thank you to Auckland Central. It’s been a privilege to be your MP.

In my time in Parliament, I’ve also fought for freedom. I’ve always tried to be a strong advocate for freedom and personal liberty. I feel proud to have followed a line of inspirational and liberal Nats, from Katherine Rich to Simon Power, Jim McLay, Marilyn Waring, to Chris Finlayson. I’ve helped keep the flame alive in our caucus, alongside my friend Amy Adams. It has been through conscience issues, in working in a collaborative way across the House with people from different political parties, that I have fought the cause. I voted and worked with parliamentarians from different political parties to help support legislation to enable people to marry who they love. Thank you, Louisa Wall, for your mahi on this issue. Through my work as Minister for Youth, I supported funding for organisations, such as Rainbow Youth, to get their first contract to prevent bullying of young people. I’ve also worked with colleagues to enable changes to decriminalise abortion and to pass the end of life choice legislation. I know that as Amy and I leave the liberal wing of the National Party, it will burn brightly with colleagues such as Nicola, Chris, and Erica fighting for freedom.

The National Party has been a strong force in New Zealand politics because of its values of freedom and personal responsibility—a place where social conservatives and social liberals can work for the common good. As a party, we are at our best when there is balance. That is when we are truly representative of this great nation.

One of the worst things that you can do when you get that call to become a Cabinet Minister is to have your battery run out. This is what happened to me, but I called John Key back.

It was a baptism of fire as a new Minister, dealing with our largest food safety scare in our nation’s history within a few months of being sworn in. When I found out from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), at 5 o’clock in Canterbury, about the potential presence of botulinum in milk powder, I thought that I would be a very short-serving Minister. It was a very scary time. Alongside my colleagues, I had to envisage the possibility of babies dying at home and abroad and a destruction to our economy. In those weeks, I saw the very best of Steven Joyce. I saw the very best of Bill English, of Tim Groser, of Nathan Guy, and of John Key. It was a challenging situation. I acknowledge all the MPI officials for their work. Miriam Dean, thank you for your stunning independent review. Thank you, Nathan, for all that you did. As Minister, I went on to deliver food safety legislative reform.

However, the scare did see me have dinner with the PM and the President of China. I remember feeling enormous pride, John, in watching you as a Prime Minister of a small nation have a genuine and warm relationship of respect with the President of China. It is a testament to you.

As Minister for ACC, I was proud to have overseen significant levy cuts, in part due to the good work of Nick Smith. I succeeded in proposing ACC legislation designed to enable greater stability and certainty around ACC levies, which I hope has provided benefits to many small businesses.

But it has been the civil defence portfolio that kept me awake at nights, from floods, to cyclones, to earthquakes. I remember receiving a phone call around an earthquake in the Kermadecs. It is in those moments, as Minister of Civil Defence, that you wait to find out whether a wave is coming towards New Zealand. It was then very important to me, when I experienced that, to push for an early warning system. I fought hard to secure funding for the cell alert system, which, in my view, will highly likely save thousands of lives in the future of our country. Thank you to Sarah Stuart-Black and all of the civil defence staff for the work that you do.

But my love and passion has been in education. I became Associate Minister to Hekia Parata, who I believe is one of the greatest serving Ministers of education in our nation’s history. Hekia, you achieved so much. You oversaw a huge lift in achievement for Māori and Pasifika students. You had an absolute commitment to excellence. As Associate Minister, I helped to try and improve school infrastructure. We did condition assessments of schools right across New Zealand. We took the school infrastructure budget from $3.5 billion to $5 billion. It was a testament to John and Hekia’s leadership that in the middle of the global financial crisis, we secured $200 million to connect all schools in New Zealand to uncapped fast internet connections. This was about unlimited learning. This was about ensuring that young people were not disadvantaged by geography in this country.

In 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. As I’ve said before, my world broke. I tried to resign. The only reason that I was able to become Minister of Education was that John Key, as I cried my eyes out, said, “You’re not fucking going anywhere.” I became the Minister of Education three months prior to the election period. I was proud to carry out Hekia’s work getting a Cabinet decision to scrap the decile system within two years. Many communities are stigmatised by the system. There is a poverty of expectation that must be removed.

