Four more valedictories

First is Rajen Prasad:

 I have been entrusted with the roles like New Zealand’s Race Relations Conciliator, Human Rights Commissioner, adjudicator in immigration cases, and * Chief Families Commissioner. But nothing prepares you for your life as a politician. In the eyes of many, I became useless, self-interested, untrustworthy, and just a bloody politician overnight. Such is the contempt in which we are held, but that reputation is neither accurate nor deserved. I have the utmost respect for all my parliamentary colleagues across the House. I have never worked with a more hard-working group of individuals dedicated to providing 24/7 for the nation and for their constituents.

A nice reminder that most MPs are very hard working and dedicated people. Yes there are some bad eggs, but they are the minority.

I have been asked to speak directly to Mrs Macindoe of Hamilton, Tim’s mother, who wants to know why I am always mean towards her son when debating in the House. Tim has been unable to convince her otherwise. Mrs Macindoe, I am speaking to you. I count your son as a friend, and we have travelled together through China and Mongolia with our partners. Tim is a perfect gentleman and on every occasion outside this House we act as friends and we always inquire about each other’s health. It is the nature of life in this Chamber to debate vigorously when our values lead to different policy prescriptions, but we remain civil, we remain supportive, we remain friends, and I count you as one of them and, through you, everybody else. 

Nicely said.

I want to make a few comments about ethnic affairs and immigration. But first I want to acknowledge the current ethnic members of this Parliament: Raymond Huo, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Melissa Lee, and Jian Yang. Although we come from different sides of the House, we collectively understand ethnic issues and the demands of our communities. However, I wonder whether the nature of these demands is fully understood in the various courts of this Parliament. There are 500,000 members of ethnic communities in New Zealand, and this is our constituency. These communities have come to see ethnic MPs as their link to our formal systems. In addition, they have a not unreasonable expectation that we will be their advocates, their advisers, and their champions. We are required to be present at all their major events and functions, to speak at all of them, to act like their electorate MPs. So for ethnic MPs the country becomes our electorate and there is no end to the constituency matters that we have to deal with.

Sadly Labour may end up with no Asian MPs after the election. Hell they may end up with no List MPs at all!

I have seen a suggestion that all MPs should prepare an individual annual report on what work we have done as a way of informing our people. This is a sensible idea and could be useful in reaching over the media to inform people more widely. Instead, what is reported is how many press statements we put out, how many Official Information Act requests we lodge, or how many questions for written answer we ask. These have become the measuring stick, never mind the fact that most of them are never published, and that many are binned immediately after they have been received. 

Hmmn, I think he is referring my league tables. The trick is to get them published, and if you never put any out – well …

(Labour): Tēnā koe, Mr Assistant Speaker, ngā mihi nui, kia koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. I want to first of all acknowledge my buddy , and tell him that I have still got the photos from our trip to Taiwan and that I am planning to divulge them before I leave. I also want to acknowledge you, Mr Assistant Speaker, because you will make your valedictory next week, and I am also looking forward to that, and it has been a pleasure working with you. I want to acknowledge all members of Parliament whom I have served with, and I do so without rancour or criticism, because much to my surprise, over nearly 9 years in Parliament, I have found that despite furious debate about political difference, most MPs come here with sincere intent. 

It’s a pity we only get reminded of this as .

I know that some people think I was born a devil beast trade unionist, but my apprenticeship to the labour movement in this Parliament was forged in many different experiences and some very tough jobs. I grew up in a family where war and politics cast a long shadow. My grandfather Frederick Frost fought and was injured in Somme* in the First World War*. . That man started his first job at the age of 12 as a pit boy in a Northumberland mine. So if I am a bit rough around the edges, I think you probably get it now. He was elected the Labour MP for New Plymouth in the wartime Labour Government led by Michael Joseph Savage* and then Peter Fraser*. . My father Verdun Frost was a navigator in World War II* and patrolled the Pacific. Like his father he was a declared socialist. My mother, the very staunch and Catholic Patricia Mary Te Rata Mahuta Kerr, came from an ancestry of Irish rebels. She was very stroppy. I was scared of her. Tau Henare descends from that line, so you kind of know what I mean. You cannot help your relatives. My parents instilled in their two sons and two daughters the hope of a better and fairer life for all in New Zealand. My generation profited from their sacrifice and hard work. Early Labour Governments meant that I, along with John Key, grew up in a State house and benefited from State-funded health and education. That gave me choices that younger people do not have today. I had the freedom and security to be different and to challenge. With my troublemaking heritage, it was inevitable that I would be drawn to the anti-war nuclear movements and the remote hippy generation of the 1970s. It led me on a journey that was both good and bad. I dropped out of education. I had a range of interesting and boring jobs. I travelled through dangerous countries, and I did some silly things. Some will have read the story of my drug addiction, when I was a younger person in the 1970s. Despite treatment and recovery years ago, I reluctantly agreed for my story to be published this year. It is still such a taboo topic, so hard to talk about. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I blame no one but myself for my mistakes, and I have made plenty. Drug-taking was a means of defiance against the establishment and seemed cool at the time. I know that the threat of law-breaking or addiction did not stop me, and the opprobrium of society made no difference. I want to say that smoking a joint did not lead me to other drugs; criminals selling drugs did. That is why I believe that the war on drugs has been a total failure. That is why I think it is time for this Parliament to treat drug abuse as a health problem, not a criminal offence—that means properly funded addiction treatment. I also believe it is time for politicians in this House to decriminalise personal marijuana use and take the crooks out of the business. 

