Revived NZ First MPS debut in Parliament

By Amelia Romanos

NZ First leader Winston Peters, centre, with his caucus, from left, Denis O'Rourke, Richard Prosser, Barbara Stewart, Andrew Williams, Arsenati Taylor, Tracey Martin and Brendan Horan. Photo / Mark Mitchell
NZ First leader Winston Peters, centre, with his caucus, from left, Denis O'Rourke, Richard Prosser, Barbara Stewart, Andrew Williams, Arsenati Taylor, Tracey Martin and Brendan Horan. Photo / Mark Mitchell

New Zealand First MPs have made their official introductions to Parliament, speaking about their heritage, their respective roads to politics, their future plans, and where the Government has it wrong.

Among the six first-term MPs to deliver maiden speeches today was former North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams, who spoke about his original ambitions to become a lawyer after seeing David Lange in full flight at Auckland District Court.

He told how a six-pack of Huttons sausages at a barbecue in Castor Bay derailed the plans, when he was offered a job as an export trainee.

"What a choice - be a poor law student for years or travel the world selling New Zealand meat. So by the age of 20, I was going to amazing places such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman."

Going on to become a Belgian trade commissioner, Mr Williams said seeing overseas investment in education, technology and city infrastructure sparked his interest in local politics and led to his nine-year involvement with the North Shore City Council.

Canterbury-based MP Denis O'Rourke also spoke at length about his home community, focusing heavily on the Christchurch quakes and how the rebuilding plans were taking too long.

"My home town is on its knees: Christchurch is bent, buckled and broken. In everything except spirit," he said.

"While nobody wants bad, hasty decisions made, neither can the current uncertainties and delays be allowed to continue."

Fellow Canterbury-based MP Richard Prosser said the former Labour Government's 2001 decision to scrap the Air Force's combat wing led him eventually to Parliament.

"That action was the turning point which persuaded me that I needed to become involved in the political process; that it was no longer an option to simply be an observer."

Mr Prosser said he intended to throw himself into the job and had bought a new pair of workboots for the job.

"They're a bit more flash than the ones I'm used to, but they're workboots nonetheless."

Brendan Horan, best known before Parliament for his stint as a TV weatherman, spoke about his childhood in Whakatane, and his days at the local council swimming pool, where he paid a 20c entry fee.

"Compare that to my local council swimming pool Baywave in Tauranga where entry and hydroslides costs $8 for local children," he said.

"It's no wonder children struggle to swim and one of my goals is to have gold coin entry to all swimming pools for all New Zealand school children."

Mr Horan also spoke about New Zealand's record of child abuse, saying the "foul stench of these crimes lingers over our entire nation, but in particular those of us in the House today - as it has happened on our watch".

Tracey Martin, of Rodney, spoke about Parliament's challenge to have a greater vision, and work with a 100-year view rather than kneejerk reactions.

She said Parliament had done it all before.

"We have seen asset sales, we have seen a youth wage, we have seen a test-driven education system. Look back, many in this House were here the last time these were tried. They did not work then and they will not work now."

The final MP to deliver their speech was Asenati Lole-Taylor, who spoke about her Samoan heritage and her reverence at being the only Pacific woman in Parliament.

Ms Lole-Taylor, who is based in South Auckland, stressed the need for a new stance on crime, with shorter, sharper sentences.

She summed up her party's position well when she said: "New Zealand First made it back. And if the truth be told, probably just in the nick of time."

- APNZ

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