This is the last column that I will write as your Labour List MP based in this area.
For the last six years it has been an honour and a privilege to serve the people of Rodney and, more recently, Kaipara Ki Mahurangi.
I am proud of the achievements that we have all made in this area, with the $830m committed for the Penlink bypass, funding for Mahurangi River Rejuvenation, (which will eventually lead to huge tourism and travel opportunities), the building of new primary schools in Milldale and Ōrewa, sod-turning for the Milldale housing development, and bringing several Ministers to Whangaparāoa.
Dairy Flat School, which I visited with Minister Tinetti, and the community were grateful to have the airport extension declined and all of us enjoy no extra tolls on the newly opened Puhoi extension, (although I know we all wish it was a broader free travel area). I am proud to have successfully lobbied for the funding of Penlink and to have supported the Matakana Link Road and the Matakana Trail Trust.
In my time, I have endeavoured to support and be involved with as many community groups as possible, from helping the Arkles Bay community to raise over $1000 for Hospice with their mid-winter swim, to scouts, Snells Beach Bird Conservation, A & P Shows, talks at ratepayers’ associations and everything in between. Being involved in grass roots communities and bringing your voices to Wellington is an important function of any MP.
Living at one end of the geographical boundary of one of the country’s largest electorates, as well as, since 2020, being the buddy MP for Whangaparāoa, has presented challenges to my ability to engage with the western part of the electorate, especially during the Covid travel restrictions. Having Labour Prime Ministers Jacinda Ardern and Chris Hipkins attend the Kumeu A & P Show was therefore especially gratifying.
As a nod to my dual heritage, I was delighted to be involved in the Dutch and Indonesian communities in Aotearoa. Although I confess, some of the joy was also experiencing the foods of my country of birth!
A key highlight and a real privilege was, after being lobbied by the Rodney Rainbow community, sponsoring the Conversion Practices Prohibition Bill – legislation whose time had come. My role as chair of the Education and Workforce Select Committee enabled me to improve the rights of hard-working people, as well as positive changes in the area of ACC.
I was especially honoured, as co-chair of the Europe-NZ Parliament cross party group, to lead a delegation to Europe last year, which included the first ever NZ visit to Lithuania.
I would like to thank all the people who have supported me in my work over the last six years. I have always been welcomed in every part of this delightful region, regardless of political persuasion.
Your warmth motivated me to do my very best for the communities across the region.
Ka mihi ano ka kite ano koe. Thank you and see you again.
Editor’s note: This is Marja’s final column for the paper, as she is not standing in this year’s election. Thanks for all your contributions over the years, Marja.