Audrey on Maggie

January 12th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young interviews North Shore MP Maggie Barry. Some extracts:

What’s been the most rewarding part of the past year?

My big highlight was Taharoto, the mental health facility. From probably about my first month in the job I got complaints from my constituents about this dreadful acute psychiatric facility in the North Shore Hospital grounds. It’s a converted maternity hospital and is absolutely vile, deeply awful and I went and had a look and I was shocked by what I saw. I’ve been lobbying and talking to (Health Minister) Tony Ryall and Lester Levy at Waitemata DHB and when Tony was out of the country he let me announce that we are putting in $25 million and we are completely rebuilding the facility.

Most electorate MPs will cite something they have done for their electorate as the best part of the job.

What’s the most frustrating thing about working in Parliament?

I guess some of the posturing. The obfuscation that goes on, the crap that gets talked in the House, the faux outrage has been so extreme it’s almost amusing, and the fake gravitas as well is one of my other favourites.

Both Labour and the Greens had talked to me at different times about joining their ranks over the 30 years I had been (in the media). There was a certain amount of “you’re toast, we’re going to get you” in the corridor. I sustained quite a few insults in the first couple of months – “get back to the garden where you belong”. A couple of grumpy old trouts came out with that stuff.

My son is 14 and he said to me a while ago, “What do you do about bullying?” I said, “You’ve got to face them down”. And that’s what I’ve decided to do with bullies in Parliament, the bully boys in the Opposition and the more passive aggressives in the Greens and New Zealand First.

When it comes to the dark arts of politics, one piece of advice I received and that I took was that if someone hits you, you hit them back twice as hard. I’ve done that in my first year. I think people have got the message that I’m not going to be bullied and pushed around so hopefully (in 2013) I can relax a bit from that stance.

You’re very combative.

I think if you don’t do it you’re dog tucker, frankly. I’ve looked at others who are heckled, nasty things – “bottle-blonde”, “big slob”, “fat girl” – really low-grade, low-rent. Never going to make it into Hansard, not going to be heard from the gallery but it’s there and undermines people’s confidence. It was a bold call to answer them back.

Maggie has indeed shown she is no victim.

Are you talking about Jacinda Ardern (whom Barry pointed out, in the Paid Parental Leave Bill debate, didn’t have children)?

Oh, “precious petal” is a bit different. (When Labour MPs called her comments outrageous, Barry told Ardern; “Don’t be precious, Petal”.) Frankly, I was sick of people shouting across the House at me, “You’ve dumped your son at boarding school”, “All Nats are bad mothers” and Jacinda did her “National Party women love coal more than they love kids”. I thought: “Actually, how many kids do you have? What do you understand about the reality of juggling it all while you are in the House?” So then Trevor (Mallard) does his mad tweet (demanding an apology) with the faux outrage and gravitas, which is all nonsense. If I thought Jacinda had been in the foetal position, weeping, I would have acknowledged that. But when she says it’s no big deal and Trevor wants me to apologise, guess what the outcome is likely to be?

Not hard to guess.

Name one of your heroes outside politics.

Ed Hillary. I did the last interview of him for the Listener. He was somebody I had always admired as a kid. To do the final interview with him was an honour. I did six hours with him over two days for oral archives for Radio New Zealand and it ultimately ended up a 14-pager for the Listener, published posthumously. As it turned out, his health was such that even Mark Sainsbury couldn’t get an interview with him after that because of the nature of his decline. He’d been on the Garden Show many times talking about meconopsis, the blue poppies. Bless him, he hardly knew a rhododendron from a poppy but he knew what he liked.

He was the quintessential Kiwi – very self-effacing, which is why I did the thing for the oral archives because there was very little (on record) about his trip up the Ganges. (And) there was very little on record about that final ascent. “What happened Ed, when you got to that point (now) known as the Hillary Step and Sherpa Tensing turned back as he had done four times before? What made you go on?” He spelt it all out and he spelt out why he didn’t come out with it at the time. It’s that old-fashioned sense of honour and we will not see his like again.

Very true. He was exceptional.

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17 Responses to “Audrey on Maggie”

  1. mikenmild (10,720 comments) says:

    Why will we not see his like again?

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  2. Bob R (1,336 comments) says:

    OT, but is anyone else here slightly concerned that Gaylene Preston’s film Parihaka film appears to be incredibly slanted to make Pakeha appear evil? Or that that this Taranaki Wars Exhibition is not being altered despite numerous errors, all of which just happen to portray Pakeha in the worst possible light?

    It’s almost as if these people want to incite racial hatred. I’m concerned my daughter will have to watch this propaganda when she starts school.

