Penning this piece to paper courtesy of the Taranaki Star prompts me to pause and reflect on the past six months as your Member of Parliament and what I have been doing.
Saturday September 22 last year signalled a significant change for me, from life as a litigation lawyer, advocate and resident of Whanganui, to a full-time politician and MP dividing my time between Whanganui, South Taranaki, Parliament and occasionally other parts of Aotearoa NZ as required.
The majority of my time in the last six months has been at Parliament, listening to, observing and contributing to debates. As an electorate MP, it is a balance between the National Party, Parliamentary business in Wellington and the need to attend to electorate meetings and being back home in my electorate. In my absence I have a great electorate team, with Sue Turahui in Hawera and Kath Weir in Stratford representing our electorate and ensuring South and Central Taranaki's interests are forefront.
Public office is not a life of glamour and fancy-living as some might think. It's not easy either. Entering politics in my mid-50s means my family focus is not compromised so I can focus on electorate issues.
There have been few if any dull moments in the halls of Parliament. The work on select committees is stimulating, while at times debate in the House and passages of law can be frustrating.
But a few weeks ago, in support of the Parihaka Reconciliation Bill – Te Pire Haeata ki Parihaka - the Deed of recognition and relationship agreement upon which the Crown and Parihaka agree to reconcile their relationship, was a significant milestone for the Crown, Parihaka, Taranaki and Aotearoa NZ as a nation.
Finally, last Friday at New Plymouth I gathered with many, including mana whenua, tangata whenua, Mayors Ross Dunlop and Neil Voltzke, Neil Holdom, their councillors and staff; Ministers Shane Jones and Andrew Little, Assoc. Minister Fletcher Tabateau, National MPs Barbara Kuriger, Jonathan Young, and others who have a strong commitment to Taranaki.
We were all at the regional launch of the pathway document to greater potential and prosperity for Taranaki, Tapuae Roa, a local and central government and Taranaki communities commitment to the pathway ahead. This was well supported and now needs to be implemented well.
I look forward to sharing more insights in upcoming columns.
Go well and with care. Ma te wa, till that time.