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Q & A with Willow-Jean Prime


Age 32 •Education Enrolled in PhD, LLM (First Class Hons), PG Dip Māori and Pacific Development, BA LLB conjoint •Ethnicity European/Māori •Hapu & Iwi Te Kapotai, Ngati Hine, Ngāpuhi •Interests family time. Community development, law, walking, light reading (if there is ever time), food (eating – not cooking!)

Willow-Jean Prime is the Labour Party electorate candidate for Northland. Prime ran in this seat in the 2014 General Election but it was subsequently won by National Party candidate, Mike Sabin. However, Prime is proud of her efforts to reduce National’s majority by over 2,000 votes and increase the Labour Party’s vote and the number of polling booths won by the Party.

Following Sabin’s sudden resignation as the subject of a police investigation, the seat was left vacant. Dedicated to providing a strong representative voice in her region, Prime won the candidacy selection within the Labour Party to stand again at the upcoming Northland by-election, and aims to do even better with polling results this time.

Amid a line-up of men, Prime is the only woman standing in the by-election and brings with her a robust education together with a grassroots commitment to the electorate.

NORTHLAND By-election

When did you first become interested in politics and why?

In 2013, at the age of 30, Prime became the youngest ever Councillor for the Far North District Council and polled the second highest number of votes. It was from here her political profile increased and that she was encouraged to stand in the 2014 General Election. However, her political fervour stems from a much earlier time:

“From quite a young age (as a child debating my Nana in her arm chair – which she encouraged), I felt like I developed skills that would lead me towards a future in advocacy.  Having completed my studies, I worked for several years as a solicitor in Wellington before returning to the North, where I established a consultancy business handling community projects and Treaty claims and served on the management committees of various organisations and local Trusts.  My work in the community brought increasing pressure for me to put my name forward for the Far North District Council – I did this as an independent.”

What inspired you to join the Labour Party?

Prime was inspired to join the Labour Party as she considers it the party where she would be most effective to address the issues facing Northland, and the party where the electorate would be better represented with a sitting MP.

 How would you describe the Northland electorate?

Beautiful. Big. Untapped. Facing many challenges that can only be resolved with central government support”

Where do you think the most action is needed in Northland?

Prime is focusing her campaign on three core issues: jobs, infrastructure and vibrant communities.

She observes that:

“Northland has some of the highest unemployment in the country and we need more government investment in regional development to create jobs and grow our businesses. Our roads are in a very poor state and need urgent attention. The government has cut $35 million from our roads and we need to restore that funding and begin urgent repairs and invest in new projects to make transport in the North faster, safer and more reliable”

In her experience as a District Councillor, Prime notes that she has seen “first-hand the importance of having a government that is going to back our communities”.  She vows to “fight for more government support for local groups and facilities, so that we can have a proper partnership. That is going to make Northland a better place to live, work and play”.

Why should Northland electors vote for you?

“I am the best person for the job. I am passionate about Northland. Northland is and has been neglected by the government for a very long time.  We need a strong, local voice to stand up for us. Currently, unemployment is too high, businesses are struggling and the roads are a mess. We need someone who can get things moving and I believe that is me”

What do you hope to achieve for Northland if elected as their MP?

“I want to be a strong voice that makes the government sit up and take notice of the needs of our people and our region. I want to help create a thriving future for Northland. I love Northland, it’s my home, I grew up here and I want to do my part to make it even better”

WOMEN’S Issues

Would you describe yourself as a feminist?

Prime explains that while she has not had a “major role in advocating on specific women’s issues” that she “grew up in a family surrounded by strong woman and the values of fairness and equality” were ingrained in her upbringing.  She elaborates that although her work has “primarily centred around community development generally” that her sister and Campaign Manager, Season-Mary Prime, has been an advocate for women’s rights, and that feminism resonates in both their thinking and actions and aligns very much with their values.

Do you have a position on abortion?

Prime is not anti-abortion and supports “proactive approaches to ensuring woman are informed and educated about sexual health and that resources and support are widely available for woman where required”.

