At least half of Avondale, i.e. the New Lynn electorate half, will be interested to know there is a new, blue MP at their helm. In the 2017 Election, Philippine migrant, Paulo Garcia, ran for National winning 13,015 votes to Labour MP, Deborah Russell’s 15,840, placing him 50th on the National Party list. With the retirement of backbencher, MP Nuk Korago in April, Paulo has stepped up the list to become New Zealand’s first Filipino List MP, and the first Filipino internationally to take such an elected position.
This adds to a handful of firsts for National that have had the first Indian, Korean, Cook Island and Chinese-born MPs.
A devout Catholic, some key lines from Garcia’s reportedly rousing Maiden Statement to Parliament leave us in doubt of his leanings:
Whatever laws we might pass in this Chamber, the pro-life voice must no longer be despised and discounted as offensive.
[Regarding abortion] Men are particularly to blame.
I highlight that the men of this country need to do more.
We as men need to stand strong in our relationships. We must be reliable providers and protectors. We must show tamariki the way to respect and honour women.
To be sure, Garcia is no slouch. He practised commercial law in the Philippines for 10 years before moving to New Zealand; immigration law on arriving in New Zealand; before establishing his own firm, Garcia Law, where he has practised to date as a barrister. Garcia was appointed honorary consul of the Philippines in 2012 and was also involved in establishing the New Zealand Philippines Business Council.
The National Party and Pinoys Go National celebrated the occasion of Garcia's new role at a Titirangi-based event in June, with a large number of Pinoys (Filipinos) coming out in support. Several National MPs were in attendance as was the Philippines Ambassador and Garcia's school buddy, Jesus (Gary) S. Domingo – the word, “Values!” being on the lips of each of the speakers. You must give it to the National Party; they know their public relations!
Garcia seems a genuine fellow and is no doubt poised to have a long career in New Zealand politics.