Last Saturday we elected 32 new MPs to represent us in Parliament. Today, five of them open their diaries of the first week in the corridors of power.

More Hogwarts than House of Cards


New National Party MPs, from left, Hamish Walker (Clutha-Southland), Chris Penk (Helensville) and Simeon Brown (Pakuranga). Photo / Supplied
New National Party MPs, from left, Hamish Walker (Clutha-Southland), Chris Penk (Helensville) and Simeon Brown (Pakuranga). Photo / Supplied


Arrived at Parliament today as one of the newbie MPs, unsure what atmosphere to expect on a scale from House of Cards to Hogwarts.


Decidedly it was at the latter end, with fellow National candidates greeting each other like Harry Potter's chums after a particularly magical school holiday.

Not the best metaphor for a gruelling campaign but you can imagine the scene.

Met various members of the Parliamentary Services team, who began to teach us about the nitty-gritty of our nation's democracy in action. (Yes, I realise "in action" sounds dangerously like "inaction".

But I also realise, as did the philosopher Taylor Swift, that haters gonna hate.

Putting it another way, Hansard won't be allowing me to rewrite verbal missteps so I might as well get used to it.

Ended the day reflecting on the strangeness of representing an electorate - the mighty Helensville, in my case - by leaving it every other week in favour of Wellington.

Still, walking in the actual corridors of power seems like the right thing to do. Or the centre-right thing to do, again in my case.

Parliament as an institution has a well-structured and disciplined vibe, hierarchical even, and in that sense it is a little reminiscent of my time as naval officer in a past life.

In summary, it felt like a huge day today but - spoiler alert - tomorrow will likely be even huger.


The promised hugeness of today arrives in the form of my first caucus meeting.

It's probably not that smart of me to talk it up - even here in my personal diary, which will never be read unless Rawshark can hack a notebook (a notebook notebook, not a computer notebook) - given the proceedings of all such meetings are confidential. Enough said, quite literally.

Today I met almost all the new MPs of the other parties as well.

Enjoyed our interaction, which was in turn highly formal (a mihi) then somewhat informal (at a subsequent reception).

Each newbie addressed the group briefly, confidently and concisely. The discipline of countless recent campaign debates and panels still shapes us.

Some room was still found for cross-party banter, even so, ensuring the pleasantries were to be enjoyed much more than endured.

I missed a trick in failing to use the phrase "Mr Speaker" even once, despite his prominent role in the afternoon's proceedings. Ah well, there'll be other chances.


Missed some of class today but with good reason, namely a 5-day-old child at home with wife.

Also a valuable chance to achieve some minor wins at electorate level as well, working from home in Auckland's northwest.

As I suspect will always be the case, the day's agenda comprised of a mix of items on which I can be proactive and others to which I'm very much reactive.

Communicating well with the electorate is an early priority for this fresh-faced, eager beaver, keen bean, local MP, which is the proactive bit.


Out in various Auckland electorate offices today, a chance to see how good MPs - and their staff, just as importantly - provide great representation to all who walk through the doors.

I reflect on certain similarities between that aspect of the local MP's role and my recent working life as a lawyer.

Skills in analysis and advocacy seem highly relevant so I'm hoping they prove useful.

Other skills learned in my past professional life (for example, submarine navigation during my time in the Royal Australian Navy) may prove less transferable.

Watch this space!

The baby of the people's whare


After campaigning by the skin of our teeth on a shoestring budget, the beginnings of life as an MP is inordinately resourced.

My 7am Monday morning flight took to the runway teetering in the wind.

Wellington put on a beauty of a day to welcome its newest politicians - sideways lashings of rain interrupted only by howling wind.

Disembarking, I had a quick phone chat to George FM's morning show about how the experience fit on the spectrum between going back to school and starting a new job.

My friend, Labour's Kiri Allan, probably nailed a better comparison by calling Parliament Hogwarts - we were wearing team colours on our sleeve and wandering into a House dripping with history and mystique.

In another phone interview in a cab to Parliament, Morning Report's Susie Ferguson asked me how it felt to be the baby of the house (that's an official title, mind).

My age has always felt much less fascinating to me than it seems to be to commentators, but I understand it's a point of novelty.

For my part, I'm stoked to be bringing an important level of representation to what is supposed to be our House of Representatives.