Would you consider the services available to women who are victims of all forms of violence to be appropriately funded?

Prime considers that services available to women who are victims of violence are not adequately funded. She also states:

“It is my understanding that domestic violence and sexual violence are rampant and instances are increasing while other crimes are diminishing. I am told that service providers are overwhelmed with cases and that resources have been cut to community services and providers working in this area”.

Recently, a young Māori Trans Woman protested at the pride parade due to the transmisogyny of some organisations that were participating in the event. Trans women are routinely sent to men’s prisons because the system refuses to recognise their identity as women. What steps do you think could be taken to appropriately recognise the equal rights of Trans women with their cis women counterparts?

“I think this is a discussion which must be lead by Trans Women in order for any outcomes to be meaningful and effective”

MĀORI Issues

In light of the Waitangi Tribunal’s finding that (Northland) Māori did not cede sovereignty when signing Te Tiriti o Waitangi, what steps would you take to ensure that Labour appropriately recognised Māori sovereignty rights given they legislated against Māori with regard to the Foreshore and Seabed?

“As a starting point there must be a robust discussion and debate about our constitutional arrangements – the Tribunal’s report must necessarily inform that discussion.  To date, in any such government lead “constitutional reviews” our country has not had the benefit of having to hand, a comprehensive report which unequivocally addresses the meaning and effect of Te Tiriti.  It is my view that the report can help us progress the discussion concerning the place of Te Tiriti in our constitutional arrangements”


Labour has strongly opposed PM John Key’s recent announcement that the government will deploy troops to Iraq.

  • What ways do you think New Zealand could assist the Iraqi people and government without sending armed forces?

Prime insists that “any assistance provided [to the Iraqi people and government] should be with a UN mandate”. She considers that “National’s Iraq deployment risks lives” and that “the way to overcome ISIS is to rebuild Iraqi society through humanitarian intervention and economic reconstruction”. 

  • Should international relations be prioritised over the democratic choice of the people?

“No.  The Prime Minister has described deployment as “the price of being the club”. I do not agree that this is a reason to send troops into harm’s way”

Write a HAIKU!

Vote Willow-Jean Prime
Hardworking. Honest. Local.
Northland needs a voice.

You can see more of Willow-Jean Prime on:


Willow-Jean Prime will appeal to many women (young and old) and Māori in general as someone relevant to their world view and as a genuine role model. She has the capacity to provide the representative continuity needed in the Northland region. Additionally, she has the requisite educational background to guide her through the bureaucracy of Parliamentary representation and her Council experience will assist in keeping her connected to her local community and the issues affecting the region. While the most recent polls indicate that the Northland by-election may come down to a two horse race between Winston Peters (New Zealand First) and Mark Osborne (National Party), unlike those two candidates, Prime is a strong advocate for Māori and the vulnerable and has occupational longevity and continuity on her side together with a youthful compassion, empathy and a vision for the future of Northland as a resident and lifelong member of the community.


Hon Paula Bennett, National Party

Image source


Age: 45 Ethnicity/Nationality: Māori New Zealander Highest Education: BA (Social Policy)


Paula Bennett is the Waitakere electorate MP for the National Party. Her official National Party profile page is available here.  On her page, you will see that Paula raised her daughter as a solo-parent and lives by the mantra:

 “Self-belief – with a dose of hard work – can make anything possible”

While Paula currently holds the office of Minister for Social Development, Minister for Local Government and Associate Minister for Housing, she also has a special interest in all issues relating to the wellbeing of children, families and communities.

Paula’s interest in politics stems from her desire to:

“…make a difference for New Zealand, and to have the chance to advocate for children, families and individuals who are in need”

She was motivated to join the National Party because her own beliefs aligned with the Party and she believes that:

“The National Party is a party of opportunity, and has given me the opportunity to affect change for New Zealanders”

Paula’s personal philosophy is that:

“…everybody has the power to achieve and excel, and the Government should be there to create the right conditions so that people can thrive”

She considers the people most influential to her politics are the:

“…everyday New Zealanders who work hard and usually have a healthy disdain for politics – it keeps it real”

Women’s Issues

Although Paula holds some feminist views she would not describe herself as a feminist; however, she believes in “absolute equality between men and women” and considers herself very lucky to live in a country that she believes has “a great record of equal opportunity”.

