National MP for Tauranga Sam Uffindell during his swearing-in ceremony in Parliament. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Tauranga’s new MP has been officially sworn in to Parliament, using his maiden speech to lament New Zealand’s “general malaise” and “acceptance of mediocrity”.
The former banker won a by-election for the Tauranga electorate in June after Simon Bridges stepped down.
He was sworn in this afternoon and submitted his first Member’s Bill before addressing Parliament this evening.
Before his speech, National colleagues gave Uffindell shoutouts in their Parliamentary addresses – Michael Woodhouse wished him luck, and Andrew Bayly said he was conscious of giving time to “a very important maiden speech”.
When his turn came, Uffindell said he wanted his children to grow up “in a country that allows you to reach your potential”.
Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller was sitting behind him, and nodded along as Uffindell called Tauranga the “epicentre of our country’s horticulture” and derided the cancellation of the full Tauranga Northern Link project.
As his speech continued, Uffindell became more animated, gesturing as he discussed the necessity of social investment.
He spoke with passion about playing sport as a youngster.
“Every time I played, my dad taught me to play to win. And I did, and I loved it. Now we don’t even keep score.”
Regarding returning to New Zealand in 2020, he said: “I have been astonished by the general malaise that has set in [in New Zealand], this Government’s complacency, the acceptance of mediocrity, the fear of the outside world, the rejection of personal responsibility, the dumbing down of expectations, the closed-minded absolutism.
“If we are going to fulfil our obligation to future generations to leave this country in a better position than we inherited it, we need to take a good, hard look at ourselves.”
He identified the specific challenges facing Tauranga as severe infrastructure, roading and housing.
“We must rise above… prohibitive regulation and nation-limiting politics and do what is right for the electorate of Tauranga and our country.”
He also mentioned school truancy, gang crime, and the need to upgrade Tauranga Hospital.
“In many ways, we [Tauranga] are just a microcosm of the many endemic issues crippling New Zealand.
“The door is fast closing on our ability to keep pace with the rest of the developed world, and one of my greatest fears is that my children will one day grow up in a New Zealand that has receded from that club.”
Uffindell smiled as he spoke of his family and friends and thanked them for their support.
He thanked his Tauranga constituents for voting for him, and said he would “will always be grateful” and “will never take it for granted”.
His speech got a standing ovation from his National colleagues.
Shortly after being sworn in, Uffindell introduced his first Member’s Bill, aiming to stop gang convoys in Tauranga.
The Bill would allow the police to fine gang members travelling in convoys $500 on the spot and instantly impound their vehicles for 28 days.
The Swearing-In Process
• MPs are not allowed to sit or vote in the House until they have had their swearing in.
• They can choose whether to say the Oath of Allegiance or an “affirmation”. Either option can be spoken in English or Te Reo Māori.
• Members are usually sworn in by the Governor-General, but after a by-election, the Governor-General authorises the House speaker to do so.
• The Oath of Allegiance: “I, … , swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.”
• The affirmation is the same, but omits “so help me God”.
– Source: Parliament.nz