I’d forced myself not to think about it, but now the incredible has happened, writes Spinoff candidate diarist and new star of the Labour caucus
Read all the candidate diaries from election 2017 here
It’s 6.42am and I’m on a flight to Wellington. About 12 hours ago, in a press conference in the Beehive Theatre, Winston Peters announced that he would be entering into a coalition government with the Labour Party. A few hours later, the Green Party announced that their 150 odd delegates had agreed to enter into a confidence and supply agreement with the Labour Party – and thus, Jacinda Ardern has become the prime minister elect.
How surreal does this feel? Extremely. I met Jan Tinetti and Angie Warren-Clark, both new Labour list MPs at the airport before 6am. We embraced and shared our stories of the past 12 hours. Surreal was the word we all used on several occasions.
It’s probably most surreal because I had forced myself to not let myself think about Labour being in government. The needs in our community are stark, confronting and every single day apparent. So, I couldn’t deal with getting my hopes or expectations up for them to be shattered. So, over the past three-and-a-half weeks since I’ve been an MP, I’ve operated on the basis that these discussions on forming the government would be well fought, but if we were in opposition, we would fight every single day for the voices of our communities to be heard. But now, here we are. Jacinda Ardern will lead the next progressive New Zealand government – Game On.
Major events involving Jacinda and babies being born appear to be a trend in my family. Seven weeks ago, I was forced to stand Jacinda up in Gisborne as my baby decided she was ready to enter the world. Yesterday, I watched Winston Peters’ announcement livestreamed on my iPhone from the Tauranga Hospital maternity ward where my big sister had just given birth to a beautiful baby girl, Hoki Te Aroha. I let out a loud “whoop” when Winston said Labour and the staff in the ward looked at me strangely until I said, “Jacinda is going to be our new prime minister” and the midwives and nurses cheered. A young Maori woman in the ward said, “Yes! I voted for her!”
I went back to the hotel with my wife, baby and 9 year old nephew. I said to my nephew he could watch cartoons while we watched the various press conferences. He said, “Can I watch Jacinda?”. So, all of us continued to be huddled around my phone as the press conferences stretched into the evening.
At the time of writing, the texts of the various coalition and confidence and supply agreements have not yet been released. But, I am extremely excited by the prospect of a Labour, New Zealand First, Green government.
Thousands of people gave their all over the campaign to change this government: on the stalls, on phones, delivering pamphlets, raising funds, erecting billboards and all of the rest. To you all, I dip my hat and acknowledge the hard work of all of the unsung heroes and heroines that have made this moment in New Zealand history possible. But in particular, to you, Jacinda Ardern – our Khalesi, while many of us have worked hard to see this day, no one has worked harder, or done more for this moment than you. You have inspired a generation and we are here behind you. You’ve got this, and we’ve got you.
Ka pu te ruha, ka hao te rangatahi.