 On women’s reproductive rights 

Paula is pro-choice.

On women’s economic contributions (other than paid work)

Paula observes that in her time as Minister:

“…she has met hundreds of women making a difference in their families and their communities, and in their own way they are each contributing to building a stronger society”.

On wage disparity

 Paula is fully committed to policy that encourages:

“…up-skilling women to give them more opportunities so they can get higher paying jobs and wages”.

On support services for women

Paula considers that there are ample levels of “support provided for all people in need – women, men and children alike”, but  considers more can always be done to improve the services provided and the ease of access to them.

She has a particular focus on sole parents, and is pleased with the welfare reforms she introduced as Minister of Social Development that she maintains have seen an 11% reduction in sole parents on the benefit in the past year and almost “30,000 fewer children in benefit dependent homes compared to two years ago”.

General Q & A:

What is the one skill you wish you had (that you don’t already)?

Backing the boat on a trailer straight down the boat ramp”

In everyday life, what is your pet peeve?

“Dishes on the bench when the dishwasher’s empty”

What do think is the biggest problem facing the world right now?

That’s a hard one. I’m horrified at the treatment of girls and women in some countries, like not allowing them equal access to education”

What is the best gift you’ve ever given?

“Unconditional love”

What is the best gift you’ve ever received?

“Unconditional love”

Describe a time when you wanted to quit, but you didn’t:

“Many times when I was working, raising my daughter, and studying at the same time”

If you could have a special power/magic what would it be and why?

“I’d love a teleporter so I could instantly be anywhere in the world I wanted”

You can see more of Paula on: 

Personal website: Hon Paula Bennett

Facebook: Paula Bennett MP 

Twitter:  @paulabennettmp 

Please check the About page if you are interested in the question selections. 

MP Maryan Street, Labour Party NZ


Age: 59 Ethnicity/Nationality: Pākehā Highest Education: MPhil (First Class)


Maryan Street is a list MP for the Labour Party based in the Nelson region. Her official Labour Party profile page is available here. On her page, you will see that Maryan is gay, has a partner, and a daughter who contributed to her decision to become an MP in 2005.

While Maryan is the Labour spokesperson for State Services, Tertiary Education, Disarmament and Arms Control, Associate Foreign Affairs (ODA/Human Rights). She also has interests in equality for women, pay equity, eradication of poverty and gender-based violence, working conditions, peace and disarmament, and international affairs.

Maryan first became interested in politics when she started teaching in 1978 because she believed change was needed. She was motivated to join the Labour Party in 1984 following her work history and union participation and leadership. She had been meaning to join for a while at that time and was then approached and asked to join by another woman.

Maryan is a social democrat and was inspired in her political career by Helen Clark, Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Mary Robertson and Hillary Rodham Clinton. She also describes herself as a feminist and proudly announces that:

“I am old enough to remember the second wave of feminism and to have participated in it! I have always seen it as a movement for social justice – equality on all levels: economic, social, institutional, constitutional”

Women’s Issues

On women’s reproductive rights 

Maryan is prochoice and considers that:

“access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including the right to safe abortion, are fundamental to women’s equality. If we can’t plan when and how often to have children, we can’t ever have equality. I support this kaupapa through the NZ Parliamentarians group on Population Development (NZPPD), of which I am Vice-Chairperson”

On women’s economic contributions (other than paid work)

Maryan considers that women’s contributions to the economy include the:

“Social and economic stability through the maintenance of families and child care – women still remain the primary caregivers predominantly”

And also that the voluntary sector is dominated by women.

On wage disparity

She is also concerned about wage disparity in NZ and considers one approach to help amend this deficiency is to re-establish the Pay Equity Commission and ‘get to the bottom of the disparities and effect methods of changing them’.

