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Wade-Brown tips hat to leaders in maiden speech

Green Party list MP Celia Wade-Brown delivered her first speech to Parliament yesterday, weeks after a swift ascent into the role.

Wade-Brown – who resides in Wairarapa – took the place of Golriz Ghahraman after shoplifting accusations and mental health stressors caused the former MP to step down last month.

Standing to face her fellow comrades in Parliament, Wade-Brown began by acknowledging current and past leaders, including Wairarapa MP Georgina Beyer.

Delving into her family history and whakapapa, Wade-Brown reflected on how her mother Estelle’s work in physiotherapy, painting and amateur botany shaped her love for the natural world, “despite living next to the soot of the Paddington Mainline Railway”.

“That didn’t put me off trains,” she quickly pointed out.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues, including Mike Butterick and Kieran McAnulty, to ensure more trains, more often, to the Wairarapa.”

When reflecting on her family life in England in a council flat, Wade-Brown said the great public facilities nearby made all the difference.

“Extensive free libraries, museums and galleries, parks and swimming pools, excellent public transport meant we didn’t need a car.”

Briefly touching on the journey which led her to arrive in New Zealand, Wade-Brown reflected on her time in West Africa working at a girls’ school in Ghana and then completing a degree in philosophy in Nottingham.

A job with Databank brought Wade-Brown to New Zealand first in 1993, who said she has since stood in the No Blood for Oil marches, against the Mururoa nuclear testing, for the Homosexual Law Reform, and been a councillor and mayor of Wellington.

“Now I’m wrenching myself away from our off-grid tiny house next to the Tararua Forest Park, returning to politics.”

Championing nature and conservation during her time in local Government, Wade-Brown said the Predator Free 2050 movement was something she was still planning to spearhead.

“I’m still part of the world-leading Predator Free Wellington project to bring back the dawn chorus,” Wade-Brown said.

“Those of you who watch my activities closely know I will not swallow a dead rat. I will feed it to the eels.”

She mentioned Three Waters – legislation soon to be repealed by the present coalition Government – and that a serious partnership between iwi, central and local government was in order to provide healthy rural streams and coastlines, and clean drinking water.

“I salute those farmers who earn a living and manage their environmental effects well,” Wade-Brown said.

“People are planting natives, recreating wetlands, managing stock to reduce fertiliser run-off and controlling introduced predators along the Ruamāhanga River.”

Pushing for social, environmental and economic causes, Wade-Brown – who started Wellington’s cycle network – said low-emission transport remained a priority.

“I am horrified by this Government’s reckless blanket cancellation of so many walking and cycling projects, robbing today’s children of their independence and health.”

In her closing remarks, she thanked her husband Alastair, children Ramsay and Jono and “dear family of different colours, diverse genders and various political persuasions” for their support and “gracious criticism”.

Addressing her MP colleagues, she said she looked forward to working with them.

“We won’t become a smart green country by 2040 with three-year flip-flops cancelling out each other’s policies and budgets,” Wade-Brown said.

“Look to the Waitangi Tribunal, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority and the Zero Carbon Act to understand how implementing shared values can have a lasting effect.”

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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