I signed off the digital technologies curriculum as Minister, and in the last few years I’ve had the privilege to travel the country and work with Chris Hipkins on NCEA reform and the Tomorrow’s Schools Review. We do not agree with all of the proposals, but I acknowledge Minister Hipkins for trying to collaborate and compromise to get a better result. It was very touching that on the morning that it was reported that I was going to retire you told me not to do it. I think you learn in those moments that you can fight on policy and ideas but form friendships across the House. Thank you for what you do, Minister.

I now want to talk about being deputy leader of the party, and a few comments about leadership. I backed Amy for the leadership because I believed in her character and her work ethic. All leaders and Prime Ministers have a superpower, in my view—Helen Clark her intellect, John Key his confidence and his optimism, Jacinda her communication and charisma, Bill English his intellect and emotional intelligence, Simon Bridges his work ethic. I backed Todd for leadership because I believe in him and I believe in his capacity to set a vision for New Zealand that was blue-green, bold, fair, and outward-looking for our nation. It was a very short time in the role, but I still believe in you, Todd. Regardless of what the papers have written, I do not believe what occurred was predictable or preventable. It was a privilege to be your deputy leader and to the National Party. I expect that in time Todd will tell his story, but can I say this to Amelia, Bradley, Aimee, and Michelle: you can be very proud of your husband and father.

With heartbreak, though, comes opportunity. Judith, I hope that you become our next Prime Minister. You’re strong and you have huge conviction. We are facing the largest economic crisis of a generation. New Zealand needs a National Government, and I will campaign harder than anyone else for that to happen.

Now to the future. I may be off to be a hippie for a while, but I wanted to leave you with some thoughts. We must, as a nation, value education more. Last year we released an education discussion document. It talked about incentives for people to go into teaching, to stay in teaching, changes to teacher training, additional support for children with complex needs, and, of course, supporting children in their first 1,000 days of life. Recently I was the Lee Kuan Yew Fellow, and I reflected on the need for New Zealand to become lifelong learners. National has proposed education accounts as an option for more people to be upskilled throughout their life. COVID provides this burning platform for large-scale upskilling of the nation and a change in culture where we must value education more. We must continue to break down the barriers to online learning. Children in parts of New Zealand can have access to subjects, qualifications, and teachers like never before.

We must continue to tackle disadvantage. Bill English built the machine of social investment, but what we do around children with complex needs will mean that there are young people that are less truant, more people in work, and less people in prison.

We must continue to value our environment more, save our species, reduce emissions, improve our water. There is so much to do. I hope that one day we have an environmental party that will rust on with the left and the right in this Parliament.

It was a sad day when we lost the Māori Party. Dame Tariana Turia is someone that I admire greatly, and I hope that we continue to evolve our Treaty partnership. One of the reasons I progressed second language learning in schools was about ensuring that Te Reo thrives and other languages are supported for our heritage.

To the National Party: you are my family. I’m grateful to have always been blue. Past presidents, the board, the leaders of the party, and our members: I joined the party at 19 and I joined because I believe in equality of opportunity. You have given me so much opportunity. Thank you to my National friends and family.

To the parliamentarians: I’ve always said I believe there are two types of parliamentarians in this place. Those that are in it for themselves and those that are in it for the country. Be the latter. Be brave and have courage. Don’t leave anything in the tank. I’ve been fortunate to be supported by a number of strong, smart, and caring women: Jenny Shipley, Ruth Richardson, Katherine Rich, and Amy Adams. Each of you have been so generous with your time and wisdom in critical moments where I needed a dose of courage and compassion. To the parliamentarians: don’t be arrogant or entitled. This is public service. I have been proud to have been a public servant of New Zealand. I love our country and I hope to continue to contribute more in the future. Haere rā.

Saturday soapbox


Saturday’s soapbox  is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse, but not abuse.

Not all of us can do great things but we can do small things with great love. – Mother Teresa

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