On support services for women

Maryan believes that the current support systems we have in place to assist all women who: are solo or first time mothers, victims of crime, imprisoned, struggling with addiction, suffer from mental health and/or chronic illness or physical  disabilities are inadequate and that:

“more is always required in each of these areas and it needs to be better targeted and more appropriately applied”

General Q & A:

What is the one skill you wish you had (that you don’t already)?


In everyday life, what is your pet peeve?

“People not being punctual.”

What do think is the biggest problem facing the world right now?

Security – of food supply, of safe food, of women from gender-based violence both in war and in peace, of water, from escalating nuclear tensions, from war.”

What is the best gift you’ve ever given?

“A trip to Europe to my daughter – with me!”

What is the best gift you’ve ever received?

“My daughter”

Describe a time when you wanted to quit, but you didn’t:

Yesterday – but there is too much to do!”

If you could have a special power/magic what would it be and why?

Restoration of the environment.”

You can see more of Marayan on: 

Facebook:  Maryan Street

Twitter:   @MaryanStreetMP 

Please check the About page if you are interested in the question selections. 

Hon. Tariana Turia, Māori Party

“Everything I do is motivated by the type of world I want my 26 mokopuna (grandchildren) and 26 mokopuna turua (great grandchildren) to inherit”

Age: 70

Region: Te Tai Hauauru

Highest Education:

“My life’s life has been in trying to live in ways according to the kaupapa and the tikanga of those who have walked me; to live up to their aspirations”

Ethnicity/Nationality: Ngā Wairiki/Ngāti Apa; Ngāti Tūwharetoa; Whanganui; Ngā Rauru


“Wairuatanga is a key foundation of my life”


Hon Tariana Turia is currently the Co-Leader of the Māori Party, Minister for Whānau Ora and MP for Te Tai Hauāuru, but is set to retire at the NZ Election 2014.

Tariana’s official Māori Party profile page is available here. On her page you will see that she was a NZ Labour Party List MP from 1996-1999 and Member of Parliament for Te Tai Hauāuru from July 2002 to May 2004 prior to forming the Māori Party.

She says her life is driven by a desire to improve outcomes for whānau, hapū and iwi. She has been actively involved in establishing health, education, employment and social service organisations to support whānau in achieving their aspirations. Tariana’s reasons for entering parliament were that she believed it to be  ‘an important step in being able to continue this work on behalf of our people’.

After the Foreshore and Seabed bill was introduced, Tariana believed ‘if ever there was a time for a strong independent Māori voice to influence parliament’ it was then. Tariana believed Māori voices had been ‘subsumed far too long within a majority agenda’. Her motivation for setting up the Māori Party on July 11, 2004 stemmed from her commitment to uphold the dreams and aspirations of Māori and ‘carry those voices into parliament’.

Tariana describes her political ideology as driven by:

“Whānau Ora – to do all that she can to support whānau to be self-managing, living healthy lifestyle and participating fully in society, confidently participating in tea o Māori; economically secure and successfully involved in wealth creation, cohesive, resilient and nurturing”.

One of the most influential people with regard to her personal politics is Matua Whatarangi Winiata. She expresses her ‘utmost respect and all abiding love’ for him, believing that he demonstrates the capacity to live in a way which upholds kaupapa Māori. Tariana is proud of her whakapapa connection to him, which she greatly values and is also continually inspired to be in his presence.

While Tariana doesn’t subscribe to the ‘term’ feminism, she explains that she is more comfortable with a statement made by the late Merata Mita:

“The principle of Mana Wahine, a Māori concept which exceeds the boundaries of feminism and incorporates a dimension of spirituality emanating from the primary element of Hine-ahu-one. I am Māori, I am woman, I am family, I am tribe, and only one of the facets of who I am fits comfortably under the label feminism”.

Womens Issues

On reproductive rights of women

Tariana is a strong supporter of maintaining whakapapa – our genealogical connections.

