Friday’s MPs

The Herald series continues:

Hekia Parata hit out at the impact the “capricious ideas of officialdom” have had on small towns struggling to keep themselves going, saying she had seen communities such as the Ruatoria she grew up in “succumb to the disease of dependency”.

A former public servant and consultant in the business she ran with husband Wira Gardiner, she said in some communities state intervention had become the norm rather than the exception.

“Caregivers and providers and facilitators and sector workers replace aunts, uncles, neighbours and friends.”


She knows now that even the Ruatoria of her childhood was economically challenged. “But its cultural wealth and social richness, its determined self-belief and hard work kept it viable.”

However, in such communities state welfare – “rather than social welfare” – had become a first resort, spawning “an intergenerational life sentence, rather than a life line”. In such communities, “despair and alienation are masked by drugs and alcohol and abuse, and displaced anger makes victims of children and their mothers, where low expectation in schools is predictably repaid with low achievement; where fault and blame laying has become the defence of failure”.

She said she felt called to Parliament to “lay bare the causes of these symptoms” and act to find durable solutions.

Her recipe for doing so was for the state to play a lesser role in communities and instead be filtered through organisations that worked and lived with the people affected. She also believed cultural diversity should be invested in, “not because it is fashionable, but because it carries identity and the potential for innovation and new technologies”. The final ingredient was education.

“All other aspirations for economic growth, raised standards of living, national confidence and pride, will flow from getting these basics right.”

There is a reason why Hekia had such a high list ranking.

Paul Quinn

Background: Iwi affiliations include Ngati Awa, Tuhoe and Te Arawa. Former Maori All Black from 1977 to 1979. Degree in economics, he most recently ran his own business advisory and consultancy company. Has worked in the forestry sector and on Treaty settlements, including as a negotiator for Ngati Awa’s Treaty claim. Director of the NZ Rugby Union since 2002 and remains active at a grass roots level on the committee of his old Marist St Pat’s rugby club.

In his own words: “[The Treaty settlement process] is but one specific reason why I now stand in this House. It is my response to the total lack of leadership provided by the previous administration in getting on with the job, particularly when it was obvious there was a better way. I note they magically found that better way some six months out from an election.”

Paul, like Hekia, has an excellent background and will be able to make a contribution across a number of areas.

Iain-Lees Galloway

Background: One of Labour’s ‘fresh faces’ intake, 30-year-old has two pre-school children. Was president of the Massey University Students’ Association in 2005 and a campaigner for NZ Nurses’ Organisation prior to Parliament. Maiden speech focused on the need for community organisations to help parents support their children and the importance of investing in research and development.

Many of Labour’s new MPs were student association presidents.

Personal: Mr Lees-Galloway is evidence that National is not the only party taking new MPs that don’t fit in with the party’s stereotypical image. He was educated at King’s College, comes from a beef farming family and wryly admitted his parents remained “thoroughly perplexed” by seeing him on Labour’s side of the House.

His candidacy in Palmerston North presented them with the dilemma of choosing between their own son or their beloved National Party. “They came up with a novel if somewhat drastic solution: they moved out of the electorate. I’m sure [National and Rangitikei MP] Simon Power will be relieved to know he now has two more voters whose loyalty is unquestionable.”

I’m not sure Simon’s majority needed the help, but I’ve yet to meet an MP who doesn’t appreciate every extra vote!

Comments (12)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment