A tale of two caucuses

June 26, 2019

National leader Simon Bridges announced a minor reshuffle of portfolios yesterday:

“Paul Goldsmith will become the spokesperson for Finance and Infrastructure following today’s announcement from Amy Adams that she will leave at the next election.

“Paul is the natural choice for the Finance role. He has done an outstanding job holding the Government to account in the Economic and Regional Development portfolio.

Shane Jones will be very happy with this change, though he shouldn’t relax, the two taking over Paul’s portfolios will be just as effective at holding the Minister to account.

“Regional and Economic Development will now be split across two spokespeople. Todd McClay will look after Economic Development, while Chris Bishop will take over the Regional Development and Transport portfolios.

“Chris has done a brilliant job as spokesperson for Police and deserves to take on more responsibility.

“Jo Hayes has been appointed the spokesperson for Māori Development and Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations following the departure of Nuk Korako. Jo is a passionate advocate for Māori.

“Gerry Brownlee will pick up the Foreign Affairs portfolio, Brett Hudson will take on the Police portfolio and Tim Macindoe will become the Shadow Attorney-General.

“Other changes include Michael Woodhouse as the Associate Finance spokesperson, Maggie Barry taking over the Disability Issues portfolio, Stuart Smith will be the spokesperson for Immigration, Todd Muller will be the spokesperson for Forestry, Nicola Willis will take on the Youth portfolio and our newest MP Paulo Garcia will become the Associate Foreign Affairs spokesperson.

“I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank both Amy Adams and Alastair Scott for their valuable contributions to the National Party and Parliament. Amy was a brilliant Minister across a range of portfolios. The changes she made to domestic violence laws as Justice Minister have made families in New Zealand safer. Amy has excelled as our Finance spokesperson and has been an outstanding member for Selwyn.

“Alastair should be proud of the work he has done to prevent drug driving, and for the way he has represented and advocated for the people of Wairarapa. I’m pleased they will be here for the rest of the term to help us form policies for the 2020 election.

“National is the largest and most effective Opposition this country has ever seen. I’m proud to lead such a talented and hardworking team.” 

There are no surprises there and there will probably be none in tomorrow’s reshuffle of Cabinet but there is a major difference between the two caucuses – there’s plenty of talent in National’s with many MPs capable of becoming Ministers.

By contrast Labour’s is a shallow pool and, as Barry Soper noted:

. . .The reshuffle will be minor because most of those who should be in Cabinet are already there. And the amount of time Ardern’s taken getting around to shuffling the chairs just goes to show how hard leadership is for a person who clearly finds it hard to be hard. . . 

Ardern doesn’t have much to choose from and, if past form is a guide, will be reluctant to demote the poorest performers.


Paulo Garcia’s maiden speech

May 30, 2019

National MP Paulo Garcia delivered his maiden speech yesterday:

PAULO GARCIA (National): Thank you, Mr Speaker.

[Authorised Te Reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

[Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

[Filipino text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

We thank our loving God, that he has given his children the opportunity to serve New Zealand not just in nursing homes and hospitals, in dairy farms and construction sites, in IT and engineering and hospitality but also now in the New Zealand Parliament. Grant us a steady heart, mind, and body that we may help bring your will for us in New Zealand to fruition, because this is what this country of New Zealand has done for me and the migrant community from the Philippines that I am a part of. This country has welcomed us into corners of this society that our Asian community is not normally associated with—dairy farms, the mainstay of rural New Zealand life that so much of our country’s myths and legends stem from, and, yes, I refer to the Colin Meads and other farming legends of our national All Blacks team. That farming Filipinos will uphold the tradition of farmers supplying rugby players to the All Blacks is an aspiration I have not entirely given up on!

