Paul Quinn and Iain Lees

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

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

She recalled the Ruatoria she saw through the lens of childhood as a very different place from now, a place where people worked hard to live off the land and a place that was “famous for land innovation, dairy factories, cultural foreign policy, lawyers and educators and public servants”.

She recalled it as the centre of her world, where Ngati Porou Maori was the spoken language, except in school, “and te reo Maori was for dealing with other distant tribes and their strange dialects and practices”.

“I grew up believing that everyone was Anglican, all worshipped Sir Apirana Ngata, Hikurangi was the highest mountain in the world and the Waiapu swept majestically out to sea. I saw no need for reality to intrude on this set of beliefs because they performed the very useful function of securing identity.”

She said it was a place which had survived, despite “the boom and bust of officialdom and capricious ideas of what next to invest in, how now we might be saved – always by well meaning yet very distant bureaucrats and politicians – and all the time oblivious to the possibility we might actually save ourselves”.

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

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

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

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

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

Ms Parata paid tribute to her ancestors – her great-great-grandfather Tame Parata who was MP for the South Island for 26 years from 1885. Another tipuna, Sir Apirana Ngata, followed in 1905 and served for 38 years.


National list MP

Vital statistics: National’s candidate in Hutt South, which was retained by Labour’s Trevor Mallard with a majority of 4086. On Maori Affairs and Justice and Electoral select committees. Came into Parliament at 48 on National’s list.

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

Personal: He describes his early life as “rooted in the traditions of a Catholic rural upbringing”. While other MPs have said their politics were formed as children around the family dinner table, he said he himself was not remotely politically aware until his mid teens “and only then because for about a three-week period prior to an election there seemed to me to be much ado about nothing, following which everything appeared to return to normal”.

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


Labour MP for Palmerston North

Vital Statistics: Replaced Steve Maharey as Labour’s candidate for Palmerston North. Won the seat by 1117 votes from National’s Malcolm Plimmer. On health select committee and Labour’s spokesman for Land Information. Associate for defence and health in the drugs and alcohol areas.

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

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

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

In his own words: “I will try not to count the number of times I have been told I have big shoes to fill. I hope this doesn’t disappoint anyone in my home town, but I have no plans to do so. Steve Maharey may be as well known for his fashion sense as anything he achieved in here, Cheap Nike Air Max but I want you all to know I have my own shoes, they fit me very well and I am comfortable in them. I do hope however, that my footsteps in this place will leave an impression even slightly akin to my predecessor’s. That would be an achievement indeed.”