A TV camera and duo of journalists greeted new MPs at Parliament. My partner, Alex, later sent me the clip as it surfaced online - me kicking the cab door open, hair flailing wildly in the wind.

Once inside the beast, we were issued swipe cards, asked to sign forms and paced through a peculiar segment of computer training designed to help new MPs learn how to connect to Wi-Fi, open internet browsers and print documents.

The latter was probably not designed for the "digital natives" of my generation, but tech services took me through it in good humour.

It has been really cool getting to know some of the thousands of awesome staff who keep this place humming - all far too humble to acknowledge they are the ones who so perfectly manage the proverbial stage on which MPs perform.

There's obviously a literal stage, too: the debating chamber.

I first wandered in during my familiarising tour of Parliament.
The only problem is that all surroundings look similar.

It'll take time to get used to navigating identical-looking hallways, but I have thankfully quickly come to know the underground tunnel between Bowen House (where the Green MP offices are set up) and Parliament.

On the streets of Wellington, people have been so kind.

There have been a lot of smiles and congratulations directed my way, which has been staggering, but bittersweet. Those feelings sank in at my inaugural caucus meeting.

Our team is lean, mean, and delightedly Green, and after a tumultuous election, we live to fight another day.

I've always admired the Green Party for punching above its weight, and I'm stoked to be the newest member of the whānau contributing to our kaupapa.

I'm honoured to sit among my colleagues in MP Class of 2017.

Despite political differences, all are genuinely there dedicated to making our country a better place.

There's a steep learning curve ahead and I acknowledge that at times I will stumble.

My commitment as a new Green MP is to give all I've got to demystifying Parliament, its systems and politicians.

Only then can it really be the people's whare.

It's like speed dating


Willow-Jean Prime and seven-week-old Heeni after their arrival in Wellington this week. Photo / Supplied
Willow-Jean Prime and seven-week-old Heeni after their arrival in Wellington this week. Photo / Supplied

It's 9.45am on Monday 25 September.

I'm guided to my seat on the plane and sit down to catch a breath, and think, "Well, we're doing this!".

I have my 7-week-old baby, Heeni, wrapped on to me.

My mum is with us too. After many talks with my whanau we decided that it was best Mum (Nandy) travel with Heeni and me while she is young.

Just like anyone, we had a few challenges that morning. My sister Season had to do a dash to the Warehouse to get a car seat for Heeni to use in Wellington. We had bags on bags, the car seat, and the pram.

I told myself we only had to make it to Wellington.

I had to say goodbye to Dion and our 2-year-old, Hihana, with the knowledge that life is changing for our family and we would have to find a new normal. We have had chats every morning this week.

We made it!

I look up at the Beehive and I'm really excited. It is my first day being an MP for the Labour Party. We have all worked so hard to get here and I know our people and area desperately need a strong voice in Government.

It is only a couple of days since the election and there is an inundation of emails and phone calls of issues to help with.

As we go through Beehive security, Mum's paring knife is taken off her (she is so rural).

We are starting a two-week induction programme for new MPs that covers IT, photos, media, staff meetings, travel and protocols.

It's like speed dating with the different departments.

Everyone is so excited to have a baby in Parliament and they have really gone out of their way to accommodate us and make sure Parliament is as family friendly as it can be.

Mum and I set up in the whanau room. We joke we are in the "maternity wing" of Parliament as MP Kiri Allan and her partner also have a newborn.

That night the motel provided Mum with a brand-new storage bin to be a baby bath for Heeni. We bought everything but the kitchen sink/baby bath.

Day two - we have our first caucus meeting and there is a lot of excitement that we are welcoming 17 new MPs to the Labour Party.

Mum has brought Heeni in for feeding and it's just like any other day for the baby who is loving the different acoustics, lights and chatter in Parliament.

On the third day of induction we are in the House and are learning the rules and procedures for when Parliament sits. I'm a lawyer so naturally I'm taking note.

I am enjoying being back in Wellington, which lived up to its windy reputation this week. It has been great running into people that I worked with 10 years ago when my husband was a teacher at Wainuiomata High and I was a lawyer at Te Ohu Kai Moana.

I have received hundreds of kind messages and I am fortunate to have such strong family and community support. I am excited about the journey ahead. There is a lot to do!

The man from the South


Incoming Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker, left, with sitting National MP Michael Woodhouse, on election night. Photo / Gregor Richardson / Otago Daily Times
Incoming Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker, left, with sitting National MP Michael Woodhouse, on election night. Photo / Gregor Richardson / Otago Daily Times


My first day was a surreal experience.

