My name is Rachel Jones and I am the Labour Party candidate for Tauranga.
Politics was a private affair in my family. I never knew how my parents voted and we didn’t really talk about politics at the dinner table.
It wasn’t until I went to university that I became politically aware.
I remember I was in a class where we were talking about languages. A young Maori woman had tears in her eyes as she told the rest of us how her parents had been forbidden to speak Maori growing up and had been beaten at school for using Te Reo. I remember being shocked and ashamed – I didn’t know that New Zealand was like that.
I started to look out for other examples of social injustice, to go on protest marches and question what was happening around me. And I started to vote for Labour.
For me, Labour is the party that sticks up for the underdog. It is the party that has policies that help people, particularly people whose voices aren’t always heard because they are not in positions of power. Putting people first is important because people are at the heart of our families, our communities and our country.
But Labour is also a pragmatic party that understands the need for economic prosperity and environmental sustainability at the same time as it seeks social justice. It would be great to have a magic wand that we could wave to fix all the problems we have in this country but we don’t. Instead we have to make serious decisions that affect people’s lives as we balance all those complex issues.
That’s why values are important. Labour’s values – freedom, opportunity, equality, sustainability and solidarity – are my values. I feel comfortable belonging to a political party that will make decisions driven by those values.
Because, even though politics wasn’t on the agenda in my house growing up, fairness, togetherness and compassion were.