Jacinda Ardern –
I came into the New Zealand Parliament in 2008 as a List Member of the Labour Party.
That title might sound odd – but it is a reflection of a unique way in which we elect people in our democracy.
In real terms, it was the equivalent of political boot camp.
There were speeches and presentations, question and answer sessions, and rounds of voting. It was a rigorous process, but that is exactly what people should expect when it comes to deciding who represents them in parliament.
Fast forward a few years, and now I have moved from being a candidate on the list, to having a role in helping to select our Party List for the 2017 General Election.
I am very proud of our Party List.
Parliament should reflect the population it represents.
That means reflecting New Zealand’s rich and wonderful diversity, and a range of different backgrounds and skills sets.
As a result of this careful consultation, the team that we have confirmed is a combination of our current strong caucus supported by a fresh group of candidates, about whom I am really excited to working with in the next Parliament.
One of those candidates, is Priyanca Radhakrishnan who is the Labour candidate for Maungakiekie and is the first non-MP we placed on our list at number 11.
I still remember the first time I met Priyanca.
Pete Hodgson, a past Labour Minister, mentioned that he had met a young woman at Victoria University who he thought was incredibly impressive, and that he thought I should meet. I soon learnt about the work Priyanca had done as a Policy Advisor, on issues like domestic violence, and working with community organisations like Shakti.
That was a few years ago now, and since then I have seen first-hand the experience that Priyanca has, as an advocate for some of the most vulnerable people in our community; and that is exactly what we need in Parliament.
The talent on our list doesn’t stop there. Willow-Jean Prime, who is standing for Northland, has previously worked as a lawyer and is now in her second term on the Far North District Council. Willow-Jean has a strong background in law, advocacy and Maori and community development.
Then there is Kiri Allan our candidate for East Coast. I met Kiri many years ago as a volunteer, well before she started her impressive career as a commercial lawyer and business consultant based in Whakatane. She has incredible experience working in primary industries, something both she and Labour has championed as being vital to regional development.
But it is both our list, as well as our local candidates, that showcase our talent.
We have selected the best candidates possible in our local seats, like Jesse Pabla.
Jesse is one of our youngest candidates, but is showing what a grass roots campaigner he is. Jesse is running in Papakura where his family has lived for 50 years, and is an electrical apprentice with the kind of passion for his community that I know will give people the confidence that he is there to serve the people.
Goals and aspirations
We have some very clear aspirations and goals this election.
As Andrew Little recently said, “We need to fix the housing crisis, rebuild our health system and equip our schools to deliver the education parents and kids deserve.”
Having plans like this are one part of the equation, we also need candidates to campaign on our fresh ideas, and we have that talent in spades.
Along with Andrew. I am eager to get out on the campaign trail with my fellow candidates to tell New Zealanders the Labour story and our plans for the future.
The exact make up of Parliament after September 23, 2017 will be determined by the voters, but on our list and in electorate seats, I know that we have the kind of people running for Parliament that people would feel proud to have represent them.
Jacinda Ardern is elected Member of Parliament from Mt Albert and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party of New Zealand.