The four newest Labour MPs gave their maiden speeches in Parliament tonight and each touched on the theme of inequality or social justice.
Dunedin North MP David Clark, list MP Andrew Little, Wigram MP Megan Woods and Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene delivered their speeches consecutively.
Dr Clark took over from Pete Hodgson who retired last election.
A Presbyterian Minister and most recently the warden at Selwyn College in Dunedin, Dr Clark said: "A more equal society is healthier, wealthier and wise."
Generating the conditions for a more equal society was not only the right thing to do, it also made economic sense.
More equal societies tended to be more more successful because people worked harder when they knew the rules of society were fairer.
"When everybody who does a fair day's work can live well; when it is always possible for someone born in a family of modest means to be successful in their chosen field they are more likely to strive to do so."
He compared China to the United States and said it would be hard to imagine the astonishing growth in in its rail network happening in the United States today.
"Where a critical mass of the truly wealthy exert undue influence on the political process, investment in infrastructure, education, research, healthcare and other matters related to the common good dwindles."
Mr Little, the former national secretary of the Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union, began his speech marking the centenary of the Waihi miners - one of of the most bitter and violence industrial disputes in New Zealand's history.
Former Labour Prime Minister Peter Fraser had been union organiser at the time of the 1912 Waihi miners' strike and Mr Little said he had realised that justice would be achieved"only when working people reached beyond the workplace for influence and had a direct say on the laws and policies they were subject to."
He paid tribute to Taranaki where he grew up and said that while the Think Big projects had been derided in their day, they had been instrumental in developing the region's heavy engineering industry.
He said 30 years of "neo-liberal policy programme had been a disaster."
"We were promised that the nation's wealth would rise on the back of new flexibility and better opportunities for investment and that the wealth would be shared around by higher wages. None of this happened. The opposite did.
"Inequality of income has now become so great it is an injustice keenly felt and resentment is real and growing."
Dr Woods won Wigram (formerly Sydenham) after Progressive leader Jim Anderton retired last election. Two other political giants had represented the seat: Mabel Howard and Norman Kirk and all three had shown an absolute commitment to social justice and equality.
She said believed in the power of an active New Zealand Government and state to make a real difference in people's lives"and that is why I am here."
Some of the moments of greatness in New Zealand's history, when it had taken a "great leap forward as a country" had been as an active state and that had to happen again with the rebuild of Christchurch.
"We have a unique opportunity to create something special and once gain take a great leap forward."
By next year, 36,000 additional workers would be required in Christchurch.
"Bringing in skilled trades professionals from overseas simply cannot be our solution. We need to invest in our young people and let them lead the way."
Mr Tirikatene beat former Maori Party MP Rahui Katene to win the seat.
He acknowledged his grandfather Sir Eruera Tirikatene who was MP for Southern Maori 80 years ago, and his aunt, Whetu Tirikatene- Sullivan who held the seat 45 years ago.
When his grandfather was an MP the Maori population was about 94,000 and when his aunt was an MP it was 249,000. Last year it was estimated to be 673,000.
Maori had travelled a long way towards economic parity and with a third of Maori living in households with an income of more than $70,000 "what we are witnessing is the steady growth of a Maori middle class."
However too many remained locked in a cycle of dependency and poverty.
"We are still over- represented at the bottom of the wealth pyramid; we will on average die sooner than our Pakeha mates; we will more so than our Pacific cousins end up in prison and, unlike nay other group in Aotearoa New Zealand, we now receive more in transfer payments [benefits, working for families] than we pay in tax."
Maori were no longer an homogenous as they were, and increasing diversity was a hallmark of modern society.
He had a commitment to the fundamental idea of maori living the life they want to live, as well as ensuring that the safety net was set at a high enough level.