Colin James taking leave of his relentless weekly scribblings

I’ve known of Colin James for a long time. He has been a relatively quiet but thinking political journalist.His work wasn’t about him, it was about his subjects.

He is retiring, and talks a bit about himself and his job in his last post, A lifetime learning. There comes a time.

Journalists live two lives: the inner and the craft.

When David Lange died and the Greens stood in his memory opening their 2005 election campaign, I the journalist stayed sitting while I the inner person behind the journalist secretly stood. There was the same wrench when the Council of Trade Unions conference in 2015 stood in memory of the fine Peter Conway.

The privilege is to spend a lifetime learning.

For a half-century I have had that deeply enriching privilege.

The utu is to listen with respect.

For some, expression is journalism’s pleasure. They are would-be writers and journalism is as close as they can get.

For me, writing it down was the grind. Words shuffled off the keyboard or sat stuttering. They often said to readers different things from what I thought I had said. Words, I found, are wilful and wayward.

Nevertheless, for five decades generous editors and readers encouraged me in my attempts at this exacting craft. They privileged me to go on learning.

So I have had a working life beyond any of my youthful imaginings. It usually scarcely felt like work. I often pinched myself: surely I can’t be here doing this.

My beat was politics and policy, a high privilege. Since politics is power, I met those in power and their advisers and came to understand and respect them, even those I could not admire. Many I the inner person came quietly to like.

Almost all in politics mean well. I learned they are different: they see, or affect to see, only one side of each many-sided story the journalist sees.

And since politics seeps into almost every corner of a nation’s life, I met thousands of interesting people from nearly every walk of life.

Almost all were thoughtful and courteous. The tiny few who were angry or abusive almost all recovered the courtesy and decency that is in everyone when I replied with courtesy and respect.

Courtesy and respect seem to be sadly lacking in a lot of our politics and media, which is a real shame.

The Otago Daily Times set me on this path when young and in my twilight took me in again. It is 50 years since I first left the ODT, shortly afterwards to perch, perchance, in the parliamentary press gallery.

Now, as politics takes a fresh turn, into the post-baby-boom era, it has come time for this baby-boom fellow-traveller to take leave of his relentless weekly scribblings.

Thank you for having me.

Thanks to Colin for contributing and informing us about New Zealand politics so well and for so long.

Valedictory Statement – David Cunliffe

Remember David Cunliffe? He was one of the better ministers for the Clark government, and later led Labour to a bad result in the 2014 election, failing popularity tests within his own part let alone with the public.

Last year he indicated he had a better job to go to and would leave Parliament as soon as he could without causing a by-election in his New Lynn electorate.

On Tuesday he gave his valedictory speech in Parliament. I guess he is not an MP soon, if not now.


Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE (Labour—New Lynn):

Te papa pounamu

Aotearoa New Zealand

Karanga, karanga, karanga;

Ngā tupuna

Haere, haere, haere;

Te kāhui ora te korowai o tēnei Whare;

E tū, e tū, tū tahi tonu

Ki a koutou ōku hoa mahi ki Te Kāwanatanga;

Noho mai, noho mai, noho mai

Kia tau te rangimārie ki a tātou katoa;

Ka ao, ka ao, ka awatea.

[Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

They say that giving a valedictory speech is a bit like being buried alive; it is intended to be permanent, it is usually followed by a wake, and you get to witness the eulogies. Having failed miserably to obey Holyoake’s advice to breathe through my nose on my way in here, his advice may be more useful on the way out. May I thank colleagues from all sides who have joined us today—yes, I really am going. To all of the friends and family who have joined us from New Lynn and all around New Zealand, it is profoundly moving to have you all here. Thank you so very much for attending.

I think our early lives frame why we are all here. My parents were from a politically mixed marriage. For years, they actually cancelled each other out at the polling booth and probably should have saved the petrol. My father, the Rev. Bill Cunliffe—the “Red Reverend”—was the son of railway workers and miners. He was the first in his family to go to university. Priests, poets, and politicians—the Cunliffes were always idealists.

My mother’s family were National-voting farming folk. They just got stuff done. My mother was one of four feisty daughters and ahead of her time. She nursed around the world for a decade, starting in post-war Africa. But despite my mother’s pleas to avoid politics at the breakfast table, ours was never a household short of opinions—it still is not, as I look to my sons—or, as an Anglican vicarage, was never short of opportunities to meet and help the needy.

As a kid, I helped my dad with Labour Party chook raffles at the Pleasant Point pub because he was chairman of the Point branch and on Sir Basil Arthur’s LEC. I was also caned in the third form for biffing a mate who called me a “Labour poof”, so I learned some of my politics by osmosis and some by more direct means. My childhood in small-town rural New Zealand was both idyllic and formative. From Te Aroha to Te Kūiti to Pleasant Point, afternoons were spent fishing, weekends playing rugby, and holidays farm labouring or rousying in a shearing gang. Those are things you can definitely find on my CV.

Politics, they say, is like malaria; once it is in your bloodstream, it is really hard to get rid of. I really caught the bug as a Foreign Service officer tramping Capitol Hill in Washington for the New Zealand Embassy. But it was not until I got back to New Zealand that I got to indulge it. In 1999, thanks to an amazing Titirangi campaign team, we turned a National-held marginal into a safe Labour seat. The campaign theme was so simple, I can still remember it: cops, docs, trees, jobs, and kids. Not a bad line if we are stuck for one in 2017.

About that time I featured in a Young Labour fund-raising calendar as a gladiator. Go figure. Marian Hobbs was a nun on a motorbike, and Trevor and Steve were the Blues Brothers because they were cool.

Hon Trevor Mallard: A long time ago.

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: It was a while ago. But, in any case, picture the class of ’99 washing into Parliament with huge energy. We actually staged a backbench revolt in the Finance and Expenditure Committee to hold up the demutualisation of the New Zealand Stock Exchange, preventing a hostile takeover by the ASX and demanding a proper regulatory framework that may have been good for economic sovereignty, but we got our ears boxed for our enthusiasm. Likewise, chairing the Commerce Committee in my first term, we did not sugar-coat too many pills after 9 long years of opposition. I must have mellowed with age, because the Regulations Review Committee, which I chaired this term, has never put anything to the vote, and I thank members on both sides of that committee for their collegiality and professionalism.

The years 1999 to 2000 saw business pushback against the Clark Government’s reforms. It was countered with our very own “smoked salmon offensive” of canapé and conversation. My small part in that was tragically outed when I erroneously emailed a plan to Jenny Shipley’s office. When it turned up on the 6 o’clock news, it took precisely 2 seconds for Prime Minister Helen Clark to ring me and share her views on the story with me. You know what I mean: “Yes, Helen.” Jonathan Hunt gave me two excellent pieces of advice that first term that stuck: never forget you are here only because you have Labour next to your name, and knock every door in your electorate in your first term, because once your constituents know that you are there for them, they will forgive your later time in Wellington. I have loved being a local MP. To the good people of New Lynn, thank you for letting me represent you. I hope I have done the job justice.

MPs come to Parliament not only to serve their district but also to contest ideas and policies. We are lucky that we have this institution, that we have the media to cover it, and that we have healthy debate. Since I first walked into this place, my political values have been grounded in a very simple belief: that all people are created equal and that, therefore, they all deserve equal opportunity, dignity, and respect; that markets make good servants but bad masters; and that it is the Government’s job to ensure that the economy serves our people and not the other way around.

In a small country, we are all in it together. If we do not educate all our young, who is going to pay for the superannuation and healthcare of tomorrow? If all our people do not have warm, dry homes, some of our kids will get sick and cannot learn, and if all people do not have jobs that pay a living wage, we will all be the poorer for it. Those are principles that we worked hard to deliver on in the fifth Labour Government, and the next Labour Government will too.

I was fortunate to cut my teeth in the Beehive with Sir Michael Cullen, surely one of New Zealand’s greatest finance Ministers, and under the leadership of Helen Clark. I always thought that to work with one of them would have been lucky; to work with a team of two was extraordinary. But it did not take me long to work out that the real job of an Associate Minister is photocopying, which is shorthand for doing anything else that senior Ministers either do not have the time or the inclination to do. So I got to ask State-owned enterprises why they were not writing bigger cheques to the Minister of Finance and to ask the IRD why the child support system pleased absolutely nobody. A highlight was making sandwiches with Trevor Mallard for that modern miracle, the State sector Budget round. Michael Cullen described the fiscal balance as the difference between two very large numbers that bounce around a lot—Grant is smiling; he knows—but balance them he did, with nine straight surpluses and KiwiSaver and the New Zealand Superannuation Fund to boot. They have stood the test of time, and I believe they are crying out to be built upon.

In information and communications technology (ICT), I watched Hon Paul Swain get sliced and diced by the then monopoly Telecom after the 2001 Fletcher inquiry called time on that neo-Liberal version of The Emperor’s New Clothes known as “self-regulation”. It sounds a bit like self-flagellation, but less useful. When, after the 2005 election, Helen Clark asked me to take on the ICT portfolio, we started a broad-based stocktake review immediately, and after 6 months of research it was a compelling business case for pro-competitive regulation. Because of the sensitivity of the issue, we placed high security around all of the paperwork, but that did not stop a Beehive messenger slipping a copy of the Cabinet committee papers to someone from Telecom at a cycle club meeting. The resulting protest from Telecom was, however, too late; Cabinet had already approved the far-reaching package that unbundled and operationally separated Telecom and overhauled the regulator. Taking legal advice, we released the package that very day, and despite the short-term impact on share prices generated by the loss of monopoly rents, as predicted, investment in the sector doubled, retail prices fell, and broadband roll-out took off. The current Government has continued that work, and good on it. New Zealand is now amongst one of the best-served telecommunications markets in the world, and Kiwis really did get faster, cheaper broadband.

As immigration Minister, my focus was on protecting human rights and getting the skills we needed to move New Zealand forward. I learnt pretty quickly that moderate, skill-driven immigration helps build a modern, connected New Zealand. But too many people too quickly puts undue pressure on infrastructure and communities, all in the name of grabbing more GDP. No prizes for guessing which zone we are in now!

Inheriting the health portfolio a year before a general election was bound to be fun. In my first week, senior doctors were about to go on strike. The headlines screamed “system failure”. The strike was averted after a long liquid dinner in my Beehive office with the district health board and senior doctors’ representatives. The only condition was no one was allowed to leave until the deal was signed, which was actually at 5.30 the next morning.

Building on the work of previous Ministers, we accelerated universal bowel cancer screening—something that still has not happened; we integrated service planning for cardiology, health, IT, and other specialities; we boosted mental health funding, which still needs doing, and kept a strong focus on public health. I still believe that there is huge benefit in a free or low-cost, world-class health system that is nationally integrated and reaches right into communities.

Going into Opposition in 2008 was a shock for the Labour Party. The global financial crisis had made sure of it for our Government, and I think we had also lost connection with the people and some of our own members. It has been, as it is for most parties, a long, hard road back, but it does give you time to reflect on what really matters.

My time in several economic portfolios led me to some pretty straightforward conclusions. New Zealand, as Grant knows, does not save enough. What we do save, we invest in the wrong things. Without enough saving, investment is too costly and jobs are too few. KiwiSaver was a good start, but it needs a boost, and the New Zealand Superannuation Fund must be made sustainable. We invest less than half of the OECD average in research and development, and yet that smart stuff is what is going to win us markets and give our kids access to the global jobs of the future.

What capital we do have, we spend on the wrong things, like bidding each other’s house prices up. I remember my horror when I found the first family in Kelston living in a garage. We got the dad a job, the kids are now at medical school, but, tragically, you cannot find many garages to park a car in these days in South Auckland. New Zealand has become a speculator’s “pavlova paradise”: no capital gains tax, negative gearing, weak rules on foreign land bankers, and throw in tax loopholes big enough to drive an Apple through.

It is time we put our policies where our principles are, not only because a fair go is right but because the evidence is compelling: more equal societies do better economically too. In New Zealand, inequality is actually holding us back. It is crippling our ability to do well as a country. The poor are getting poorer, the middle is working harder just to stand still. With nearly all of the wealth created in the past decade attaching, on average, to the top 1 percent, a smaller and smaller share of national income is actually going to wage and salary earners. At some stage, hopefully soon, it has got to reach a tipping point. Notwithstanding that, as the late, great John Clarke said: “We don’t know how lucky we are.”—I think he said “Trev”.

This side of the House makes no apology for fighting inequality, investing in people and smarts, and celebrating all that is good in this beautiful, diverse, and innovative country, and much of that, thank goodness, we all share. That was the message I hoped would resonate with many New Zealanders during my short time as Leader of the Opposition, including some of the missing million who could not be bothered to turn out to vote at all because they could not see the point any more. I could write a book about the 2014 election campaign, but I do not think anyone would believe it, or possibly read it. But, in any case, that campaign was one of the most bizarre the country has ever seen. We had Kim Dotcom, Donghua Liu, and dirty politics coming out our ears, but what the Labour Party did not have enough of was time: time to heal our old wounds, time to raise the money, and time to build the systems to get our message through. Mike Moore once said that the easiest way to be wrong in politics is to be right too soon. I have no regrets for standing up for what I believe in, though I recognise that my delivery could at times have done with some work. And no, family violence is still not OK.

So it was a huge privilege to be able to lead the New Zealand Labour Party, and I am indebted to all who were part of that campaign. I want to commend my successor, Andrew Little, and his deputy, Jacinda Ardern, and all my colleagues, who are now building for the 2017 campaign that will give New Zealanders a real choice for a fresh start.

