Nick Smith farewells Parliament with anecdotes and an apology

Former Nelson MP Hon Dr Nick Smith reminisced on his 31 years in government as well as offering an apology to the LGBT+ community this afternoon. Photo: NZ Herald

Erin Bradnock

Former Nelson MP Hon Dr Nick Smith reminisced on his 31 years in government as well as offering an apology to the LGBT+ community this afternoon.

During Nick's valedictory speech Nick admitted he made a mistake when he voted against the successful Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, allowing same-sex couples to marry in 2013.

"There was an issue I got wrong in 2013 I voted against gay marriage. The error is all the more personal with my 20-year-old son being gay. I want to put on record today my apology to New Zealand's LGBT+ community," said Nick.

Nick was one of 44 New Zealand MPs who voted against the bill including Simon Bridges, Gerry Brownlee and Bill English.

Aside from the apology, his valedictory speech was filled with an expected walk down memory lane.

"Last month I saw this quirky café sign that appealed to my nerdiness, that 31 years equates to a billion seconds. Bar a few thousand, it's been a blast and an enormous privilege to be part of governing this amazing little country we share," he said.

Nick spoke of his "many ups and downs" in closing Thursday's parliamentary debate, labelling the "Key era government" and his time as a conservation minister as highlights.

Nick went on to describe Nelson as a "very special place to represent" before congratulating his successor, Labour MP Rachel Boyack.

Nick announced he would be leaving Parliament last week referring to inquiry into a verbal altercation at his Wellington office, details of which have yet to emerge.
He said he regretted the incident, for which he had apologised - both on the day and again now.

"I have decided the best course of action for the parties involved, the National Party, my family and myself is to retire now."

In his speech, Nick said that he would be rejoining the family business Smith Crane & Construction.

"Where I'll be doing more and talking less," he said.

Although he would live comfortably without the work, as he is entitled to a superannuation allowance of about $87,000 a year along with continued international travel perks.

Nick closed his speech thanking his family and staff and reflecting on the changes he has witnessed in Parliament over the last three decades.

Ending with a special mention of New Zealand's wildlife conservation efforts in this time

"This morning I woke to the bird song of tui from my Hill St flat, and on my walk here I saw a beautiful kererū in Parliaments trees. Something you would have not seen or heard thirty years ago,"

"May the bird song forever be heard at our parliament and across our land to remind us how blessed we are to call these islands home."