Nicola Grigg’s maiden speech


National MP for Selwyn, Nicola Grigg, delivered her maiden speech yesterday:

 E te Whare e tū nei, e ngā rau rangatira ma, tēnei tāku mihi atu ki a koutou. Tēnā koutou katoa. I’m thrilled to stand here before this House today, elected by the people of Selwyn in this 53rd Parliament. May I begin by acknowledging them and the National Party members across Selwyn for the generosity they’ve shown me in my journey from candidate to member of Parliament. I acknowledge my National Party friends and colleagues, particularly our leaders, Judith Collins, Dr Shane Reti. I’d particularly like to single out and thank Gerry Brownlee for the unfailing friendship, generosity, and guidance that you’ve shown me over many years. It’s due to your faith in me, Gerry, that I’m here today.

A huge and heartfelt thankyou to my campaign team: James Christmas, Major James Russell, Tait Dench, Bernard Duncan, Murray Smith, and Ben Smith. I’d like to pay particular acknowledgment to my campaign chair and very dear friend, James Christmas. He’s been named in this House by at least two Prime Ministers and an Attorney-General as one of this country’s greatest legal and political minds, yet he is the kind of friend who will deliver pamphlets in a blizzard, babysit your kitten, and turn up with a bottle of Chard at the drop of a hat. James, every day I count my blessings for having you in my life.

I’d also like to pay tribute to my former boss the Rt Hon Sir Bill English, who I had the enormous privilege of working for as a press secretary from 2015 until 2018 when he retired. Not long after I was selected by the National Party, Bill rang me—I thought “What do I do now?”—and he said, “Just be yourself. Let the world see the real Nicola Grigg.” I will always be grateful for the opportunities I was given working in Bill’s office.

Above all, thank you to my friends and family for the love and support that you’ve gifted me throughout my life, particularly in the last year. Mum, Dad, Gemma, Amanda, Arthur, you’ve stood by me through thick and thin. The strength and stability of our family is what guides me and what grounds me. Thank you.

From the mighty Rakaia River in the south, to Darfield, Sheffield, and Arthur’s Pass in the west, picturesque Tai Tapu, Prebbleton and Lincoln in the east and booming towns like Rolleston at its core, Selwyn represents everything that is so special about New Zealand. We are a region full of ambitious go-getters. Ours is an economy founded in agriculture and food production, well served, might I add, by the infrastructure investment of the previous National Government. Selwyn is powering New Zealand’s economy. We’re a region full of young families and immigrants, innovators and entrepreneurs, a place where people simply want to get on with the job of fulfilling their destinies without the spectre of Government breathing down their necks, and they do so admirably. We have one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the country, one of the strongest local economies, and we’re one of the fastest growing territorial authorities in New Zealand. Selwyn is an exemplar to the rest of the country.

Any newly elected MP for Selwyn will be acutely aware of the expectations set by those who have gone before her. I follow in the footsteps of great New Zealanders like my own forebear, Sir John Hall, Premier of New Zealand at a difficult time in our history, and who later devoted himself to the cause of universal suffrage; and our first female Prime Minister, Dame Jenny Shipley. Dame Jenny is a trailblazer for women in politics. She broke the glass ceiling for the top job in New Zealand. My friend Ruth Richardson is another trailblazer and change agent. Ruth has taught me what having courage of one’s convictions really looks like and how making great change takes great heart. Sir David Carter, a former Speaker of the House, is a long-time source of wisdom and advice to this rookie MP. My immediate predecessor, Amy Adams, served Selwyn for 12 years and was so widely regarded and respected, and made an historic contribution to New Zealand as a Minister of Justice.

There’s another person I want to pay tribute to today: Sir John Hall’s granddaughter, my great-grandmother and National’s first female MP, Mary Grigg. Mary was elected to the mid-Canterbury seat held by her husband, my great-grandfather Arthur, who was killed in action in Libya in 1941. As a total aside and nothing more than evidence of what a small world we live in, our very own Sir Jim McLay’s father was in the field hospital with Arthur when he died. Thank you to Sir Jim for passing your father’s memories onto our family.

