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New Plymouth has a reputation of being the most vibrant regional city in New Zealand, evidenced in 2008, when New Plymouth won an enviable international award for being the most liveable city (under 70,000 residents) in the world.

In such a vibrant city, success is easier for some, but harder for others. Good government is when those at the lowest point have opportunity to reach the highest. Closing the inequality gap is one of the great challenges of government. This is something that throwing money at, won’t necessarily fix. It needs solutions through parents having jobs; kids being healthy; homes being warm and families being committed to the best educational outcomes possible. It needs people who can influence those areas being engaged so they happen.

Tariana Turia, a women I have enormous respect for, made it her mission to close the gaps. Her focus was the gap between Maori and non-Maori. Over the last six years we have seen real gains, a legacy of Tariana’s vision as she worked with the National led government to see significant shifts in areas which were thought to be immovable, such as educational achievement. There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done and I am wanting to see that progress continue.

So when I speak to my senior colleagues (Bill English) about Marfell, it’s not just about wanting “maintenance” of state houses; it’s so much more. It’s about a community becoming better resourced, more attractive and liveable; with the endgame being young people having increased opportunities to succeed in life. A holistic approach is needed, and seeing some solutions around the housing in Marfell can contribute to that.

The biggest landlord in Marfell is Housing New Zealand. Demand for houses in Marfell is extremely low, and so Housing New Zealand has a problem with oversupply. Empty houses can make a place look unattractive and abandoned, despite a committed community who strongly identify Marfell as theirs. As the biggest landlord, Housing New Zealand does have a role to play in Marfell, like any good landlord. Last week Bill English and I were discussing what that role could be. Bill English is keen to find those solutions.

The National led Government is committed to the double bottom lines of not only a strong economy, but the positive social outcome that is achieved when people gain skills and get jobs in that growing economy. A strong economy is when everyone is doing well. I believe that is possible for Taranaki.

As the MP for New Plymouth, I am also the MP for the people of Marfell. I am relentless in that every young person in our electorate must have the opportunity to succeed. A good government creates opportunities for everyone. Yes, it supports the rungs at the top but it also makes sure the rungs at the bottom are there, so the climb on the ladder of success can be started by everyone.

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