On economic contributions of women (unpaid)

Tariana believes that “women make an enormous contribution to every aspect of our society”. She remembers her friend, the late Irihapeti Ramsden talking about the many roles we [women] once occupied:

“Once were gardeners, once were astronomers, once were philosophers, once were lovers”

Tariana considers that:

“We nurture and raise our whānau – and that is a major contribution to society”


“we need to be proud of our capacity to be hunters and gatherers as well as taking up the full range of career options available to us”.

On Wage disparity

Tariana supports the Living Wage campaign and calls on employers to offer a living wage. She believes that:

“Staff are not business costs to be minimised – they are a business’s greatest asset”


“Investing in skilled, productive, stable and enthusiastic workforce can boost business turnover and profits”

On support services for women

Tariana considers that a great deal of work has gone into transforming the disability sector through the ‘Enabling Good Lives’ approach. She explains that the concept is that:

“disabled persons and their families are supported to achieve the plans they set for themselves, and to do whatever it takes to make their lives the best they can”.

She also considers this:

“a philosophical approach which is the underpinning of Whānau Ora – that we recognise the potential for every family to achieve their aspiration aims whether they be social (health education, social inclusion), economic (such as an expanding asset base) or cultural and collective gains”

General Questions 

What is the one skill you wish you had (that you don’t already)?

“I would love to be more proficient in te reo Māori. It is a long held ambition of mine to advance my knowledge of te reo rangatira”

In everyday life, what is your pet peeve? 

“People who are disrespectful of another human being”

What do think is the biggest problem facing the world right now? 

“I live by the value, highlight my strengths and my weaknesses disappear. I think we need to use our collective genius to ensure communities are empowered to develop local solutions to local problems”

What is the best gift you’ve ever given?

“The gift of life through our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren”

What is the best gift you’ve ever received?

“My aunty Ruku Te Kauki Taiaroa Arahanga gave me a piece of beautiful white pounamu. It directly conneed me to he tupuna; hori Taiaroa MP for Southern Māori from 1871 – while also having the most comforting presence to hold”

Describe a time when you wanted to quit, but you didn’t.

“When every member of the Labour Māori Caucus was prepared to support legislation which I believed to take the last part of customary land out of our hands, I felt like I should leave. I chose to leave that party, but instead take a new pathway, in establishing the Māori Party – and I have never looked back”

If you could have a special power/magic what would it be and why? 

“To restore rangatiratanga to whānau, hapū and iwi”

Editors Note:

Because Hon Tariana Turia is retiring at the 2014 Election, it is only fitting here that I tautoko her incredible contribution to Mana Wahine in Māori Politics. Additionally, to tautoko her efforts to incorporate kauapapa Māori as common practice in New Zealand politics partly through the establishment of the Māori Party – the only existing party entirely dedicated to an independent Māori voice, but also through her consistent use of Māori philosophies in the policies and institutions she has helped to set up. Tariana has exhibited an unwwavering resolve to support the dreams and aspirations of Māori and to improve outcomes for whānau, hapu and iwi. Although Tariana’s time in politics has not been without criticism including from many Māori, few would challenge that Tariana was (is) a tireless and devoted voice of the Māori struggle. 

MP Catherine Delahunty, NZ Green Party


Age: 60 Ethnicity/Nationality: Pākehā Highest Education: Half BA, Certificate of Adult Literacy Tutoring


Catherine Delahunty is a list candidate for the NZ Greens. Her official Greens profile page is available here. On her page, you will see that Catherine is ‘deeply motivated by a sense of justice’ and considers one of the greater challenges of being an MP is being able to ‘reflect, and not just act’.

While Catherine is the Greens spokesperson for Education, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Mining, Toxics, West Papua, she also has particular interests in women’s issues, social justice and Te Tiriti issues, the environment and caring economics.

Catherine considers her political rigour as inherited from her left wing upbringing in Wellington. She was motivated to join the Greens subsequent to her work as Green Campaign Manager in Auckland during the 1999 election.

Catherine describes her politics as Green Left Feminism and is a committed Te Tiriti activist. She insists that:

“patriarchy is bad for everyone and feminism affirms life and power with others not power over others”.