Almost 80 years ago this newly widowed mother of three stood in this very Chamber hammering the Fraser Government on some of the very issues that have led me here—farming, rural communities, and women. She spoke fiercely and with deep conviction. In her first eight weeks in the House, she bombarded Ministers with questions on anything from wheat growing, police uniforms for women, maternity benefits, occupational therapy, the need for more radio broadcasts in te reo Māori, car registration, and even the lack of lemons available in Canterbury. She was formidable. In her maiden statement she said: “I was told when I was coming into the House that it was a waste of time to look for common sense in Parliament. I am still hoping to find that is not true.”, and my own personal favourite, “I know I am going to get myself in dreadful hot water, but I should like to say quite honestly that the Cabinet is the cause of weakness and a lack of confidence. No one, even when the Cabinet was originally formed, would have claimed that it was a galaxy of all the talents.” Some might call that 78-year-old prophesy, but I wouldn’t be that ungracious. I can only imagine what she would have made of her eldest great-grandchild standing here today, the 157th woman to enter Parliament. I promise that I will try to bring the same energy to my work in this House as she did, and I too will be looking for more common sense.

I walked out of the parliamentary precinct in December last year, just weeks after arriving, a bundle of nerves, self-doubt, and with a well-advanced case of imposter syndrome. I was quite sure I wasn’t going to be able to handle the hours, the workload, the pressures, the expectations of the role, and, frankly, I dreaded returning. Since then, though, I’ve spent the summer reading American psychologist and researcher Dr Brené Brown. Her book, Daring Greatly, is inspired by Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech at the Sorbonne in 1910. In it, he said this: “It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. 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 errs, who comes up short again and again, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

It is nerve-wracking and uncomfortable entering the political arena and the public eye. But now we’re in that arena, we cannot be afraid to take risks, make unpopular decisions, confront big issues—and sometimes fail—with all the backlash and embarrassment that might come with that. Any holder of public office must dare greatly, and now more so than ever.

This is a place that will make you question everything you ever knew or thought you knew about yourself. You must know your “why”. My why? I am the daughter of six generations of Griggs who have farmed in mid Canterbury since 1864. I come to this House wanting to represent and improve outcomes for rural New Zealand, particularly rural women and families. Campaigning in Selwyn last year, I saw for myself the very real fear and anxiety that farmers across my electorate feel when slapped with whatever new arbitrary regulation or restriction is handed down to them on any given day by Ministers and their officials. I want us to reject ideology and blame in favour of a relentless focus on science and fact. I want us to choose constructive dialogue over condemnation. It’s my hope that one day, New Zealanders will once again appreciate and, in fact, be proud of our farmers and the contribution that we make to an innovative, thriving, sustainable economy and environment. That is my “why”.

I challenge the Government on the paradoxical approach that it’s taking—on one hand, charging the primary production sector with doubling its export earnings in the next 10 years, while on the other ham-stringing farmers and growers with regulations that leave them with little choice but to de-stock. How can productivity possibly increase on those terms? Selwyn is home to some of the country’s leading agritech and agriscience innovators. We have Lincoln University, Lincoln Agritech, AgResearch, Manaaki Whenua—Landcare Research, Plant & Food Research, Ngāi Tahu Farming, Lincoln University Dairy Farms. So given Selwyn, with its university, agresearch centres and incubators, is the epicentre of New Zealand’s agritech and innovation, one would have thought that our producers would meet requirements more easily than most. That they can’t says to me the Government has it wrong.

Have no doubt: New Zealand’s success in the coming decade is going to be powered by our farmers. We are already world leaders in the clean and efficient production of protein and dairy, and the home-grown science and technology coming out of my community is cutting-edge. We need to encourage it and help export it. Sir John Key always used to say we won’t get rich selling to ourselves. Our economic growth must be export-led, and that includes the export of innovation. So let’s dare to build an export empire of intellectual property. Let’s sell to the world our clean-tech and our green-tech. The economic and social impact of the pandemic means we must dare to make some difficult decisions in the next decade. But first, let’s dare to stop deceiving ourselves that Governments can find solutions to every problem, or that throwing public money at a problem will make it go away.

