Maiden Speech - Simon Power - MP For Rangitikei
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR RANGITIKEI
WEDNESDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2000 AT 4.45PM
May I, as someone from an electorate which has been represented by a previous Speaker, Sir Roy Jack, congratulate you on your election to that office.
First and foremost I wish to thank the people of Rangitikei for the confidence they have shown in me. I am honoured to be elected as their Member of Parliament.
Several notable former Members of Parliament have served Rangitikei including Sir Roy Jack and Bruce Beetham. Two recent Members of Parliament however who have had the privilege of representing Rangitikei stand out from the others.
The late Honourable Norman Shelton was Member of Parliament for Rangitikei for 18 years and has streets in the electorate named after him. He is still discussed by people living in Rangitikei on a daily basis. How often I have heard in the last twelve months "if you're half as good as Norm Shelton you'll be doing okay".
The second Member of Parliament whom I wish to mention is the Honourable Denis Marshall. Denis has an intuitive approach and made a huge contribution to the electorate as a statesman over 15 years representing Rangitikei. His influence and guidance have been nothing short of selfless. Denis and Annette Marshall truly took me under their wing. Having spoken to other new MPs I know that if ever an example could be set by a retiring MP as to how to upskill and open the door for a new MP the example of Denis and Annette Marshall would be unsurpassed. I am indebted to them both.
The recent election campaign was a tough one in Rangitikei but then again who wants an easy life? I want an interesting one. Now that the election is behind us I wish to thank my electorate organisation for their loyal support. I wish to thank my electorate Chairman Bruce Mills, Marian Abbiss, Norma Humphries, Denise Saunders, my campaign team, all the helpers and scrutineers but in particular Suze Redmayne, Helen Rowe and Geoff O’Sullivan, a trio of some considerable force.
I wish to thank my family and my parents. It is my mother’s birthday today. She is in the gallery today. Happy birthday. I want to especially thank Lisa who has entered into this challenge with me by my side . I intend to work hard for the people who have put me in this privileged position and am proud to represent Rangitikei.
The electorate of Rangitikei is a mix of predominantly rural and provincial people.
Those people vary from the farmers surrounding Waiouru, Taihape and Hunterville to those in the tourist industry in and around Mangaweka, Ohingaiti, Rangiwahia and those people who make a livelihood from the Rangitikei River itself which provides much in the way of tourist enjoyment and local income.
The Rangitikei spreads to the dairy farms of Glen Oroua, Rongotea, Kairanga, Oroua Downs, Longburn and Newbury to the shores of Himatangi Beach.
The electorate has recently had its traditional boundaries altered to take in a part of Palmerston North including the areas of Milson, Kelvin Grove, Cloverlea and Ashhurst. This area provides a distinctly urban flavour to the electorate.
However, despite such a large number of the residents of Rangitikei living in Palmerston North or the surrounding district towns, the major influence in the electorate remains decidedly rural. This is something not to be forgotten. Farmers are still the backbone of this country. They provide real jobs and sustain dependant businesses in nearby towns. Farmers actually produce something tangible – something that can be measured. Farming has survived the test of time while other industries have come and gone. It is these people who deserve valiant representation on an equal footing to the representation enjoyed by those living in large metropolitan urban areas.
A round trip of the Rangitikei takes in approximately 600 kilometres and the urban areas have a unique makeup and perspective, with the towns of Marton and Feilding providing the heart of Rangitikei’s township dwellers. These towns service predominantly rural areas with those people in the Palmerston North part of the electorate living in a city environment.
Ohakea and Waiouru represent the military presence in my electorate and can be assured of my dogged determination to protect their interests. The Sanson, Bulls and Waiouru economies depend on that defence presence for part of their very survival.
The Rangitikei electorate is essentially provincial. Provincial New Zealand must continue to be heard and not silenced at the expense of major metropolitan areas lying north of border belts of foothills.
When I recently landed at Palmerston North airport after Caucus in Auckland I hopped in a cab with 'Monty' who was driving and I asked him how everybody in Rangitikei was. He made the comment to me that the farmers and the cab drivers were as happy as draught horses eating thistles! It had been hot and wet and that kept both the farmers and the taxi drivers happy. I was impressed with the America’s Cup Village but it was great to be back in Rangitikei.
The electorate of Rangitikei takes in four territorial authorities, the Palmerston North City Council, the Rangitikei District Council, the Manawatu District Council and the Ruapehu District Council. All contain formidable and dedicated community leaders. All are progressive and forward thinking. They protect their patch while understanding the global impact of the decisions they make each day. It is a pleasure to work with such focussed community leaders.
Rangitikei is made up of people who are like every other New Zealander. They are:
conservative yet innovative
clever yet modest
quiet but determined
conscientious yet fun
These are people like all other New Zealanders; straight forward, straight talking – uncomplicated in their views, reserved in their opinions – solid in their beliefs.
My values are simple. They are based on thrift, hard work, free enterprise and reward for risk. Make no mistake that should we choose to patronise and condescend to the electorate with a "we know best" attitude, then we have lost sight of what we were put here to do. It has been said that "for unto whomsoever so much is given, of him shall much be required."
We must act today in order to preserve those values that the people of Rangitikei hold dear, and let there be no misunderstanding, we are going to act beginning today.
I will be working hard to protect those people who have put me here.
The poet, M K Joseph, wrote of societies that were in the business of "avoiding distinction and exception, of worshipping the mean and cultivating the mediocre."
The challenge which has been set before us in this new millennium is to encourage distinction and exception, to worship the generous and to cultivate the brilliant.
Political leadership and political ideology require much more than acting with no conscience. It is not enough to convey and use the values of the working people of New Zealand for political gain. There is a fourth way, an honest way. It is a matter of actually believing in New Zealanders’ values, not in a patronising or all-knowing way, but simply by representing those ordinary New Zealanders.
These are the people whose language includes terms like individual responsibility, hard work and equal opportunity rather than the language of compensation. These people make up Rangitikei and New Zealand.
It has been said, that from time to time, governments have been tempted to believe that our world has become too complicated for its own people to understand and manage, that government by a specific group is superior to government by people themselves. But if among us no-one is capable of governing himself then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else.
So what type of country do we want to be in ten years time? I know what type of country I believe in - a dynamic, innovative, determined country. Forward looking and forward thinking. That is the dream.
The dawning of the new millennium has triggered a time to focus. We have that time to look forward, we have that time to dream. But there is work to do. I am ready for that task. To move forward is not part of a multi-choice exam, it's a compulsory question which we all must answer. The message is clear, we must wake up and act, if we do not act - we move backwards not forwards. The dream will escape us and what is certain is that for once the dream will not come to those who sleep.
As someone with a student loan who has recently been through the university system, our education system and the value of that education must be appreciated and cherished and we must never lose contact with those who value education above all else. It is an investment to be made by all participants. It is pivotal to the future and a passion of mine. We must be prepared to make tough decisions, to encourage student choice and let us understand the only way forward is to lift standards across the board and encourage the harvesting of ideas – for in these ideas lie the seeds of tomorrow.
I pledge to the people of Rangitikei tonight my commitment to work on their behalf running in the race, representing them and provincial New Zealand. The race has begun, let it not be run at the pace of the slowest runner but let us lift that person to be part of the relay team - to carry the baton and pass the torch.
The people we represent place their trust in us. We carry a huge responsibility in representing them – in representing our little piece of New Zealand. I am one of them. I am here to serve. These are our people.
This millennium provides us a catalyst to look forward – to learn from our history and to move on in a positive direction. This is our century. The time is right – new century, exceptional people. It is their time. It is our time.