City's newest MP doubted her chances

PAUL GORMAN
Last updated 05:00 12/12/2011
mojo
KIRK HARGREAVES
READY TO RUMBLE: Mojo Mathers, who is deaf, at her Opawa home after special votes resulted in her becoming the 14th Green MP in this Parliament.

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Election 2011

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Captioned television coverage of parliamentary proceedings will keep New Zealand's first profoundly deaf MP actively involved in debates in the House.

Mojo Mathers has become Christchurch's newest MP and the Green Party's 14th MP after the counting of special votes.

Mathers, a mother of three with a master's degree in conservation ecology and No 14 on the party list, stood in Christchurch East as an electorate candidate and received 1347 votes.

Mathers' ascension knocked out fellow Christchurch East hopeful Aaron Gilmore.

The Greens' 11.06 per cent of the nationwide party vote saw them gain Mathers as an extra list MP at the expense of National's Gilmore, who at 60th on his party's list fell one short of National's total number of seats.

Mathers told The Press yesterday by email that she initially doubted she would make it into Parliament.

"For most of the campaign I really didn't think it was going to happen for me. It was only in the last week of the election campaign that I went to my children and said, 'There is just a chance that I will be in Parliament after all'."

Her disability would require special measures in the House, she said.

"My primary requirement to engage in political debates will be the use of electronic notetakers. In the Debating Chamber, this will require parliamentary TV to be screened at my seat with captions, such as with Hansard,'' she said.

"It is my hope that this will be available for the wider public online as well. This will ensure that all deaf and hearing-impaired have proper access to our parliamentary debates.

"Once it happens, people will wonder why it wasn't done before."

She strongly identified with the Christchurch East electorate.

"The Brighton strip in particular – North New Brighton to Southshore – has a high proportion of green-friendly residents who are passionate about sustainable and strong communities,'' she said.

"The earthquakes and the rebuild of Christchurch are obviously huge issues. However, residents are also concerned about long-term issues such as clean water, quality public transport and cycle lanes, and warm, dry homes.

"Many people I spoke to want to see Christchurch become a world leader in sustainable city design with an accessible central city that belongs to everyone."

Gilmore said he was "reasonably philosophical" about missing out.

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"There's not much I could do ... I didn't get enough votes for me personally,'' he said.

"But we did very, very well, with 46 per cent of people voting National in Christchurch East."

He had employment "options", but was keeping an eye on National list retirements.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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