Progressive politics has been my passion for these last 18 years, but if politics is like malaria—a recurrent fever—I think I might be just about cured. I have done what I can, and the time really has come to move on. I thank members for coming along to make sure I really mean it, but, unlike David Lange, I am not even going to joke about changing my mind, because I am lucky enough—I mean this—to be able to change tacks in my own time, in my own direction, and without a by-election, because Labour did so well in the last two I just could not inflict another one on members opposite. [Interruption] Lighten up, I am going.

Mr Assistant Speaker, thank you for allowing the electorate offices of all our departing members to continue to serve needy constituencies through these short months of interregnum. They say—this is unfair—that politicians are a mile wide and a millimetre deep; that may be the Bellamy’s catering. I am, however, looking forward to returning to the private sector and getting stuck in to some deeper issues, consulting to businesses, iwi, and regions.

So I am moving on with a real sense of optimism and excitement and, of course, a huge deal of gratitude. It is not possible—we all know this—to commit to a life in politics without the generous and selfless support of family and of friends. There are so many people to thank, it is impossible to do justice to them all. For some, I will convey privately the gratitude that time and place does not allow me to do today. To my long-standing electorate agents Sue Hagen and Lusi Schwenke: you have been with me through virtually the whole of my time in politics, and you have been there through the tough times. I could not have wished for better support or better friends. Thank you.

To my talented researcher Kris Lal; my dedicated executive assistants Reremoana Fuli, Esther Robinson, David Hawkins, Paul Grant, Sue Piper, Gay Pledger, and others; to my former Labour Leader’s Office staff, including Karl Beckert, Wendy Brandon, Rob Carr, Simon Cunliffe, Carolyn Dick, Rob Egan, Chris Harrington, Neale Jones, Matt McCarten, Deborah Manning, Elizabeth Munday, Dinah Okeby, Bronwyn Presland, Bridget Service, and Clint Smith—not forgetting, in the whips’ office, Emma Williams and Peter Hoare and my former ministerial staff, some of whom are in the gallery today: thank you all so much for what you do for New Zealand, and thank you for what we did together.

To the Labour Party leadership, especially presidents Nigel Haworth and Moira Coatsworth, general secretaries Andrew Kirton and Tim Barnett, as well as the thousands of volunteers and members who give so selflessly to build a better New Zealand; to our affiliates in the union movement, especially my friends the late Helen Kelly and the late Peter Conway; to Sam Huggard and Jill Ovens and friends here today; and to Richard Wagstaff, Angus McConnell, Chris Flatt, Joe Fleetwood, Bill Newsom, Robert Reid, and many others: kia kaha, e hoa.

To the incredible New Lynn Labour electorate committee: to Greg and Jan Presland, Clare Hargraves, Raema Ingles, James Armstrong, Eanna Doyle, and Val Graham; Kirsten H and what’s-his-name, Don and Noreen Clark—[Interruption]—there is a reason for that—Val and Don Rogerson, Bruce and Trixie Harvey, David and Liz Craig, Dorothy and Alan McGray, Nissanka Kumarawansa, Ami and the late Savitri Chand, Susan Zhu, Vanessa King, Kaye Jones, Martin and Laurice Holland, and to my excellent intended successor for New Lynn, Dr Deborah Russell, and to the Socialist Speechwriter, thank you all.

To Helen Clark, Michael Cullen, Jonathan Hunt, Perry Keenan, Sir Bob and Lady Harvey, Richard and Jackie Randerson, Rick Boven, Richard Zeckhauser, and Nitin Nohria: thank you all for your patience and guidance over the years. Thank you to the press gallery and the media for the important role that you continue to play. To all the parliamentary staff who keep us fed, watered, and safe: we could not do it—New Zealand could not do it—without you.

Finally, to my family, who have given the most over so many years, and especially to my two sons, William and Cameron, who are here today: I am so very proud of you guys. I love you very much, and I am looking forward to spending more time with you when I get home. You guys face a world that is more complex and more challenging than that inherited by those baby boomers, and us Gen-Xers, sitting in Parliament today. While our world is changing in fundamental ways, the values that guide us should not, because they are, ultimately, what make politics worth doing, not the rollercoaster of media attention or the greasy pole of competition. This is, ultimately, a service job, and that is what, for me at least, has made it such a privilege to be part of.

To all sides—all sides—of this special House and all who serve it, I wish you all well. I look forward now to just being a voter and a constituent from now on. Haere rā. [Applause]


John Key’s valedictory speech

John Key gave his final speech in Parliament today.

Draft transcript:


Rt Hon JOHN KEY (National—Helensville): I rise to address this House for the very last time. It has been a huge privilege to have served the people of Helensville as their member of Parliament, and, of course, the people of New Zealand as their Prime Minister.

Even though it was 15 years ago—the time has passed—when I first came here, in many ways it feels not that long ago that I rose to speak for the very first time, with all the emotions this House can invoke: excitement, trepidation, fear, and hope. This place is like no other. It is all-consuming, life-changing, mostly powerful, occasionally trivial, but never boring. What happens here matters a great deal to the lives of millions of Kiwis, who every day trust us, as politicians, to get it right on their behalf. I came here on a different path from many who had come before me. I had not been a member of my party’s youth wing; in fact, I had not been that involved with the National Party at all prior to throwing my hat in the ring for the selection for the Helensville seat, although I had always been a National supporter, and proud of it. I had not come here from a life of politics and protest; in fact, I came here from Wall Street.

But long before Wall Street, my political views had been shaped by my Austrian Jewish mother, Ruth, who single-handedly raised me and my sisters in the now-infamous State house at 19 Hollyford Avenue, Christchurch. My mother was a no-nonsense woman who refused to take no for an answer. She would not accept failure. She was an immensely hard worker, firstly as a night porter in the Clarendon Hotel so she could earn money while our family slept. Then, for many years, she worked as a cleaner, and even in retirement, as a volunteer. She was often abrupt. While I was at high school, I had a weekend job in some stables. I remember coming home one day at the age of 15 to tell Mum I had this brilliant idea: I was leaving school to train racehorses. “No.”, she said. “Shall we talk about it?”, I enquired. “No.”, she said. “Not even the pros and cons?”, I suggested. “No,”—she said—”you’re going to university to study accounting.” That was it. To Mum, no meant no. I do not think she would have lasted very long in coalition Government, but that is by the by.

Not that she was always lost for words. One day, early on in my first job, I bounced a cheque. The bank manager aired a view on that, but he was a novice. He should have taken lessons from Mum. As I said, she was often abrupt, but that day she was in full flight. She had worked hard all of her adult life to make sure she paid her bills on time, and she expected her three children to do the same.

By nature, I am a pragmatist, not an ideologue. That is because, in my experience, most people just want results that work. Some people have said that my pragmatism indicates the lack of a clear set of principles. I do not think that is true. It is just that my principles derive mostly from the values and ethics instilled in me by my upbringing, rather than by the “Politics 101” textbook. Once, when I was about 12, I rather thoughtlessly asked my mother over dinner why everyone else had nicer things than we did—why they had a better house than we had, and how come they went on more holidays and to more exciting places. For a moment, Mum was quite taken aback. “I’m doing my best for you.”, she said. “I may not be able to give you what some other kids had, but I can give you my love, and I can give you determination. I can give you the belief that through your own actions and your own hard work you can make your life better.” I never forgot that night, and I never will, and, of course, she was right. Mum taught me the things that allowed me to succeed, which I think are echoed by so many Kiwi parents: that you get out of life what you put in to it, that hard work can create opportunities, and that you really can change your own life—not by wishing it was different, but by working to make it different.

I have brought to politics an unshakable belief that regardless of our circumstances most of us share the same aspirations: we want our children to be fulfilled, and we want them to do better than we have. To most of us, what matters more than anything else is the health, welfare, and happiness of those people about whom we care most. In the end, Mum did not leave me any money, our holidays were always pretty basic, and the house we lived in for a long time was owned by the State Advances Corporation. But, truthfully, she left me the most important gift of all: the determination to succeed and the work ethic to make it happen.

As I am sure all of us here can attest, life in Parliament is odd. Our job is a mix of community worker, public speaker, local advocate, legislator, and policy maker. We face a glaring spotlight, relentless scrutiny, and the possibility every 3 years of being turfed out regardless of how hard we have worked, and we all spend long and lonely nights away from our families, who in turn spend many nights without us.

I recall early on as an MP being asked to address a visiting class of 6- or 7-year-old children from Bill English’s electorate of Clutha-Southland. “What on earth should I tell them?”, I thought as I wandered down to meet them. Anyway, I babbled on for about 15 minutes about the importance of democracy and the place of Parliament in our society, and then I opened for questions. A little girl immediately put up her hand. “Excellent.”, I thought. “Yes, dear?”, I said. “Do you have a dog?”, she said. It was an early lesson in adjusting to my audience and to appreciate that people from Southland get to the point quickly.

When I first came here, like all of us, I was an eager backbencher with much to learn. I remember walking out of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee with Roger Sowry, who was an experienced MP, and so I started asking him a million questions. He gave me what I thought was great advice. “John,” he said, “every moment you get, go to the House and watch the politicians who are good in the Chamber—not necessarily the ones you agree with or whom you want to be friends with, but those who can move the place with the power of their argument. Don’t stay in your office or go drinking. You are here to learn.” It was good advice, and I followed it, so every chance I had I came down and watched Michael Cullen, Richard Prebble, Winston Peters, Rodney Hide, Bill English, Simon Power, and Gerry Brownlee. Roger also gave me another lesson in the peculiarities of the place when he added, in the very next breath: “And by the way, John, just because I talk to you, it doesn’t mean I like you.”

Working with constituents has been an important part of my life as an MP. One day a father wrote to me to say his son had gone off the rails and, among other things, had been stealing cars and racing them around the streets. The father was convinced that life in the military would sort out his son, but the army had declined to take up the opportunity of enlisting the boy, so the father wanted some help on how his son might reapply. My secretary got his request and wrote an email to me, pointing out in no uncertain terms that if the little toe-rag was not such a drop kick and stopped nicking other people’s property, the army might just consider his request. Except, in one of those instances we all fear, she accidentally hit “Reply” instead of “Forward”, and so sent her forthright views straight to the father.

I was at the time in the middle of being interviewed by Radio New Zealand when she realised her mistake and burst into my office, close to tears, with her mea culpa. At that point, I decided either I was calling the father or the press gallery was, and in all probability both of us were, so I had better get on with it. It is fair to say the conversation started a little frostily, but the upshot was that I wrote a few letters, and in the end the army took the boy on. The last I heard, he was doing pretty well. That experience also made me an early convert to the good that the Limited Service Volunteer schemes can do to help some kids get back on the rails and see that they have a useful future.

I became Prime Minister in 2008. It is an incredible privilege to lead your country, but when I arrived on the ninth floor, New Zealand was in recession, unemployment was rising, finance companies were falling over, and the global financial crisis (GFC) was hitting.

Early on, we decided to hold the Job Summit. For the first time, we got the Government, unions, and the private sector all together to nut out some solutions, and although the 9-day fortnight and various other policies were a more effective response to the GFC, the Job Summit became the birthplace of the successful national cycleway scheme. Who would have believed that someone who loves golf and who had not been on a bike since my last one was flogged from Jellie Park when I was 15 would, all of a sudden, become a national advocate for off-road cycling? It is fair to say the Minister of Finance was a tad sceptical that this was a good use of $50 million of taxpayer money, but I am proud to say that in January of this year alone, more than a million people had used the cycleways. They have become a great earner. And the good news is that even Bill English was converted once he realised you could get a trim soy latte in Dipton.

I am immensely proud of the achievements made by the Government that I led. Our economic reforms and the 90-day trial periods ensure that young, and sometimes marginalised, Kiwis get a shot at proving their worth to an employer. There is the huge investment in infrastructure and, in particular, the roll-out of ultrafast broadband, and our support of the film industry, without which The Hobbit movies would have been made in London.

I am proud to have led a Government that balanced the books and that gave parents better information about the progress their child was making. There are the vastly improved health services, ensuring children under the age of 13 can go to the doctor for free, and the fully funded Herceptin for women diagnosed with breast cancer. It is a Government that put more police on the street and lifted benefits in real terms for the first time in 43 years, an administration with the ambition to make New Zealand predator-free by 2050, and one that advanced our trade agenda. I am also proud that so many Treaty settlements were completed, because apart from acknowledging past wrongs, they reflect the same aspirations we all share of improving our independence, creating opportunities, and providing our kids with a chance to better their lives.

In politics, disappointments are inevitable. It is futile to relitigate the flag debate here—well, I could start. However—

Grant Robertson: Go on.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: —yeah, go on; give it a go—I will always hold the view that a fresh, new flag, without the Union Jack on it, would have been one more step towards New Zealand’s growing profile, reputation, and uniqueness on the world stage.

For the most part, as a liberal MP, I feel I got my voting record right, although I regret voting against civil unions. I was pleased that Louisa Wall’s bill for gay marriage was drawn, and I am glad I supported it. I regret the Trans-Pacific Partnership did not get over the line. Trade has helped lift millions of people in the world out of poverty. On a local level, we want Kiwi businesses, large or small, to have opportunities to compete with others from around the world on the same terms and for the same rewards. I hope that one day the Kermadecs will be an ocean sanctuary so that long after we are all gone, it remains pristine and untouched.

As Prime Minister, I got to travel to many interesting places and promote New Zealand’s case and profile with many world leaders. A perennial favourite for the media was the silly shirts of the ASEAN and APEC summits. Those outfits might be OK for Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama, but as recent photos of me in my togs in Hawaii can attest, I am neither. So, on many occasions, I felt responsible for mangling not only the local language but the national costume as well.

