GUEST BLOG: Honourable Tracey Martin – Reflecting on 2017

Bomber contacted me to invite me to write this end of year blog, reflecting on the last year and what did I think the main challenges would be for 2018.
So here I sit, with my completed four hours of Cabinet paper and briefing reading at my feet (one of the major changes in my world recently), hoping my memory will serve me well for the last 12 months.
Firstly I want to say that I enjoyed being an opposition MP. When I first got that job in 2011 some senior members of the National Government told me (nicely) that there was no point being here if you weren’t in Government. Well I didn’t agree with them then and I don’t agree with them now but I do see the difference.
So coming back to Parliament at the beginning of 2017 and getting stuck back in to being an Opposition MP was welcomed. Sure there were frustrations but I have a very practical personality so during the six years I spent on the opposition benches I have worked as collegially as I could with colleagues from all political parties. When New Zealand First returned in 2014 we set up a different way of working, we created hubs with an experience MP partnered with a new MP, a shared EA and a shared Researcher/Comms. I allocated myself Fletcher Tabuteau and our little team of four was a constant source of support and inspiration. There are always tough moments in this job and often they come when you are away from your usual support networks so having our “hub” made an enormous difference to both Fletcher and I. We were better MPs for it.
Then came August. Gosh that seems such a long time ago now. A few of us were rostered around to spend time on “the bus” touring New Zealand. Winston loves that sort of campaigning, he loves spending time with “real people”, outside the beltway. Those of us, when not rostered on, held the fort here in Parliament. The house rose and it was all on.
For weeks of the campaign New Zealand First was pulling very close to challenging the spot to be the second biggest party in the Parliament, it was well within sight. But then Andrew Little made a decision that changed everything and he deserves to be acknowledged for it. Not only did it change the face of their campaign, it changed the reporting of the election, it changed the voting patterns of Kiwis. Media reverted to First Past the Post style reporting and voters who might have previously split their vote (both to the Left and the Right) now gave their two ticks to their historical home. New Zealand First had to adapt as well.
We did adapt and came in, not where we had expected but holding the balance of responsibility. And only 7.2% of that balance. Now in the circumstances that 7.2% was worth more than its face value but as Winston has gone on record to say, we couldn’t be irresponsible with it either and hold the country to ransom.
We waited for the massive number of special votes to be counted. We set the ground rules with both National (we kept our word and talked with them first) and Labour on the Friday before the specials were announced. Confidentiality – both on our part and theirs – there would be no Dutch auction and policy would be key.
The 12 days of discussions with both of those parties were some of the most intense I have ever experienced. We, New Zealand First caucus, had all discussed prior to the talks starting that any historical grievances or pre conceived ideas had to be put to one side. We were talking policy and about our countries future, no petty politics could get in the way of our decision making. As one of the key players during those talks I know we kept this high standard, we never let it slip and I am proud of that, I always will be.
Then came the announcement. We picked change, we picked the Party with whom we had the greatest policy alignment. We didn’t get everything we wanted – you never do – but that doesn’t mean they are no longer our policies, it just means that in 2020 we will campaign again and ask New Zealand to give us a greater mandate.
In the last 7 weeks I have had to absorb millions of words. As the Minister for Children, Minister for Internal Affairs, Minister for Seniors and Associate Minister for Education. I am on the Cabinet Business Committee and the Cabinet Legislation Committee. I am in Cabinet. With our coalition partners I have worked on the “One Year Fees Free” Tertiary Policy, the Families Package Policy and am working on the recommendations around the Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care. I have implemented communication channels with the Government’s supply and confidence partners, the Green Party and have been New Zealand First’s spokesperson on a piece of legislation from the ACT Party.
I will confess I am hanging out for Chistmas Day. I have promised my husband and children I will turn my phone off.
What will 2018 bring? More of the same. There is so much to do and so little time, and what we do must be done well not just in haste. Our challenges are many. We have discovered large holes where there is no funding allocated to provide services required or announcements made by the previous government. Particularly in my role as Minister for Children and Associate Education with responsibility for those students with special needs. The care needed is so great yet no real budget was set. So that is a challenge but I believe we are up to it.
I live in a very blue part of New Zealand but even there people have been coming up to me, people I know who vote blue, to say that they feel hopeful about this new Government. I am glad, I am proud but I am also very aware that over the next few years we must deliver for New Zealand and New Zealanders. That is our biggest challenge and we accept it.