When I arrived to Parliament and walked into the building, I felt an immense, overwhelming wave of responsibility, gratitude, obligation, and honour knowing I am representing the people of Clutha-Southland.

These feelings remain and my nerves started to fade as I was taken through the induction process.

This initially involved meeting with key personnel from parliamentary services such as IT, security and HR, collecting supplies like security cards, and doing a familiarisation tour.


Our first caucus meeting was held on Tuesday.

It was exhilarating to have the entire team in one place. In the afternoon a mihi whakatau was held, where all new MPs were welcomed and met each other, which was an enjoyable and memorable experience.

We also learned about staffing processes. Staff working for MPs are generally employed on fixed-term contracts that end at each election, but many are re-employed.

In Clutha-Southland there are three offices - Queenstown, Balclutha and Gore.


We learned how the House operates, everything from when and how to speak. I have refereed rugby for several years, and thought rugby had many rules. Well, it seems Parliament may just have more and pulling out a red card isn't one of them.

In the afternoon we heard from experienced MPs about the day-to-day duties, tasks and responsibilities of being an MP.


The new MPs are visiting various electorate offices to learn how they operate.

Tonight I will return home. What a week. One down, hopefully many, many more to come. I am extremely privileged to be representing the people of Clutha-Southland and this is constantly on my mind.

I want to continue to express my thanks to the people of Clutha-Southland for trusting me to represent them with the dignity and respect they deserve.

A time of jubilation


New Labour MP Kiritapu Allan
New Labour MP Kiritapu Allan "choked up" when she walked past a photo of the late Parekura Horomia in her first week at parliament. Photo / Supplied

In a packed-out venue in Whakatane on Saturday night I, alongside family, friends and faithful Labour Party volunteers, watched the election results roll in.

There was a buzz in the air at the culmination of a long and tireless campaign by my excellent team in the East Coast electorate.

No matter the result - we put our all out on the field.

As the night progressed it become apparent I was going to have a new job as a Member of Parliament. At number 21 on the Labour list, I was comfortably going to become a list MP.

Although we didn't end up taking the East Coast seat, we were chuffed as we had clawed back some key areas, I was in the lead early on (which made for some excitement!) and we almost halved the majority of the incumbent seat holder, Anne Tolley.

The result has set us up well for the next run.

Since Saturday, life has changed ridiculously quickly. By Sunday afternoon, I was on a flight to Wellington to learn the ropes as an MP in the 52nd Parliament of New Zealand.

I arrived early on Monday, like an overenthusiastic kid on the first day of school, eager to embrace the challenges and opportunities ahead. Turns out I was the first of the new intake to arrive.

I watched the flag being hoisted up the flagpole in the forecourt and I saw the media assemble to snag the newbies on arrival. I was greeted by a team that had been assembled to meet the "Class of 2017" and set us up with the tools we would need in our new job and give us a comprehensive tour of the precinct.

Although I have walked the halls of Parliament many times, I choked up when I walked past a photograph of the late papa Parekura Horomia adorning one of the walls.

Being here is surreal.

On Monday afternoon, we met with our new boss, Jacinda Ardern, and gathered for our first media stand-up. I am not going to lie - it is really, really hard to smile for 30 minutes with all those cameras on you!

The very next day, on my way to our first caucus meeting, I made my first media faux pas.

I clambered up the stairs at 10.25am for the 10.30am start and swung open the door to the third floor, where I was confronted with a throng of cameras and shining lights.

As a matter of instinct, I slammed the door and hid behind it not knowing what to do. Luckily, [Te Tai Tonga MP] Rino Tirikatene came up the stairs behind me and showed me how to walk past the media like a pro. Admittedly, my face was bright red with my embarrassing introduction to the parliamentary press.

But, what a time of jubilation! I am coming into Parliament with16 other new Labour MPs. I get to stand alongside people I have admired from afar for many years, and take a seat in the same room as them.

In his induction speech to us yesterday, the Rt Hon David Carter spoke of the privilege it is to be here and the responsibilities that go alongside it.

I feel honoured to be a Member of Parliament and I will work hard to ensure that those in my Party, and in my communities, who have put their faith and trust in me are not disappointed.