It is fair to say my natural enthusiasm means I have had a few problems with handshakes over the years. I would hate to think how many three-way handshake selfies I have done, but they sure make O-Week go quickly. The ASEAN summit features a rather odd, cross-handed handshake known as the ASEAN way. I remember, on one occasion, after a photo in front of the world’s media, the then Philippines leader, President Aquino, leaning over to me and saying: “John, if that’s the ASEAN way, I’d hate to see what the other way looks like.” I felt like replying: “Ring Richie McCaw.”

Getting to go to some of the most iconic places in the world as Prime Minister has left memories I will never forget, and getting to share them with Bronagh, Stephie, and Max made them even more special. From Balmoral to Chequers, we saw it all. I will never forget taking the kids, when they were quite young, to China. The last time I had been there was as a businessman, so when I went back as Prime Minister, I asked whether, over the weekend, I might go to a couple of places to allow the kids to see some of the most famous sites, like Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall. Our Chinese hosts kindly agreed. As we were approaching both sites, I said to Max: “Best to stay close, or maybe even hold my hand, because there’ll be more people around you than you’ve ever seen in your entire life.” When we arrived, Max looked out of the car window, looked at me, and said: “Where is everyone?”. I took one look and realised that the entire Tiananmen Square had been emptied in the middle of the day so that my kids could get to see it, and when we arrived on the Wall, we were the only people on it for 5 miles in each direction. You sure get some cool photos when you are Prime Minister.

One time, I was at the Pacific Forum in the Marshall Islands, and when the summit finished, we had some downtime before leaving, so I hatched a plan to go tuna fishing. The trouble was I was due to get an important phone call from the then British Prime Minister, my friend David Cameron, about the atrocities taking place in Libya and to talk about why Britain was taking military action. “No worries,” someone said, “we have the satellite phone.” So we headed out to sea, and just as I had hooked a big one and was hauling it on board, the phone rang. I handed the rod to my diplomatic protection officer, who found some implement to finish off the tuna, which was flapping mightily in the boat. It is fair to say there was a huge amount of noise in the background, and Cameron, who was used to taking calls on secure phones and in a quiet office, said to me: “What the hell is going on there?”. “Oh,” I said, “don’t be alarmed. It’s just that we’re on a fishing boat about a mile out to sea in the Marshall Islands, and I’ve landed a big tuna.” There was this long silence, and then he wistfully said: “God, I wish I ran a small country.”

One of the unexpected parts of Government was dealing with tragedy and disaster. When the first Canterbury earthquake happened, I had just landed in Christchurch to see the damage for myself when I received a text from the department informing me that a skydiving plane had crashed at Fox Glacier, killing all nine people on board. That tragic and sudden loss of life put into perspective the terrible damage I was seeing around me in Christchurch. Bad as the earthquake had been, at least it had not claimed any lives.

That all changed on the afternoon of 22 February 2011. We felt that quake so strongly in the Beehive that we thought it must have been centred near us. But moments later, my Chief of Staff, Wayne Eagleson, came in and said: “That wasn’t Wellington. That was Christchurch.” I arrived in Latimer Square to the sound of sirens blaring and the air full of smoke from the burning CTV building. The media were reporting 12 dead, but the police commander told me that the number was 65 and rising. “How sure are you?”, I asked him. “Very sure.”, he said. “We’ve counted at least 65 body bags, and they’re only the ones that we’ve managed to get to so far.” The Christchurch earthquakes really hit home to me. It was my home town, and the death toll was so high. Right then, New Zealand seemed a particularly vulnerable and fragile place.

Time and again we have seen the answer to nature’s devastation is people’s resolve. Standing behind Christchurch was hugely important for my Government and, indeed, for this Parliament as a whole. Gerry Brownlee deserves a lot of credit for dealing with the situation, which was without precedent. It was Gerry who knew we had to establish a red zone, buy the 10,000 homes we did, support the small businesses, and pass the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority legislation. In my view, Christchurch and New Zealand owe Gerry a huge debt of gratitude for putting in place the mechanisms that allowed New Zealand to literally save a city.

I will also never forget the Pike River mine disaster. As the full gravity of the situation became clear, I flew to Greymouth. The impact that event had, and continues to have, on the small community of the West Coast is profound. It also had a far-reaching impact on New Zealand’s workplace health and safety laws. No one should leave home to go to work and never return.

One thing that maybe is not well known is that 5 days after the initial explosion the Mines Rescue Trust had decided it was safe to re-enter the mine. That Wednesday, I was receiving regular briefings on the planned re-entry, so when the phone rang I thought it was to inform me they had gone in. Instead, I learnt that a massive explosion had occurred. Had those rescuers been in the mine, they too would have perished. Let me say to those families directly affected by the disaster that I sincerely wish you could have been provided with the closure you deserve, but I can honestly say I never, in my time as Prime Minister, saw a credible and safe plan to achieve that.

A responsible country must sometimes stand alongside others to try to create a less violent and more stable world, but the risks and costs can be high. As Prime Minister, I was ultimately responsible for committing New Zealand troops overseas. The burden of doing so weighs heavily on any leader, and no news grieved me more than the loss of our troops in the course of duty that happened in my time. My heart continues to go out to the Defence families for their sacrifice, and on this, my final day in this House, I want to again salute the bravery and commitment of those who have died serving their country in our national interests. New Zealanders can be rightfully proud of the men and women of our armed services. They are professional, dedicated, and highly regarded around the world.

In my time as Prime Minister, I had quite a lot to do with them, and in particular I want to thank the air force personnel who flew and supported the 757s, the King Airs, the Hercules, and the helicopters that took me safely around New Zealand and the world. In particular, I want to thank the crew that landed the 757 in Sao Paulo, Brazil in the worst electrical storm I have ever seen. I owe you a beer.

The truth is that my confidence in the air force and the SAS grew so much that late last year I decided to tag along on an SAS training day to do a parachute jump from Whenuapai, in my electorate. Needless to say, my office was a touch nervous about the jump, and the kitchen cabinet did not find out until the day before. Anyway, I jumped from 12,000 feet, and sometime after 7 a.m., when I was on the ground again, I rang Bronagh, buzzing with excitement, to declare I was alive and well. I then texted Bill English. I kept it short. “I’m alive.”, I said. His reply was even shorter: “Bugger!”. One minute later, I got another text from him: “Going to give it another go?”. It was at that point I decided he was just a little bit more ambitious than he was letting on.

Bill—Prime Minister—can I acknowledge and thank you for a decade of service as the most loyal, capable, and perceptive deputy that a leader could ever have asked for. I believe you will prove to be a highly successful Prime Minister of this country, which you know and understand so well. Bronagh and I wish you and Mary all the very best.

To my former caucus and Cabinet colleagues, I am proud to have worked alongside each and every one of you. It has been an honour to lead you. You have been, and continue to be, an amazing, tight and loyal team, and every day your cohesion helps to provide New Zealand with great stability and a hugely competent Government.

Although I am trying not to single out individuals, I do have to mention Steven Joyce. Not only did he mastermind three election victories but throughout my entire time as Prime Minister he was a close adviser on almost everything that was going on. We constantly talked about the events of the day and how we should tackle and explain them. To our support partners—ACT, United Future, and the Māori Party—thank you for your crucial part in providing our country with strong, diverse, and stable government.

In my time, I was surrounded by hugely loyal, longstanding, and talented staff. There are just so many people to thank, so please forgive me for any omissions, but I am extremely grateful to all those who worked so hard, sometimes through nights that never ended. Wayne Eagleson, my Chief of Staff, for a decade—Wayne, your dedication, ability, and good sense under pressure are second to none. My press team, so ably led by Kevin Taylor, Kelly Boxhall, Sarah Aston, and Julie Ash, tried so hard to keep me out of trouble and only sometimes succeeded.

My policy advisers, including the most brilliant Grant Johnson, or “Boff” as we all know him, Paula Oliver, Phil de Joux, Sarah Boyle, Nicola Willis, Jane Fraser-Jones, Cameron Burroughs, James Christmas, Josh Cameron, and Craig Howard. The people who kept my life and travel organised, including Emma Holmes, Susan Tombleson, Rachel Beechan, Jane Nixon, Danny Coe, Laura Malcolm, Becky MacKay, and Libby O’Brien.

My electoral agents, without whose incredible commitment the people of Helensville would have suffered: Janelle Bayley, Heather Hitchings, Mel McDonald, and Jenny Collins. The party presidents I worked under: Judy Kirk and Peter Goodfellow, and my electorate chairs Tom Grace, Steven McIlraith, and Stephen Franklin.

My Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, so ably led by Andrew Kibblewhite, and before him Sir Maartin Wevers. My tourism and intelligence officials, and my foreign policy advisers—all truly gifted: Tony Lynch, Ian King, and Taha McPherson.

I also want to thank you, Mr Speaker, and the Speakers who have preceded you, the VIP Transport Service, the wonderful Margaret Smith from Premier House, and all the other staff of the complex, who serve the people of New Zealand so well.

To the press gallery: a free press is essential for a democracy. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to your craft.

To the Diplomatic Protection Squad (DPS), whose tasks were many and varied—keeping me safe was the major one, but also finding the five things I left behind every day, including my wallet, was another. Maybe your role in our lives is best summed up by our son, Max, who said: “It seemed weird when they arrived, and it seems weirder now they’ve gone.” You guys were great. I lose a lot more golf balls now you are not around. But I am happy to say that not everything you did required 21st century policing. For example, the first death threat I got as Prime Minister, and I kid you not—one of those milestones that goes with the job—was from a not-very-bright guy who faxed it from his house, not realising his phone number was on the fax. I think my secretary had solved it before the DPS even got to her.

I leave having made some great friends in and out of this place, and many of them are here today. Thank you for being alongside me and keeping it real. And to Eric, Rhys, and David, thanks for getting my handicap down. I have been touched by the warmth and kindness many Kiwis showed me and my family while I was Prime Minister. It has been a privilege to have met so many of you.

Last but not least, to my family. To my sisters, Sue and Liz: thanks for all the encouragement, support, and laughs. Max and Stephie, I hope you know that I was proud of being the 38th Prime Minister of New Zealand, but Mum and I are prouder still of being your parents. Stephie, you have grown into a beautiful and talented young woman. May you always retain the passion to create the best you can. Max, you have had to grow up under a lot of pressure, in a harsh spotlight. But the world is your oyster. You are a fine young man. You have great insights. Always trust them.

Finally, Bronagh, when you said yes to marrying me, 32 years ago, I am guessing you did not think our family home would sometimes be surrounded by protesters and that we would have armed police in the living-room. When I came into Parliament, I was told that if you have a good marriage it will survive; if you do not, it will not last. Our marriage has not only survived but I think it has grown stronger over these amazing years. Your endless sacrifice, your willingness to let me follow my dreams, and your utter loyalty make any words I choose here hopelessly inadequate. I love you and I thank you.

And so, Mr Speaker, my time here is done. I take away many memories of this most remarkable place. I would like to think I leave having made a positive difference to the country, and that is satisfying. I have few regrets in my life, but one is that Mum did not live to see how it all turned out. I hope that she would have been proud. So that is it. It has been a privilege, an honour, and a blast. Goodbye, and good luck.


David Shearer’s valedictory

David Shearer left the United Nations to take over Helen Clark’s Mt Albert electorate 2009 but it wasn’t his first attempt to get into Parliament. He stood for Labour as a list-only candidate in 1999 (position  62 so well out of contention), and contested the Whangerei electorate in 2002 (doing well but still 3,000 votes short of Phil Heatley in a fairly safe National seat).

When Phil Goff resigned as Labour leader in 2011 Shearer was selected to take over. He struggled to adapt to the role of Leader of the Opposition, not being a natural politician and not learning the rote ropes. He was undermined by some in the Labour caucus, and gave up and resigned in 2013, stating “My sense is I no longer have the full confidence of many of my caucus colleagues”.

He continued in Parliament down the ranks, at 13 until his resignation this week  from Parliament. He has a new UN job trying to sort out a dire situation in South Sudan.

He has been referred to as the best Foreign Minister New Zealand didn’t have, and also as the best Prime Minister New Zealand didn’t have, but he didn’t really fit into the political mould.

Shearer gave his valedictory speech in parliament yesterday.

Draft transcript:


Mr SPEAKER: In accordance with Standing Order 360(3), I call on David Shearer to make his valedictory statement. I understand it is the wish of the House to suspend for the dinner break at the conclusion of the statement.

DAVID SHEARER (Labour—Mt Albert): Tēnā koutou katoa. The last valedictory statement in this House was delivered by my friend Phil Goff. He seems to have started something of a trend, but our speeches are going to be somewhat different. Phil’s lasted almost 30 minutes—1 minute for every year he spend in Parliament. So, following his lead, mine is going to be short and sweet.

I would like to start by congratulating Bill English and Paula Bennett—Bill proved this week that perseverance certainly does pay—and I wish them both my very best wishes. Good on them. I would also like to acknowledge and thank John Key for his service to New Zealand. I believe he showed courage in standing aside when he did.

You know, it is worthwhile looking back over your maiden speech when you depart, and comparing the ambition at that time my achievements do look a bit lean. I have not been in Government, I was not in Cabinet, and I did not even get to be Prime Minister. As the song goes: “Regrets, I’ve had a few.” But the goal is always to leave maybe with a few regrets but without bitterness. That is how I leave today, because, in so many ways, my political journey has been immensely satisfying.

