Helen Clark valedictory speech

Clark’s valedictory speech is at aroudn 5 pm today, and viewable on Parliament TV, and through the Parliament website.

I have watched (either in person or via TV) every former PM’s valedictory speech from Muldoon onwards – except for Geoffrey Palmer. All very different styles. Muldoon was sad yet powerful. Lange was hilarious. Bolger was excellent talking of prides and regrets and had a farewell from the Maori MPs at the end of it.

Moore was funny but with some bitterness. Shipley was dignified and optimistic.

For those who can’t watch it, I’ll probably live blog any noticeable parts.


Starting now. I note Jonathan Hunt is in the House, next to the Speaker’s Chair. Clark says she has mixed emotions. Enrolled at Auckland Uni in 1968. Talking of big issues in 1968 such as Vietnam War, nuclear testing, South Africa.

Says Kirk’s independent foreign policy inspired her. Referred to Radio Hauraki breaking state radio monopoly by broadcasting from a boat in Hauraki Gulf.

Never imagined being PM when young, as senior politicians were all elderly men. Now paying tribute to Hunt and Anderton for getting her involved, plus Kirk again. She was foot solider in 1972.

Grew up on a farm in Waikato. Wider family had many political allegiances. Parents initially surprised by her political direction, but always personally supportive and now fully politically supportive. Mum too ill to be hear but 87 year old Dad is in gallery. Pays tribute to them both. Lots of clapping.

Stood in 1975 in Piako against Gentleman Jack Luxton and he was a Gentleman. Advice to young people in politics is to start off by running in a seat they probably won’t win as you learn a lot. Success is seldom instant, and quick wins can fade quickly.

Referred to how Muldoon said in his valedictory was how many more women were now in Parliament and how he found them somewhat frightening. Clark says it was mutual – especially if you tried to interject him 🙂

Attracted to politics by desire to make a difference. Has a sense of gratitude for opportunities NZ has given her. NZ was an escape for many from the class bound order of the UK. Detests social distinction and snobbery. Hence dislikes titular honours.

Focused in first six years on Mt Albert. Grateful to them. Chaired Foreign Affairs Select Committee and highlight was anti-nuclear law. Now talking about various Ministerial things she did. Helped bring in seven day trading (yay).

Plague on both your houses (National and Labour) in 1992 and 1993 saw MMP introduced. Lots of defections to minor parties in mid 1990s. Labour lost support to NZ First and Alliance and in mid 90s a poll had Labour on 14% and Clark on 2% as Preferred PM. In hindsight surprised concerned delegations to her door did not occur more often.

1999 saw Labour/Alliance Government with Green support. Believes they have made life better for many New Zealanders.

In last term in particular big focus was sustainability and believes it is vital for our international credibility. Jewel in crown was transfer of Molesworth Station to DOC to preserve for all NZers.

Talking about heritage projects like Te Ara.

NZers now very familiar with settlement of historical grievances and important they continue to be settled. Also apology to Samoa was important as was apology to Vietnam Veterans for what they endured in lack of recognition and support.

Proud that Maori are now significant economic stakeholders in NZ. Has enjoyed engagement with all the ethnic communities. Says it is inevitable that we will become a republic – not if, but when.

Pleased we stayed out of Iraq War but also that have rebuilt relationship with US. Big commitment to peace keeping.

Regards selection as UNDP Administrator as reflection on not just her, but NZ’s record internationally.

No regrets but it is time to go and let others lead. 2008 result was disappointing but in a democracy must respect the people’s will.

Never a solo act in politics. So many people have supported her. Her parents gave best possible start. Her sisters and their families always supportive of Peter and her. Peter has been a staunch supporter of her career, no matter how unpleasant it got. Lots of clapping from all sides.

Mt Albert backed her for 10 elections. Thanks to all those, esp Mt Albert electorate committee. Also electorate office staff – esp Joan Caulfield.

Thanks to all in Labour at all levels. Special thanks to Cullen. Friendships will be life long. Expects many texts and even the occassional tweet. Very well timed joke.

Thanks Jim A. Then Jeanette from Greens. Also honourable relationships with Dunne and Peters based on common interests. Also acknowledge Turia and thank her.

Relationships with National and ACT less significant. But acknowldge Key and Hide for their courtesy, especially recently. And previous MPs such as Paul East. Also talks to Bolger, Palmer and Moore.

Thanks DPMC CEOs and Cabinet Secretaries by name.  Also thanks MCH and Ministerial Services. Enjoyed work with SIS and GCSB. Trusts them and their staff. They work in the interests of NZ.

Also thanks MFAT for support on so many issues and summits and visits. Privilege to support NZ Defence Force and seeing their work overseas.

Thanking PM’s Office – Heather Simpson, Alec McLean and others. Also Police/DPS for keeping her alive! They are unsung heroes. Also kudos to VIP Drivers (I agree they rock). Privileged to continue using them, so not an end.

27 years since her maiden speech at 32. Said greatish wish was to have contributed ot making NZ a better place for peopel to live in. She thinks she has played her part – has been a privilege and an honour. Wishes Goff and Labour best for the next election and NZ the best for challenging times ahead.

All over. Clapping and hugs. Key gave a cheek kiss. Now given a Maori cloak by Nanaia.

Speech was very good. Covered the whole life, not just the achievements as PM, which makes it more interesting. No masively stand out moments, but nothing you can fault either. No bitterness or sniping, and no defensiveness.