Meant to blog this speech a couple of weeks ago but been busy. But worth highlighting some key parts:
At 9 months old, I was lucky enough to be adopted into a humble, working class family.
My parents are small business owners. My dad drives trucks and my mum is a saleswoman. They didn’t grow up with much, yet they made a better life for themselves through hard work, personal responsibility and private enterprise.
All good values.
My mum faced her fair share of challenges from the moment she adopted me, from taking care of a sick baby, later dealing with a troubled and misbehaving kid, watching her son battle cancer, struggling with her separation and raising 3 children.
I’m inspired by the grit and determination my mum displayed to rise above her challenges and provide for her family. And she worked hard, at one stage holding down 8 different jobs in order to make ends meet.
No Working for Families then.
Despite this loving family, I was far from a role model growing up. I spent most of my high school years either in detention, chasing girls, or getting into mischief. I was probably on the pathway to prison if it weren’t for an intervention my high school principal made which changed my life forever.
My principal convinced a local butcher next to my high school to take me on as a butcher’s apprentice. Through this job, I developed discipline, customer service skills, discovered the joys of earning a paycheque, and later discovered my passion for economics.
A good first job can turn a lot of lives around. It is the ones who have never held a job that are the problem.
That a high school dropout can later graduate with a Masters degree from Harvard speaks to the promise of growing up in a free and equitable country like New Zealand. Where any kid, no matter where they come from, whatever their skin colour, or which school they attend, can succeed if they have the determination, aspiration and work ethic to do so.
New Zealand is one of the few places in the world where this story is even possible, and it’s this aspect of our society which I seek to uphold and strengthen.
We have very good social mobility.