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A life working for social justice, David Shearer

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I believe New Zealand can be the best country in the world, where everyone can get a fair go and anyone prepared to work for it can achieve their dream.

My name’s David Shearer. I’m the MP for Mt Albert and Labour Party spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Energy. I was born and raised in Papatoetoe, south Auckland. Dad was a school principal – education was always a big topic around the dinner table – and mum worked as a teacher aide. My belief in social justice led me naturally to the Labour Party.

My life motivation is the service of others. My career has been dedicated to giving people real opportunity in their lives, both in New Zealand and abroad. My work every day is the expression of these beliefs. Before entering politics I worked mainly outside New Zealand helping people caught in war and conflict, people who were at their very worst point, lacking hope for the future. I led large-scale humanitarian operations and conducted difficult political negotiations for the United Nations and Save the Children in places such as Iraq, West Bank and Gaza, Afghanistan, Somalia and Rwanda.

My wife Anuschka and I often worked together - she specialised in human rights law, including spending time in Rwanda after the genocide, investigating the Rwandan prisons where the perpetrators were locked up. We were jointly named New Zealanders of the Year by the New Zealand Herald in 1993 for our work in Somalia, and I was awarded an MBE in the British 1993 New Year Honours List. In 1994, Save the Children awarded me its International Award for Gallantry for my service to people in conflict.

Even though I worked away from home, my core values remained passionately New Zealand ones. Anuschka and I always brought our two children home every Christmas to spend time camping with family. Then, in 2009, I was elected MP for Mt Albert and we came home for good.

I believe New Zealand can be the best country in the world, where everyone can get a fair go and anyone prepared to work for it can achieve their dream.

Opening Statement

LabourVoices on August 23, 2014

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