The past week has been about celebrating who we are, what we do, and good ideas.

For members of Parliament, it was a recess week - which many people think is a week off.

The funny thing is that these periods can be busier than weeks in Parliament, as families, locals, party faithful, ministerial staff and parliamentary staff all think that a week without the interruption of Parliament can be used as a catch-up for other business.

"AmeriCARna" was a prime example of somebody's good idea growing its own legs and turning into an iconic event. Driving down State Highway 3 and seeing ute-loads of families watching the cars pass, with thermos and sandwiches in hand, kids' arms pumping as they beg each driver of the next "Yank tank" to toot their horn ... priceless.


The regional conference of Lions brought 300 people to Hawera and packed The Hub. The shot in the arm such events give to smaller towns in provincial New Zealand can't be taken lightly - it gives us a chance to strut our stuff and showcase our heritage, lifestyle and business.

Showcasing us was what we did in Wanganui last week when the Minister of Business, Innovation and Employment, and Tertiary Education came to town last Thursday.

It isn't easy to get into Steven Joyce's diary, but I was pleased when he finally rocked up and then when he gave an assurance of being back in the next few months because of the exciting innovation he found here.

Wanganui has world-leading businesses, employing world-leading staff, making world-leading products at world-beating prices.

Steven Joyce wants government agencies to encourage and not hinder the roles of companies, and for agencies to turn on work and educational opportunities for our people, young and old. The message was to be flexible and creative around funding and administration.

Winners are grinners, but Wanganui has often seen itself as the loser on the back of successive government funding decisions.

I visited three schools and met students and staff who are switched on to learning and watched young students at Auroa School build components of a three-dimensional printer from plastic.

It is obvious that the stuff kids learn in school today - which seems out of this world - complements the three Rs in ways I'd never anticipated. They'll be ready for the workforce like we never were.

I also got to Beck's Helicopters, who now operate in eight countries on four continents and keep expanding their operation, having an international reputation and the rewards that go with it.

At the other end of the electorate, Aero Work in Whanganui are building top-dressers to maintain the productivity of the land which puts bread and butter in the table of our region.

The most touching event was the Relay For Life at Cooks Gardens on Saturday and Sunday.

Few families escape the touch of cancer in some way these days, and raising money for research is so important to beat this killer disease.

Walking the laps around the park burned off the calories and chewing the fat with team members put the world to rights.

Recess week is no holiday, but it is the most enjoyable part of the job. It keeps an MP in touch with those they represent.