Waiariki MP Tamati Coffey has promised to be a voice for his community, for Maori, for the LGBT community, and for all blue-collar workers in his maiden speech in Parliament.

Coffey, who defeated Te Ururoa Flavell and knocked the Maori Party out of Parliament, paid tribute to all the natural beauty in his electorate, but also highlighted the many plights - from school closures in Te Kaha, to the decline of forestry work, to the lack of houses.

He made a very brazen request to Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones to kick-start the aquaculture industry in Opotiki.

"I hear you've got some money. I'm ready to talk when you are."


He said Rotorua needs houses.

"Our whanau need houses, emergency houses, state houses, big houses for whanau and small houses for our Kaumatua to buy, to rent.

"Homelessness isn't what we want for our people."

Coffey grew up in a "sea of Labour" in Lower Hutt, the son of factory workers in a Labour-built state house.

"They worked long, hard hours and for not much money, but it was through them that I learned the value of hard work. They saw education as the key to success, a privilege that they never had.

"It was a multi-cultural community, and we were better for it."

Coffey did not touch on his television career, which made him a household name, but said that he started taking an interest in politics after working at the Auckland Council.

"I became a solider for social justice ... I come to Parliament to be a voice for New Zealand, and I will be a voice for the people of my electorate, but also for all those young people out there who need a role model and guidance.


"I will be a voice for the kura kaupapa Maori kids in my electorate who want an active role in looking after our environment. I will be a voice for the LGBT community."

He paid tribute to his "beautiful immigrant husband Tim".

"Thank you, my love - I love the life that we lead ... it's a roller-coaster, but it's infinitely more fun with you. Let's have some kids some time."

Labour list MP Jo Luxton used her maiden speech to highlight the need for quality education and the role that small businesses can play to re-invigorate the regions.

She said the electorate of Rangitata, where she lives, is the "agriculture hub of the South Island, if not New Zealand".

It relies on migrants to fill job places, and she was pleased that the Government would introduce a regional skills shortage list.

"A national blanket list does not work for the regions. Their needs are different to Auckland and other cities."

Luxton grew up the eldest of three girls in Rotorua.

"I had a happy upbringing - Dad was a builder, Mom was a stay-at-home parent. I'd lived in four different towns by the time I was 10."

She said their home was not a rich one, but was still able to indulge in birthday and Christmas presents.

"Those things now seem like privileges."

Luxton became an early childhood education teacher and eventually started her own early childhood centre.

"We need to focus more on quality rather than quantity - this is largely my motivation for putting myself forward as a candidate."

She wanted to bring her experience as a living wage employer and small business owner to Parliament.

"Owning a business, particularly in a rural area, does not come without its challenges. A living wage allows families to support themselves better ... to live with some dignity. I will always support that principle."

She wanted every child in New Zealand to have the same opportunities "regardless of the type of job their parents do, or where they live".

She had a long list of people to thank, including fellow Labour MP Damien O'Connor, who once advised her to "harden up".

"So I thank you for that. It is advice I will always remember."

She thanked her father Jim, whose political opinions were the exact opposite of hers, and "allowed me to work on my debating skills".

"I want to leave this place knowing I have given it my all, and New Zealand is a better place for it."

She finished with a moving tribute to her mother, who she did not name, and whose ill-health prevented her from being in Parliament today.

"I am here today because of you. You are the strongest, bravest, most determined person I know.

"I hope I make you proud."