Ahead of the general election in 2014, Juliet Rowan sat down with the wives of Bay of Plenty's MPs to find out their views on life, love and their latest roles.

Natalie Bridges, the wife of Tauranga MP Simon Bridges, boasts an impressive CV for a 31-year-old.

It includes stints as a producer at the BBC, editor of New Zealand fashion magazine Simply You, and now boss of her own company.

The English-born journalist's first job when she moved to New Zealand in 2005 was at the Bay of Plenty Times, and she still writes a column in Saturday's indulge magazine.


Her topics are often aimed at inspiring women and Natalie says a constant question in her mind is, "Can women have it all?"

Politics isn't a job. It's actually your life. It's Simon's life so if we're not part of that as a family, then we're not part of his life.


The Oxford University graduate believes the answer is yes and judging by what she achieved during her husband's second term in Parliament, it would be hard to disagree.

As well as giving birth to two children, Emlyn, now 2, and Harry, 6 months, she also started her own public relations firm, Blink PR, 18 months ago.

Focused on growing Tauranga businesses, the company is rapidly expanding and Natalie now employs three other women at her offices in Harington St.

It was a hive of activity when the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend visited.

With her 37-year-old husband entering his third term for National and spending several days a week in Wellington, Natalie is used to juggling career and children on her own.

She says Simon puts his heart and soul into his job, feeling a huge responsibility to his constituents and as a Cabinet minister, and she supports him by looking after their family and creating enjoyable routines for their children.

"But I have to work," she says. "That's in my soul. My business is my other baby. I adore it."

She says the time apart from Simon, her husband of nine years, can be lonely but is made easier by their shared philosophy of life.

"We're always living life to the full. We're always 100 per cent, we're always go. And though we may sometimes moan about that, we're not happy when it's not like that."

Natalie prides herself on getting involved in all Simon's campaigns - "I love it and I feel deeply passionate about politics and the role it plays in people's lives" - this year with two young children.

A couple of weeks ago, she found herself standing at Tauranga Marina at 7.30am with her toddler, and the baby in a front pack.

"We were there in the drizzling rain waving signs."

She advises the wives of the Bay's new MPs to immerse themselves in their husbands' political careers.

"Politics isn't a job. It's actually your life. It's Simon's life so if we're not part of that as a family, then we're not part of his life."

She also counsels the MPs' wives against spending too much time in Wellington - "you're a spare part down there" - and says to "build your life here with a certain amount of independence".

"Embrace the moments you've got [together] and realise that you're part of the big job they've got."

Natalie and Simon met at Oxford while she was doing a Masters in English Literature and he, a Bachelor in Civil Law.

"It was love at first sight," Natalie says.

"He looked exotic. He thought I was a posh girl. Little did he know I was from little old Coventry."

They married at the end of their courses, Natalie ignoring protests that she was only 22. They had just met, and she was mad to move to a country she'd never even visited.

But Natalie says she and Simon were inseparable, united by similar upbringings with working class parents who believed in the value of "putting in hours and the hard yards to get what you want".

Despite their busy lives, Natalie and Simon still try and make time for fun, scheduling date nights and enjoying walks near their home in Matua with their children.

Family time is extremely precious because even when home Simon is often busy with electorate meetings and Cabinet papers.

She says they are "good mates" and even when apart may call each other five or six times a day.

Natalie is excited about the next three years, saying she enjoys seeing her husband doing a job he loves and serving a city she describes as "nimble and full of entrepreneurial spirit".

"It's an amazing time to be MP for Tauranga and to be the wife of the MP for Tauranga."

* The writer has known Natalie Bridges since Natalie arrived in New Zealand.