Anyone who talks to people in Selwyn will soon realise that, as often as not, Governments cause as many problems as they seek to resolve. The thing the public most wants from its Government is competence. When it does regulate, or when this House legislates, we should be drawing on the expertise already out there on the ground. If a Government truly wants to make it easier to earn a living, to address environmental problems, or to increase our exports, it needs to listen. As my old boss Sir Bill used to say, nobody has a monopoly on good ideas, and politicians most certainly do not.

Let’s dare to innovate. Now, I know innovation is a popular buzzword around here, but we in this Chamber cannot innovate on people’s behalf. We can, however, provide the conditions for investment, invention, development, and science. Our capacity to innovate begins in our education system. Every child in New Zealand should leave school knowing that he or she can imagine something, create something, build something, develop something, dream something. Innovation will require us to stop this close-minded mentality where we shut ourselves off from foreign investors and foreign capital. We must open our borders and open ourselves up to the world again. We need trade, we need investment, we need immigration, and we need the growth that these will bring. We need to go all out to attract the best and brightest from other countries to come here and make a contribution to New Zealand. This “fortress New Zealand” mentality will only continue to mire us in mediocrity, and it must stop. Mediocrity is the virus that we should be protecting our country against.

Speaking of innovation and innovators, people who aren’t afraid to push boundaries and do things differently, I am proud that the rūnanga of Selwyn is none other than the mighty Ngāi Tahu. Twenty years ago, Tā Tīpene O’Regan and others dared greatly. They showed vision and fortitude and, in my opinion, set the bar for iwi across Aotearoa as to what intergenerational investment should look like. This House should remember that 2040—just under 20 years away—will mark 200 years since the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. We should all be looking to that milestone with a view of achieving a fair and equitable society. We should ask ourselves: how do we weave our past, our present, and our future together? So I acknowledge Ngāi Tahu as tangata whenua of Selwyn. I look forward to our upcoming kōrero and a future working together.

My mother is a St Hill-Warren of Porangahau in Hawke’s Bay. Her family worked side by side with local iwi, and one of her aunts eventually married into the Mohi whānau. As a result, I count Ngāti Kahungunu as my cousins. This kahu kiwi—her name is Piata—I wear today was gifted to our family by a wahine rangatira of Ngāti Kere, Ngāti Hinetewai, and Ngāti Pihere of Porangahau in around 1854. I wear it as a mantle to remind me to be fair, equitable, and just—as my forebears were—in all that I bring to this office.

I am a member of the National Party because I believe our principles will put New Zealand in the best position to both meet the challenges and capitalise on the opportunities of the coming decade. I am a member of the National Party because I draw my convictions—my political principles—from the reform and liberal traditions from which the party was founded. I am a member of the National Party because I know that we are not afraid to dare to confront the big challenges. I am proud to join a caucus that I know will dare greatly—to ask the hard questions of itself, to rebuild and repurpose to reflect the ambitions and demands of a modern, multicultural, forward-looking New Zealand in the years to come.

Today, I step into the arena. I enter this Chamber with the firmly held belief that those of us in public office have a responsibility to show up—to bring our whole selves and our whole hearts—and lean into the tough conversations and the big issues. We should not play it safe, but we should dare to make decisions and do the things that mean we will sometimes err and we will sometimes come up short. We must dare greatly, and I will try to do that every day the people of Selwyn send me here. Thank you.

$3k sweetener for Chch job seekers


The government has announced a $3,000 sweetener for job seekers who move to Christchurch for work.

The Government is providing further support for the Canterbury rebuild with $3.5 million of new operating funding for 2014/15 in Budget 2014 to assist beneficiaries to take up work in Christchurch.

“We’re offering up to 1,000 beneficiaries a one-off payment of $3,000 each if they have a full-time job offer in Canterbury and are ready and willing to move there,” Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says.

“The rebuild is creating thousands of jobs in Christchurch, and there are people around New Zealand ready to take them up, but who don’t currently have the means to get there.