A very interesting background, and I agree with her on drugs.

Hon Dr (Minister of Māori Affairs):

I will just tell you straight that I go up and down the country talking to my people and I say to you—and I will say it again now—that Parliament is a Westminster system that is all about the vote. If you are able to secure the vote you are able to secure change and progress for you and your party. It is not just how loud you protest outside is or the issues you bring up; this is about sitting at the table. You have got to be at the table. That is why parties go to extraordinary lengths to try to do deals and be at the table and so on, and that is great—that is the system. But just know that that is the system. I really feel strongly that there should be programmes introduced in schools. This is what we did with * Te Reo Māori. It was slipping away—gone burger. Then, suddenly, we brought in * kōhanga reo and started teaching the little ones. Now they are reading the news in Māori. Now they are working for companies. Now they have got their own companies, kōrero Māori ana. And it works. So what about if we had some lessons in schools about our system of Government: what it is, what you do there, how you make laws and you get rewards and things for your people?

If you’re not at the table, then you’re just a series of press releases.

Well, you think you know your Prime Minister. I am going to just give you the real Prime Minister. You are a strong, forceful leader, albeit with a strange sense of humour.

Very strange 🙂

I have got a lot of * mokopuna. They are all here—downstairs, I guess. I have got one great mokopuna. He is 1 now, and his name is Kanohi Tanga Utu Kanohi Tū Hanga. I want to speak to him now. E moko, in 30 years you can become the new co-leader of the Māori Party. You will have more than 20 Māori caucus members and be deciding which ones should be in the House of Representatives—in Parliament—and which ones should be in the “Upper Treaty Senate”, which, 30 years ago, began with our constitutional review. Moko, in 30 years’ time you will be dealing with a * superministry called * Whānau Ora. In my time, they had separate ministries for social development, education, employment, and so on. Moko, in 30 years’ time you will be dealing with the chief executive officers of Māori statutory boards all around the country. In my time we had to have a * hīkoi, we had to have lots of hui, and we had to have a scrap in * Cabinet to get the first one up and running in Auckland. In 30 years’ time you will be dealing with a “Minister for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Negotiations”. That is right—that is the one who replaced the * Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations after all the settlements were completed. In my time, when we got the declarations signed they said it would not mean anything—by the way, that is what they said about the Treaty as well. Moko, in 30 years’ time you will be dealing with all the * Whare Ōranga Ake units that have been created. Back in my time they were called prisons and did not provide any rehabilitation programmes. Oh yes, moko, keep up with your English language, because in 30 years’ time * Te Reo Māori will be the official language of New Zealand, spoken by all. And so, mokopuna, grow strong; you have much to do. * Tēnā tātou.

A vision for NZ for his grandchildren.

Hon :

There is nowhere where I feel more at peace than in the still tranquillity of the * Whanganui River, * Te Awa Tupua, our life blood, our tribal heartbeat, the sacred umbilical cord that unites us from the mountain to the sea. Every year our iwi come together to connect as one through the journey that we call the Tira Hoe Waka. In many ways the last 18 years in this place have been like that same journey that we take: a journey of hope, hope for a better future for our * mokopuna. 

Like Sharples, a focus on the future.

And my beloved friend-in-arms Parekura—I miss him so much. Whenever I think of Parekura, I think of how important he has been to my family. My baby, my mokopuna* whom I have raised, Piata, who would have given anything to be Ngati Porou*, , used to come home from school and say to me “Māmā*, , can I just say that I am?”, because she wanted Parekura to be her real pāpā.

Oh, that is so nice.

 And Darren Hughes—that amazing young man Darren Hughes—who I thought would one day be the leader of the Labour Party and who in fact will end up being the Prime Minister of New Zealand. I miss him so much; he was a great young man, a beautiful young man.

If Darren was still an MP, I suspect he would be Deputy Leader by now.

 I want to take this opportunity to mihi to somebody in the House for whom I have huge respect and regard, and that is Hekia. Tēnā koe ki te Minita*. . I have absolutely loved your passionate belief that all of our children have a right to succeed in education. Second-best is not part of your vocabulary, and only excellence will do. You know that we are preparing the next leaders of this nation. I believe totally in what you are doing and I want to say that today in this House.

And the results for young Maori doing NCEA are improving significantly.

I cannot leave this House without recognising a real friend, Chris Finlayson. Chris is the greatest Treaty settlements Minister that we have ever had in this country.

If National gets a third term, we may see the last historical settlement completed!

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