Wellington 20th October 2017 – It was last night the outcome of our election was decided. Yesterday the Rt Hon Winston Peters was the most feared man in New Zealand. Leader of the “New Zealand First” party (established well before the phrase “America First”). Mr Peters is now a changed man. A few Months back the grandfather of the House of Representatives, often found in the Parliamentary billiard room but known for his fiery temper inside the Chamber, lead a minor Nationalist party on the fringes of political power. Soon, in his black pinstripe suit and monk shoes. Mr Peters will make his way to Government House and become New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister.
It is common under a mixed member proportional electoral system that hung parliaments are produced. The ruling 9-year center-right National party, supported by some smaller parties has now lost power. The Government is to be replaced by the Labour, New Zealand First and Green Parties. The largest of the three parties is Labour, the center-left social democratic party. Labour had for many years experienced dismal support until just two Months prior to the election. The party elected Ms Jacinda Ardern as the 36th Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.
This year voter turnout was about 79% of those enrolled. The figure is somewhat more than in 2014. However this only takes into consideration those firstly enrolled.
Ms Ardern did not receive the largest share of the vote but her strong, values based oratory did have public appeal and allowed Labour to re-motivate lost voters and volunteers. Ms Ardern will now become the 40th Prime Minister of New Zealand.
It was on the 23 September that I received notice of the end of my employment. Thankfully it was no surprise. This year alongside my University studies I have been working part-time in the Parliamentary Service. My role was varied. But was centred on policy and research assistance for two different Members of Parliament. As my contract was with the 51st New Zealand Parliament, which has been subsequently dissolved by the Crown. My contract could no longer be valid with an institution which no longer exists.
This October spring has not come to Wellington. The southernmost Capital in the world. Famous for gale-force winds but more commonly changeable weather has led Spring either North or South, whichever the answer, sunshine and calm seas have generally gone elsewhere. I was about to give up on October in Wellington. Until, at about 6:15 AM, I gazed up from my cheese and Salami sandwiches to see the Sun rising over the Tararua Ranges. It was Ranginui himself. The sunrise, glinting into the dining room. In such a way giving light to a clear blue sky and thus broke an introduction to a Spring day in Wellington. Sunshine with light winds. With my new tartan tie and navy suit I was off to my last day of work.
Parliament is like school. The members huddle to class when the bell toils. And Mr Speaker the headmaster who all look too for guidance. The Parliamentary precinct itself is a sprawl of different buildings with their own stories and architectural styles. Parliament House, which includes the House of Representatives was somewhat built but still unfinished in 1918 when the House moved in. Due to Politics which I will never understand the building remains half finished. Designed in the Neo-classical style the plan originally depicted a left wing of the building symmetrical to the right wing. By 1979 all hope failed to finish what would have been an impressive state building.
The left wing was replaced by the Executive-wing. The Beehive. The story follows that the British architect Sir Basil Spence designed the brutalist structure on the back of a serviette while attending a dinner in Government House. As I have never seen this supposed serviette nor meet anyone who has the authenticity is doubtful but nevertheless it is a good story.
The most beautiful building is naturally the Parliament Library which housed parliament until 1918. When walking into the Victorian reading room the walls speak stories like the moving paintings in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Parliament’s best kept secret is hidden in the bathrooms found in different passageways throughout the old building. Found in the Bathrooms are shoe stools complete with polish, brush and rage so a gentleman may clean his shoes on his way out.
I made my way under Parliament House into the passageway connecting the Executive-wing to Bowen House. An office building used by Parliament located on Lambton Quay. In Bowen is found the Air New Zealand Travel Office. Used for private and business travel by the Government.
In Wellington it was spring, but soon I would be in Europe’s Winter. From 1 December I will depart Wellington to Munich Germany via Auckland and Shanghai. This is one of the longest regular commercial air-routes in the world. With exams soon to be complete and no contract needed to keep I was to depart for a three Month European Winter journey. Mostly to be taken by plane and train. All roads lead to Rome. It is also true for railroads! My goal is to reach the Eternal City before Christmas.