In Support of my Mother Standing for Parliament
I first met Deborah Russell in 1998, on the day I was born. I of course do not remember it, but I know that one of her first acts of motherhood was to read to me. This came to be representative of the rest of my life, of how she has raised myself and my sisters to be the people we are today. She has taught and cared for us in a manner that I feel reflects all the good she could do as the representative of a community and a member of parliament.
When I was eleven years old, I started reading the blog my mother wrote, which was largely focussed on feminism. I didn’t understand much, but I remember being fascinated with the words she wrote. Even at eleven, I was captivated by the way she communicated. She didn’t dress up her words (something that I have a tendency to do), but her messages were thoughtful and powerful. Reading back on the same blog as I grew older, I saw posts about feminism and her more personal life together, comments on current politics juxtaposed with writings about gardening with her daughters. This was how we grew up, with love and care alongside discussions of the world around us. Although I know that up to a point we all idolise our parents, I think I will always consider my mother to be the smartest woman I know. Not just in the sense that she knows things, but also that she understands how to use what she knows, and how to communicate her thoughts to others. Anyone who has seen or heard her speak in a public forum knows how warmly and intelligently she presents herself. What many do not realise is that this is an honest depiction of her personality, that she talks with the same depth of understanding in every aspect of her life.
My mother walks everywhere quickly. I have previously joked that she never just sits, she is always taking action of some kind – knitting, reading, working. She sits tensely, which probably doesn’t help with her insomnia. I say this because I think it is important to understand how intensely Mum works on every aspect of her life. The same woman who powered up and down the Rangitikei electorate in 2014 is the same woman who speaks on tax in the national media, who teaches students with the skill her public speaking background has given her, who dedicates hours to the Labour party, and who sits in front of the TV with knitting because she cannot be idle. I am certain that she would entirely throw herself into campaigning if given the opportunity. No one could doubt her commitment to politics, with so many years of being an advocate for equality and fairness.
Deborah Russell is a woman of great capability and understanding, who I am so privileged to call Mum. I can honestly say that it is one of my dearest wishes to see her in Parliament, and I hope that she receives similar support from all those around her. I write almost in desperation, because I have seen better than almost anyone how hard she has worked and how much she could offer to the Labour caucus. So much love Mum, and best of luck for the New Lynn selection.
A background note: I found this sitting in my e-mail this morning, and I have tears running down my face. I am so moved to find that my lovely daughter thinks so well of me and my work. Deborah