An interesting 12 questions with Bill English. Some extracts:
Your wife Mary’s father is Samoan and her mother is Italian. What have you learned from them?
They’re a remarkable example of the promise of coming to New Zealand being realised. They raised 13 children on one income and own their own home. They had a very strong focus on their kids getting educated and maintaining their health which is a challenge in a large family on a low income.
Wow, that is an amazing achievement.
You grew up in a family of 12 kids on a farm in Dipton. What was your childhood like?
A mixture of discipline, hard work and adventure. We were expected to contribute to the farm and the household to the maximum of our ability at whatever age. When I was 10 I was sent out to plough our paddock on the tractor with very little instruction. At age 12 I cooked breakfast for 20 people when the shearers came up for breakfast.
Good life skills.
What have you learned about leadership that you didn’t know back in 2002?
When people put you into a leadership position, they expect you to exercise your judgment when it really matters. I’ve tended to take a consultative and collective approach but looking back I should have followed my intuition a bit more and not relied so much on advice.
Yep, follow your instincts.
What role does your Catholic faith play in your political life?
My faith is a significant part of who I am so it can’t help but affect my personal decision-making. It’s part of your conscience. I go to church most Sundays. I like sitting down the back as just another congregation member. You hear ideas around humility, forgiveness and mercy which are not part of the general political round. I find it very balancing.