The two most influential people with regard to her politics are Veronica Black and Betty Williams, from Hauraki.

Women’s Issues

On women’s reproductive rights 

Catherine is pro-choice andsupports political and policy change to decriminalise the abortion process.

On women’s economic contributions (other than paid work)

Catherine considers that ‘women are the unpaid economic reality that makes the world go round’ and recommends Marilyn Warring’s book Counting for Nothing to fully appreciate the valuable unpaid work women do.

On wage disparity

She is also greatly concerned about pay disparity and has written a members bill, currently in the ballot, to address some of those issues. Catherine is ‘outraged by the gender pay gap and inequality of wages for all but especially women’.

On support services for women

Catherine considers support services for women in New Zealand, to be severely deficient. She considers that we need more resources, support and importantly, respect with regard to women in vulnerable situations, such as solo or first time mothers, victims of crime, women inmates, addiction,  mental health and/or chronic illness, and physical  disabilities.

General Q & A:

What is the one skill you wish you had (that you don’t already)?

A memory for facts involving numbers”

In everyday life, what is your pet peeve?

Casual racism”

What do think is the biggest problem facing the world right now?

Patriarchal violence in all its forms”

What is the best gift you’ve ever given?

Giving time to other people when they need support”

What is the best gift you’ve ever received?

My life, my daughter and my grandson”

Describe a time when you wanted to quit, but you didn’t:

“Most weeks since Nov 2008 when elected to Parliament”

If you could have a special power/magic what would it be and why?

The power to keep my clothes clean for more than ten minutes”

You can see more of Catherine on: 

Facebook:  Catherine Delahunty

Twitter:   @greencatherine

Please check the About page if you are interested in the question selections. 

Arena Williams, Labour Party NZ


Arena Williams and Labours candidate for Rotorua Tamati Coffey at the Rotorua local electorate committee AGM. [image sourced from Arena’s public Candidate Facebook page – see link at end of post]

Age: 24 Ethnicity: Māori Religion: Haahi Ringatu Highest Education: Bcom/LLB

Arena Williams is standing for the first time as the newly elected Hunua candidate for the Labour Party. Her interests include Youth Education, Training, and Work. Arena’s official Labour Party page is available here. On her page, you will see that she proposes to stand for “jobs, homes and opportunity” and considers that “change starts with talking to people”.


Arena grew up in a politically active household. She describes her parents as “Labour people who live their Labour values by serving their communities”, her mother as a GP in Papakura and her father a teacher before becoming a journalist and as such considers that community ethic to be in her blood.

Arena joined the Labour Party in 2005 after the “foreshore and seabed raruraru“. She explains that:

“I saw leaders who I respected turning their back on a group of their loyal supporters, and I felt ashamed of that – but I wouldn’t be a Labour person if I thought the way to deal with that was to throw stones from the outside. I started by volunteering for Māori MPs who worked hard and stood up. I then got involved with Young Labour and with Policy Council, and put in the work so that we don’t go doing something like that again”

Arena describes her personal political ideology as adherent to the values of freedom and choice. In particular:

“the kind of freedom that comes with the security of a good education, a roof over your head and the ability to get decent work”.

She admires thinkers like John Rawls and David Harvey, but does not subscribe to their ideals as a complete prescription for her views.  Arena extols her family as the most influential people on her political thinking, explaining that:

“My father is a deeply spiritual and peaceful person, and it is his influence that makes me think before I react to political ideas. My mother has been a fiery activist in her time, for Women’s Lib and Māori rights, and I’ve learnt a lot from her”

On Women’s Issues

Arena also subscribes to feminism, insisting that:

“Everyone who wants a system that doesn’t disadvantage people just because they don’t identify as men should own the word feminist

On reproductive rights of women

Arena is pro-choice and considers that abortion:

“should be a personal decision for women to make for their physical and mental health, supported by their doctor”

She remarks that most people would be surprised to learn that abortion is a criminal offence in New Zealand.

