The selection process is a rigorous one.
Rima Nakhle had to prove her mettle to be chosen from a pool of capable candidates for the National Party seat in the new Takanini electorate (which includes areas of Mission Heights and Ormiston) for the upcoming General Elections.
A barrister and solicitor by profession, Nakhle has been working at the grass-roots level managing the Te Mahia Community Village in Takanini, along with her husband Roger. The community village provides emergency and transitional housing accommodation with boarding rooms as well as fully-furnished cabins.
Twenty years ago, the holiday park owned by her husband and his family was a camping ground with borderline homeless people gravitating towards it. Nakhle concedes there were incidents of drug and alcohol abuse–the police were called more than once.
But things gradually changed when Nakhle moved to New Zealand from Sydney and started helping her husband with the family business.
“We applied for resource consent to convert the holiday park camping grounds to a community village.
“Initially the government was averse because they thought people from an
underprivileged background may have a negative effect on each other. We assured them that it wouldn’t turn into a slum.”
Nakhle says it’s a great feeling as Te Mahia is now considered as the poster boy for community villages by the Ministry of Social Development.
“The village can accommodate up to 300 people at full capacity,” she says.
“We changed the system and started implementing strict rules. High standards were set to create a safe environment, with zero tolerance for antisocial behaviour. We’ve lifted the energy and vibe of the place and even built a children’s park.”
Nakhle says she enjoys community work and is passionate about fundraising events and sponsoring sports teams.
“I believe sports play a pivotal role in improving people’s lives.”
Actively involved in soup kitchens, food parcel delivery to the elderly and philanthropy work, she says she is interested in adding value to social and emergency housing–a business with a social conscience.
“The Labour Party does not have a monopoly over compassion,” says Nakhle.
“I’ll be a strong voice for tougher laws on crime. It is important to teach our youth accountability. The punishment should be more serious in terms of community work. They can’t just break a rule and get away with it.”
She feels equally strong about recreational marijuana.
“My sister has been a mental health specialist and has witnessed so many mental illnesses including schizophrenia caused by it. I have an extreme dislike for it as it destroys so many lives, causing reckless driving and putting people’s lives in danger.
“How do we keep our communities safe if we encourage it?”
“The current Government has talked a lot and promised even more but there is a difference between delivering messages and being able to deliver what is promised in those messages. National can be counted on to deliver for our families.”