First, it has been a privilege to be a member for Mt Albert. It is a real joy to both live in my community and contribute to it. I have given many forgotten and forgettable speeches in my time, but I do remember the people who have come into my office seeking support and who I have been able to try to help out. Voters in Mt Albert sit all over the political spectrum, yet they took me to heart as their MP. But there is always the odd exception. I remember standing outside Edendale School one day at 3 o’clock, as you do, handing out leaflets. A woman walked by and muttered something insulting as she went to pick up her child. She came past me again, tugging her 6-year-old boy behind her as she walked, and he looked up and waved: “Hello, David Shearer!” Sadly, I will be out of here before he gets to be voting age. To the people of Mt Albert: thank you for your support. Sorry to cut out so early compared to my predecessors.

Being an MP is an extraordinary vantage point to see and understand your own country. I have been privileged to meet many great people. I have particularly enjoyed—because it has been new to me—the access to businesses, to scientists, and to innovators that many people in New Zealand never get to meet. We have such wonderful talent out there.

The reason for my attachment to the Labour Party is quite heartfelt and very simple: over the past century no other institution has more shaped New Zealand and how we see ourselves as people. We take its boldness and its achievements for granted. But my fascination has always been with what went through the minds of those leaders before their landmark decisions, before they launched into the unknown. How did Michael Joseph Savage feel before pioneering the social safety net for New Zealanders, in a world where it had never existed before? What was Kirk thinking before deciding to send a frigate into Mururoa Atoll? Or those who sought to take a risk to settle Māori grievances right back to 1840? The Waitangi Tribunal is, I want to say, an institution that has been extraordinarily healing our country. It is simultaneously a truth commission, drafts history, acknowledges wrong, and compensates for loss. I actually think we should export it; the world needs it more than anything else.

But those nation-shaping decisions and others relied on courageous people who stood up in spite of what the polls said or the focus groups. They were big and they were visionary and occurred under Labour. They were about being progressive. So if I could make one teeny-weeny, wafer-thin criticism of this Government with such immense political capital: I think it could have been more ambitious.

Our economy still resembles the 1960s. My first speech I remember as Labour leader focused on our need to broaden our economy beyond primary products. Other like-sized countries—Denmark, Singapore, Israel, and, Mr Brownlee, even Finland—have overtaken us. Our science, technological, and creative endeavours still await the step change they deserve. It is perhaps actually our biggest challenge in this country.

My second speech as leader advocated a living wage. I think the debates over tax cuts miss the point. The most fundamental way to address inequality is actually to lift wages. Right now our taxes, effectively, subsidise those who choose to pay low wages. A woman stopped me in the street a couple of weeks ago and said she had returned to New Zealand 5 years ago and was struggling to get her small business going—”I’d have made more money buying a house in Sandringham.”, she said. Yes, I do believe we need a capital gains tax. We now spend more on pensioners than on educating our young. Yes, I do think we need to address the age and cost of retirement. Average prices of houses in Mt Albert exceeded $1 million—actually quite a long time ago. Yes, I do think it is time for the Government to get in and build houses.

I believe in free-trade agreements because we will always have greater opportunities and strategic leverage being connected than being disconnected at the bottom of the Pacific. Free trade can concentrate wealth though, and it is the job of Governments to ensure that prosperity is shared and that inequality is addressed. If there is one thing that Brexit and the US elections have shown us, it is that Governments can no longer sit back in their sort of laissez-faire splendour, as they have done for the last two generations.

Leader of the Opposition is the toughest job in politics. I can tell you that without doing it, nobody knows quite how tough it is. And, of course, everyone around you is the world’s expert on what you should be doing. So Andrew, I wish you all the very best. I think you the possess the personal qualities that this job needs.

For me, the Labour leadership was a highlight and, ultimately, obviously, a huge disappointment. It is a huge privilege now to have my photo on the caucus room wall, alongside many of my heroes. And I am not going to go into the whys and the hows of what happened—there is a whole cottage industry of people out there who can do that—but I want to thank the people who did put their faith in me and stood by me. Sadly, I think we were at our best at the end.

To Fran Mold, my chief of staff, in particular, who was fiercely protective of me and who has become a good friend, I am particularly grateful. But there are other people I want to acknowledge and thank. The staff around Parliament always show incredible courtesy and friendliness, and I thank them. A special acknowledgment to the staff of our world-class Parliamentary Library, which I use so much—they are great. To those journalists dedicated to actually reporting the news, thank you. You serve us well. [Interruption] Claire Trevett said she is putting a few people together tomorrow night, just as a sort of a farewell. I thank you for that, Claire.

Thank you to my parliamentary colleagues. I wish you every success next year. It is time for a Labour Government to go boldly, as our forebears have done. And remember, wherever I am, whatever I am doing, I will be with you in spirit.

A special mention goes to Damien O’Connor, who came up to me during the 2011 leadership contest and asked whether I was going to stand. I said I was not sure I would get more than one vote, and he said: “Oh, I’ll vote for you.”, and so I threw in my name. In these contests, you understand, two votes are vastly superior to just the one.

To my electorate committee—Phil Harrington, Carol Symington, Dave Fowler, Jan Marie, and others who stood by me and did not waver, I owe you a great debt of gratitude. To my staff I also want to offer my thanks—to Raewyn Tate, my first executive assistant. I will miss Hannah Sperber’s warmth, her fine mind, and her wonderful sense of humour. Therese Colgan came to me after working with Helen Clark—baptism by fire. Five foot, nothing, of Irish descent, she is passionate and she is tough with a huge heart, and she has made a difference in the lives of so many in my electorate.

Alec McLean, who is here in the gallery today, worked for Muldoon before the Beehive was built. He has worked for Sir Don McKinnon, for Helen Clark, and for many others. When I became leader, he took a pay cut and joined me from the Governor-General’s office, and when I stepped down, he took another pay cut and came with me. Apart from his clear lack of financial acumen, it has been great working with him, and I thank him. He retires with my departure, and I thank you, Alec, for your service, not just to me but to Parliament in general.

I am blessed with a handful of true friends and a tight family. I want to thank my brother, Alan, and my sister, Gillian, and my friends Mark and Cam for always being there.

My daughter, when she was about 11, said to me: “Why are people so nasty and rude to you?”. I said “I think it’s because I’m a politician.”, and she said: “They should remember that you’re a human being, as well.” It is tough for kids to see their parents attacked through the media, and it is impossible to hide it from them. When I came into Parliament, my kids, Vetya and Anastasia, were at school, and today they are young adults, and I am immensely proud of them. My wife, Anuschka, has simply been my rock, and I thank her.

Many years ago, some friends and I followed the Nile River on a boat down to Juba in the south of Sudan, and from there we paid a Somali truck driver to take us for 4 days across the south of Sudan and into Kenya. At one of the stops we were in the back of the truck and we were peeling mangos and throwing the skins and some stale bread we had not eaten over the side, and a dozen kids below us were fighting, we found, over our rubbish. It was probably the only food that they had had that day. It had a profound effect on me. It spurred me into humanitarian work around the world, and I have been privileged to work side by side with some wonderfully dedicated people.

So when I received a call a couple of weeks ago offering a position in the same region, I did not hesitate. It was, in many ways for me, completing the circle. My hope, as always, is that I can make something of a difference. And, wouldn’t you believe it? When I was in New York last week, I remembered I had a bank account there.

Politics, for some, is the book of their life. For me, it has been a chapter. At one point I hoped it might have been multiple chapters. It is time for me to start a new chapter.

So, with that, I will say goodbye. I have enjoyed my time here immensely, and I enjoyed most of all, I think, the comradeship that I have had across all of the parties. I wish you all and your families well for the Christmas break and the holidays, and whoever wins next year—and no prizes for guessing, obviously, who I will be backing—take care of my country for me. And, for God’s sake, be bold. Thank you.

Valedictory Statement – Kevin Hague

One of the best and most widely respected MPs have his valedictory speech in parliament today. Kevin Hague missed out on the Green party co-leadership last year – he could have made a real difference for them in that position – but has now chosen to move on the lead NZ Forest and Bird.

Draft transcript:



[Authorised Te Reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

I used to do a lot of sailing. Ian and I—our first yacht was a 24-foot cutter and we would often be the smallest boat at Great Barrier Island or around the Hauraki Gulf in the various anchorages.

I remember in 1988, during Cyclone Bola—and some might question the decision to go sailing—we were anchored in a bay in the outer part of the Coromandel Harbour. The wind was so strong that the anchors would not hold. Together with many other boats, the two of us kept a 24-hour anchor watch.

We would anchor in the most sheltered part of the bay, and then the wind would sweep us across the bay. We would turn on the outboard motor, punch back into the wind, set the anchors again, and hope that they would hold for a little while longer. We did that again, and again, and again. The wind kept up for more than 24 hours, and we were exhausted, but eventually the anchors did hold.

Eight years of Opposition has felt something like that. Going to work each day, standing up for what we believe in, but losing almost all of our arguments—not because we were wrong, but because of the Government’s superior numbers and the resources of Government.

I guess for me, what we have had to do is to find a way to pick ourselves back up and punch back into that wind, into the storm. But now my watch has ended. It has been an enormous honour to serve in this role, to stand here and to know that along with my Green colleagues I represent an enormous number of New Zealanders who share our vision and our values.

I leave here proud of the work that I have helped to do.

I also leave here with some regrets. I have projects that I believe in passionately that I will not be able to see through to their conclusion. It goes against the grain for me to leave work unfinished.

I am leaving behind people who matter a great deal to me. I have friends right across this House and right across the political spectrum. I will not get to be a Minister, with the opportunity to implement policy in Government, and I think I might have done a pretty good job of that.

Hon Members: Hear, hear!

KEVIN HAGUE: Thank you. But despite those regrets, I have no doubts. I want to thank the Green Party, all of its members, the staff, the volunteers, and other MPs for the opportunity to do this work and for their support and friendship while doing it.

Those people who have worked in the Green Party’s parliamentary team have been outstanding, and I especially want to thank those who have worked in my own office—Joanna Plows, Sophie Belton, Nerei Kanak, Linda Veyers, Tasi Vaonga, Ridian Thomas, and the incomparable Jen Lawless.

You have seamlessly hidden my flaws from the world while simultaneously doing all the real work. Thank you very much.

I am grateful for the wonderful support that I have enjoyed over the years from the Parliamentary Service team and from the Office of the Clerk. I think, in particular, I am probably one of the biggest users of the Parliamentary Library and the travel teams, and they have always been fast, efficient, and reliable. I said earlier that I have friends across the House.

It has always seemed to me that positive relationships stop disagreement about some issues from getting in the way of collaborating on others.

I particularly want to acknowledge colleagues from all parties who have served with me on the Health Committee, and my great friends Ruth Dyson and Louisa Wall with whom I worked closely on marriage equality and other issues, and Nikki Kaye. Nikki and I worked together on a bill to completely overhaul the adoption law. I want to extend to Nikki my very best wishes for her recovery and swift return to this House.

I want to thank members of the Press Gallery, past and present. I have pretty much always felt that I had a fair run from you, and for the biggest issues that I worked on, you were also great partners in the pursuit of truth and justice—thank you.

Always, the work in Parliament has been made possible by others working in the community. It is a role that I have played in the past, and to which I return now.

As most people do, I think, in preparing this last speech, I went back to my first. As part of that speech, I set out some of my hopes for my Parliamentary career and some of the expectations that I knew that others held.

I talked about the hopes of cyclists that I would help make roads safe and well-engineered for all users, and for a national network of off-road cycling tracks.

I want to express my thanks to the Prime Minister for the great opportunity to work alongside him as co-sponsors of Ngā Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail network.

That project has achieved what we hoped for and more.It created lots of employment, it has provided a major boost to regional economies, and it has got loads more people riding their bikes more often. Those people are now demanding better cycling facilities in towns and cities as well. The trick now will be to sustain and grow that network, and it would be fantastic to see a multi-party agreement to make that happen.

I said in that maiden speech that people who love wild rivers and our natural world for its intrinsic values would be looking for me to make a contribution.

I led a major Parliamentary campaign alongside Forest and Bird—it is a fantastic organisation, is it not—Whitewater NZ, and the Wild Rivers coalition that led to the Mōkihinui River being saved. My campaign was based on how Lake Manapōuri was saved. I set out to get people all around the country to care about what happened to a place and to animals and plants that they had never, and probably would never directly experience, and it worked.

New Zealanders love the rivers, forests, oceans, and animals of Aotearoa, and they want to protect them.

I was also pleased to work with Kate Wilkinson to conduct major field trials of resetting traps, a project that has laid one of the main foundations for daring to believe that Sir Paul Callaghan’s vision of a predator-free New Zealand was possible.

I said in that speech that the gay and lesbian communities and the wider rainbow family would look to me to keep delivering on the promise of equal rights and opportunity. I have worked on a number of projects over the past 8 years, most notably the successful campaign for marriage equality.

I leave behind three important ones: better health services for transgender New Zealanders; the petition that is currently before the House for an apology and for wiping the convictions of gay men who were convicted of consensual sexual activity between adults before homosexual law reform; and my campaign to have the Education Review Office required to audit the safety of all schools for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students.

We showed in 2014 that most secondary schools do not provide such a safe environment, and that the Education Review Office never exposes that. Perhaps as a farewell present?

There are a couple of areas where I have been proud of a contribution I did not expect to make. I worked hard to expose what I called a sick culture of disentitlement in ACC. Major improvements were made, and I praise the then Minister, the Hon Judith Collins, but more still is required—more change is still required.

