Labour’s landslide election win on Saturday night has meant a busy morning for the party today as they welcomed the class of 2020.
Kiri Allan, fresh from her victory in National Anne Tolley’s East Coast seat, spent much of the morning outside Parliament waiting for Labour’s new MPs, giving each a hug as they came by. With the party winning 49.1 per cent of the party vote, they’re welcoming a total of 22 new MPs - 21 turned up for a photo this morning.
Allan said she remembered what it was like for her three years ago as a new MP.
“I’m sure that they’ll be feeling a lot of nerves, but looking forward to getting down here.”
Among the new faces is Labour list MP Ibrahim Omer, New Zealand’s first African MP. Omer fled his home country Eritrea for Sudan, where he worked as an interpreter for United Nation-run refugee camps.
“It’s a huge privilege, it’s something that we don’t take for granted,” he said.
Employment lawyer Helen White, who was defeated in Auckland Central by the Greens’ Chlöe Swarbrick, entered Parliament on Labour’s list.
“I’m just so thrilled to be here. I’ve spent 27 years working as a lawyer, and I’ve been working in a field where people have been really hurt by the way that we’ve led,” she said.
“I just want to get in there and help.”
White said she was still waiting to see what would happen to the Auckland Central seat once special votes are counted, but called the result "actually amazing". Only about 500 votes separate her and Swarbrick.
Rachel Boyack paid tribute to National's Nick Smith, who she beat in Nelson. Before becoming an MP, she negotiated collective employment agreements as part of the FIRST Union.
“I have some big shoes to fill.
“It was a four-year job interview for me, so I’m really delighted but also really humbled," Boyack said. She unsuccessfully challenged Smith for the seat in 2017.
Naisi Chen, who came second in Botany to former Air NZ boss Christopher Luxon, said she was excited to meet the rest of the team. She comes into Parliament as a list MP. The employment lawyer is the only MP of Chinese descent in this Parliament, and has rejected accusations throughout the campaign of being a “CCP [Chinese Community Party] agent”.
ACT deputy leader Brooke van Velden was also spotted at Wellington Airport today with leader David Seymour. The party have 10 seats in Parliament this term.
While van Velden had a bit of a taste of the life of an MP working alongside Seymour on his End of Life Choice Bill, she told reporters this morning: “I don’t think anything can truly prepare you for what Parliament is like.”
Seymour said the other new ACT MPs were busy tying up their businesses and jobs after being elected.
Among those joining the pair in the ACT caucus is Nicole McKee - a gun advocate, and Chris Baillie - who has come under fire recently after it was revealed he led a 'Climate Hysteria Skeptics' group at a school he taught at. In response, Ballie told Stuff there needed to be rational discussions about climate change, rather than "hysteria".
Green list MP Eugenie Sage was also spotted at the airport.
She wouldn’t give details about any potential deals with Labour, and said today was about meeting the Greens’ new MPs and getting them settled.
“Having increased our vote and broken that wisdom that you don’t get re-elected if you’re in Government, I think our win showed what we’ve done in Government and the huge field campaign that our volunteers ran,” Sage said.
Those expected to join the Greens as MPs are Teanau Tuiono - a veteran activist who has worked in the UN, Elizabeth Kerekere - founder and chair of Tīwhanawhana Trust and LGBT+ advocate, and Auckland Action Against Poverty's Ricardo Menéndez March.