Whangārei MP Emily Henderson, left, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern when she visited the Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery in Whangārei last year.
Happy New Year Whangārei.
‘New Year, new start’ got a whole new meaning this year. It’s been a privilege to serve in Jacinda Ardern’s team. In years to come, I think we’ll undoubtedly rate her as among our most outstanding leaders.
But while I’m sad to see her move on, like everyone else I’ve spoken with – from Whangārei to Wellington – I’m proud of her and so pleased she’ll now be getting time with her family.
Being the team we are in this Government, deciding who would lead us from here was seamless (there was even time left over for team pizza). The new PM Chris Hipkins and Deputy PM Carmel Sepuloni are a formidable duo, both with years of parliamentary experience, both tested in the Covid fire and backed by Grant Robertson’s world-leading economic response. I know personally they are also extraordinarily passionate about their responsibility to New Zealanders.
The new PM has already declared his focus is on the problems of ordinary living, and obviously, the biggest challenge for us all is the global inflation pandemic that has followed the Covid pandemic. While we have kept both inflation and debt in NZ significantly lower than most comparable places, we all know people are hurting. Relieving that hurt as much as possible is our first responsibility. I predict it will be an unflashy, down-to-earth leadership from this pair – although watch out for Question Time, because the new PM is a true redhead and a fiery debater, while Carmel Sepuloni doesn’t suffer fools.
We will be listening to what people think and feel, so get in touch with me, or any of us if you have something to say. I’ll be at all my regular stalls in community markets as well as constituency clinics and visits. Watch for the red tent and red T-shirts at events, or catch me at the office in Bank St (or the supermarket).
There are big conversations to be had, including one about how we have conversations, as the revelation of the hate directed at Prime Minister Ardern has shown. These are serious issues, and this year I will be talking about them.
My own New Year’s resolutions are to keep advocating for greater economic opportunities in Whangārei – and to ensure we get the best value in jobs and workforce development out of last year’s huge gain, our massive near-billion-dollar new hospital investment – equivalent to the previous government’s total spend on hospital builds across the country over nine years.
You may also have read recently that the Government is currently seriously studying the Marsden Pt dry dock proposal. This would have a massive knock-on economic impact, at least equalling the refinery and increasing our chances of a naval base.
Housing is another major focus, and I’m looking forward to the start of several social housing projects putting young families and seniors into warm, dry homes. I’ll also be continuing my long-term work on law reform, and on a personal note, I’ll be doing my best to shed a few Christmas kilos. And from exercise regime to lobbying ministers, I’ve realised that after this week, I’m excited about it all.
No doubt 2023 will huge year for us all, but whatever it brings, I’m all in. Now, if I could just find those running shoes…