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Wel­com­ing a new baby

Along with so many oth­ers, I was de­lighted to hear the happy news of the safe ar­rival of Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gay­ford’s daugh­ter, Neve, on June 21. This is a spe­cial time for the Prime Min­is­ter’s ex­tended fam­ily and it was lovely for the na­tion to be able to cel­e­brate their happy news. As a fa­ther to two won­der­ful daugh­ters who have brought such joy to Anne and me over the years, I was pleased to tweet a con­grat­u­la­tory mes­sage to the Prime Min­is­ter ob­serv­ing that daugh­ters are fan­tas­tic!

Mourn­ing a lo­cal states­man

On a sad­der note, I was very sorry to hear of the re­cent death of for­mer long-serv­ing Labour Cabi­net min­is­ter and MP for Western Ma¯ ori Koro Wetere. He served his con­stituents, iwi and our na­tion with great in­tegrity and will be sorely missed. Widely liked and re­spected across the po­lit­i­cal di­vide, Koro made his con­tri­bu­tion with de­ter­mi­na­tion and dig­nity. I de­liv­ered a brief trib­ute to Koro, with con­do­lences to his wha¯ nau, when I spoke in Par­lia­ment last week.

Re­cently in Par­lia­ment my Na­tional col­leagues and I vig­or­ously re­sisted the Govern­ment’s im­po­si­tion of a re­gional fuel tax. Al­though this was ini­tially for the Auck­land re­gion only, the leg­is­la­tion has been widened to pro­vide for other ter­ri­to­rial au­thor­i­ties to im­pose a sim­i­lar tax from 2021. Na­tional is op­posed to this un­fair and un­nec­es­sary mea­sure which will hit low­in­come earn­ers the hard­est, es­pe­cially as Waikato com­muters are al­ready the poorer from the Govern­ment’s re­fusal to com­mit to the Waikato Ex­press­way ex­ten­sions that Na­tional had planned be­fore Win­ston Peters chose an al­ter­na­tive govern­ment. Petrol is now sig­nif­i­cantly dearer north of the Bom­bay hills so, if you’re driv­ing north, make sure you fill up in Hamil­ton be­fore you go!

Cel­e­brat­ing our 2018 Vol­un­teer Award winners

I was de­lighted to at­tend the Waikato Vol­un­teer Ex­cel­lence awards on Fri­day, June 22 and to ac­knowl­edge the thou­sands of won­der­ful vol­un­teers who serve our com­mu­nity in so many im­por­tant ways. Con­grat­u­la­tions to all who were nom­i­nated for this year’s awards. The 2018 Vol­un­teer of the Year was Tracy Roose of the Toughlove Waikato Trust; the Hamil­ton Com­bined Chris­tian Food­bank Vol­un­teers earned the 2018 Team Ex­cel­lence Award; Bev Wilkins, nom­i­nated by the Or­der of St John Cen­tral Re­gion, won the Long Ser­vice Award; and the joint winners of the Youth Award were Monica Hill and Reef Ma­jurey-johns, for their ser­vice with the New Zealand Red Cross and the Or­der of St John re­spec­tively. They and all the run­ners-up and other nom­i­nees have served our re­gion with ded­i­ca­tion in count­less ways over many, many years, and they de­serve our heart­felt grat­i­tude.

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