1. Congratulations on the police portfolio. The Prime Minister made special mention of your university degree in criminology, but perhaps this isn’t how you thought it would be put to use?
It wasn’t part of a grand plan! A big focus of my degree was youth and crime, and I’ll certainly be leaning on that experience. There’s a good overlap with this role and my job as Education Minister to engage our vulnerable young people and steer them away from a life of crime.
2. Do you have any previous connections with policing?
Yes, as an MP, I’ve often had interactions with the local police, including going on night time ridealongs. Quite an eye-opening experience, but a valuable one.
3. Will you be putting up your hand for a ridealong with the frontline?
I already have. Watch this space!
4. You’ve said that the complex areas of youth crime and gang recruitment will be a priority. Why?
My view is the best way to be effective is to tackle crime from both ends, with an equal focus on strong public safety – people have a right to feel safe in their communities – and doing everything we can to provide meaningful options for our young.
5. How will you navigate the “soft on crime v tough on crime” narratives swirling around policing at the moment?
There’s a balance to be struck. I’m interested in what works, not empty slogans. I’m a fan of the saying: we should be tough on crime and tougher on the causes of crime.
6. We’ve heard that some people call you Chippy. That’s cute, but do you like it?
We don’t choose nicknames for ourselves, but it could be worse!
7. You caught Covid-19 this year. How did you fare?
It was gruelling, no question. I took the doctor’s advice and rested, so I recovered quickly, but it certainly knocked me around. I wouldn’t want to get Covid-19 without being vaccinated.
8. You’re the MP for Remutaka. What’s the best thing about your electorate?
I love the Hutt Valley. It’s always been home to me. I love the amazing outdoor spaces and activities we have and feel lucky to live in a place where I can ride my bike through a suburban neighbourhood and 10 minutes later be riding in the countryside.
9. Tell us about your family and what you like to do in your spare time?
I like being outdoors as much as I can, gardening and working in my shed. It’s very relaxing. I’m also trying to get fit again, so I cycle and walk a lot. I’ve got two kids and I work really hard to keep them out of the public spotlight. I want them to have a childhood as normal as possible.
10. Do you have a message for our members for the coming year?
I’m really excited about the new job and the challenges ahead. I intend to be very visible and will get out and about this year. I hope to meet as many frontline staff as I can, to engage and hear your views.