We asked high-profile young New Zealanders about their reflections of 2013, and their hopes and resolutions for the New Year.
Holly Walker, 31. List MP, Green Party; Spokesperson for Children; Housing.
For me personally, there was a fairly obvious highlight of 2013, and that was the birth of my baby daughter. I also bought my first house, and those have both been big changes that have made me think in a much more personal way about the political stuff.
Up until a couple of months ago I was renting a pretty cold, damp house, and spending a lot of time at work talking about the impact that cold, damp, substandard housing has on children. Those issues suddenly became very real for me in a very personal way, when I started to think about what sort of situation I wanted to be living in with a baby; I spent my days talking about housing affordability and substandard housing, and my nights and weekends changing my own housing situation to prepare for having a baby.
I’m thinking about how my return to Parliament will go with Esther hanging out in the office, and having feeds in between debates, and taking her door-knocking with me.
I’ve also reflected on how lucky I am to be able to afford to buy a home, and that’s really only because I get a disgustingly large MP’s salary. Had I not been in this job, it would have been very difficult, just like it is for thousands of other couples our age. As each week goes by, it seemed like house prices just kept going up and up, and getting more out of reach for young New Zealanders.
Obviously this year is an election year, and, first and foremost, I’m really hoping that we will get a change of government, because there’s a whole lot of stuff – including around the quality of housing, but also environmental and social policies – that we’re kind of desperate to have a chance to influence and change. But I’d also really like to see the Green Party grow its party vote and get more MPs, whether we end up as part of the government or not. I think we did really, really well at the last election and we’re out to prove that it wasn’t a fluke and that we can do it again.
This is all tempered with the fact that I’ll be doing these things with a baby. I’m thinking about how my return to Parliament will go with Esther hanging out in the office, and having feeds in between debates, and taking her door-knocking with me. There will be a whole lot of logistical challenges that I didn’t have last time round.
It will be a lot of work, but I’m quite excited about it at the same time. I think there should be more parents with young children in Parliament. We talk about it being the House of Representatives, and a lot of the issues that we’re talking about in Parliament are directly relevant to parents – so it’s great to have people in there who are speaking from experience.
I’m kind of hoping it will challenge Parliament to become slightly more family-friendly … and that it might encourage other parents of younger children to consider a career in politics. Maybe that’s really naïve and idealistic, and there’s a reason why they don’t do it: because it is really hard. But I’m going to find out.