I also warned New Zealanders that the insurance industry and small government ideologues have not given up on their plan of a privatised ACC, and vigilance is still required.

But the work that I am proudest of is that that I did in the aftermath of the Pike River tragedy. I have felt a heavy responsibility for that work, and I have been pleased to contribute to a major overhaul of workplace health and safety regulation in this country.

But I have been frustrated and angry that nobody from the board or from the senior management of Pike River Coal Ltd has been held to account, or will ever be held to account, for what has occurred, and that 29 men still have not been brought home to their families.

The other area where I know people hoped that I would be able to make an impact is health, and, in particular, increasing Parliament’s understanding that health outcomes are the result of people’s circumstances and environments, like poverty, housing, and how empowered their communities are, rather than individual choices, and goodness knows I have given enough lectures on that topic in this House.

I regret that successive Ministers of Health have preferred to adopt an adversarial approach to their portfolio. I believe that much more could have been achieved by working together across the House on health.

Economists seem to agree that funding for health services has dropped cumulatively and in real terms by almost $2 billion since 2008, while something like $20 billion has spent on roads of national significance, for example. To me, that suggests that the priorities are entirely the wrong way around.

It seems essential to me that Government should seek to ensure that every person has the basics that will enable them to have a decent life: enough good food, clean air and water, warmth and shelter, the means to good health and education, and a decent income.

In this country, a growing number—far too many—do not have these basics, and worse, access to them is unfairly distributed. Remedying these problems should be the purpose of Government—that is what Government is for.

The economy is not some force of nature; it is a collection of tools that we can re-engineer to help us meet those social goals.

Instead, far too often, people are sacrificed in the interests of the economy, and that is fundamentally the wrong way around.

The same is true of the environment. When the natural world is seen as a set of resources to service the economy as raw materials or waste disposal, we know that something is fundamentally wrong. Restoring and conserving a sustainable relationship with nature should be the other fundamental goal of Government, which the economy should serve.

Our country is run as though people and the environment need to serve the economy as inputs to the firm, and this needs to change entirely.

When people are homeless because of land banking and kids go hungry because wages and benefits do not even cover the basics; when they have avoidable health conditions that scar their entire lives because of poor-quality, overcrowded housing; when landowners are still cutting down lowland forest, draining wetlands, and allowing their stock into rivers because there is money to be made; when the last Maui’s dolphin plunged towards extinction because we prioritised the oil and fishing industries, something is fundamentally wrong.

When our very species is at grave risk because governments around the world refuse to take decisive action on climate change lest it harm business, then we know that making people and the environment serve the economy has reached its logical end-point of self-destruction.

There are also areas where change is desperately needed but where successive Governments have taken no action because of what I believe is political timidity.

There are others, but I want to single out drug law reform, adoption law reform—which I have already mentioned—and assisted dying.

These are all areas where the member’s bill process is poorly suited to considered reform, and where a solid public mandate already exists for change. These are also areas where archaic law harms people in terrible ways every day, so I appeal to all parties to please be brave, and stand for something.

Finally, I want to give my thanks to those who have been on this journey with me: my friends, especially those in whose houses I have so often been a terrible guest, arriving late and leaving early, and those who have had to put up with me not being around for their important occasions.

Thanks to my family, some of whom are able to be here tonight, and above all thanks to my partner Ian.

In this House our partners and families pay a great price in enabling us to do this work, and I extend my respect and thanks to all of yours.

When I entered Parliament, I said that I wanted to dedicate my time here to the memory of my mum and my sister. I hope that they would have been proud.

I leave here now to take on another really exciting challenge. I know that those who come after me in the Greens will bring new skills, knowledge, and energy that I could not have contributed.

But in leaving I feel that I have done my best, I feel I have made things better, and I go with my integrity intact. I wish you all the very best.


Russel Norman’s valedictory statement

Russel Norman was not everyone’s cup of green tea but he believed strongly in what he stood for and he was a significant force behind the improvement in Green vote (but could also be responsible in part for it hitting an apparent Green ceiling).


There are a number of interesting and important points in his speech including:

  • Agitators are a set of interfering, meddling people…
  • The state of democracy in New Zealand
  • The fourth estate
  • A bad culture around dissent
  • Sustainability
  • There are too many cows
  • Justice and inequality and poverty

Some of these topics may be worth exploring separately.

Inthehouse video: Valedictory Statement – Dr Russel Norman – 22nd October 2015

Draft transcript:

Valedictory Statements

Speech – Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Green)

Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Green): I rise to pass a few comments and a few thanks at the end of my 7 years as a member of this Parliament and 9 years as co-leader of the Green Party.

I want to start with a little story from Queensland. Some of you may know that I was born in Brisbane—if my accent does not give me away. The thing about Brisbane is that, aside from having a very right-wing Premier for many years, who was very anti-democratic, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, who of course was a Kiwi expat, but I have never held that against New Zealand, it also had a terrible history of the treatment of Aboriginal people.

After the frontier wars, Aboriginal people were locked up in concentration camps, called reservations. There was a reservation near Cairns, called Yarrabah. In Yarrabah there was of course a lot of conflict between the Aboriginal people of the Yarrabah reservation and the white overseer, who also owned the store and sold rancid meat, amongst many other things.

The conflict developed between Percy Neal, who was a leader of the Yarrabah community, and the white overseer. Percy Neal, in his argument, spat on the screen door that separated the two of them and for this he was charged with assault and put before a magistrate.

The magistrate said he was an agitator. He said Mr Neal was an agitator. The magistrate sentenced him to 2 months’ jail, with hard labour, for spitting on the screen door. Percy Neal appealed to the Queensland Supreme Court, which in active injustice, increased that penalty to 6 months’ hard labour for spitting on the screen door.

Eventually the appeal went to the High Court in Canberra, the highest court in Australia, and was heard in front of Justice Lionel Murphy. The thing about Lionel was that he was a little bit of an agitator himself, and was appointed by the Whitlam Government on to the High Court of Australia. Lionel wrote a judgment about this case. I just want to quote a little bit of Lionel Murphy’s judgment.

He said, and I am quoting from Justice Murphy: “That Mr Neal was an agitator or stirrer in the magistrate’s view obviously contributed to the severe penalty. If he is an agitator, he is in good company. Many of the great religious and political figures of history have been agitators, and human progress owes much to the efforts of these and many who are unknown.

Agitators are a set of interfering, meddling people…

As Oscar Wilde aptly pointed out: ‘Agitators are a set of interfering, meddling people, who come down to some perfectly contented class of the community and sow the seeds of discontent amongst them. That is the reason why agitators are so absolutely necessary. Without them … there would be no advance towards civilisation.’ ”

Lionel Murphy finished with a very famous quote, where he said: “Mr Neal is entitled to be an agitator.”

I use this quote to tell a little bit about my story about Queensland, and growing up in Queensland, but it is also about the value of activists and agitators—people who challenge the status quo and people who have the courage to stand up against the established order and try to win other people to those ideas.

I believe that activists and agitators have a critical role in human progress. I have been very proud to call myself amongst one of them—one of the many. The other reason I bring it up is that democracy itself is never absolutely secure nor finished.

Joh Bjelke-Petersen was a deeply anti-democratic figure.

I believe that democracy is a lot more than voting once every 3 years. In fact, I think in some ways that is the least part of it. It is all the institutions and culture that sits around it.

The state of democracy in New Zealand

I want to use my remarks to voice my concern about the state of democracy in New Zealand. Democracy is not a black and white thing.

There are gradations of democracy. Putin has elections once every several years, or whatever, but that does not make Russia a democracy.

Some of the institutions I think we should be deeply concerned about: access to information, and Government information in particular, is critical to the functioning of a democracy. In my view, the Official Information Act is relatively moribund now in New Zealand. It is very, very difficult to get information from the Government that the Government does not wish to release. That is a problem.

There was the Jane Kelsey case recently, where the High Court found against Tim Groser, and the Chief Ombudsman, I mean, shamefully, supported Tim Groser in this illegal activity, under the Official Information Act, of suppressing information.

I think we have got a problem with access to information in this country, and that is a critical part of our democracy. Written questions—it is very difficult to get written parliamentary questions answered any more. It is hard to get straight answers. How do you have a proper democracy if you cannot access information?

Question time—let me try to be diplomatic. Lockwood Smith said that a straight question deserves a straight answer. I loved question time with Lockwood Smith. It was one of the highlights of my parliamentary career. He was electric. He made Ministers answer questions. Question time was answer time.

It is no longer answer time, and I think that is a big problem for our democracy because if you cannot access information, it does not work.

The fourth estate

The second institution that I think really matters is the media, the fourth estate. This is not a complaint about a status quo bias to the media. Sure the media does have a status quo bias.

Media institutions are large financial institutions, existing in the status quo, and no one should be surprised that they do tend to have a bias towards the status quo. That is not my gripe.

My gripe is the resources available to journalists. Journalists used to have to produce one or two stories a week in some cases. Now they have to produce four a day. It is very difficult for journalists to do their role in our society, to hold the Government and powerful institutions to account, when journalists do not have the resources to do their job. I think this is a problem for all of us, and I think it is a problem for our democracy.

A bad culture around dissent

I also think we have developed a bad culture around dissent. Look at what happened to Eleanor Catton, look at what happened to Nicky Hager, and what he is currently going through, after the police raided his house because he dared to criticise and get involved in the Cameron Slater issue—one of the Government’s favourites.

There is a bad culture around dissent, in my opinion, and it makes it difficult for people to speak out. The culture that exists matters in a democracy—whether we have a real democracy or not. That is important.

And finally there is the investor-State disputes settlement clauses. These are about placing restrictions on democratically elected Governments. That is why they exist.

So I would say we can fix this. Democracy is an evolving institution. It is a living institution. But it will take a concerted effort from civil society groups and those outside of this institution, I suspect, as much as those within in it, in order to make our democracy healthier than it currently is. That is the first thing I wanted to say.


The second thing I wanted to say was around sustainability. Finite resources, I think, is one of the key insights that the green movement brings to the world—that the small “g” green movement brought to the world. That is, resources are limited and the ability of the planet to absorb our pollution is relatively limited.

There is a connection between democracy and sustainability and that connection became apparent in what happened to Environment Canterbury. The reason why the elected councillors were removed from Environment Canterbury was because the people of Canterbury started to vote for councillors who wanted to restrict the dairy sector. It is as simple as that. That has been stated pretty publicly by the agriculture Minister at the time.

That in my opinion is very problematic because in order to protect our democracy and in order to protect our environment we need a functioning democracy. This is really important and I think that was a classic illustration of it.

But there is a bigger problem, and this came out in the environment report that was released yesterday, and that is around dairy intensification. We need to confront the fact that we have got a big problem now. It has been growing for probably 15 to 20 years but it is now an astronomically large problem around dairy intensification.

It is causing massive climate change emissions, water pollution, water abstraction, compacted soil as the Environment Aotearoa report said, biodiversity loss, and polluted aquifers.

When you think about the fact that if you take water from the Canterbury aquifer—parts of the Canterbury aquifer—and feed it to infants, that water is so polluted that those infants will die. The medical officer of health in Canterbury has said that and it should be a wake-up call that we have got a major pollution problem on our hands.

There are too many cows

It needs to be said that there are too many cows. We just need to say it because it is true. The world is finite. There is not infinite capacity to absorb our pollution. There are too many cows and I think we need to confront that fact and we need to deal with it if we are going to clean up our environment.

One of the great things about my job is that I went on this dirty rivers tour. You know, I went and paddled in lots of dirty rivers—dozens of them; not hard to find—and there are communities all around the country that are trying to protect their rivers.

There are courageous people in rural communities who are speaking out about the impact of dairy intensification on their rivers and their communities and we need to listen to the voices of those people.

I do not think that leadership is going to come from Government and I do not think it is going to come from the industry because there has been plenty of time to fix this problem and it is not getting any better—it is getting radically worse.

It is going to rely, I think, on the NGO sector and the community sector to speak out in order to save our rivers and to protect the natural environment of New Zealand, not to mention the climate change emissions that are coming out of the agriculture sector because, of course, the agriculture sector does not face a price on its greenhouse emissions, so what would you expect.

Justice and inequality and poverty

The third thing I just want to touch on briefly is about justice and inequality and poverty. We have said it 100 times but it has got to be said: there is too much poverty and inequality in New Zealand. Things got worse after the new-right reforms. The Gini coefficient got worse after the reforms of the 1980s and 1990s but things have not really got any better and that is a major problem.

People say the Government cannot do everything. Well, that is true. The Government cannot mend a broken heart; but the Government can fill an empty stomach. That is within our capacity. We can do those things and I think we should, and I think we have a moral obligation to deal with the issues around poverty and inequality.

Honestly, I think it strikes to the very heart of our democracy as well, because when you sit in a society that is highly stratified and you look below you and think “Goodness me, that could be me if I speak out, if I do the wrong thing. If I lose my job, I can’t pay the mortgage, feed the kids, that could be me next.”

It makes everyone very frightened and on edge and it does not give the peace of mind and the stability that a mature democracy needs in my belief.

A few thanks in my closing remarks

I would like just give a few thanks in my closing remarks. Firstly, I would like to thank my partner, Katya Paquin. Katya has not only been a tremendous personal support to me but also a real political support as well. Katya used to be the political director for the Green Party before she got a much more important job, which is looking after our three beautiful kids: Tadhg, Frankie, and Stella.

