27 Jan 2017

Nikki Kaye returns to Parliament, hopeful of new role

From Checkpoint, 5:40 pm on 27 January 2017

National MP Nikki Kaye says she "dreams" of taking on the role of Education Minister, as she returns to work after recovering from breast cancer.

The Auckland central MP and Associate Education Minister was diagnosed in September last year, and has not been working since.

She told Checkpoint with John Campbell she cried for weeks following the news, and support and messages from the public helped her tremendously.

She now feels healthy enough to return to work, and hoped Prime Minister Bill English would choose her to take over the Education portfolio from Hekia Parata, who is not seeking re-election at this year's general election. Mr English has said it was likely Ms Kaye would get the job.

"I've been very clear, of course it would be my dream - I would love to have it," Ms Kaye said of the role.
"But until the PM makes an announcement to say that's going to happen, then who knows what could happen?"

Returning to politics wasn't a straight-forward decision for the 36-year-old, who considered taking a long break or moving into charity work.

But after serious consideration, she decided she had worked too hard to get to this point, and had "unfinished business".

"I just felt there is no greater job than politics to be able to make a difference."

While she wants to play more of a leadership role in the future, she doesn't have any interest in vying for the Prime Minister's job.

"I'm keen to contribute, but I don't see myself in that role, and I'm happy with that."

Ms Kaye said strangers would often come up to her when she was out, and thousands sent messages of support, many sharing encouraging words about how it was possible to overcome the disease.
About 3000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in New Zealand - an average of eight a day. What would Ms Kaye say to the women who found out today?

"Be strong, be positive. Just surround yourself with people you love. It's OK to cry. In fact cry lots," she said.

"Most nights I cried, for weeks. I still cry."