After a wonderful summer with family, politics is well and truly back. National started well as a team with a really good caucus retreat at the Basin Reserve in Wellington (after Covid-19 meant that we had to change our original plans of being up North). We had some great discussions about where we are at and what we need to do for New Zealanders over the next year. New Zealand needs a strong, competent opposition to sharpen and improve government decision making.
On Waitangi Day I decided local is best and spoke at the early morning service at Mt Drury as Tauranga MP. It’s always a glorious morning – in my unbiased opinion the prettiest Waitangi service in NZ!
Speaking of local, a lot of my time of late has been spent assisting Kiwis off shore who have faced unreasonable MiQ decisions meaning they can’t come home. In one case a young New Zealander in London needed to come back due to deteriorating health issues which meant they needed family support, they just don’t have in the UK. After some wrangling, I was able to help, and I am pleased to say the decision was reversed. There have been a number of cases like this.
I’ve also enjoyed experiencing some of our local tourism which I confess after twenty years living here I have not got round to before. In late January Natalie and I took the kids out dolphin watching with Dolphin Safaris and I would highly recommend it. Call me naïve but I just didn’t realise how many dolphins we have so close to home. One of the staff told me were are blessed with an estimated 50,000 in the Bay of Plenty!
Coming up I am looking forward (I think) to going along to The University of Waikato’s Tauranga campus for O (or Orientation) week. It’s important that students know I am here to help with their issues and I always enjoy getting their fresh takes on what’s going on.
I am also helping the YWAM Koha a bit at the moment, which you may notice amongst the other vessels at Sulphur Point, as Tauranga is now home for the ship. If you haven’t heard about it, the Koha and its volunteer crew operate as a medical ship and go into parts of the Pacific, often inaccessible other than by ship. While they are there they provide essential health services you and I take for granted but that are literally a God-send for the Islanders receiving them from basic hygiene education and vaccinations through to dental and eye surgeries. We should be proud of the work being done by these locals.
Meet the new addition to our family
Finally, we were very sad as a family when Tilly our family pet died as a 13 year old late last year. Very recently we’ve all adored getting to know our new puppy, Jasper, a maltese Chihuahua cross.
Best wishes, Simon
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