“With an unemployment rate in Canterbury of 3.4 per cent – lower than the 6 per cent rate nationally – there are plenty of opportunities. There is demand not only in construction, but in hospitality, retail and many other industries too.

“Work and Income will be working closely with employers to connect them with beneficiaries who’d be suited to work for them, and I’m confident this incentive will provide a boost for the rebuild, and for the employment prospects of beneficiaries,” Mrs Bennett says.

The $3,000 payment will help beneficiaries with the move to Canterbury, sorting accommodation, clothing, tools and any other purchases they might need to make when getting settled.

This offer will be open to beneficiaries of all ages, but a particular focus will be placed on young people aged 18-24 years, as the rebuild provides the opportunity for them to gain employment skills that will set them up for life.

To qualify, the job offered must be for over 30 hours a week, and for longer than 91 days. The payment will be non-taxable, and exempt from an income and asset test.

If the recipient goes back on benefit within three months of the payment without a sufficient reason, then the payment must be repaid.

This initiative will cover jobs within the geographical areas of Ashburton, Hurunui, Selwyn, and Waimakariri District Councils, and the Christchurch City Council.

Christchurch needs more workers.

People in other places need work but might not be able to afford the costs of shifting.

This initiative will help solve both problems.

Another way to move off welfare, and into work. It helps Christchurch with its rebuild and gives a hand up to someone in need of a job that wants to work.

How long does it take to select a candidate


Labour lists its candidate selection timetable which include:

East Coast Bays – nominations opened October 7th and closing April 28th.

Selwyn – nominations opened December 6th and closing April 28th.

How long does it take to select a candidate?

It’s a serious business but nearly seven months to select a candidate for East Coast Bays and nearly five months to select one for Selwyn makes it into an unnecessarily drawn out process.


One of biggest electorates will get smaller


Statistics New Zealand’s release of census data yesterday gives the first indication of changes in electorates.

  • The number of electorates will increase from 70 to 71 at the next general election.
  • The number of North Island general electorates will increase from 47 to 48.
  • The number of Māori electorates will remain at seven.
  • The number of general electorates in the South Island is set at 16 by the Electoral Act 1993.
  • In a 120-seat parliament (excluding any overhang seats), a total of 71 electorates will result in 49 list seats being allocated. This is one less list seat than in the 2011 General Election.
  • The Representation Commission can now review the electorate boundaries for the next general election.

The excel sheet under downloads on the link above shows population changes in electorates.

Kiwiblog has checked that out and found:

Since the 2006 census, the SI electoral population has grown by 3.7%, the NI by 6.6% and the Maori electoral population by just 0.9%.

The seats that are the most over quota and must lose territory are:

  1. Auckland Central 70,406
  2. Hunua 68,951
  3. Helensville 68,026
  4. Selwyn 67,818
  5. Rodney 67,134
  6. Wigram 65,433
  7. Waitaki 64,962
  8. Hamilton East 64,577
  9. Waimakariri 64,454
  10. Wellington Central 64,374
  11. Rangitata 64,142
  12. East Coast Bays 64,005
  13. Maungakiekie 63,274
  14. Epsom 62,990
  15. Tāmaki 62,779
  16. Tauranga 62,741

So those 16 seats must shrink. What seats are under the 5% tolerance and must grow:

  1. Christchurch East 45,967
  2. Port Hills 53,667
  3. East Cost 53,960
  4. Christchurch Central 54,104
  5. Rangitikei 56,364

The other 49 seats can stay the same size in theory. But it is likely many will have some change because of flow on effects from neighbours.

The migration after Christchurch’s earthquakes is probably the reason for most of the growth in Waimakariri and Selwyn.

They will lose some ground to boost the Christchurch electorates which now have too few people.

Selwyn might have to push south into Rangitata which will then extend into Waitaki, both of which are over quota. It would make sense for the area closest to Timaru which moved from what was the Aoraki Electorate into Waitaki, to be in Rangitata.

Waitaki will have to shrink. It is now 34,888 square kilometres in area, the third biggest general electorate in the country. Any reduction in its size will be welcomed by its MP Jacqui Dean and her constituents.