Aside from doing a fantastic job bringing up those beautiful kids, Katya has been a key political support for me and has provided me with enormous insight into politics. To Tadhg, Frankie, and Stella I would just like to say you have changed me in ways that I never expected—as having kids does to you. But it was only possible really to bring up those kids because of the community we lived in and I would like to thank the people at playcentre, and at kindy, and I would like to thank Katya’s mum, Mary, who has been very, very supportive of us, and also my mum, Ollie May.

My mum is one of those people who is very disrespectful to authority—still is—and I suspect that that was very, very helpful. I do think that those in power often have a vested interest in telling you lies. It is true—it is just true.

So I think it is very important that people look at people in power and do not believe everything they say, take it with a grain of salt, and think for themselves, because the people in power are not always going to tell you the truth.

I would like to thank my brothers and sisters: Linda, Peter, Richard, Alan, and Sandra. I come from a big family. I also thank my friends. You cannot do the kind of work we do here or have a great life without great friends, and I thank Helen and Steve, Rebecca and Steve, John and Paula, Jeff and Roddy, and lots of other people who have been great friends of mine and great people support to me during all of this.

In terms of my staff I have been really blessed with fantastic staff. I thank my assistants Jo Beaglehole, Anna Hynes, Izzy Lomax, Charlie Chambers, and Simon Tapp . You have gone beyond the call of duty.

To all the staff who have supported me over the years—there are too many people to mention. But I thank Ken Spagnolo, Robert Ash, Babs Lake, Andrew Campbell, Holly Donald, Paul Benzeman, Scott Compton, Katya Paquin, Michael Pringle, Sarah Holm—there are more and more of them.

The Green Party, I think, has been extremely blessed with very, very talented staff over the years. I would also like to thank the members of Green Party, and also the members of all political parties.

Democracy has survived only because people join political parties and get engaged in them voluntarily. So although I disagree with people who might be members of other political parties, I certainly respect the fact that they get involved in democracy. I think it is really important.

But I would particular like to thank the members of the Green Party, especially the Rongotai branch, who have been incredibly supportive to me. To the co-leaders I have worked with—Rod, who tragically died, Janette, and Metiria—and good luck, James—it has been great to work with you.

I thank all the Green MPs. It has been great to work all of you—those of us who are here, those of us who have come before. I think the Green MPs have made a huge difference. I would like to really thank the green NGOs, or the environmental NGOs.

Environmental NGOs often have to do the heavy lifting of protecting New Zealand’s natural environment on behalf of everybody else in the courts, day in, day out, and everywhere else. Really, they are often doing the job that the Government should be doing to protect our natural world. It is the environmental NGOs that end up doing it. So I would really like to acknowledge their work.

I would also like to thank the voters, the 250,000-plus people who voted for us at the last election. Thank you for your act of faith in voting Green. I hope you got what you wanted, and I hope that you continue to support the Greens.

I thank all the parliamentary staff: the cleaners, the messengers, the Clerk’s Office, all the people who provide the food and the security, but especially the Parliamentary Library.

Particularly when you are in Opposition it would be very, very hard to do your job without the Parliamentary Library. So I would really like to thank the library staff for all their hard work over the years.

In conclusion

In conclusion I would just like to say that my view is that humanity faces some really big challenges in the decades ahead, particularly around sustainability and climate change, and around inequality and poverty, but also around democracy. I think that democracy faces some big challenges globally, actually. But we also have huge opportunities.

The world is finite—that is true—but human creativity is infinite. Human generosity is infinite. Human courage is infinite. So we have access to some fantastic resources.

As well as facing these big challenges and problems we have inherited from the past, we have also inherited lots of great things from the past, and we have the opportunity to really create a world of abundance for everyone and for all of us living within the finite limits of the natural world.

I think that it is an opportunity that we really should grasp with both our hands, because our children deserve nothing less.

Finally, I would like to dedicate my time here to the people who stand up for a better world regardless of the cost. We are all entitled to be agitators, as Justice Murphy said, and we should exercise that entitlement frequently, and I intend to do so. Kia kaha.


Hon Tariana Turia – Valedictory Statement

Speech – Hon TARIANA TURIA (Co-Leader – Māori Party) – Thursday, 24 July 2014

In The House videos:

Valedictory Statement – Tariana Turia – 24th July, 2014 – Part 5

Valedictory Statement – Tariana Turia – 24th July, 2014 – Part 6

Hansard Draft Transcript:

Hon TARIANA TURIA (Co-Leader – Māori Party): Tēnā koe, te Kaiw’akawā o tēnei W’are.

Mr SPEAKER: Tēnā koe.


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. Our * hīkoi always starts in the spirit of those who watch over us.

Today I remember those who paved the way before me, to restore our right to see * Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the first relationship agreement between * tangata w’enua and with the Government representing the Crown.

I am proud to have upheld the Treaty of Waitangi, the * kaupapa and * tikanga of our people in all that I have done in this environment. My * tūpuna have walked before me. They have walked beside me, and my mokopuna will carry those philosophies on as we build nationhood in this country that we all love.

I am genealogically linked to * Ngā Wairiki, * Ngāti Apa, * Te Awa Tupua o Whanganui, * Ngā Rauru Kītahi, and * Ngāti Tūwharetoa. It is to these people that I will return when I leave here at the end of my parliamentary term—those who have grounded me, those who have reminded me of my place, and yet have loved me despite.

I was raised by my grandmother Hoki Waewae, my aunt * Mihiterina and * Tariuha Manawaroa Te Aweawe, my precious dad, who was my dad although he was not my father. When I was 8, I became a * whāngai to my wonderful aunts at * Pūtiki. My * Auntie Wai and Auntie Paeroa had huge expectations of me.

I was brought up to believe that doing what was right was more important than doing what was popular. They instilled discipline and strong whānau values in me—to love unconditionally and to be the best at whatever I did.

When I came to Parliament with Labour in 1996 I followed in the footsteps of whānau: * Tokouru Rātana, * Matiu Rātana, and * Iriaka Rātana. They came here to honour the * kawenata their papa had with * Michael Joseph Savage of the Labour Party.

Today I ask as an * uri of their iwi: what happened to that kawenata? When will the * mōrehu and the iwi of our country see the outcomes that * Tahupōtiki Wīremu Rātana sought for us all that have never been honoured?

To Chester, Nathan, Jonathan, and Ian, those of you who are part of my electorate too, I want to mihi to you all and to say to you how proud I have been to walk alongside you, and for your friendship, and I have so appreciated that. There are others who have watched over me too and I will forever cherish the memories that I carry with me.

My cousin the late Sir Archie Taiaroa* supported me all the way through my political career, and I would call him for his wise counsel. Archie stood with me when I resigned from the Labour Government at Rātana*, , and I will never forget that.

When I was thinking of leaving, he talked to me about the experience of Matiu Rata*, , whom he himself had encouraged to leave, not realising at the time that our people would forget his sacrifice and not vote for him. Archie worried that the same thing would happen to me—that our people would forget.

I was able to reassure him that I would always be political whether I was here or outside of Parliament, that in the end I had to live with myself, and there is no greater challenge than to be true to one’s own self.

I think about my cousin Rangitihi Tahupārae*, , who worked for many years here at Parliament, the most distinguished and eloquent orator in either language. He taught me to love all that we are and to walk with pride in the knowledge of our w’akapapa*.

The late Dr Irihāpeti Ramsden*, , a wonderful friend and w’anaunga, was another one who when I found myself in trouble here, which seemed to happen a bit, would always appear in the public gallery—so beautiful, so gracious, and so principled.

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.

I have carried those people who have shaped me into the person have become, and I will love them and my extended w’ānau* forever. Because of them our tira* has a strong foundation. Today is my chance to acknowledge all those who helped to keep our waka afloat to ensure that our tira moves forward.

So I stand to honour so many amazing people in this complex, who give so much and so freely.

The security teams, the VIP drivers, the messengers, the library staff, and the travel team—all of these people constantly go out of their way to make our lives easier.

The cleaners who restore order in our offices and on our floor, the Bellamy’s* team, the Clerk of the House, our interpreters, the conscientious team in the Cabinet Office, Parliamentary Service*, , and Ministerial Services*, your sacrifices were many and your dedication has been appreciated.

On the many sides of this W’are* are those whom I have served alongside of, whether at the Cabinet table or in a select committee, or being held to account at question time or in political panels—all of you who work so hard for what you believe in.

I would not have come to Parliament if it was not for the endorsement of the Rt Hon Helen Clark and the Hon Maryan Street, and I will never forget that it was your trust in me and your advocacy that got me here. I will always remember that.

There were other people in Labour whom I value working with, many of you. I will not name you all, but there were some who I learnt so much from.

I think of Tim Barnett and that when I used to go to caucus I could never get a paper through until Tim took it off me and worked on it for me.

Annette King, who was an amazing Minister and who taught me so much. I want to mihi to you today, Annette.

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.

I mihi to my colleagues who were foundation members of the Māori Party, because you have shaped a new horizon for this country.

You have imbued this Chamber with the beauty and force of * Te Reo Māori, you have established cultural competency as a norm, and you have ensured that nobody gets left behind. We are stronger because or your influence, bolder because of your integrity.

Dr Pita Sharples—I hate following him in speeches! I said “Mr Nice Guy”, but I should have said “Mr Funny Guy”. He is always “Mr Nice Guy.” He is never one to look for the problems. He is always positively focused.

Te Ururoa, the steady hand on the rudder steering us on the right course, the general manager of everything, the ideal member of Parliament who understands process so well, a great leader.

Hone Harawira, my great friend who has also been my great foe. How do you really love the essence of someone and yet be so frustrated by them at the same time?

Rahui Katene, the hardest-working paddler in our waka—always willing, always there. I was so sad because you deserved to win. You put in the hard yards. You were just so great.

I have an all-encompassing love for our founding president, Matua * Whatarangi Winiata. When we were having arguments in the caucus—not only with Pete would I argue, but often get into stoushes with Hone. Matua would look at us and I would say to him “Matua, what do you think?”

He would say “Yes, I am just trying to work out which * kaupapa is operating here today.”

I want to thank * Pem Bird and * Naida Glavish, who have been two incredible leaders, for the vital role that you have played not only in our first 10 years but in getting us to where we are today. I want to say thank you to Heta Hingston* for gifting us our very first constitution.

As much as we have often struggled to keep to the rules, we have tried so hard.

I am indebted to the people of * Te Tai Hauāuru for your generosity and support to both me and my * w’ānau. You have worked tirelessly. I mihi to you all because you believed in the kaupapa of our tūpuna and saw the vision of the Māori Party.

There are many others who have helped along the way of our journey. I mihi to * Rob Cooper and sister Makiri Te Tawaroa, who politicised me—probably much to everybody else’s dismay—to professor Sir * Mason Durie for your execeptional leadership, to Nancy, to Doug, to Merepeka, to Suzanne, the various departmental heads who comprised the original governance group, which set out W’ānau Ora and set us on the right path.

I have valued the enormous support that I have received as a Minister from officials of various agencies who have provided me with support and advice.I know that I have not been an easy Minister for you to serve. I can acknowledge that, as I am sure officials and others across this House will say so also.

How can I ever put into words the love that I have for our parliamentary staff, who have been exceptional, working always beyond the call of duty—one of two of them working almost through the night? I have expected you all to put the people you serve before your agencies and your careers. I know that that has been a huge sacrifice.

And, of course, my w’ānau. A wall plaque was given to me by Pati Umaga, somebody whom I just so love. He gave it to me, and it read: “W’ānau: we may not have it all together, but together we have it all.” I believe this implicitly. Every journey along our river inevitably faces the churning waters of the rapids, the turmoil and the chaos of the reporepo that we find ourselves swirling within.

In this place I have felt profoundly the pain of the entrenched inequities too many Māori and Pasifika families face in terms of the lack of equitable access to health, education, housing, employment, and economic opportunity.

I have at times been devastated by the institutional racism that continues to limit our potential as a people. We should never be silent on the things that matter—the barriers that block our ability to be the best that we can be—and we must never be afraid to talk about anything that we know to be true and that we know to be right.

It is only when we let fear take over and when we do not speak up that we let people down. I recall being really nervous when I accepted the role of Minister for Disability Issues*.

I felt so inadequate to fulfil this position and I realised very quickly that my job was to listen carefully to the many voices and to translate that into actions with support from the excellent officials and people in the sector.

The disability sector has had an enormous influence on me, with their brave audacity to tell their own tale: “Nothing about us without us.” They asked me to have the confidence and the trust to believe that we can do whatever it takes, to believe in our abilities, not our disabilities, and the words continue to reverberate in my heart and mind.

I will always be indebted to the disability communities for their ability to lead with so much dignity and inspiration.

In my time here I have challenged officials that we must not be fixated by a focus on deficits, looking on everything that is wrong. It is so much better to look for the potential in people to change. It is in our attitudes, our ability to think differently, that the key to transformation lives.

In this regard I mihi to those peoples of the Pacific who let me share their journey, Nga Vaka o Kāiga Tapu—one of the most revolutionary frameworks that I have ever known.

I thank the people of * Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, who have been so generous in sharing their vision with me—people like Peseta Betty Sio, Tino Pereira, * Judge Ida Malosi, Yvonne Creighton-Hill, and many others.

I acknowledge too the leadership of the Pacific Advisory Group and the Māori Reference Group for your proactive work on family violence.

I mihi to Judge Peter Boshier* and to Judge Paul von Dadelszen* for your leadership and trust in people-led solutions.

If ever it is possible to form a really strong relationship with a community, it must be the one that is being established for me in the Chathams. Their resilience, their absolute belief in themselves, probably to the detriment of their own growth as they were overlooked by funders, has been totally inspiring, and I thank them for their * manaakitanga towards me and towards Chris also.

