Matt Doocey has been in his current role as MP for Waimakariri coming up six years, although he comments how the time in this role so far feels like it’s gone very quickly. We sat down with Matt and asked him to share with us his background, what drives him, and his hopes for Waimakariri in the future. Tell us a bit about your background: Matt decided to get into politics at a young age, although he believed some real-life experience was needed first. Consequently, Matt jetted off to do his OE in the nineties, settling in London for fifteen years progressing his career in mental health. Specialising in talk therapy, adolescent health, and moving up into health care management and the NHS; Matt then returned to New Zealand well-travelled as someone who had experienced a lot of different cultures and with a wealth of experience behind him. Matt speaks about three reasons for returning to New Zealand. Firstly, to return to family and live a Canterbury life again. Second, to settle down with his wife whom he met in London and has had two children with, Emily (6) and James (4). And lastly, Matt felt it was time to get into politics, and luckily enough a seat came free for National’s nomination for Waimakariri and he jumped at the opportunity. Once Matt was elected, he moved to Rangiora, where his kids now go to school and his wife is a swim teacher at the local aquatic centre. Calling on his community mental health background, Matt likes to make sure he’s accessible, is working with people individually on the ground, and overall trying to work for the wellbeing of the electorate. He describes mental health as a calling, a way to make a difference – and sees politics as a way to continue making that difference. What made you want to become an MP? Matt grew up in a political family, related to Maurice Carter who was a member of the Christchurch City Council for 36 years and is nephew of David Carter who recently retired from the house. Matt describes his family as the place it was made clear that politics is all about public service, how you serve community, and how you make it a better place. His first experience campaigning was back in 1988, during which the Prime Minister at the time David Lange introduced Tomorrow’s Schools, which changed how schools ran including the addition of Board of Trustees and a student representative. Matt’s first campaign was at St Bede’s College for the election of their first ever student representative – which he won. From that role, Matt says by consulting with students and raising student issues he learnt what it means to represent and be the voice for people. How will Waimakariri benefit from having you in this role? Over the past two terms Matt says he’s developed a lot of experience and relationships within the electorate, building a reputation as someone who works hard, is accessible, and is prepared to stand up for people. Matt takes representing the electorate in parliament very seriously and is passionate about ensuring that Waimakariri gets the important investment that it deserves. What are some of the ‘big issues’ that you are most passionate about? Leading off the end of the last question, Matt reflects on the growing pains Waimakariri is experiencing as one of the fastest growing electorates in the country. He’s passionate and driven toward ensuring we get the investment around infrastructure that we so desperately need. By growing pains, Matt is talking about the congestion on the motorway into Christchurch every day; new subdivisions struggling to get connectivity with ultra-fast broadband; and the ability to access after hours health care. Matt spends his time in Wellington constantly reminding people that the Waimakariri needs that investment, an example of which is having successfully advocated for the three-lane development of the Waimakariri bridge. Matt also reflects on his success in health, joining Sandy McLean in successfully advocating for the CDHB to fund after-hours healthcare in the Waimakariri in the form of an Integrated Family Health Centre (IFHC). And in the way of transport, local constituents will surely know how vocal Matt has been about the Belfast to Pegasus Motorway including the Woodend Bypass. With the growing population Matt successfully advocated for NZTA to put signalised crossings in front of Woodend School, and was also instrumental in calling together the community and Environment Canterbury regarding the plans to cancel the Waikuku bus service. Matt says that’s the sort of stuff he’s most keen on – understanding what the issues are, making sure that there are solutions put in place, and holding the relevant decision-makers to account. At a National level, Matt is working hard in the mental health space as National’s first mental health spokesperson recently initiating the cross-party mental health group in parliament. Matt’s goal in this space is to be New Zealand’s first Mental Health Minister, driving a cross-government approach to tackle the mental health crisis. What is your point of difference? What strengths do you possess that would make you the best person to spend our vote on? Matt is a passionate Cantabrian who is keen to drive the region forward. He’s someone who has life experience from travelling and advancing his career in mental health; with the commitment of someone who is bringing up a young family in the electorate as well. Having a background in mental health teaches you valuable skills in life that Matt has bought into politics. Things like taking time for people, listening to them, respecting everyone’s views, and working with people in a way that they feel valued. While the achievements he has had in this role are great, Matt goes on to say that the key part of the work he does is quite hidden – the one-to-one work with constituents in our community. From helping a constituent having an issue around a hospital waiting list to an elderly person needing the right hours of Nurse Maude care; that is what Matt says is the most rewarding thing and something he can bring that’s specific to him is the huge passion about making a difference for people, firstly in mental health, and now in politics as well. If you’re keen to get to know more about National’s candidate for Waimakariri Matt Doocey, and also meet the other candidates running in the Waimakariri Electorate, come along to ‘Meet the Candidates Waimakariri 2020’ on Monday 14th September 7:00pm-9:00pm at the Rangiora RSA.