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From living on Wellington's streets to Parliament: First-term National MP's incredible journey

National’s new Southland MP Joseph Mooney has spoken about his journey to Parliament after living on the streets of Wellington briefly as a boy in what he laughingly agrees was a “Huckleberry Finn” scenario.

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Whena Owen has travelled to the deep south to check in with National's new MP for Southland. Source: Q+A

As an 11-year-old, Mooney set out from the Hawke’s Bay to take up gold panning in Otago with his brother.

“For a variety of reasons my brother and I decided to leave home when I was 11 and he was 9,” Mooney said in his maiden speech.

“We planned to travel from Hawke’s Bay to goldfields in Central Otago, live in old mining huts and making a living panning for gold.

“We spent about a week living on the streets of Wellington in the parks etcetera,” he told 1 NEWS.

“We didn’t quite make it to where we wanted to get to but look I’m here now.”

Mooney said his childhood was tough at times.

“I experienced some tough times as a kid as a result of my stepfather losing his work in the farming sector …That was just the nature of the economic situation at that time”

He comes into Parliament having had a wide work experience.

“I’ve worked in the rural sector, tourism, here and overseas, I’m a lawyer, parliament is unique. It’s definitely a unique place.”

He denies the seat is a poison chalice as he embarks on a career in politics.

“Absolutely not, I’m focusing on the present,” Mooney told Q+A when asked about his predecessors Todd Barclay and Hamish Walker, who had to resign from the seat.