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Hauiti: "Happy, pleased and proud"

Fri 31 May 2013 In: Features View at Wayback View at NDHA

“I know it’s a cliché, but it is such an honour and a privilege to be part of John Key’s Government and to be in Parliament – it’s such a historical place. I’m really happy, pleased and proud,” sums up the sentiment of National’s excited new MP Claudette Hauti. The Auckland wife, and mother of three, is a TV producer, broadcaster and businesswoman, who is looking forward to sinking her teeth into a new political challenge after being sworn in on Wednesday. Of course with the GLBTI community considered traditionally left-leaning, the big question that has been swirling is why she chose National. It’s a simple one for Hauiti to answer: “I’ve been brought up to be economically independent, to be self-reliant. And the economic policies of John Key’s National Government are all about that,” she says. “It’s about being able to prosper and reach your full potential without constraint.” Hauiti says being Maori and growing up in a whanau that was independent and not reliant on the state sector for its future is an integral part of who she is. “Absolutely, I’m gay. But it’s more than about being gay. It’s about my family’s future.” It’s clear Hauiti’s family is the centre of her life, and while being in Wellington for much of the week will be tough, she will make sure she has whanau time too. “We’re a tight little unit my wife and I. It will be manageable.” She has set aside Saturday as her whanau day so she will able to follow her sons, talented young sportsmen, play. “It’s really important to remain balanced,” she says. Hauiti and wife Nadine Hauiti-Mau are also planning a full wedding. We discuss some of the powerful speeches that came from within the National Party during the marriage equality debate, the likes of Chris Auchinvole and of course the infamous eloquence of Maurice Williamson. Hauiti says we are seeing the breadth and depth of the National Party’s support of the community. She says choice and one law for all are what her party is all about. “On a personal level these individuals fully believe that and embrace that, hence the wonderful support that the marriage equality Bill got.” While the marriage equality Bill tidies up some of inequality issues with adoption, there is still more to be done, and being a mum, especially to an adored whangai daughter, Hauiti has made it clear equality in this area is something she feels strongly about. While it’s obviously very important to the takataapui community, she adds it’s also important to the Maori community in general, as whangai laws are tied up in the Maori Land Act. She’d like them to be included in any amendments to the Adoption Act. “So if there is an opportunity for me to have an input into that, I’d welcome that,” she says, while pragmatically adding: “But at the end of the day it’s whatever John Key and the caucus and cabinet think can best utilise my skill and expertise, that’s where I will put my focus.” When it comes to other issues affecting our community that get her blood boiling, bullying is up there. “The bullying of our rangatahi and our transgender rangatahi too, particularly those who are on the street, I am really concerned about their welfare, she says. “So I will be looking very carefully to see where it is that I can make some inroads or offer support and suggestions to the relevant ministers, if I am asked. I am very concerned about suicide amongst our rangatahi as well too, so perhaps if there is anything that I can assist with in that area.” Hauiti also wants to help other businesswomen. “I do know that within our wahine community that we’re very innovative and entrepreneurial in terms of building businesses, SMEs, so if there’s anything that I can assist with in terms of access to information, access to all of the resources that our wahine can benefit from and advantage them in terms of developing economically, then I hope to be able to assist the community with that.” The new National MP promises her door will always be open, and she will be there to assist with anything she can. She says we are not ‘one homogenous lot’, and no matter where we sit politically, if our gay MPs can help us, we should seek their help - no matter what party they are in. “Just because I am in a party that has previously not been one that the community has supported, that doesn’t necessarily mean that our policies do not affect us advantageously, because they actually do,” she says. Jacqui Stanford - 31st May 2013    

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Friday, 31st May 2013 - 11:58am

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