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This past few weeks, my National Party Caucus and I have faced some testing challenges and I believe we’ve emerged the stronger for it and with the youthful and capable Simon Bridges at the helm who can lead us back into Government in 2020. Feedback from my North Shore constituents was clear - we needed an Aucklander in the top two positions and we have that continuity provided by Paula Bennett who was elected to stay in the supporting role of Deputy. Our entire Caucus has amicably in two ballots made this decision and we are now united to fight the real enemy which is this chaotic government.

Bill English has the respect of our 56 member caucus and he earned the right to leave at a time of his own choosing for family and personal reasons we all understand. We are grateful to have had his outstanding skills for 28 years and wish he and Mary the very best for the future. But as with John Key, no one person is irreplaceable because our party is stronger than any individual and Bill has left us in good heart. As he told us at one of our last meetings, this is the most talented, disciplined and united Caucus he’s ever worked in. Choosing our leader is the most important decision National’s Caucus will make to get us back into government in 2020 and I know that with Auckland born Simon Bridges we have chosen well. Let the real fight for the Treasury benches begin now.

Congratulations to North Shore locals who were recognised in the New Years Honours list. Aidan Bennett, who publishes this fine magazine, was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal in recognition for his efforts in helping young people through his company Benefitz and for his work as President of the North Harbour Club and support for the AIMES awards.

Sue Stanaway’s MNZM is in recognition of her many years of charity work with Hospice North Shore, as GM of the Bayley’s Foundation and past board member of YES Disability Resource Centre, where she worked closely with the YES Chief Executive Sonia Thursby who was also appointed as a MNZM for her work across the disability sector.

Bill Speedy, the director of Oceanbridge Shipping, has been awarded an ONZM for his philanthropic work and contributions to Waterwise and other water sport activities around our coastal North Shore.

Local Devonport artist, Helen Pollock, who sculpted the feature piece ‘Victory Medal’ for the Arras WW100 Commemorations was also appointed as an ONZM for her services to art, particularly sculpture.

Well known Bayswater local Paddy Stafford-Bush has been recognised with a Queen’s Service Medal for her lifetime contributions to Devonport for both her local government and conservation board work including the famous “Paddy’s Bush”

A strong advocate for seniors, and currently Chair of the Board at the Mairangi Arts Centre, Dr Judy Blakey received an MNZM for her service to the community. 

As Minister for Arts, Culture, and Heritage, over the last 3 years, I sat on the Cabinet Appointment and Honours Committee so I’m very familiar with the processes that these extraordinary New Zealanders go through to receive recognition from their country. If you want to nominate someone please contact my Takapuna office on 09 486 0005

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