It’s not very often that a former Prime Minister calls on an upcoming politician to tell her that he sees great potential.
Labour candidate for Hunua Baljit Kaur was pleasantly surprised when she discovered that Mike Moore, former Labour Prime Minister of New Zealand and Director-General of the World Trade Organisation as well as former ambassador to the United States invited her to his home in Maraetai and gifted her a book titled The 9th Floor.
Authored by journalists Guyon Espiner and Tim Watkin, the book presents in-depth interviews with five former Prime Ministers of New Zealand–Geoffrey Palmer, Mike Moore, Jim Bolger, Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark–reflecting on the time spent at the 9th floor of the Beehive.
Elected at a time when the country was heading to bankruptcy, Mr Moore spoke to Ms Kaur about the New Zealand political landscape and suggested she read the book that gives a deep insight into the prime ministerial decisions that shaped New Zealand.
“I was touched that he presented me with a Challenge Coin of the time he was with the World Trade Organisation. It was a huge honour for me,” says the Indian-born Labour candidate for Hunua.
Ms Kaur says that attending election debates, public events, campaign meetings, door-knocking, having media interviews and working on fundraising events-along with a full time job with Southern Cross–is a huge learning curve.
And with a well-grounded leader like Jacinda Ardern supporting her, she feels empowered.
“At our Labour Party fundraiser, Jacinda asked me if she could do the auctioning and she was so good at it.
“A bottle of whisky signed by her, got us $1000,” she says.
Last week Ms Kaur accompanied Ms Ardern to a building site where she announced the Prime Minister’s Vocational Excellence Award of $2000 to building apprentices.
The award is to encourage trades training in secondary schools.
Talking about the electorate, Ms Kaur says that Hunua is experiencing ‘growth pains’ as parts of it change from a semi-rural electorate to urban suburb.
“The nature and geographical spread of the electorate means the issues differ across the region. Eastern suburbs like Beachands and Maraetai could do with a post primary school as students are bussed into Howick.
“There are no facilities for aged care, and youth lack a place to meet, hang out, make music and art.”
There is plenty to be done, she says.
“The older folk have had to move from Hunua where they’ve lived all their lives and raised children, due to no options for residential care in the area. Developers have simply not planned for the need of seniors.
“Further, I will advocate for improved health, housing, transportation and employment opportunities for my electorate.
“I will lobby to divert funds allocated for improving road safety towards Hunua. Labour has plans to invest in more electric trains. I will press the government hard to implement these plans which will ease pressure on the roads and make commuting to work a much less stressful experience, not to mention reducing carbon emissions.”