Marlborough Express - Diary of an MP during a recess week

Columns
Friday, June 26, 2015

During the weeks when I'm in Parliament, I have quite a set schedule.

A typical House sitting day includes select committees in the morning, the House in the afternoon and events and Caucus group meetings in the evening.

The weeks when I'm in the electorate can be a lot more varied. My last non-House sitting week, the week of June 8, highlighted the diverse nature of my job.
Whenever the House isn't sitting I meet with several different constituents to help with the issues they raise with me. This past week was no exception and I met a range of interesting people and organisations. This is a very important part of my job, and something I'll always make time for.

Regional development is one of my priorities as an MP. As part of the Regional Economic Development Caucus committee, I went on a site visit to check out Ngai Tahu's operations around the Canterbury and Christchurch area.

We visited Ngai Tahu's property development, Wigram Skies. This is where they are developing houses on the site of the old Wigram Airport. I had the chance to speak to their property manager, which was really insightful.

We also visited their Eyrewell farming development. The farm has gone from employing just a couple of people four years ago, to now having 80 employees. Ngai Tahu has made incredible progress with these projects. It shows the opportunities that reliable access to water and investment in the regions can create.

During the week I also had the pleasure of hosting my Caucus colleague Jami-Lee Ross in the electorate. Coming from Auckland, Jami-Lee was interested to learn more about regional New Zealand and primary industries. I was more than happy to help, arranging a meeting with groups about the importance of internet connectivity and a visit to local winery, Mahi Wines.

Being deputy-chair of the primary production select committee, I was of course very excited to head up to Fieldays in Hamilton.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable day, where I spoke with many constituents and had the chance to see the enthusiasm and innovation in the primary sector.

Back on the Mainland the following day, I attended a meeting for local MPs with ECan in Christchurch. This was a very important meeting as ECan cover such a large proportion of the Kaikoura electorate.

Representing one of the largest electorates in the country, distance can pose a challenge. A lot of time can be spent travelling. But sometimes we can't control how things fall, and we end up with a variety of significant events across many locations.

It was a full-on week, but a really successful one. Not every week in the electorate is quite as eventful as that one, but hopefully it gives a snapshot of what I get up to in my time outside of Parliament. I always learn a lot from meetings with constituents, and I take these conversations from the electorate back to the Beehive with me.