Many measures of diversity


Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty is unhappy about the first decline in the number of women MPs since MMP was introduced and is blaming National.

National having only three female MPs in the top 20 shows a lack of commitment to gender representation.

“No country or Parliament is better off if women are blocked from political leadership,” Ms Delahunty said.

No-one’s blocking anyone and it’s got nothing to do with National’s commitment to gender representation.

National has a lot of electorate MPs which reduces the number of places available on the list, many are long serving, including those selected before MMP was introduced.

Among those with relatively new MPs are the three big central South Island electorates Waitaki, Rangitata and Selwyn, which might be regarded by some as conservative. All are represented by National women, – Jacqui Dean, Jo Goodhew and Amy Adams respectively. So is Waimakariri which Kate Wilkinson won on Saturday and Nicky Wagner is waiting for specials to see if she can take Christchurch Central which finished with a draw on election night.

There haven’t been many opportunities for new candidates in the last two elections but it is probable that a good number of the older MPs will retire this term or next which will provide openings for new entrants.

Anyone, man or woman, who wants to be a National MP should start working towards selection now if they haven’t already done so. That means taking an active role in the party and building up membership.

National is the only party which allows members to choose their candidate providing an electorate has sufficient members to do so.Candidates who’ve proven themselves as active members will have a better chance of winning selections.

Gaining selection with the support of members is far better than hoping you’ll get a winnable list place through tokenism.

Kiwiblog has a chart showing the demographics  of the new parliament, illustrating gender isn’t the only measure of diversity.

What he doesn’t show though is what the MPs did before entering parliament nor how many got a pay rise and how many took a cut.

That’s another measure of diversity in which I suspect National would do very well.

Southland most affordable


Following the previous post on Queenstown Lakes being the most affluent district in the country, a related report  found that Southland had the most affordable property.

The most important measure of affordability is to compare house prices with income levels. . . (then)  we took our top 20 performers and scored them against the primary measure of house price v. income levels.  But then we also looked at each place and awarded further points based upon how well they ranked against:

   *  Rent / income levels

   *  % of people living in crowded dwellings

*  Unemployment rates

   *  % of people living in owned homes

* % of people living in high deprivation deciles

And the top 20 most affordable places in New Zealand were:



Southland District
















South Taranaki
















Upper Hutt




Palmerston North





 House price / income ratio


Southland District

3.6 times income



8.1 times income

Rent payments / income ratio


Southland District

12% of income



28% of income

% of people in crowded dwellings


Southland District








% of people in the 3 highest deprivation deciles





Far North


% of people unemployed


Southland District









Far North


% of dwellings owned








Dunedin’s poor showing in the income to rent ratio is easily explained by the high proportion of out-of-town students who live there in rented flats.

And Selwyn which was the second most affordable district was also the 6th most affluent which is a happy combination.

Connell resigns


Rakaia MP Brian Connell  is leaving parliament early to begin work in Brisbane.

Mr Connell had advised Speaker Margaret Wilson that he was resigning as an MP as of August 31.

The MP is suspended from the National caucus as a result of challenging former National leader Don Brash about an alleged affair. He had hoped that new leader John Key would allow him back into the fold, but it never happened.

He said he was going to work for a multinational consulting company for a “substantial” salary” and the move was in the best interests of his constituents.

A by-election is not necessary because the vacancy occurs within six months of a general election.

It wasn’t what Connell did but the way he did it that was wrong and Key was right not to reinstate him. That  sent a much-needed message that MPs whose actions damage the party have no place in caucus.

However, Connell’s behaviour since Key became leader has been exemplary and he’s found himself a good job in the real world.

Contrast that with Georgina Beyer who announced her resignation but didn’t step down for several months so she continued receiving her parliamentary salary over the summer break. In that time she was rehearsing for a play at the Fortune Theatre but she pulled out just before opening night leaving the theatre with the costs. And now she’s complaining because her former colleagues haven’t appointed her to a well paid job.

Aoraki MP Jo Goodhew  is standing for National in the new Rangitata electorate and Amy Adams  is the party’s candidate in the new electorate of Selwyn which cover most of what was the Rakaia seat.

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