Arena would like to see more effort in “listening to young women who have been through abortions about the kind of support they receive” because she recognises and empathises that abortion is “a hard thing, but when it’s a criminal offence, there’s so much hurt and stigma that helps no one”.

Arena is involved in ongoing discussions within the women’s sector of the Labour movement, including Young Labour, about  the kind of reform those women would want their party to champion. She expresses her commitment to doing everything she can to continue that conversation and to work toward developing a solution that works for young women.

On Womens Economic Contributions

Arena claims that:

“women’s participation at all levels of decision making isn’t a fluffy add on – business has been realising the commercial benefit of diversity yet we lag behind for women’s representation in governance and in Parliament”

In respect of unpaid work, she considers that “entitlements to paid parental leave at the current level” do not “reflect the societal benefit of parents, mostly mothers, spending time with their young children and preparing them for ECE then school”.

Arena thinks that “extending paid parental leave will go a long way to addressing the deficit”.

On Wage Disparity

Arena considers there to be “deep structural inequalities that stand in the way of success for working women”. She explains by example that in the industry she works in, “women are paid around $18 less per hour” than her male colleagues on average and thinks its “simply unacceptable”.

To address the wage disparity issue, Arena would like to see more support for flexible working arrangements in the professional sector. She thinks that industry should lead on that, and if they don’t then central government has a responsibility to step in.  She maintains that:

 “government has a role in promoting women’s involvement on corporate boards, as a way of changing organisational culture which tacitly accepts this kind of discrimination”

On Support Services for Women

Arena considers that support services for women are under a “constant squeeze” because of the “competitive funding environment”. In her experience with Student Unions, first as Auckland President and later the national Women’s Rights Officer, she explains that she was “constantly grateful for the NGOs and community groups who could be called on to support women students in need” despite the obstacles to accessing funding.

Arena is particularly interested in supporting women in education. In her view, it is “a fundamental part of freedom for women”. Arena would like to see the student loan repayment scheme remodelled because she thinks that currently it unfairly disadvantages women who earn less on average and subsequently take longer to repay their loans. She believes that cuts to the tertiary training allowance have been instrumental in limiting the ability of many mothers to access tertiary education to build on their life experience and feels strongly that access to tertiary education is essential to empowering women of all ages.

General Q & A

What is the one skill you wish you had (that you don’t already)?

“I wish I could think in te reo Māori. I think I have a reasonable vocabulary and can follow Māori TV, but when it comes to forming an answer to a question, I have to switch to English”

In everyday life, what is your pet peeve?

“Wasting food. Wasting anything!”

What do think is the biggest problem facing the world right now?


What is the best gift you’ve ever given?

“Two pieces of pounamu to my friends who got married this year and moved to Melbourne. The pieces will always be an anchor for them, to keep a little bit of them in New Zealand. They’ll have to come back!”

What is the best gift you’ve ever received?

“My grandmother left me her tea cup collection when she passed away. It’s a jumbled set of bits and bobs she cobbled together during her travels. I can’t bring myself to use them, but every time I see them I’m reminded of this fierce wahine toa who was so ahead of her time and the adventures she had.”

Describe a time when you wanted to quit, but you didn’t.

“During my time as president at the Auckland students’ association there were plenty of times I wanted to quit. The hardest battles are the ones fought behind your own lines. I finished my term with a result I’m proud of, but I’m most proud of the people I worked with then who’ve stepped up since and become wonderful leaders for an organisation I care deeply about.”

If you could have a special power/magic what would it be and why?

“I’d like to be able to stop time. I’d get 8 hours sleep and be able to say ‘yes’ to requests from the people I care about!”

You can see more of Arena on:

Facebook: Arena Williams – Labour’s candidate for Hunua

Twitter: @arenaa

YouTube: Arena Williams for Hunua

Please check the About page if you are interested in the question selections. 

MP Holly Walker, Green Party


Holly with her daughter Esther Lucy Haines at a PPL event.  


