New MP: ‘I love a challenge’
When first-time MP Tim van de Molen writes his maiden speech, talking up Waikato’s potential as a regional leader will figure highly in the words he’ll deliver to parliament.
‘‘My passion is the primary sector, that’s my background and a focus for me. The Waikato is going through a period of growth and well poised to take advantage of that growth. I’m keen to make sure we can capitalise on that growth.’’
The 2013 young farmer of the year was the clear winner of the Waikato electorate following results from Saturday’s general election results.
He recorded a majority of 13,933 votes over his nearest rival, Labour party’s Brooke Loader.
Van de Molen will be in Wellington this week, working through the induction process for new MPs.
He admitted it had been an exhausting campaign.
‘‘We had a lot of positive feedback during the campaign. We spent a lot of time trying to understand what was important to people and I think that reflected in the results. It was great to get a clear mandate from the electorate.’’
Door knocking was tricky throughout the campaign in the largely rural region: it’s a two and a half hour drive from one end to the other.
‘‘It’s a very strong rural area and it’s very broad geographically but also in terms of the diversity between those communities.’’
During his first term van de Molen is determined to push broadband in rural areas and the proposed Waikato Medical school to train rural GPs.
‘‘There’s a huge growth opportunity when you look at our location and potential to continue to grow the economy locally and strengthen those communities within our rural towns.’’
Van de Molen has worked in farming, banking, the army, tourism and for St John ambulance and is confident he will bring diversity to the position.
The 34 year old took over from National’s Lindsay Tisch who entered parliament in 1999 and announced his retirement in 2016.
There’s a lot to learn in the upcoming months, van de Molen said. ‘‘But I love a challenge.’’
Labour’s Nanaia Mahuta cruised to victory with 12,070 votes compared to first-time Ma¯ori Party candidate Rahui Papa, who received 4619.
There was anticipation of a tighter race after Ma¯ori King Tuheitia backed the Ma¯ori Party and Papa.
‘‘I never take an election for granted. I’ve been clear in this election about the issues that Labour would seek to implement to improve the lives of wha¯nau that I represent. And they’ve heard that message, and they’ve spoken, and they’ve returned me back to parliament for three years,’’ Mahuta said.
She feels that the Ma¯ori Party had to take some responsibility for their poor result.
‘‘What Tamati Coffey has achieved in Waiariki, which is winning that seat and unseating a minister, has been a huge blow to supporters of the Ma¯ori Party.’’
‘‘The outcome has demonstrated that people were clear about what they were voting for. Their lives have not improved, they wanted a change, and they have confidence in the leadership that provide on their behalf, on the issues that matter.’’
‘‘People sleeping in cars, harder to find a home, rents going up, unstable work: those are the things that people are struggling with,’’ Mahuta said.
Tim van de Molen and his wife Hilary celebrate winning the Waikato electorate with family and friends on election night.
Voters have decided to return Labour’s incumbent MP, Nanaia Mahuta, ahead of challenger, Rahui Papa, of the Maori Party.