David Shearer leav­ing fam­ily be­hind

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - ELESHA ED­MONDS

Labour MP David Shearer will leave be­hind his wife and two chil­dren to take up a job in wartorn South Su­dan.

Shearer, 59, said he re­ceived an ‘‘out of the blue’’ phone call ask­ing him if he’d be in­ter­ested in a United Na­tion’s peace­keep­ing mis­sion which in­volves 18,000 per­son­nel and a roughly $1 bil­lion bud­get.

The Mt Al­bert MP’s rec­om­men­da­tion for the ap­point­ment was agreed upon by the out­go­ing UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki Moon.

But Shearer’s de­ci­sion to ac­cept the po­si­tion came down to his wife Anuschka’s agree­ment.

He will be de­ployed at a ‘non­fam­ily duty sta­tion’ - mean­ing the de­ploy­ment was deemed dan­ger­ous or un­suit­able for spouses or chil­dren.

‘‘[My wife] will not be able to come with me,’’ Shearer said.

‘‘It’s not con­sid­ered safe enough for fam­i­lies and that’s a big deal be­cause they’ll be in New Zealand and I’ll be in South Su­dan.’’

Shearer has two chil­dren - Vetya and Anas­ta­sia - both adopted from Rus­sia.

Shearer said he com­mit­ted to a 12 month con­tract but ex­pects the mis­sion will go on for quite a long time.

‘‘We’re go­ing to have to be cre- ative and spend a bit of money on air travel.

‘‘We’ll meet in places half­way where we can take a hol­i­day.’’

It won’t be the first time Shearer has worked in a war-torn coun­try.

When the Mt Al­bert Labour seat first came up he had been work­ing in Iraq.

‘‘I had been think­ing for some­time that I wanted to come back to New Zealand and con­trib­ute to my own coun­try,’’ he said.

Shearer said Mt Al­bert will al­ways re­main as his ‘‘home away from home’’ as his fam­ily will con­tinue to live in the elec­torate.

He’s con­fi­dent he is leav­ing Mt Al­bert in good hands, but would not com­ment on who should re­place him.

‘‘I hope there is a con­test, be­cause I think it’s al­ways bet­ter when there is a con­test and peo­ple have to sharpen up the rea­sons why they want to be here. ‘‘I know the qual­ity of the peo­ple who are putting their hands up so I know it’s go­ing to be a good per­son.’’

Shearer of­fi­cially re­signed from Par­lia­ment on De­cem­ber 31.

Prime Min­is­ter Bill English con­firmed the date for the Mt Al­bert by-elec­tion, with vot­ers go­ing to the polls on Fe­bru­ary 25.

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