It was a particularity violent home invasion in Avondale in 2006, and the lack of justice that followed, that started me thinking there must be something even I could do to help our society. This wasn’t my first experience of the NZ justice system, with an armed holdup in 1998 and two aggravated robberies in the ‘90s while at work. It seemed nothing had changed since those early whanau group conferences, and if anything, the processes had deteriorated.

I returned to volunteering, beginning in a group helping former inmates reintegrate into society. This involved spending time with them in prison, and again once out, and involved thousands of hours getting to know their stories over the last 7 years. An initial shock was that many of them were exactly like me. We’d had many similar life experiences, but I’d just made different decisions. Realising I was out of my depth, I headed to university as an adult student. However, although my degree filled all the gaps as to the way we got ourselves into this state as a nation, I discovered that the social values found at university are exactly the ones practised by those in prison. People are often ending up in our prisons because of the hypocrisy of our society.

I’m standing with the Conservative party because I believe the Conservative policies on family and justice are required to restore dignity and purpose back to those who have lost it. Creating stronger families is the goal of each part of Conservative policy, from which a safer and more prosperous nation will follow.