Labour deputy leader Jacinda Ardern talks to mums in Lower Hutt
Dodging toddlers in toy cars is all in another day's campaigning for Labour deputy leader Jacinda Ardern.
Ardern dropped by the Kinderbear Cafe and Rag on May 31 to chat to Lower Hutt mothers and their children over a cup of coffee.
She talked about starting her role in Parliament, where she was initially offered the transport safety portfolio to look after.
She asked for youth justice instead, but realised neither portfolio was where she wanted to work. The children's portfolio was where she felt at home.
"If you take away the children's portfolio, over my dead body. I think it's a place I can make a difference in politics."
During her talk, she touched on issues the families in the room faced, including not enough parental leave and support, the instability families faced as a result of the housing crisis, and frozen funding in early childhood education.
She recounted her own experience as a child of moving from place to place, saying she remembered every school change she had.
"My mum tells the story I would complain every day for the first week of a new school and the doctor said it was just because I had so much anxiety from being moved into a new school. Moving schools is hard."
She said dealing with the housing crisis by providing more affordable homes and closing tax loopholes for investors would help families find a place to settle down.
"We're committed to releasing a policy before the election that will talk about what we can do to give people greater stability."
When it came to question time, the group probed her on policies relating to class sizes in schools, national standards and breaking out of the cycle of poverty.
One woman supported Ardern's stance on investing in early childhood education, but asked about the "older ones left behind", saying life expectancy in the Hutt Valley could vary remarkably between suburbs.
Ardern said longitudinal studies had shown that was why early childhood investment was so important.
"If you're a child that's grown up in poverty, even if you come out of that in your early 20s, the health effects of that manifest in adult life."