I could be pushy, but I always put you first

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This is my last column in The Star as the member of parliament for Dunedin South.

It has been such a privilege to be your MP for nearly 12 years.

I’ve done my very best for you as your representative, advocate and champion.

Nine of those years were as an opposition MP and they were not easy.

We lost the Hillside workshops.

I fought hard alongside the workers and the Rail and Maritime Transport Union, but our reasoned arguments fell on the deaf ears of the then National government, including the local MP Michael Woodhouse.

Thankfully Hillside is now back on track.

I went in to bat for you in South Dunedin during and after the 2015 floods.

So many of you lost your homes and possessions. You had to put up with such a lot.

Things are better now and there’s a lot of focus on South Dunedin’s future. Be vigilant and strong though.

In July, 2017, I took a tent to the Octagon and camped to try to force attention on the terrible attitudes by Work and Income towards people in precarious living conditions. Everyone deserves a home, no matter what their personal circumstances. Work and Income is much kinder and more responsive now.

To all those who needed new hips, mental health treatment, cancer drugs, a house to live in, to allow your family members to stay in New Zealand, it was worth the angst.

I couldn’t help everyone though and for that I’m sorry.

My advocacy for you sometimes put me offside with the powers that be in Dunedin. I could be pushy, but I always put you first.

Thank you to The Star for its countless stories of Dunedin resilience, innovation and kindness and because it goes into every home.

Local journalism really matters and we need more of it. I wish I had a better relationship with the ODT and that they’d print one of my letters to the editor.

It’s true that it hasn’t always been easy being a feisty woman MP in this city, but I don’t regret a moment of the work I’ve done on your behalf.

I hope you’ll make Ingrid Leary welcome, should she be elected as my replacement for the newly formed seat of Taieri, which now includes Waihola, Milton, Balclutha and Lawrence.

This Government, led by Jacinda, has done so many good things it’s hard to list them. The next one will do even better.

Thank you so much to my amazing staff over the years, who did much of the work behind the scenes.

I thank my family; my two boys for only having their mother half the week and for putting up with the sometimes ugly stuff written about me. I mostly want to thank my mum Shirley for being there, for her wisdom and for believing in me during the tough times.

To my local Labour party members for being so staunchly supportive and working so hard.

And then there’s you, the people of Dunedin, in the southern suburbs, I see you in the supermarket, the streets, my office, the caravan. You are the reason I got out of bed every day for 12 years and tried to do a good job.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

With love, Clare.