Even the steadiest waka can be overturned, and it was that way for me in the early months of 2004 as we reeled to the decisions made in the House around the foreshore and seabed.

In those moments of despair I have always gone to our river, to our awa, to reclaim a sense of being—the blessing of the water that heals—and in that quiet space I find the answers that lie within me. And so it was for our * w’anau, hapū, and iwi as we considered how we would respond to the denial of due process and access to justice, the belittling of our status as * tangata w’enua, which will always be for ever recorded as a modern-day Treaty breach.

The advent of the foreshore and seabed legislation created the tensions that led to me leaving Labour and in the same breath gave birth to our indigenous political movement, the Māori Party. I am not sorry today that that happened and that I left.

I have the utmost respect for Georgina Beyer, who sacrificed her political aspirations to stand alongside of me at * Rātana. Ten years on those days are still vividly written in my mind as a milestone moment in the story of our nation.

Through the anguish and the pain as the people came together in solidarity, we knew that we were part of an incredible juncture in our history as we witnessed a powerful uprising of the spirit. It was the most evocative moment of my life—to feel the will of the people, the calling of our * tupuna to reclaim the essence of who we are, and to stand for what we knew was right. It was self-determination in action.

As I think of that sea of flags and placards that filled the foreground of Parliament, I am reminded of the image that we see at home every summer when our collective fleet of waka glide into Pūtiki*, , an amazing expression of pride, of strength, of power, and of peace.

The Tira Hoe waka is a journey of rediscovery, in which we literally fall in love with ourselves again. In many ways, for me so too is the Māori Party. Put simply, this is the dream of W’ānau Ora—to know ourselves, our strengths, and our challenges, and to plot our futures.

We cannot talk rangatiratanga* and not be self-determining. We know the call from Pūao-te-ata-tū*, , Matua Whāngai*, , kōhanga reo, kura kaupapa, kura-ā-iwi, w’are wānanga, local level solutions, direct resourcing, even closing the gaps, He Korowai Ōranga, and Māori and Pasifika health and social services. They are all models where the people have put forward a framework for tomorrow.

We stand on the shoulders of the past to look forward to a greater future.

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. One of the most exhilarating experiences of my life was to travel throughout the country, meeting with Māori and Pasifika communities about a w’ānau* way forward.

Often the halls were crowded to full capacity—600 people crammed together, standing room only. It was a buzz and I will always remember it. W’anau Ora resonated with them because they understood completely what collective responsibility and obligation was and how it needed to be restored to those who had been affected by the many losses that they had suffered.

They did not ask what the Government could do for them. They asked instead that we trust them to develop their own solutions, to take them forward, and to trust that they knew better than anyone in the huge bureaucracies that we have here in Wellington.

This hīkoi that we have been on, then, is a hīkoi for all time. What we have represented with the growth of the Māori Party is the possibility of a strong and independent Māori voice, forever able to sit in Parliament.

We were not content to sit on the sidelines and to watch from afar as the lives of our people waited in the queue for the time to be right. We have never been about the rhetoric of the right or the left, and I am so grateful to those members of the press gallery who actually got that, who have asked searching questions and been prepared to reflect our philosophies, rather than regurgitating their own.

We are driven by * kaupapa and what unites us rather than what divides us. Being in the Māori Party has been the greatest opportunity to sing our songs and to tell our stories.

We have had the freedom to focus on what is right for * tangata w’enua and to know that it would also be right for our brothers and sisters from * Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, and we knew it would be right for this country. It is the first time in our history and of the world that an indigenous political party has been truly part of Government in a coalition arrangement.

It has been exciting, liberating, invigorating, inspiring, and occasionally challenging. I have so enjoyed the respectful, honest, and upfront relationship with John Key and Bill English, a relationship that has allowed both of us to be direct, acknowledging our different constituencies and agreeing to disagree.

It has been a relationship that is based on mutual cooperation, and we are pleased with what we have achieved. We are also proud of what we have managed to change or stop, and we are not going to talk about the disappointments.

I have been driven by a determination, passion, and desire, and, as Bill English would say, a stubborn resolve to make a difference. I always wanted to be in relationship where what we had to say mattered, to be part of the solution, and not limited to picking the problems apart.

Although we were unable to achieve all the aspirations of our people, I know that we have made a difference in the lives of whānau, whatever their circumstances, and in that respect I leave with a feeling of peace, that we have always tried to do our best and to do what it is that is right for them.

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.

In our iwi we have had the longest litigation in the history of this country over our river. It is just around the corner, and I want to say thank you to you so much for working so hard alongside our whānau, hapū, and iwi of Whanganui. I have tried to live up to the legacy and the expectation from so many of our iwi leaders who have sacrificed so much to let the stories of our whānau, hapū, and iwi resound, not just in books of history but in the throbbing heartbeat of a nation that knows.

I come then to a turning point in my journey, as I prepare to steer our waka homewards. I say to you all to be led by the people you serve. It is the greatest opportunity that any of you could ever have hoped for.

I have been humbled by the trust that has been placed in me, and there are so many people who have helped me throughout my lifetime—too many to name individually—but I want you all to know that I can be for ever thankful for the influence that you have had on my thinking. Your lessons will continue to inspire me, and your advice and your challenges will no doubt occupy my mind.

But now it is time to return home, to give back to those who place their trust in me, to rest awhile, to be with my darling George, who has put up with me for 51 years—it has got to be a record—and with my great children, and my 26 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren.

I had to say that, Pete, because you only have one! I was trying to work out how I could beat him at something.

And then on Saturday I will start thinking about my next project for transformation.

To everyone who has given me the strength and the support to promote possibility and belief for every w’ānau to grow, I thank you. Your vision, our vision, will be evident in the nation that we create together tomorrow.

To the three W’ānau Ora commissioning agencies, I want to mihi to you all for the great opportunity and the great direction that I know you will take us in.

Hon Dr Pita Sharples – Valedictory Statement

Speech – Hon Dr Pita Sharples (Co-Leader – Māori Party) – Thursday, 24 July 2014

In The House videos:

Valedictory Statement – Pita Sharples – 24th July, 2014 – Part 3

Valedictory Statement – Pita Sharples – 24th July, 2014 – Part 4

Hansard draft transcript:

Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES (Minister of Māori Affairs):

I am really full of different thoughts today—pretty mixed—as I think back over the last 9 years of my life.

You know the history of us: foreshore and seabed, the * hīkoi. Tariana did not know where she sat. She crossed the floor and made history. That was really brilliant. We had a whole lot of hui* up and down the country and we formed the Māori Party, and we came.

In our first election we won four of the Māori seats. Tariana, myself, and—where is he; what is your name again? And Te Ururoa, and Hone somebody— Hone Harawira. So we were very vocal over 3 years. We sat on the * cross benches over here and we threw stones at everything that Labour put up. We got a lot of following from outside. People said: “Yeah, you’re doing a good job in there.” We did not win anything, we did not do anything, but we just made a lot of noise and we got a lot press.

And that got us an extra seat at the next election. So then Rahui—kia ora, Rahui—joined us, and then there were five. Then we had a major row and then there were four and the Mana Party as a result of that.

So that is what happened—that split. Also, he and others mounted a campaign about being in Government with National and they invited us in, we went back, had 30 hui up and down the country, and every hui said: “Yes, go into Government. Give it a burst.” So we did.

I would like to acknowledge John Key and the whole structure of the National Party that explained why they would like to go with us. There were good reasons: an opportunity for us to have a chance at the table. We were honoured by that. Thank you very much, and we join with you.

Over the next period we got a lot of goodies for our people both in terms of passing bills but also in terms of * putea—money—to allow projects to go ahead and so on. It was a really good experience, though, for us to do that.

But the reality is our popularity slipped right down with the conflict between Mana and the Māori Party. But also there was a campaign against us being with National. It was painted as the bad guy by this Māori lobby, in particular.

So at the last election, while National did all right, with Māori Labour did all right. I think that was the backlash on us being in that Government. So what do you say to that, you know? 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? So that is my big thing at this time. I really feel our people are so far away from understanding that. The fact that they do not vote is testimony to that too. You ask them “Are you voting?”. “Nah, not really, what for?”, and stuff.

So, people, I would like to say thank you to a whole lot of people at the outset, so you get that one going. To my tribe * Ngāti Kahungunu—I know many of you are here, kaumātua and stuff—*— Hoani Waititi Marae, * Manutaki, Pari te Taua, kura, all these organisations, thank you for coming and being here on my last speaking day.

It is a great day because I have had three speeches already and one question, and I did not have to correct any records. It is embarrassing coming back and say “Oh, point of order.”, but I am an expert at that anyway.

So Tāmaki Makaurau*, , you have got to be the best committee in the world. You have done good by me. We have won every election we have gone for, and we are going to win one for Rangi there—he is sitting up there—this time. You are a great, great committee.

There are all our branches and, of course, the voters of Tāmaki Makaurau, which is most of Auckland City* there, or the natives in there, anyway.

I had an A-team* who doorknocked, and they doorknocked just about every weekend on our first election. They went out, it rained and they got wet, and then they went out again, it rained, and they got wet, and they went out, every weekend. Every weekend they had a karakia and then they went out, and I want you to know that the baby of the group was aged 65, and there was a whole group of them.

They were dedicated, because they said: “At last, our time has come. We have a Māori party.” And, you know, that was inspiration for us to bring our Māori kaupapa in here.

Do you know that every time you put a bill up to us, we put it down here and we say—there is a good criteria, and our team has to go through this—“*—“ Kotahitanga: does it unite us and does it unite New Zealand? * Manaakitanga: is this a caring bill? Will people be hurt by this bill?”.

With every single bill, whether it is about crossing the road or whether it is about a new building law or a new security law, or whatever, we put it through that test. We have stuck to our kaupapa and voted accordingly.

So I just wanted you to know that. We go by that kaupapa, and I know that most Māori in here would like to do that, too. So maybe there is something there that the big parties can think about—to understand that these are real * tikanga and not just made-up rules to go by stuff.

So thank you, Tāmaki Makaurau. Naida*, , our current president, is up here—kia ora, Naida, thank you for being here, lifelong friend and stuff. Vice-presidents, Ken* and * Donna, thank you. Past presidents, Pem Byrd* and * Whatarangi Winiata—amazing man, a really amazing man. He was great on the tāngas. He had a tānga for everything.

And, of course, our past MPs, Rahui and—what is his name—oh, Hone. That is right—Hone. [Interruption] No, do not laugh. He sent a message and he said I am cool. How is that? I wonder what he said to his wife.

Anyway, what an adventure we have had. It has been a great adventure being together. I really did not know Tariana personally until all this stuff happened, and then suddenly we were joined at the hip, for 9 years. And if you are joined at the hip with Tariana, it is quite an experience. Why are you laughing? OK, I thought I had better check that out—OK.

So to the National Party, I have got some things to say about you, but let us just move down the list a bit. To the parliamentary precincts staff, thank you very much. We cannot operate without you guys.

The VIP car drivers—I really have to thank you, and so do you, Tariana, because you and I and the Prime Minister always have the highest expenses on the cars. You know, with those cars and the odd flight, I can do four cities and five meetings in 1 day, so it really, really works. I mean, if you have got a portfolio like mine, where you have got to get out with the people, it really helps, so do not stop that one.

The cleaners—thank you.

The messengers and staff around Parliament, who make this place tick over and who look after all MPs, you are really, really good.

My electorate staff, my staff here, and my personal staff and private secretaries and things—awesome. I have had nothing but good staff. They are really, really good. So Veronica, Martin, Kimberly back there, and my big team here—I will name you all tonight, but there are so jolly many of you that I must say that I really appreciate you all. You have made my life here very easy.

So Te Puni Kōkiri*, , you get the rough end of the deal many times, and everybody seems to have sort of a * love-hate relationship with you. Do not stop working—you are doing a great job. You do stuff, you clean up after everybody, and you hold the mana for us.

When things Māori go wrong in this place, you are asked to fix it and so on, and there are some beautiful people in there—thank you. I would like to acknowledge Leigh and Michelle, the leaders, and others in that department.

Corrections officials are always good. That is because, as I used to say, I have been in and out of prisons all my life, but I have been working in prisons all my life, so it is really easy working with them.

Education people—I had a few drinks last night for anyone who sort of works for me, and education officials came en masse because they have been great. * Tātaiako—I said: “You know, we need this thing about culturally understanding your Māori student.”, and they wrote it. They got it written and produced.

Māori history in schools—it is now there. You never knew about Te Whatu-i-apiti or Te Heuheu o Te Rangi, but you knew about Sir Walter Raleigh and you knew about one or two of those other people and about the Magna Carta and all that stuff. But, you see, you are not related to Sir Walter Raleigh and all that stuff. I am related to Te Whatu-i-apiti.

I am related to Te Heuheu o Te Rangi, and he did far more than Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake and that stuff. And yet you do not know him, and that is not fair. You should know him and should share in our history before Cook, and then we can enjoy each other and where we come from and where we are going.

So I really respect my education officials, who have done heaps of stuff for me.

The iwi leaders and community leaders—it has been great working with you. We have all met each other over the years, and they change and so on, but I really enjoy working with you, iwi leaders, and I will continue to do that.

Then there are the committees that I have set up, which you have been on. * Te Paepae Motuhake, thank you very much to * Tāmati Reedy and your team. Constitutional review, thank you very much—some heavies on that one. Māori economic task force—some of them are here tonight. Te Puni Kōkiri refocus group—there are many committees, and I would like to thank you all.

