Kris Faafoi delivers his final speech to parliament

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A standing ovation and a waiata marked outgoing minister Kris Faafoi’s last speech in parliament. Peppered with the occasional swear word, his farewell speech focused on the parliamentary family he is leaving and the whānau he hopes to spend more time with.

First elected to the opposition benches as MP for Mana in 2010, Faafoi began by looking back on his first campaign when ‘a clever bastard’ asked the candidates how much time they had invested in the local community .

“I read an answer that would have the current Kris Faafoi with his face in his hands,” he said.

Faafoi became visibly emotional as she thanked her boss, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and belatedly followed through on her 2005 pledge to donate $500 to her campaign if she danced on stage at the Pasifika festival.

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“I thought about adjusting for inflation, but…”

He has held eight ministerial portfolios, including some of the largest departments such as Justice and Immigration. He said he would not wish anyone the experience of being immigration minister during the last two years of Covid-19.

He also took over broadcasting after the impeachment of Clare Curran, and said opponents of public media on the left and right of politics had to “get on board”.

A new organization combining RNZ and TVNZ is due to be created next year, under legislation before Parliament next week.

He recalled his introduction to Parliament while working as a journalist “running errands for Duncan Garner and Mark Sainsbury”, and his start in politics working for Phil Goff.

Kris Faafoi
Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

His first thanks to fellow parliamentarians went to former MP Clayton Cosgrove, ‘as loyal as the day is long’, then to finance minister Grant Robertson, saying he struggled to put his appreciation for his wisdom, compassion, intelligence and judgment. .

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“I will miss having you in my life regularly. You are our Cullen.”

He credited fellow MP Megan Woods for keeping him sane and grounded while blaming him for being a Pacific Islander with a seafood allergy, and paid tribute to former Labor MP Annette King.

“In opposition, there was no better camp mother.”

His own mother regularly watched Parliament’s debates, he said, often asking where he was when he was not present in the chamber and ‘what did you say’ when he was reprimanded by the Speaker . Her father died in 2013.

“We miss him every day. It would have been great to lean on him for guidance, especially over the last five years.”

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Family is the main reason he gave for leaving Parliament, and he concluded with a message to his children and his partner.

“This year we were supposed to get married, Covid got in the way. I won’t be home anymore now, and I’m afraid I’ll change my mind. If you marry me, I promise I’ll stop calling our account common ‘the fixed account’.”

Faafoi had planned to leave parliament after the 2020 elections, but Ardern persuaded him to stay to oversee his immigration and broadcasting plans.

Announcing his departure last week, she said she was grateful for the work he had done and would miss her dearly.

He is a list member, so his departure will not trigger a by-election.

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