Politicians guest star at MBA dinner
BY JULIA WADE
Members of Mangawhai’s business community had the opportunity to dine with two special guests recently, Northland MP Matt King and senior National Party MP (and first-time visitor to Mangawhai) Judith Collins.
The Dune restaurant, which opened on March 25 just for the visitors, was host to the MPs and a 50-strong audience of Mangawhai Business Association (MBA) members as well as Kaipara District Council’s ‘workboot councillor’ Jonathon Larsen and Northern Regional Council’s Rick Stolwerk.
Prior to the dinner Collins – accompanied by King and MBA chair Richard Gunson, was given a guided tour to the area, dropping in to meet volunteers at Te Whai Community Trust, the Pioneer Village and a look through the Mangawhai Museum, as well as visiting Tara Iti’s latest developments.
“We are very lucky in New Zealand to have our politicians so accessible to us,” Gunson said.
Both politicians spoke on a variety of topics including the Christchurch terror attack, infrastructure and Northlands growth, with the occasional and expected ribbing towards the Labour government. The pair also answered questions from MBA members regarding energy sources, climate change and the state of economy. National’s leadership was also broached but was declared ‘a touchy subject’ by King who emphatically stated ‘there is not going to be a change of leadership while we are polling high’.
In his introduction to Judith Collins, King, a Northland farmer, acknowledged the considerable support of his wife Sarah, and spoke of his sorrow and thoughts on the ‘unprecedented event’ that was the March 15 massacre.
The former police officer admitted Collins was ‘probably my favourite senior MP’ due to her support of him when he was an aspiring candidate, as well as admiring her ‘dynamic’ nature.
“She’s doing a fantastic job for us as one of our frontline politicians… especially showing the Kiwibuild project to be the shambles it is,” he says.
In regards to the 2020 elections, King says National’s 2017 election promises will be back for review including the cancelled Puhoi to Whangarei highway.
“We don’t know what the books are going to look like or even if we’ll get back in... but to me, if Northland’s economy is to grow and prosper we need to have the four lane highway – I’m going to be making that my number one priority.”
Speaking impromptu with humour and wit, Collins first applauded Kings efforts, ‘you can be very proud of Matt, he is a joy, a bundle of energy and positiveness’ before saying she had ‘a lovely day’ for her first visit to Mangwhai.
“People often commented that I look taller and older on TV… I also look wider!” she jokes. “I say it’s due to a horrible, high-definition nasty camera operated by a socialist!”
In regards to the tragic Christchurch events, Collins commented on the sad truth how parliament operates at its best when there is national tragedy, ‘because when a country is grieving, the last thing people want to see is us bickering’.
“I can’t fathom 50 people being shot and killed… can’t contemplate someone shooting a three-year-old, don’t think anyone in New Zealand can… we are not a country of haters.”
As Minister of Police in 2010, Collins organised funding for all frontline police vehicles to carry semi-automatic glocks in a lockbox, a move the former lawyer says she was ‘so happy about’ after the two officers who apprehended the gunman could do so due to quick access to the firearms.
“The government have decisively and quite rightly banned military semi-automatics, though it is still less harsh than Australia’s laws.”
Collins also gave an insight to how she feels about sitting in the opposition seat which she does not mind ‘for a very short time’.
“Being in opposition wears you down, even for a ‘positive pixie’ like me, because all you’re doing is negative, negative.”
Collins, who was raised as a Labour supporter, admitted New Zealand’s current Prime Minister ‘is a bit of a superstar’.
“I believe in giving credit where it’s due… she (Jacinda) is very good on communication and did very well down in Christchurch… actually said that in parliament, think I shocked a few people,” she says. “It also makes her think I’m not coming after her but I am… in the nicest possible way.”
Her first visit to Mangawhai, Judith Collins spoke to dinner guests about a variety of subjects. PHOTO/Melody Tito