  1. Height of arrogance ‘we kept our word and talked to National first’.

    At seven percent voter support and with no electorate seat it would have been far more democratic and decent to form a govt with the party that polled highest, as has always been the convention. But not to worry Tracey, you and your party won’t ever be in that position again. Enjoy your three years or less, but NZ won’t forget the your betrayal. No wonder Germany do MMP properly, where it is the highest polling party who sets the rules around the coalition talks!! Roll on 2020.

    • Nothing arrogant about keeping your word Miles, thats just a silly thing to say.

      What betrayal? In NZ MMP has worked as it should, we now have a true MMP government and its the same MMP system that gave your National party 3 terms and unless National find some friends its going to rot in opposition and quite frankly that’s where they should stay. National have proven that they do not deserve to be anywhere near the levers of power.

      So lets be clear here, its NOT FPP, ITS MMP This is the THIRD TIME in 24 years of the MMP electoral system that NZ First has had the responsibility of being the decider and I feel pretty confident in the years to come voters will place either NZ First or possibly some other party in such a position of having to decide which parties get to form government

    • Miles you are very rude;

      Tracey is one of my human heros who constantly radiates with warm compassion very rarely seen today within Parliament, just watch Parliament to see what I am saying.

      Next to my wife of 45yrs, Tracey is the best well balanced woman I as a man has had the absolute pleasure in watching grow into a perfect PM who has the passion to care about our issues.

      You care for nothing but yourself!!!

      Because for nine long years we were crushed by the bruttal leadship of a mean spirited cold calulated un-caring administration under National, but never did we on this side insult your leaders in this brutal way.

      Miles; learn tolerance & compassion as Tracey has, and you can then live in a world as we did under a Government we never chose.

      Tracey thankyou for your wisdom, charm, & warm caring spirit and compassion for us all.

      You are an angel, and a strong asset to partner Winston and during this term to return elected as part of another labour coalition in 2020, as
      we will work very hard as you are to achieve this.

      You and Winston will alsways uphold the principals of good governence offering everyone a fair, caring, management, of our wellbeing.

      I was invited to a Hastings NZF last August and met Clayton Mitchell, then in September attended another public meeting and was among 230 Gisborne people who loved Winnston’s brimstone and fire one hour speech with Fletcher, so the family then signed on as NZF members.

      Now we to hold pride in doing this in all your NZF MP’s names as you have an excellent team and good strong common sense policies.

      Thankyou for your stength and gentle compassion, we are grateful that you are among us to fight to save our country.

    • @ Miles

      I’d love to say I’m offended by your whinging little outburst that would be embarrassing if it came from a petulant toddler, but that wouldn’t be true. Please keep on throwing your hissy fits – they really do make me chuckle :o)

    • Has NEVER BEEN the ‘ convention” ever in NZ politics to go with the party polling the greater portion of votes. There are no conventions. Typical National supporter no effing idea of how MMP works or how sick of National New Zealanders are. Stop the Orwellian practice of writing historical facts to suit your toxic one eyed whinging narrative.

    • Miles, if a smaller party (NZ First, Greens, whatever) is obligated to coalesce “with the party that polled highest” – then pray tell me this; why not simply force all smaller parties to morph with National and Labour?

      You are advocating all smaller parties to abandon their independence and recognise the primacy of “the party that polled highest”.

      In effect, returning us to a First Past the Post system.

      Because that is precisely the consequence of what you’re demanding.

    • National is the epitome of “the height of arrogance”!!
      They were dealt with fairly in post-MMP-election negotiations, where the aim was to find the alignment of parties for government that best represented voters wishes. That was achieved, and the result came as no shock to anyone with more than two functioning neurons.
      God knows they didn’t deserve to be treated fairly, after launching a smear campaign against Winston, throwing a Guinness Book of Records size dead cat into the election debate, and giving a clear signal to the electorate that they were nobodies friend. They lied and scraped the bottom of the barrel with their behaviour.