I am Paulo Garcia, I am Catholic, I am a Filipino, and a New Zealander, and I am happy, excited, and blessed to be standing here before you. It is a privilege and an honour to work with all of you, and it is a testament to this great nation that migrants can become New Zealanders and represent this nation in our House of Parliament—a greatness that was sorely tested earlier this year when a man determined to drive division and intolerance into our midst entered two mosques and killed 51 people, 51 people who had chosen to make this great nation of ours home, 51 people of faith, of Islam, who were expressing the convictions of their beliefs. The evil man who aimed to drive religious intolerance into our midst must not be allowed to succeed. Equally, those who aimed to do the same in Sri Lanka when they attacked and killed hundreds of Catholic worshipers sought too to drive religious intolerance. Equally, they must not be allowed to succeed.

They will not succeed, because this nation allows migrants of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds to succeed and to be represented within this hallowed Chamber. That I am here tonight as the first member of the New Zealand Parliament of Filipino descent is a tribute to the National Party’s recognition of strength in diversity and the value that ethnic communities bring to New Zealand—a New Zealand that holds itself out as open to all, where people from the world over are able to live without fear in the practice of their faith and values, and in observance of their cultural norms. This makes for a multicultural and ethnically diverse New Zealand. There is not a day that I wake up without giving thanks for being in New Zealand. To be sure, not everything has been simple and rose coloured. I have also experienced hatred. I have been slandered and have been ostracised. Yet, I do not have a monopoly on this experience. In reality, many of us do experience this as well in various forms on a daily basis, not just migrants but many of our displaced youth, who seek connection from gangs; emotionally isolated people who seek refuge in drugs, alcohol, and gambling; the old who live alone and die without seeing their family and friends and who may soon be encouraged to die without seeing family and friends.

Even though we have evolved to be just and compassionate, we also have the evolved capacity for greed, anger, and hatred. All of us have the seeds of prejudice within us, but it is a question of which seeds we water and grow. There have been people who say my views are intolerant. Why? Because I am pro-life? Because I believe in the sanctity of life? Because I take the great Māori proverb literally and to its logical conclusion? He aha te mea nui o te ao? What is the most important thing in the world? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata—it is the people, it is the people, it is the people. Just as Māori have such a beautiful saying, so too do I stand on the words of Mahatma Gandhi when he said that the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members. When it comes to human beings, we cannot pick and choose which ones are protected and which ones are not, and we cannot say some vulnerable lives must be protected but others not.

I am thankful for and proud of the wonderful response to the Christchurch attacks that were made by many in politics and the media, who were open and understanding to the Muslim community in New Zealand, my fellow travellers in faith, and just as we should be aware of the underbelly of ethnic intolerance in this country, we need to be equally aware of the prejudice of religious intolerance often used as a handy tool in debates. It is insulting for some in this Chamber to suggest that the sole motive to retrograde policies such as euthanasia are religious ones, which is akin to saying that people of faith do not have intellect and shouldn’t also take their place here and contribute to society. We live in a day when we have put our own interests ahead of our children, and this modern society will continue to do so to its own detriment.

Men are particularly to blame. Women are often left abandoned, uncertain, and pressured to get rid of unexpected children or to raise them on their own. I salute in absolute praise all single mothers. I can honestly say that if either my wife or I had had to raise our daughters alone, we would have struggled severely as well. Despite the due importance we all attach to this task in our hands—that of governing this country—parenting is the most important job we really have. As mothers and fathers and, collectively, as a Parliament and as a nation, we need to support our parents, we need to support our families, and we need to support our children, but I highlight that the men of this country need to do more. We as men need to stand strong in our relationships. We must be reliable providers and protectors. We must show tamariki the way to respect and honour women.

Whatever laws we might pass in this Chamber, the pro-life voice must no longer be despised and discounted as offensive. Preachers of tolerance and inclusion must no longer seek to silence and condemn those with opinions that make them uncomfortable but are nevertheless opinions based on another person’s own beliefs and values systems. While we need to stay vigilant and investigate people who post offensive material online, we need to be equally concerned about any move in this House to restrict freedom of speech, a move which has all too often been used by those in power to silence those with differing opinions or ideas. This doctrine, peddled by those who pretend to be progressive, asserts that the mere expression of ideas itself is a limitation on the rights of others. This is preposterous. We must always run the risk of being offended in the effort to afford each citizen their freedom of expression, their freedom to be wrong, and, yes, unfortunately, even nasty. We must let the punishment of those with hateful messages be their own undoing.

