This is a partial transcription – view the full interview above
Nexus: How are you going? What’s been happening?
Yeah, good, obviously got an election coming up, but it got postponed, but it’s a bit of a strange time at the moment, quite a few events were booked in, candidate meetings and all that sort of stuff has been put on hold.
Nexus: So I just thought we would start off with a few real life questions, what’d you do before you got into politics?
I worked in council, various councils, doing a range of things. Down in Gisborne I was typing on envelopes, then I worked for Tauranga District City Council weeding all the parks and reserves, so when I see people making roundabouts and stuff look beautiful I always think “oh yeah I used to do that”. And I tell my kids. Other two main jobs, youth leader and taught music at Barclay Middle School. I was also a bit of a failed musician.
Nexus: How’d you get into politics after all that?
I’ve always been kind of interested in it, but when my wife and I had our first child back in 2008, I started to think about how the world would be when he grows up. Will there be a good planet for my children to live on? Will there be a good healthcare system? Education system?
Nexus: What would you say is your biggest achievement since being in office?
Would have to be some of the government investments I have gotten for some of our regions. As an MP based in Hamilton I lobby the government to get investment. So fundamentally it’s been an investment. In the areas, we are getting passenger rail services to Auckland, early next year. Will be great, can go there with WiFi. We also have a business case for rapid rail through the city. Another exciting one is a theatre which is a $73 million state of the art brand new theatre in the Hamilton CBD, the Government is putting in $12 million for that, so I lobbied really strongly for that.
I think our biggest challenge has been COVID, but I think the response to that has been our best. It hasn’t been perfect, but if you look at the state we are in, we were sitting in the same room, not our own homes. If you compare us to the rest of the world, with death rates rising quite quickly, we have done very well.
Nexus: How is being in Parliament different from your expectations?
Yeah so like any new job, it takes you a while to get used to, but I am pretty fortunate that the Waikato region is growing pretty quickly. There are a lot of great opportunities, so it has been a case of just linking myself in. I see myself as a leader of our region, like the voice of it in Parliament.
Nexus: What do you think that the key issues that New Zealand will focus on in this election?
I think COVID will be number one, as I’ve said, it is the biggest issue that the world is facing, not talking down climate change which is overall the biggest issue in my opinion. So, I think when people will go to vote they will look at Jacinda’s leadership, as well as through other challenges such as White Island and the mosque attack. So they will look at how she has done as a leader, keeping us safe, and as we start to rebuild the economy.