      They then have the temerity to bitch and moan after the election like kids.

      Their pretence of feeling aggrieved over the Greens rejection of their insincere offer to join them is rank hypocrisy, given they have overseen the worst environmental debacle we’ve ever witnessed with iconic species like Maui dolphin and Kauri facing extinction due to disinterest and under funding, whilst displaying a callous disregard for the elephant in the room – climate change. They’re about as green as an Exxon oil spill.

      The National party these days consists of a lying, cheating, power hungry pack of talentless political wannabees led by the most amoral psychopaths to ever set foot in Parliament. Keith Holyoke and Jack Marshall would be rolling in their graves to see what their party has become.
      Long since sold out to overseas interests, all fair minded Kiwis hope and pray these traitors never regain control of Aotearoa again.

    • Miles
      What about a party doing their best to implement the policies they won their votes on? Is that irrelevant do you think? Why do we have any policies or voting at all?
      D J S

  2. Thanks for your words Tracey – I like the way you tell it like it is. Thank you for not choosing the smoke and mirrors party that is National.
    All the best, along with your coalition partners, on repairing New Zealand after 9 years of abuse on the New Zealand people and it’s environment.
    Long may the coalition reign.

  3. Very enjoyable read, thank you Tracey. Merry Christmas and happy new year to you, Winston and all at NZ First. Best Christmas prezzie of all time having a Labour, NZ First, Green government and seeing the arrogant National party sulking and spitting out their dummies in opposition.

  4. A BIG THANK YOU from me and my young diabetic friend who could not have lived through another 3 years of nationals do nothing style of governance.

  5. Well stated, Tracey, and I am very glad NZF is in government and that you hold a ministerial post. NZF is already making a difference, ensuring that all post secondary students including those in trades and polytechs (not just those at Uni) will benefit from funding changes. But please please remember that many (most) of us who voted for NZ First voted to move away from a neoliberal economic policy — let’s see those changes that bring us back to control of our economic future.

  6. “We have discovered large holes where there is no funding allocated to provide services required or announcements made by the previous government. “

    That much is becoming apparent with each passing day, week, month.

    Indeed, I reported on that point here:

    No wonder Joyce and English were so super-confident that their alleged $11.7 billion “hole” existed. It’s a hole of their making.

  7. Winston betrayed our democracy, arrogantly stating ‘MMP is the only authority’. What about the majority of voters Winnie?? More people voted for National than Labour and the Greens combined, but as English said, you know better. A complete betrayal, but already the voters are leaving NZ First in droves. That will be Winston’s true legacy, betraying NZ and gifting the election win to the losers. and yoiu guys call that fair, lol!!

    • You conveniently ignore the fact that had NZF voters wanted a National govt, they would have voted for them.
      After all, this is only EXACTLY what National campaigned on. Their messaging was loud and clear – even their supporters understood it (and that’s saying something)!
      Their campaign manager was a genius – in his own mind.

      So, in the post MMP election process of forming a government, when the policies of the four main parties were laid out, guess which “one of these things was not like the other”? That’s right! The sell-out hard right neoliberal mob that had destroyed the country, had the least overlap with the other three.
      Gosh, what a surprise they aren’t part of the government!

      By making these absurd comments of Winston’s “betrayal”, you are simply signalling you have the observational skills of a blind salamander.
      I actually feel sorry for you.

    • Oh Miles. Warehouse Stationery are having a sale on calculators. Buy one for Christmas and teach yourself addition.

  8. Tracey Martin is a true kiwi patriot and i wish we had more MPs like her.

    She has my respect and i am convinced she will be one of the leading lights in this coalition government.

    I look forward to the positive direction and action she will bring in 2018 to a number of serious issues confronting us as a nation and its about bloody time after nine years of drift and corruption.

    Merry xmas Tracey.

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