Nikki Parliament 2008

Maiden Speech Text

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NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central) : Mr Speaker, I congratulate you on your election to office. I speak to you today as the first-ever National member of Parliament for Auckland Central. I am conscious of the history that we have made in taking this seat for the first time.

I would like to thank all of those people who helped on my campaign who made this victory possible. I thank the family of Alfred Kidd, the first Liberal Party member of Parliament for Auckland Central, who supported me during my campaign. Alfred left Parliament almost exactly 100 years ago and I acknowledge his contribution to this House.

I would like to congratulate New Zealand’s 38th Prime Minister, the Hon John Key. The Prime Minister’s legacy has already been to change the face of the National Party, and in doing so he has changed this Parliament and probably the future direction of this country. Our 38th Prime Minister will go down in New Zealand’s history for forming a strong Government at lightning speed.

I also want to acknowledge and thank the Māori Party. In supporting this National Government the Māori Party MPs have shown they are not bound by rigid left or right-wing ideology in their pursuit of better lives for all Māori. In an ability to work with both sides of the House the Māori Party has shown great leadership. I know as a nation we have a lot of work to do to help lift many Māori out of hardship, and often our debate focuses on that, but I want to take a moment to acknowledge all the Māori MPs in this House in the contribution they have made.

I acknowledge my colleagues and I thank the National Party for this tremendous opportunity. I am here only because of the hard work of former presidents of the National Party, including Michelle Boag and John Slater, the current president, Judy Kirk, and the other officers and MPs who worked so hard to build this party.

Today I want to share with you who I am and what I wish to achieve as the member of Parliament for Auckland Central and as a representative of the people of New Zealand. I am the person I am today because of my family and the values I have been taught. I believe in freedom, hard work, determination, courage, an ability to question and challenge, and a commitment to help those most in need. I work hard every day to try to be a person with these attributes. Born in 1980, I am a 1980s baby, and proud. As part of the first intake of the 1980s MPs, I am proud to represent the next generation of New Zealanders.

Probably one of the most defining moments of my life was when my parents split up, around the time of my seventh birthday. My heart goes out to all Kiwi kids out there who have been through this. Grappling with what feels like the loss of a parent, and often being highly suspicious of one that you are gaining, is not an easy thing to go through. However, I consider myself very lucky. Had it not been for this event, I would not have the diverse, bubbly, challenging, and sometimes maniac family I have today and I would not be who I am. With two half-brothers, four half-sisters, one stepbrother, a full brother, a full sister, a mum, a dad, and two current step-parents, created not by marriage but, rather, by convention, I have one full brood. I do not intend to name my siblings, as it would be hugely embarrassing to miss one out. They are all very special to me, and I want them to know that wherever I am they are a part of me, and I love them very much.

It is this interesting family make-up that has formed my belief about families and probably has made me the liberal being I am today. I am not judgmental about how families should be structured—if it works, it works. I think that, regardless of who you are, whether you are bringing up a child as a parent, a grandparent, a dad and mum, two mums, or two dads, if you have the skills, love, and commitment to bring up a child, then I support you in what I am told is one of the most challenging and rewarding roles in life.

At this point I want to acknowledge that there are limits to my liberal philosophy. P has caused massive heartbreak and destruction in my family. There are many families across New Zealand silently suffering with little support. In some instances, they wait anxiously, day by day, for the next car crash, theft, or violent event. My heart goes out to those families who are suffering because of P, and I am committed to working hard to get rid of this drug.

I want to acknowledge my mum. My mum has devoted her life to Gen, Matty, Clinton—my stepfather—and me, and I am in absolute awe of her ability to perform mini-miracles and overcome so many hurdles. My mum’s drive to deliver us opportunities that often seemed impossible to our reach has always inspired me. She scraped and borrowed to pay the school fees to give me a first-class education, she worked several jobs to support my sister, and I do not remember her ever complaining. In fact, I remember that she often had the energy to be an ear to some of the many people who passed through our house needing help. That constant ability to give to others in need is a value I cherish.

I thank my big sister for looking after me during those years when mum was by herself and working. I was not particularly grateful at the time, and I felt rather bossed around. But I think she did pretty well for an 11-year-old. My brother Matty is a legend, a great husband, and a great father. I thank my stepfather for instilling in me the values of hard work, through the wheelbarrows of sawdust I carted at a mere 10c a barrow, to earn some cash, and through barrowing away late into the evening. He would have expected nothing less. To my grandmother Micky, I say that if I ever had to work out where my determination came from, I have only to look at her sitting in the gallery. Three days after an accident and subsequent hip operation, she insisted on being wheeled in for this speech. Thank you for coming.

My professional and academic background has been diverse. I have a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Otago, majoring in genetics, and I hope to complete a law degree soon. My professional experience includes working in Parliament. The people who work here in Parliament often go on beyond the call of duty, and I thank them all for their service.

Like many New Zealanders, I have done my OE. I moved to London in 2003 and came back last year. I have worked in central and local government, in transport and social policy roles overseas, and in the private sector in project management, where I ran a major information technology project for a financial institution. In my spare time I launched a company utilising Internet technology. It is this diverse public and private sector experience that I hope will give me some perspective and an open-minded approach to all the businesses and community organisations that I try to assist in my role as a member of Parliament.