I would really like to thank my family. I am like, here and I am not here. “Shall we go somewhere tomorrow night?”. “Oh, I have got to go to Wellington.” “Again?”. I said: “That’s where my job is.”, and this is how it goes. Well, now they will probably say: “Aren’t you going to Wellington?”.

I am really happy that were able to effect some things. The things I have enjoyed were the * United Nations’ * Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

One of my first tasks I decided as a Minister in 2009-10 was to negotiate New Zealand’s support for the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Knowing that New Zealand, Australia, USA, and Canada were not involved in that at the time, I went with New Zealand and presented it, chanted my way up, did the Māori thing that we do, and I finished it. They all cheered and I was just going to sing my waiata, all my New Zealand team, the Hawaiians, and the Sami jumped up, and the whole place erupted in different cultural dances. So they were really pleased.

The next thing I know the President sent down Senator Price from the White House group to start negotiating what they are going to do. Canada called us to a meeting and said they were going to do something, so it was really good that we were able to trigger that off.

We have got a wall in the United Nations. It is all shabby, but its remnants—it is a beautiful wall but it is really, really paru. So we asked whether we could bring some * tukutuku and stuff in here, and they said no. We have got too many.

So I said: “Well, we’ll do our wall up.” So we had some beautiful tukutuku panels—really lots of them, and they have been measured to suit there, and I am looking forward to joining * Toi Māori Aotearoa and * Te Puni Kōkiri taking those over and presenting them in the near future, so that is going to be good.

In terms of the Māori language strategy, we had the * Māori Language (Te Reo Māori) Bill today. It has been passed to go to select committee, so that is good. I was pleased to hear Nanaia say that this is not to be to be a political football.

I did not cover all the things in my speech today, but those things can be answered, so please find out from your leaders and stuff like that, or I am happy to meet with you and talk about that and so on.

So our Māori economic strategy has grown into * He Kai Kei Aku Ringa, a department now shared between the * Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Te Puni Kōkiri. We foster Māori trades overseas and economic development in New Zealand of all kinds—small to medium enterprises and so on.

We started the review of the Māori economy and it was said to be $16.4 billion and now we found out actually it is $37 billion. It is more likely $40 billion now because of that. So we are worth a bit, and we have done many excursions to Asian and to China to build up those relationships and sales.

The Auckland super city—thank you, Government, for that. Although we lost the fight, we had a march, eh, Willie? We had a march up Queen Street and we had meeting after meeting honouring the royal commission, which wanted three designated seats for Māori because they do not normally make the committee, and that is going to be a big super city.

We need them on there and Rodney was not in favour of that. Rodney was in charge of the whole thing. We could not just exchange him. He threw his toys all the way out of the cot, and so we lost that one and we did not have any after many arguments. God, he does not listen. Because of that, we went to another meeting to decide what the * Māori advisory committee should do.

We piped up and said: “Ah, it should be statutory.” And it was passed, and now it is doing such a good job, and I hope that that is a model other cities will use—to have a stand-alone, statutory Māori committee with its own budget that can sit alongside at the top meetings and so on.

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. I do not know how you are going to get on at Waitangi pōwhiri without me to look after you. Do you know the whole of New Zealand watches the Waitangi Day TV report just to see what happens to you at the pōwhiri?

There was “nannygate”. The “nannygate” pōwhiri held up the whole proceedings for an hour while Titawhai and her daughter, Hinewhare, in tow conducted a public dispute with another nanny about who will escort the Prime Minister on to the * marae. Many of you were there in this case. Nara dived into the scrum trying to sort it out and there they were, waiting, waiting.

Finally the Prime Minister arrived but they were not ready, so they had another fight. I was worried about my wife getting knocked over because she had a crook leg at the time. Suddenly I see her in the middle of the scrum, arms going flat out like this. I said: “Oh, my God! They are both her aunties. What is going to happen?”. And so on. So I was worried about her.

“Nek minnit” there she was right in the middle of the scrum. Anyway, I think they all had a piece of you that day, Prime Minister. You are a warrior.

Then there was “lock-up gate” pōwhiri where we were lured into the * wharenui and we were told the door would be locked and we would not be allowed to leave until you agreed to their local requests. We eventually go out of there.

And then there was “speechgate” pōwhiri. While I spoke, there was complete silence on the marae. Either they were mesmerized by my wisdom or they could not care less and were just waiting for you.

Anyway, as soon as you stood, your old friends, the brothers, began drowning you out on their megaphones from behind. In order to be heard, you walked on to the marae and the noise followed you and got louder and louder. You walked further and further and you almost sat down on the other side. You were right there on the other side.

I thought: “Hmm, I am sure that is not the rule on the marae just like that.” Yep, so that is OK. The last pōwhiri was “fishgate”. Some disgruntled ex-fan of yours, Prime Minister, decided to share his lunch with you. He tossed a whole fish at us.

But the pōwhiri of pōwhiris was “tusslegate”. To explain, Hone’s nephew’s security just came in and decided to have a piece of the Prime Minister and they just dived into us. Security was everywhere and so on. I got pushed backwards with a post behind me, and over I went.

Next minute, there were feet all around my head. I was looking up and they were all looking after the Prime Minister and tramping on me. I was just lying there. There were shoes against my head while I was lying there trying to get up. Then they finally pulled the bros off and, unaided, I staggered to my feet—your most loyal Minister.

As I said on the day at breakfast, I would have taken a bullet that day. Minister English—Tariana and I have a loving relationship with the Deputy Prime Minister, Bill English. We love both him and his cupboards full of money.

Minister English made an unreasonable assumption about us. He said we came to our meetings armed with psychological tactics to relieve him of some of his * pūtea, his money.

He said Tariana attacks first, leads the charge, and bombards him with statistics and surveys about Māori communities’ needs. She goes on and on until he feels guilty or afraid, and after some time, out comes the cheque book. Just take a note of that formula.

Then, he says, I follow on with my magnetic charm, making him feel relaxed and comfortable and asking how his wife and children are. His sore back—is it getting better? I compliment his aroha ki te iwi Māori, and—boom—out comes the cheque book with a signature.

Well, that is his story. I do not think it quite goes like that, but thank you for all the assistance you have given the projects we have put before you.

Minister Finlayson—we received our ministerial portfolios in November and December 2008. That Christmas summer holidays, Minister Finlayson was out amongst the iwi of New Zealand, making initial contacts—before Christmas, before dinner.

We had just got appointed, and he was out doing settlements and assessments over Treaty settlement issues. He probably had Christmas breakfast at * Ruātoki, lunch at * Mōhaka, and Christmas pudding in the Hokianga. Your relationship with iwi is always * rangatira ki te rangatira, and you lead and inspire your field teams, and me and Tariana as well, with the same dignity.

Thank you, Minister, and thank you also for your Māori affairs work on freeing up the Māori land for production. I am waiting—in fact, no. Hekia—she comes from that tribe where does not apply.

In fact, it is almost compulsory in that tribe to talk about yourself. But she is the only Minister to karanga and pōwhiri me into the meetings we have every week, singing “Haere mai rā …” or some * Ngati Porou song that has about eight verses or something.

As a Minister, Hekia is strong. She has inherited enormous projects like fronting for the * Novopay debacle, the schools earthquake recovery in Christchurch, * Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust difficulties, and a large education portfolio generally. I think she is mean—Māori mean—and is a great example of tū Māori mai. Kia ora.

And just a last one—I would like to acknowledge Nick Smith. Tēnā koe, Nick.

Thank you for your friendship and for educating me on climate change—how you sell nothing for something, or is it something for nothing? I do not know whether I have got that one worked out properly. Anyway, you always made time to explain stuff for me, particularly in the information communications technology world.

Everybody and the presiding officers in this House, thank you very much.

Tari and Te Ururoa—I would like to acknowledge my companion MPs, Tariana and Te Ururoa. For a decade we have worked together and lived together, creating a Māori presence in the House, in our committees, and in our ministerial and leadership roles.

One day Tari and I were having a scrap in the caucus, and she was getting really vocal, and I was sort of being cool, you know, like that. We both looked at our president, * Whatarangi. “Whatarangi?”

And he goes “Ah, yes. Tariana is showing rangatiratanga. She’s leading out and being strong about her project. Pita—he’s showing * manaakitanga, caring and so on.”, like this. We are looking at each other—so? Then he goes “What we really need here is kotahitanga.” Because that is the kaupapa, we had to accept it. So we got on.

We have had a good relationship, eh, my bro, Te Ururoa. Where is he? At the back, taking my seat. He is the only MP who goes out on the road with two right shoes. We get to the whare and he goes “Take your shoes off.” I say “No, they said leave them on.” He says “No, take them off.”—because he had two right shoes.

Sorry, bro. We have followed the advice of the late colonel * Sir James Hēnare, who said to the Māori Battalion when it arrived back from the war: “Go home to your marae. Go home to your mountain. Go home to your river. Go home to your land. Go home to your whanau.

But at all times, tū Māori mai—remember.”

That applies to anyone, not just Māori. Be strong, be yourself, and carry on and change the world.

So thank you very much. I have gone over time, but it has been a real honour to work with these two and to live with these two over the time. I would just like to abuse the system.

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.




Chauvel swipes at Shearer, and calls for Goff and Mallard to go?

In his valedictory statement in Parliament today Charles Chauvel has been critical of David Shearer’s shadow cabinet, and appears to have called for Phil Goff and Trevor Mallard to step down.

Sir, I’ve been a member of ther Labour Party since 1985. In my view it remains the greatest force for meaningful social change in this country. It continues to offer energy, ideas and talent from it’s ranks that would adorn any cabinet.

I want to express publicly now, two hopes that I’ve confided to David Shearer in private.

First, I sincerely wish that he will be Prime Minister in a Labour led government at the end of next year. I regret that I won’t be his Attorney General, and I appreciate a statement that he share’s that regret.

Secondly, it’s unproductive to keep trying to locate and exclude the supposed enemy within.

Instead in order to avoid history repeating, it’s time for an honest, open and overdue assessment of why the 2011 campoaign produced Labour’s worst ever electoral result.

Those responsible for it should make dignified exits, and all the undoubted talent and diversity of the caucus should be included in the shadow cabinet.

To put it in another way, in Gough Whitlam’s immortal words, the party must have both it’s wings to fly.

It’s obvious Chauvel is talking about the deep division between what are seen as the David Shearer supporters camp (or ABC) and the David Cunliffe camp.

The recent reshuffle did not repair the rift. There have been pointed claims that Shearer rewarded those who backed  him in the leadership vote earlier this month, and punished those who did not vote for him plus David Cunliffe who pledged to vote for Shearer but seems to be still in the naughty corner after the overblown “coup” attempt last lear.

Chauvel does not think Shearer’s new lineup adequately addresses the division.

And Chauvel also called fore “dignified exits” of those resonsible for the poor election result (they are at least partly responsible for some of the division since).

IrishBill names names at The Standard:

I’m pleased he called for Phil and Trevor to go (10’50″) it’s about time someone from caucus came out and said that.

That’s just further identification of Goff and Mallard as major causes of disatisfaction and division in the party.


I noted Moana Mackey and Lianne Dalziel appeared not too far from tears. Two equally fine and intelligent MPs who paid a price for supporting David Cunliffe.

I don’t know if it was coincidental or not that Dalziel and Mackey were in shot throughout his speech. Cunliffe was immediately to his left.

Chauvel valedictory

hush minx:

A fine and thoughtful speech. I noted there were some less than happy looks on the faces of the front bench at the end. He has set them a challenge that they have failed so far. Now is the time for them to step up, but it’s come at the cost of a good mp who understood the best of what labor can be.

The chances of Shearer, Goff or Mallard taken much notice of this let alone action is very slim, if past actions are any indication of their refusal to accept responsibility and repair the problems.

Video link: Valedictory – Charles Chauvel – 27th February, 2013

Update: See also The Chauvel valedictory at Kiwiblog and on Charles’ valedictory at The Standard

Chauvel accuses Whale and Kiwiblog

In his valedictory statement in Parliament Charles Chauvel took a nasty swipe at “two better known right wing blogs” – obviously Whale Oil and Kiwiblog – with wild accusations. This indicates some paranoia in Labour circles about supposed unfairness in media.

But it’s not only Government institutions that need strengthening. Democracy requires a free, well resourced, unbiased fourth estate.

Journalists working in much of our under capitalised, foreign owned media are under constant pressure.

This comes from many quarters, including the constant need to sell newspapers and airtime, and also the need to compete with instantly available online sources.

In the case of the two better known right wing blogs those online sources are proxies for the present Government, and much copy is supplied to them directly out of ministers offices at taxpayers expense.

A general dumbing down, but more importantly a loss of independence have been the inevitable results.

To those of uas who want to read and listen to unbiased domestic news and analysis, or even for those of us who don’t really care whether John and Jacinda are still New Zealand’s sexiest politicians, there remains a diminishing number of options.

The quality of reporting and analysis now offered by PBS, ABC, the BBC, as well as the effect they have on the standard of other media, are simply not available here.

It’s high time for the re-establishment of a strong, independent, well resourced multi media broadcaster in New Zealand.

It’s more than a little hypocritical talking about unbiased balance while making major unsubstantiated accusations at two “right wing” blogs under parliamentary privilege, and making no mention of left wing blogs with obvious connections to Labour.

Video report here: Chauvel Leaves With A Parting Shot

Update: See also The Chauvel valedictory at Kiwiblog and on Charles’ valedictory at The Standard