Faafoi reflects on ‘funny’ political journey as he retires

Source: 1News

Labour MP Kris Faafoi has made his valedictory speech in Parliament on Thursday afternoon, capping off more than a decade in politics.

Kris Faafoi.

The 46-year-old served as the Justice, Immigration and Broadcasting Minister before announcing his retirement from politics last Monday.

The former TVNZ reporter came into Parliament for the Mana electorate in 2010 during a by-election. He picked up the Immigration portfolio from former Minister Iain Lees-Galloway.

He expressed a desire to move on during Election 2020, and had asked to leave 18 months ago, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern asked him to give it a year.

"He goes with the love and thanks of his colleagues," she said in announcing his retirement.

“Minister Kris Faafoi has decided to leave Parliament to spend more time with his family as his son starts school."

READ MORE: Speaker Trevor Mallard, MP Kris Faafoi to retire from politics

Faafoi acknowledged his start in the halls of power not as an MP, but as a member of the press.

"Mr Speaker, politics is a funny business," he said.

"I never thought when I first walked onto this precinct as a junior journalist running errands for Duncan Garner and Mark Sainsbury that I’d be an MP, let alone sit around the Cabinet table."

Faafoi also acknowledged his family, Parliament staff and the friends he made inside and out of politics, saying "politics is hard. It's not the easiest place to make friends, but by osmosis that does happen".

He called fellow minister Megan Woods his “best mate here [in politics] - a friendship I know will endure”; office neighour Damien O'Connor and his Pacific caucus colleagues.

Faafoi also thanked “world-class” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for her Covid-19 pandemic response.

“While many of us were part of the Government that implemented our response to Covid, you led it.

“You stayed ahead of its curve, understood its threat and took the country with us. We are unfortunately seeing every day families suffering loss from Omicron, however there are people alive today – because of you Prime Minister.

“You took in expert advice, trusted the science, and led brave and difficult decisions.”

READ MORE: Meet Labour's new MPs after Mallard, Faafoi retirements

He also referenced the Prime Minister dancing with a group on stage in 2012 to secure a $500 donation from the minister to her campaign; as well as a visit to Tokelau.

"Prime Minister, the experience of going back to the place my mother and father were born and raised meant so much, and to do it accompanying you as our Prime Minister was next level," he said.

"Jacinda, I will miss being part of your team. Lots of love to you Neve and Clarke."

He also acknowledged the "responsibility that arrives with a force" which comes with the "massive privilege" of ministerial life, including the difficult decision to close New Zealand's borders.

“It has been a rollercoaster ride, an honour and a privilege," he said.

“I look forward to new beginnings and am thankful for the experiences of serving in New Zealand’s Parliament.”

“I have calculated that I served 105 233 hours in this House and to the Labour Party and during that time, Mr Speaker – even the bad times were good.”