Age: 31 Ethnicity/Nationality: Pākehā Highest Education: MPhil in Development Studies (University of Oxford)


Holly Walker is a list candidate for the Greens. Holly’s official Greens profile page is available here. On her page, you will see that she has only recently become a new mother and during 2014 she considers she ‘will be combining the equally important roles of parenting and Parliament’.

While Holly is the Greens spokesperson for Children, Housing, Students, Open Government, Electoral Reform, Arts Culture and Heritage, she also has particular interests in women’s issues, parenting, education, inequality and social justice.

Holly’s motivation for entering politics was recognising the opportunities afforded to her through state assistance. She explains:

“for the first few years of my life my mum was on her own with me. We benefited from state welfare, housing, and education support, and I want to defend those supports and strengthen them for children growing up in New Zealand today so that every child can enjoy the opportunities I did.”

Holly grew up in a household that encouraged political debate and participation. She developed her political values at high school, and later at university. She describes her politics as ‘progressive with a strong commitment to green principles of appropriate decision-making, social justice, ecological wisdom, non-violence, and a commitment to upholding the Treaty of Waitangi’ and also identifies as a feminist.

Although her parents were ‘strong Labour supporters’, Holly gravitated towards the Greens as she considered them the ‘only party that recognised the links between the economy, the environment and social justice and builds those links into everything they do’. She was also attracted to the Greens because she felt she would never have to ‘modify or compromise’ on her principles and values with them.

Women’s Issues

On women’s reproductive rights 

Holly is pro-choice and believes thatit is time for our abortion law to be updated and for it to be removed from the Crimes Act and treated as a health issue’.

On women’s economic contributions (other than paid work)

Holly considers that women contribute to the economy through unpaid work in many ways including (but not limited to):

“leading community organisations, governing schools and playcentres, volunteering for NGOs and charities, breastfeeding their babies, caring for children, sick and elderly relatives, supporting their partners in paid work, starting up their own businesses, upskilling themselves through training and study, creating art and music.”

On wage disparity

Holly is hugely concerned with wage disparity in New Zealand and considers it ‘one of the biggest challenges of our time’. She maintains that ‘there is clear evidence that growing inequality harms us all, not only those at the bottom, and New Zealand is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world’.

On support services for women

Holly believes that we could do more to support women in vulnerable situations, such as, first time or solo mothers, victims of crime, addiction services, mental health services (to mention a few). She states that:

“we need to recognise that investment in early intervention – whether it be support for new parents, early childhood education, public health campaigns, or preventive mental health services – saves millions of dollars down the track in reduced need for remedial health, education and justice services. This is particularly true for women who are often more vulnerable to begin with.”

 Holly further explains that:

“As a new mum myself, and the daughter of a sole parent, I have nothing but admiration for mothers who raise children without the support of a full-time partner. I am passionate about making sure that every child in New Zealand gets the best possible start in life – from improved maternity care and support for breastfeeding, to a universal child payment, more paid parental leave, free healthcare for all children, and subsidised ECE and after-school care. Policies like this would make a huge difference to first time and sole parents.”

General Q & A:

What is the one skill you wish you had (that you don’t already)?

“Fluency in Te Reo Māori. I’m working on it”

In everyday life, what is your pet peeve?

“A messy kitchen”

What do think is the biggest problem facing the world right now?

“Climate change”

What is the best gift you’ve ever given?

“I was recently able to donate a large amount of frozen breastmilk for a friend struggling to get her supply established and wanting to avoid giving her newborn formula. That felt pretty good”

What is the best gift you’ve ever received?

“For one birthday, my partner Dave made a treasure hunt of new books hidden around the house for me. To find each one I had to solve a cryptic crossword clue. It took me days to find them all”

Describe a time when you wanted to quit, but you didn’t:

“Crossing the finish line of my first half marathon with a nose bleed and at the end of a gruelling three week Outward Bound course in 2004”

If you could have a special power/magic what would it be and why?

“To be in two places at once: in Parliament working for good green change, and at home with my baby!”

You can see more of Holly on: 

Facebook:  Holly Walker

Twitter:  @hollyrwalker

Please check the About page if you are interested in the question selections.