Harbour News did an interview with Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye. One extract:
She’s been contacted by more than 1500 locals in the last six months, asking for help with anything from funding for a particular drug or help with a government agency.
Trying to fit in as many people as possible means working six-and-a-half days a week and she says it’s frustrating not to be able to help everyone.
“I’m always trying to fit more people in and I find that hard.”
But it’s also the most rewarding part of the work for Miss Kaye.
“I have been moved by the people I’ve met in terms of their stories.”
And dealing with the community face-to-face makes a nice change from the bureaucracy of Parliament, she says.
Some people think being an MP is just about getting up in the House and slagging off the other side. For constituency MPs especially they spend a huge amount of time assisting constituents and dealing with local issues. Many good electorate MPs are dealing with similiar workloads.
It has been interesting observing MPs under MMP. The common assumption before MMP came in was that most MPs would prefer to be List MPs. They would be freed up from all the constituency work, and have more time to concentrate on Parliament, policy etc.
However the vast majority of MPs I know far far prefer being an electorate MP, even though it does mean they are much busier. I think it is the warm feeling they get from being able to help people on an individual level, as a contrast to passing laws and policies that you have relatively little say in anyway (unless the PM or senior Minister).
To some degree this is reflected back by what the public thinks of MPs as a group, as oppossed to their local MP.
Numerous polls have put MPs as a group as ranking around the level of used car salesmen – about as low as one can go.
Interestingly though, if you poll voters in an electorate about what they think of their local MP, most MPs will get a good rating – and some will get hugely positive ratings.