After nine years in Parliament, Wairarapa MP John Hayes says he has come to the end of a very long road and now it's time to step down.
On the road from Waipawa in the north to Ngawi to the south, the life of an MP in the electorate, with 45,000 voters, is always hectic, he told the Dannevirke News. "I want to recover my life," he said. "I won't be doing nothing, though. I'll be refreshing my business experience at a company directors' course with the Institute of Directors and taking care of my commercial interests in Greytown."
Mr Hayes said after the last general election he had decided this would be his last term in Parliament.
"There comes a time when I've got to recover my life, say hello to my wife and grandchildren. I drive 1000km a week, as well as spending three days a week in Parliament, from 7.30am until midnight and sometimes later. This is a 24/7 job and I understand that, but there comes a time when you have got to say there's another life out there.
"I've worked out I spend 15 hours a week driving around the electorate, sometimes on roads such as Route 52, where you often can't exceed 50km/h.
"During my time, I believe I've stood up for the Wairarapa electorate, making sure the voice of the people is heard," he said.
There were a lot of reasons why he went into Parliament, Mr Hayes said, one of those being a drive to see councils south of Mt Bruce amalgamate.
"There are too many councils, but I don't believe the Wairarapa should be run out of Wellington. Our communities have to take responsibility for managing themselves and there are some bloody good people out there.
"You've only got to look at Dannevirke's Alan Benbow and his Scanpower group. They saved a company and now the Kiwi Sock Company at Norsewood is thriving, employing more people than before. And there's more good news to come from the Oringi Cold Stores site, which proves locally driven companies are the key to growth in the regions, not central government."
Mr Hayes said he was proud of what he had achieved throughout the vast electorate.
"I've been on top of most of the big issues and my first big achievement was to keep Makora College open in Masterton. We also kept all the Bush primary schools open, rather than amalgamating them into Pahiatua School.
"Last year there were a lot of problems and grief for farmers surrounding Horizons Regional Council's One Plan. The impact on the Tararua would have been a $62 million a year financial hit, which would have stuffed the economy of the district.
"I encouraged some common sense between the Horizons chief executive and chairman, getting them to sit down with dairy farmers, businessman Alan Benbow and Tararua District Mayor Roly Ellis. Bringing people together down in Wellington to chew the fat worked."
Mr Hayes said he had looked after 1000 constituent problems each year, much of it unseen by most in the electorate.
"There's a whole raft of things we do as MPs which aren't seen, but I think that is why I increased my majority each election.
"When I first came into Parliament, I was adamant I wasn't interested in the party list. You have to be put there by the people who keep you grounded and I've always tried to do the right thing for this community. "My one big failure has been trying to keep the former Masterton Hospital out of the land bank," he said. "It's buggered up now, because it went into the land bank."
In the past months, he has been working hard to get an airline into Masterton to replace Air New Zealand.
"I don't believe ratepayers or taxpayers should subsidise a service. I've always enjoyed going to bat for our region and that's included funding for water projects in the Tararua. Central government has to ensure the right conditions exist in an electorate for it to thrive.
"Take Pahiatua's Alison and Graeme Franklin, who have invented an electronic device easily installed into the milk line of a working cowshed, which is programmed to detect the difference between milk and water.
"There are a huge number of people around here with bright ideas like that."
Mr Hayes said he believed there were "three quite good guys" standing for the Wairarapa seat in September's general election.
But he wouldn't say if the electorate would be in good hands.
"I don't know, because I don't know who will win the seat.
"You don't win every battle, but I've no regrets. I've met some absolutely brilliant people and I think I've done an honest job."
Mr Hayes will be busy until the general election, as he prepares for a trip to Papua New Guinea and then Bougainville.
Alistair Scott will contest the Wairarapa seat for National, alongside John Hart of the Green Party and Labour's Kieran McAnulty.
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