I often get asked what my plan for the city is. I can tell you straight up, my plan for Palmerston North is that you are represented by an engaged MP, and one who participates fully in the parliamentary process.
With that in mind, it's been a busy and productive few weeks.
My member's bill, the Local Government (Pecuniary Interests Register) Amendment Bill, was recently drawn from the ballot. The ballot box is in fact a biscuit tin purchased from the chain store DEKA in the 1990s.
"Biscuit tin democracy", as it has been affectionately called, is a reminder of both the sense of fairness that pervades our Kiwi psyche and the practical no-nonsense approach we take to problem-solving.
My member's bill will mean more transparency for local government. It's vital to know what property and financial interests are held by those we elect to represent us. And this bill will ensure the rules of disclosure and transparency are consistently applied across all levels of government.
I also have another member's bill I'm working on which I'll be able to discuss widely in due course. I strongly believe there's little point being in this role if you don't want to be part of the process of enacting positive change.
We had two visitors of note to our city in recent weeks. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attended the unveiling of phase two of Papaioea Place. This housing project is a great example of local and central governments working together to accelerate housing supply.
Jacinda also visited the army base and Linton, where Minister of Defence Peeni Henare announced the high-tech maintenance hub. The Palmy-based building firm McMillan and Lockwood is building this facility. This is great news and a key part of our plan of investing in infrastructure to create local jobs and boost our local economy.
Minister Ayesha Verrall also visited our city, which presented a great opportunity to spend time with a colleague from the Class of 2020. In addition to being a government minister, Ayesha is an infectious disease doctor and an expert on vaccines and Covid-19.
While she was in Palmy, we toured leading-edge research at Massey University and Fonterra, and Ayesha was our guest speaker at Coffee and Politics. I'm a big believer in making Wellington accessible to Palmerston North and, conversely, to showcase the real strengths and advantages of our amazing city to the Beehive.
Over the next month, I'm looking forward to the Dawn Raids apology (which was postponed), meeting with more community groups, business organisations and, of course, catching up with lots of locals.
• Tangi Utikere is the MP for Palmerston North.