The real work begins now


Incoming Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown found hearing about other new MPs journeys to parliament insightful. Photo / Supplied
Incoming Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown found hearing about other new MPs journeys to parliament insightful. Photo / Supplied


Being elected to Parliament is a huge privilege and honour, and watching the results come in on Saturday night surrounded by friends and family is something I'll never forget.

After weeks of early morning starts to wave signs with volunteers on the side of the road, I went out once more to do this before heading to Wellington.

This time I was waving signs that read "Thank You!" with my wife and members of my campaign team to show my immense appreciation to the good people of Pakuranga, who elected me to represent them for the next three years.

I was then on a 2pm flight to Wellington with new colleague and friend Christopher Penk, Member of Parliament for Helensville.

On arrival, we were met by Parliamentary Services staff members who put us in a taxi and on our way to Parliament Buildings. I have been to Parliament many times before but it was surreal walking through the entrance as a Member of Parliament for the first time. It still hasn't quite sunk in.

After meeting many of the fantastic staff of Parliamentary Services, I went to dinner with the National Party class of 2017, a talented and committed group of individuals from across the country, all here for the same reasons I am - to represent our fellow Kiwis in Parliament and to effect positive change for all New Zealanders.


Tuesday began with my first National Party caucus meeting where the mood was jubilant. We had just achieved 46 per cent of the party vote, more than we achieved in 2008, nine years after first being elected to Government - something worthy of celebration.

There are many traditions in the caucus room, some I had heard of and others that I got to witness, such as retiring MPs being presented with a thank-you gift of a silver tray.

Later that day there was a powhiri to welcome all new MPs to Parliament. This included an opportunity to introduce ourselves and meet colleagues from other parties.

Each MP has a unique journey that brought them to Parliament, and it was insightful to hear some tell their story.


Most of Wednesday was spent in the debating chamber hearing from the Clerk of the House about the legislative process, question time and the procedures that keep Parliament and we MPs in check.

I was somewhat overwhelmed thinking of all the firsts to come: my maiden speech, my first question to a Minister, my first general debate speech.

By the end of the day my mind was exploding with new information. Despite my interest in politics and Parliament over many years, there was still so much I didn't know. Even just learning how to get around the Parliamentary campus is going to be a challenge.


Thursday morning we are all in Auckland.

Today's focus is to get an understanding of how an Electorate MP functions, how they set up their office and how they go about their most important task of representing and helping their constituents.

I'm looking forward to opening my own office and getting stuck into local issues in Pakuranga, and I'm already getting a few emails and calls from people looking for assistance with personal matters.

The campaign was long and hard, but the real work is only just beginning.

The man that loves a challenge


Former weatherman Tamati Coffey on his first day in parliament. He will be the new MP for Waiariki. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Former weatherman Tamati Coffey on his first day in parliament. He will be the new MP for Waiariki. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Ask me in another week and the story may be completely different, but here and now, upon being asked to reflect, I think it's important for me to share the journey I'm on after my win last weekend - and most especially the 9000-odd people who voted for me in Waiariki. I'm still humbled and honoured to be given the privilege.

To sum up the advice that stood out for me during the inductions over the past week, three things stand out.

First, it was to make relationships across political parties.

It was time to put the election campaign to the side and to forge good interpersonal relationships. So I made it my business to learn the names and the electorates of all the incoming National Party MPs.

Cheekily, after one training session, I challenged the incoming National MPs to name all 17 incoming Labour MPs.

They were unable to. When asked if I could name the 10 incoming National MPs, I rattled off their names and their electorates, too. There was widespread praise. What nobody knew was I spent 10 solid minutes on Google beforehand!

Second was to avoid eating too much good food in Bellamy's - the parliament restaurant.

One of our Labour MPs basically warned against ending up with "Bellamy's Belly". You don't have to think too hard to find politicians who haven't taken enough notice of that rule.

At every catered lunch, there were mountains of sausage rolls. In our first caucus meeting, my small plate had a lamington, some fruit and saausage rolls! Next week, I'll heed the advice.

The third and favourite piece of advice was repeated more than once. Everybody said: "Don't forget your families".

Political work can take all your time and energy and sometimes in the chaos, you forget to look after your whanau, who mean the most to you.

After stories of marriage breakups, I texted my partner, Tim, and committed to a meal out on my return to Rotorua.

It was a great first week. Lots of laughs, lots of information, but all helpful in terms of setting up the infrastructure to help you to be the best MP that you can be.

Bring on week two.