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May 12, 2008 | by  | in Opinion |
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An Interview with Chris Tremain

Tell me something about you that not many people know.
In my spare time I like to go surfing, I’ve got a 7ft 8 board. I like to go surfing at different places around Hawkes Bay, so I guess that’s something that not many people know”.

When did you first become interested in politics, and who were some of your political influences at the time?
You wouldn’t call me a political animal from birth, or even through my teenage years. Bob Jones was probably the first influence on me, like I went along to some of his meetings. I was just interested in some of his free market thinking, and some of the policies that he put on the table at that time. But it wasn’t probably till I had a young family that I really started to have a think about what sort of country are we going to be leaving them when they are older, and I sort of had a look at where my business’s had got to, put me in a position where… I never had any ambitions to be the richest man in the country, but I developed some skills that maybe I could take into politics, and it’s a good opportunity to use those skills.

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Other than having a successful election, what other personal or political goals have you set yourself for 2008?
I think first and foremost is winning Napier for the second time. Understanding that Napier has been a seat in a Labour stronghold for 54 years. It’s about winning Napier, and winning it well, and I think if I do that, I will be well placed to achieve wider goals. I’m naive enough to think that I am going to be a minister in 2008. I think we have got a real quality of people who are there already, and some of them haven’t been Ministers prior to this point – They are hardly going to say, ‘Chris, it’s great that you’re here, come on in’. I guess the reality is, the key message is, I have got to do the hard yards. I have got to do the yards, I have got to do the hard yards, which I am just kind of in apprentice mode, and I think I could potentially be a minister down the track, but its not going to happen like that.

What has been your most memorable moment as an MP so far?
I think the most memorable experience was the experience of going into the Te Te Marae, on Waitangi day, 2006. It was the year after I had been elected, and I had not been to Waitangi before. And I remember, it’s an amazing experience, for all New Zealanders, and I think that everyone should aspire to going and doing that one day, you are welcomed on in a porwhiri, like in the pitch blackness, at like 5 in the morning. As Manuhere, the guests, you are welcomed by Tangata Whenua, and there are speeches about our nation, and where we are going, and you come out of the meeting house, into the sunshine, and it is kind of one of the most ornate sunrises in the country, and that was a really moving experience, I found.

Is there a certain accomplishment in your political careers that gives you the most pride?
Might be winning the seat of Napier?? You know, at this point in time. I don’t want to say that that is the only accomplishment I can hang my hat on down the track, but at this point in time, yeah, I am proud to be also the junior whip now, but still, I think winning Napier was the biggest accomplishment at this stage.

What do you believe to be essential personal characteristics for a politician?
It depends on what kind of politician you want to be. You can be quite a good attack politician, and you can achieve quite a lot in a short space of time, and you can leave… a lot of things in your wake, a lot of damage. I think for me, its being strong in your beliefs, not taking part in character assassinations, having robust research and a background in the policy that you are actually trying to achieve. Be prepared – It’s very important.

What scares you the most?
What scares me the most? I don’t know. Nothing really scares me. My wife [laughs]. Nah, she’s a great… what do you call that cannary on your shoulder? “The voice of reason??”, “Yeah, Yeah. That’s Ange, she is a strong voice of reason. And while she doesn’t scare me, I often find that when I have got decisions to make, I can go to her, and say’ hey, what do you think about this?

What would you like to achieve within the next 5 years?
I would like to see a change of Government. I would like to be a Minister in that Government. And I would like to bring about a pathway of change, which starts to get New Zealand trucking towards where we need to be on an international scale, so that young people like you, genuinely see this country as a place for them to return to, after they have had their OE.

What is the best advice you have ever been given, and who gave it to you?
It always comes back to what my Dad used to say to me. He always said, smile at people, never judge a person before you got to meet them and know them. I think those were the two pieces of advice that he always told us, as we were walking down the street, you know, if you see someone, always smile at them, shake their hand, and I think that has always kept me in good stride.

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