As representatives of our people, it is important to be able to faithfully fulfil at each moment the duties of love and justice we owe to all of New Zealand despite the difficulty of applying such principles to this contingent world. Keeping this sense of loyalty constantly active is the best defence against an ageing of the spirit, a hardening of the heart, and a stiffening of the mind that threatens us all. We need to be truly aware of our real motivation as to why we are here. Are we here just to promote self and self-interest, or are our actions ultimately driven by what will benefit our in group only? Our answers may reveal that we may then not truly be representative of all people in New Zealand, and we must and may rectify our intentions.

I would not be here without the help of amazing examples of fortitude and courage. My mother, Anna, as she personally took loving care of my father over the 10 years he suffered dementia until his death. My father-in-law, Rene, who personally took loving care of my mother-in-law as she was struck by ALS until her passing. Lawyer Lilia B. de Lima in the Philippines for fearless integrity in doing what is right. Ambassador Virginia Benavidez for her selfless dedication to the service of others. Jesus Domingo, our ambassador now, for his friendship. Lawyer Richard McLeod and Corban Revell Lawyers, National Party president Peter Goodfellow, MP Melissa Lee, and Roger Bridge, who all took a chance on this lawyer from the Philippines. My deepest gratitude and prayers go to MP Nuk Korako, for him and his family to go well, for his retirement allows me to stand here before you tonight.

Finally, I thank every single person who helped in the 2017 campaign—too many to name, many here tonight—who helped without measure day and night, in rain and cold, despite busy schedules and family commitments, moving concertedly towards an intangible goal, doing tasks that none of us have ever done before. The love of my life, Malu, and my beloved daughters

, who inspire me to give myself to others more and more every day, leaving nothing for myself. Fourteen years ago, I was a struggling student at the University of Auckland law, taking papers and the bar exam. Those were tough times. We were a single income household of six, but now here I stand as a Member of Parliament of this great nation.

Many will say that I am living a dream. I disagree. This is not a dream; this is a Kiwi reality.

May I end with the words of inspiration that drive me and give me hope for all New Zealand lives, words written by my daughter Mariana in her poem entitled “Identity”.

A migrant house is built tall on foundations filled with sky, stacked with the hopes of generations into storeyed bastions that testify to us.

We were made to hold together.

I stand proud in the shade of a roof made for me to raise high by proclaiming I have a Spanish name, an American accent, and an Asian face.

And I have been welcomed in Aotearoa.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mabuhay.


Nuk Korako resigns

April 15, 2019

National MP Nuk Korako has announced his resignation .

“It’s been a privilege and a pleasure to work for our Port Hills community. We have shared some trying times together. The earthquakes, the Port Hills fires and the recent terror attack. I leave knowing our community has grown together and become stronger.

“Over the past five years I have been privileged to be the Chair of the National Party Māori Caucus, a member of the Māori Affairs, and Local Government and Environment Select Committees. Since 2017 it has also been a privilege to be the Party’s Spokesperson for Māori Development and Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations.

“I’m especially proud to have chaired the Māori Affairs Select Committee – shepherding 16 Treaty Settlements to a conclusion. The Parihaka settlement is a particularly poignant one for me. Te Whiti and the Taranaki men that were wrongfully imprisoned were looked after by my Rāpaki hapū and so our ties run deep.

Korako ran against long-time Labour MP Ruth Dyson for the Port Hills electorate in 2014 and 2017 with the National’s Party vote rising considerably. He has also been a vital member of National’s Māori caucus, providing leadership and guidance to the wider Kahurangi National group which he set up with a new regional structure.

“I wanted to retire now so a new National Party candidate could be selected and have time to get to know the issues and people of Port Hills well ahead of the election. I expect National to do well in the 2020 race for Port Hills and I will be there to support the new candidate when they are selected,” Korako says. . . “

I enjoyed Nuk’s contribution when I was National’s Southern regional chair.

He is a list MP which means his resignation won’t trigger a by-election.

The next person on National’s list is Paulo Garcia.


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