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Audrey Young
Political editor Audrey Young blogs from Parliament

Audrey Young: Nikki Kaye's diagnosis is a shock to Parliament

By Audrey Young

The news that Nikki Kaye is battling breast cancer has sent shockwaves around Parliament.

As the epitome of energy, zest, style and fitness in an institution full of slowing, ageing others with expanding waist lines, she is the last person you'd expect to be ill.

She is a driven individual in almost everything she does. She won't be just fighting cancer. She will be declaring war on it with every fibre of her being.

Since arriving in Parliament nearly eight years ago, she has made her reputation as an MP from the socially liberal wing of National, from the green-blue arm of the party and from the near obsessive part of the personality spectrum.

She knows her stuff, backwards, sideways and inside out.

She not only thrives on details, she expects everyone else to thrive on the details she knows as well.

It is difficult for her to answer a question quickly and simply. Most questions are answered in a multitude of points: first ... second ... third ... fourth.

In her first term she opposed her own party's proposal to mine on Great Barrier Island.

"Our environment is the greatest gift we have been given as a nation," she said in her maiden speech, delivered in the throes of the global economic crisis.

"There are people who think the environment is an issue that can be put aside when times are tough. I would ask those people to look deeper and realise that from a social and economic point of view, our environment is the most precious asset we have."

She has worked across the aisle with MPs on gay marriage and recently hosted an event at Parliament to mark the 30th anniversary of homosexual law reform.

She accompanies Prime Minister John Key to the Big Gay Out.

The obvious confidence Key has in Kaye was reflected in her appointment as ACC minister in 2014, a large and sensitive portfolio.

Kaye arrived in Parliament in 2008 having ousted Labour veteran Judith Tizard in Auckland Central, the first National MP to hold the seat.

Labour's Jacinda Ardern set her eyes on Auckland Central and Patrick Gower, then at the Herald, dubbed it "the battle of the babes" for the 2011 election.

The pair battled it out against last election and Ardern narrowed Kaye's majority to 600, well within striking distance for 2017.

Kaye is legendary for her electioneering, which begins the day after each election. She door-knocks thousands of households between elections.

Kaye is an Aucklander born and bred. She was head girl at the private Corran School.

She got a degree in genetics from Otago University where she joined the National Party. She went to work in the party's research unit while it was in Opposition under Bill English's leadership.

She then worked in London for five years before returning to stand for Parliament.

- NZ Herald

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