Since being a youngster I have always run and played sport. I am proud of my sporting achievements. For me, like many Kiwis, sport is not just a hobby; being physically active is a way of life. In my lifetime I would like to see New Zealand host an Olympic Games. For a nation with so many successful athletes, this would be a tremendous moment in our history.

I am fortunate to have travelled the world and I have had a great time doing it. I have represented the National Party as a vice chair of the International Young Democratic Union. In this role I met many young outstanding future leaders and members of Parliament. I have fought for the freedom of others, as the leader of the Belarus freedom campaign. I acknowledge those who do not have the freedom we have in New Zealand, and I am committed to continuing to work to raise awareness of the struggle of these people.

Though I am 28, I think I have crammed a lot in. It is very humbling to have been voted in by the hard-working and good people of Auckland Central. I want to thank them for the opportunity they have given me. It has been a privilege to meet so many Auckland Central residents on the doorstep. Some of them shared with me snapshots of their lives—the good, the bad, and the sometimes out of focus. For those who have opened their hearts and homes, I am grateful that they gave me a better understanding of the challenges we face as a nation. The people I met on the streets of Auckland Central were hard-working, passionate people who care deeply about the future of New Zealand.

One issue that was raised with me by many people in Auckland was the reform of Auckland’s regional government. I am committed to working hard on this. We cannot afford to get it wrong. The reform will require strong leadership from local and central government politicians. If people revert to preciously protecting their patches, then Aucklanders and New Zealand will suffer, and a once-in-a-generation opportunity will be lost. The solution will need to balance the move towards a more simple structure while ensuring there is a structure that supports strong community representation. If we achieve this, it will be a legacy of this Government and its support parties.

Auckland Central is not a typical urban electorate. The diversity of the electorate is reflected in its geography, from the urban jungle to the gulf islands and the inner-city suburbs. The Auckland Central business district drives our nation’s economy, but it is also where people live, work, and play. Over 120,000 people come into the city to work every day. The residents of the central business district live in over 100 apartment dwellings. I look forward to working hard to improve the relationship between local and central government to ensure that people in the inner city have a good standard of living.

The gulf islands are one of the greatest assets Auckland has, and part of my focus as a member of Parliament will be to try to enhance and protect them. Waiheke Islanders—the Waihetians—are a strong, smart, vocal community that needs a good advocate on the national stage. Waiheke faces a delicate balance between sensible development and preservation of the natural environment. While I am in Parliament I intend to work hard with other parties, such as the Greens, to help steer this course and contribute on environmental issues. Our environment is the greatest gift we have been given as a nation.

There are people who think the environment is an issue that can be put aside when times are tough. I would ask those people to look deeper and realise that from a social and economic point of view, our environment is the most precious asset we have. Great Barrier Island is an untouched piece of paradise, a rough nugget with some of the most resourceful people we will find in New Zealand. The pioneering, resilient spirit of the Barrierites is alive and kicking. I am committed to working with local iwi and the community to advance the basic infrastructure of the island and deliver better marine protection.

The western bay suburbs have developed with Auckland. These are not cookie-cutter subdivisions such as those you might see in the rest of the country. The communities, such as Grey Lynn, Ponsonby, Westmere, Freemans Bay, Arch Hill, and Western Springs, all have their own story and character. The people are multicultural, multi-ethnic, and cosmopolitan. Young families and young professionals are in abundance. This electorate does not just have large corporate headquarters. Some 18,000 small businesses make their living here, and part of my focus in Parliament will be to work with the private sector to promote policies that support these businesses.

The electorate is also home to many arts and creative sector professionals. At this point I would also like to acknowledge the Rt Hon Helen Clark for her dedication and commitment to the arts. The performing arts are part of the vibrant heart of Auckland City. I am committed to ensuring that their voice is heard in this Parliament.

I want to look briefly into the future. The next 30 years, like the last 30 years, will see immense change in New Zealand. Although I have no doubt that the issues of health and education will continue to dominate the debate in our Hansard in 2038, I predict that other issues may be just as prominent as those of the last 10 years, as we have started to see them emerge. The information age has provided immense power, but with that power and insight come the inevitable challenges of using that information. In our pursuit of technology to do things smarter and to provide solutions in medicine and medical-care application, we will need to be aware of the impact on society and the challenges we may face as a result. In our pursuit of smaller, smarter devices to manage our lives, to entertain us, and to communicate with each other we must realise that these great things come with deposits of information capable of mapping every move of a person.

The recent Google application is an example of this—great technology, but the social, moral, legal, and ethical implications could be immense and need to be adequately thought through. Medicine is an area where this is just as applicable. Most people would applaud when they see genetics providing information that can help treat diseases such as cancer; however, our ability to obtain information about children not born yet is an example where not all of society may be on the same page.

This Parliament, and Parliaments of the future, will grapple with these issues. As someone with a background in information technology and genetics, I hope to be able to contribute to these debates. As part of the next generation of New Zealanders, I know we will have to work smarter and harder than the generation that came before us. With an ageing population we will be thin on the ground.

At this point I want to finish by acknowledging the thousands of Kiwis living overseas who long to come home to our nation. The voice of these people is at times muted by distance but they are passionate New Zealanders.

I thank the people of New Zealand for this opportunity. I am proud—so proud—to be the first National member of Parliament for Auckland Central. Thank you.