The weekend’s National Party Mainland conference was my last as Southern Regional chair.
It was the end of six years in the position and I chose not to seek re-election for several reasons.
I believe you should step down before you lose the enthusiasm and energy needed for what you’re doing.
The year after an election is the best one in the cycle for a change in chair, allowing the new one plenty of time to come to grips with the job before having to work on candidate selections and the election.
One important measure of success is the quality of your successor and I had one who was ready, willing and able to take over.
It’s been a privilege and pleasure to work with other volunteers, MPs and party staff over the last six years. In that time the party has increased its membership, strengthened its financial base and continued to earn the sort of support in polls few parties attain let alone maintain.
That is due to several factors which include the leadership of the parliamentary wing, the volunteers and staff.
It’s not just party faithful like me who admire our leader and the Prime Minister John Key. To be in a third term in government and still attracting similar levels of support in polls to that when first elected requires someone special at the head of a very good team.
Government and governance are never smooth sailing.
In spite of all that’s been thrown at them, the PM and his team have concentrated on what matters to voters – the economy, education, health and law and order. They also continue to respect and value the voluntary wing.
I’ve been involved in the party for around three decades and have never known such cohesion between and performance by MPs, staff and volunteers.
Judy Kirk was president when I became regional chair. Her successor Peter Goodfellow has built on the foundation she laid.
I have had all the support and communication from the board I could have wished for. On the few occasions I had concerns I needed to talk to Peter, or other board members about, I was taken seriously and got action.
The strong financial position the party is in is due to the work of the president, the board and strong membership.
One of the reasons membership has grown is the encouragement and support volunteers have had from the board and the service centre.
General manager Greg Hamilton changed the name of headquarters to the service centre and it wasn’t just window dressing. He and his staff provide amazing service to activists and work very hard to ensure members get value for their loyalty.
The importance of that can’t be overstated.
National is, sadly for democracy, the only party left in New Zealand that has a broad based membership of tens of thousands.
Leading those in the south has provided a few challenges, meant a lot of work but also been very rewarding.
I stepped down and have been succeeded by a woman who has the passion, personality and skills to do all that’s required and more.
I’m looking forward to working with her. My two immediate predecessors were women who provided good role models not only for the position but also for continuing to be involved after retiring from it.
Besides, the party is a bit like the Hotel California. I’ve checked out of the office but I won’t be leaving the building.
We’ve got an election to win in 2017 and earning the votes required to do that requires hard work and a team to do it.