A brilliant stroke: reaching out to communities

Leader of National Party Simon Bridges won favour with the Asian community as he reached out to them locally at Te Tuhi Art Centre, Pakuranga. Times photos Farida Master.

It was more than a table-tennis match. It was a way of connecting with migrants who may not speak the same language.

A turnout of more than 300 people from the Chinese community greeted leader of opposition Simon Bridges at the Te Tuhi Art Centre on Thursday afternoon

There were lots of questions asked from prisons to pensioners, health system to housing, immigration laws and trade relationship with China that the 41-year old politician who is not wasting a single moment in the countdown to the next election, answered with equanimity.

The Q & A session was followed by table-tennis matches which featured a line up of National MPs including Simeon Brown,  Dr Jian Yang, Andrew Bayly, Paul Goldsmith, Alfred Ngaro, Mark Mitchell, Chris Penk, Denise Lee, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi and Melissa Lee – play the  popular game amongst the Asian community.

National Party has formed a special table-tennis team to play ball with the Asian community. In the picture is Opposition Leader Simon Bridges who partnered with Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown to play ping pong with the local Chinese community.

On a two-day jamboree with back-to-back breakfast, lunch and public meetings, Mr Bridges went all out to connect with different communities in the Howick and Pakuranga areas.

At the public meeting hosted at the Pakuranga Rugby Club on Friday afternoon, he was accompanied by Jami-Lee Ross, MP for Botany, Simeon Brown, MP for Pakuranga and Andrew Bayly, MP for Hunua.

Mr Bridges said he was one of six children who wasn’t the smartest kid in the class but worked hard and went on to do his Masters at Oxford University.

“In two-and-a-half years, I will be asking you to vote for me as PM so this is a chance for you to get to know the kind of bloke I am,” said the young father-of-three who got into politics in 2008.

There were a wide range of questions asked by people in the audience on diverse subjects including farmland disappearing in the Whitford area and lack of local produce in the supermarkets to fuel tax, closing down of chartered schools, violence in classrooms and the eroding pillars of education.

Then there were more questions with regards to the MMP system.

‘How is the National Party going to win and bring up the votes to 50 per cent?” another common theme at every public meeting.

Opposing the prison population being cut by one-third without any future plans; the spray and walk away policy of cash bribes with free tertiary education and further emptying the coffers built up by the former government by giving away a billion dollars to baby boomers, were some of the other topics he touched on.

Someone even asked Mr Bridges his opinion on Donald Trump.

He responded saying, “I’ll tweet it.”