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  3. Dean Papa (743 comments) says:

    I wonder what Sir Ed thought of that weet-bix ad?

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  4. TripeWryter (715 comments) says:

    Meanwhile, back to Ms Barry…

    She carries in her genes those of her mother, several aunts and great-aunts, and cousins. Strong, articulate, independent and capable women who survived and thrived often in difficult circumstances.

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  5. labrator (1,750 comments) says:

    “National Party women love coal more than they love kids” – Jacinda Ardern

    You stay classy Labour.

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  6. Azeraph (603 comments) says:

    Adhern is young but it is stupid to goad without any data of the opposing side and in my view childish, So, When you have two opposing sides gutter trashing each other, what does that tell you? I’m not naive to politics but the country is starting to disengage and an increasing age difference in opinion is widening.

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  7. Redbaiter (7,623 comments) says:

    “Why will we not see his like again?”

    You of all people Milky, a communist and a progressive, have the utter gall to ask this question?

    We will see his like again, but not until people such as you are removed from political and social ascendancy in our communities.

    For it is you who have not only yourself poured scorn and ridicule on such concepts as “old fashioned honour” but have through your infestation and abuse of our education system, taught our children to do the same.

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  8. Redbaiter (7,623 comments) says:

    “OT, but is anyone else here slightly concerned that Gaylene Preston’s film Parihaka film appears to be incredibly slanted to make Pakeha appear evil?”

    Wait till you see Tarantino’s “Django Unchained”.

    You can’t stop these kind of people from making their rubbish movies. The real issue is that our offspring are today so uneducated, and so ignorant of real history, it is easy for the lies half truths and distortions these propagandists employ to find acceptance in their psyche.

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  9. duggledog (1,358 comments) says:

    I quite like Maggie she’s done more in her life than a lot of women I know (and men actually). I bet she knows how to gut skin and quarter a rabbit too, or knock out a decent pav.

    You know how in the old days when ‘women in horseback’ would descend on whichever drop kick parents in the district were neglecting their kids and sort them out? I’ve always thought Maggie would be one of those women.

    And actually, I think Jacinda Ardern would have gone along too, she just wouldn’t have lead the charge:)

    I like strong-willed gutsy women. I’m married to one!

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  10. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    Woohoo for Maggy Barry. A true lady and one with Titanium Ta-ta’s. Long may she live.

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  11. bc (1,334 comments) says:

    Redbaiter @ 3.32pm

    I can’t wait to see Tarnatino’s “Django Unchained”. The man is a genuis!!
    Can’t see what the problem is that you have with it frankly, he writes FICTION.

    Of course Tarantino was snubbed again at the Oscars for best director. Like Scorcese (who got ignored by the Oscars until “The Departed”) his films are just a little bit edgy for the conservative Oscars voters. He pretty much expects it. Good to see Tarantino stating publically that he thought (correctly) that Ben Affleck should have got a nomination for “Argo”.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=10858543

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  12. bc (1,334 comments) says:

    Fair enough that Barry feels that she has respond to the petty comments said about her by the opposition.
    However, the impression I got from that article is that she thinks politics is just a game of tit for tat – you say something nasty about me, I say something nasty back to you.
    It would be nice to think that Barry has some higher aspirations.

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  13. BeaB (2,058 comments) says:

    Bc You cannot judge her by what a writer and editor choose to include in an article. You can learn more about her from her speeches and actions. Great to see a woman uncowed by those nasties on the other side. The Nats have some great women.

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  14. bc (1,334 comments) says:

    True, BeaB. But unless the writer is making up those quotes, it seems that Barry is fixated with playing petty name-calling games with the opposition.

    Do you include Parata in your list of great Nats women? :)

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  15. Nick K (1,068 comments) says:

    “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.”

    I think this simple saying stands the test of time. Why do politicians feel it doesn’t apply to them? Maggie should just ignore the Trevor Mallards of this world. When asked for comment I would simply say: “I have never listened to Trevor Mallard and don’t intend to start now”.

    End. Of. Story.

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  16. bc (1,334 comments) says:

    Agree Nick.

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  17. BeaB (2,058 comments) says:

    I would guess the interview took a long time and covered a lot of material and the writer selected the parts she wanted to emphasise to create her ‘angle’.

    I have yet to make up my mind about Hekia Parata – she has a good pedigree in public servce but has got off to a bad start – partly her own making and partly that English import who didn’t understand NZ education and partly the unions who gang up to destroy every new education minister, Labour ones included. I hope this year will be better for her and we’ll see a great MP in the making. Education needs a lot of work and cannot continue to be dominated by self-serving unions.

    Just look at the full page ad by the PPTA today. Any good English teacher would put a line through it for exaggerations, half-truths and loaded language.

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