The Honourable Nikki Kaye kindly shares her insights on Covid-19 and beyond......
Wellbeing Workshop gets up close and personal with some of New Zealand's resilient Business Leaders, Entrepreneurs, Sports People and Celebrities.
When New Zealanders were locked down reuniting with friends and family under Alert Level 2, on 22 May 2020 the Honourable Nikki Kaye assumed her (short-term) position as the Deputy Leader of the National Party and Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
Nikki is an MP for Auckland Central, Spokesperson for Education and Spokesperson for Sport & Recreation in New Zealand, fitting roles given she is an accomplished competitive athlete having completed her second Coast to Coast in 2013 becoming the first New Zealand Cabinet Minister to do so. Nikki shares with us her thoughts on the education system and creating a work-life balance in Parliament.
Name 3 things you’ve learnt as Deputy Leader of the Opposition from Covid-19.
1. Just how resilient New Zealanders can be in times of difficulty.
2. How lucky we sometimes are to be down here on our own little island.
3. Just how much we rely on social interaction and face to face communication with our colleagues, friends and family.
What’s the biggest challenge you have had to face as a result of Covid-19 and how are you going to overcome it?
The biggest challenge has been doing my usual electorate work around Central Auckland. I normally spend a lot of my week meeting with constituents to hear about their concerns and goals for the future. Not being able to do that during the lock-down was challenging but, like most New Zealanders, we found ways to do some of that remotely – relying more on Zoom calls or Social Media.
We also set up a volunteer system to try to phone up as many of the older members of our electorate that we could get contact details for, just to check in and make sure everyone had the support they needed like enough food.
Are you going to implement any personal changes as a result of Covid-19?
I’m going to make sure I properly appreciate the time I do get to spend with friends and family!
As a person who wears many hats, MP for Auckland Central, Spokesperson for Education, Spokesperson for Sport & Recreation what is your best advice to avoid burnout?
It’s easy to let your health slip when you’re busy at work, but I always try to make sure I squeeze some exercise into my weekly routine and eat as well as I can.
Do you think businesses will develop new levels of empathy and a greater willingness to talk about mental healthcare as a result of the pandemic?
I think we’ve all become more focused and aware of mental health challenges as a result of the pandemic and the lock-down – whether it be issues around loneliness and isolation, the impact on children, or the impact on families struggling to get by in a stressful situation. There’s been a lot of emphasis on ensuring people are coping and I think that’s been really positive. I would hope that businesses continue with that well beyond this pandemic.
What tools (if any) do you have in place to encourage ‘positive wellbeing behaviours’ in your workplace?
Parliament is a stressful environment, and there are often very unusual hours. That’s just the nature of the job. But I try to emphasise to my staff that they should make sure to take advantage of the quieter days and weeks – for example when parliament isn’t sitting or when I’m not in Wellington – to try to get some work-life balance into their lives.
What are you currently curious about?
I’m really curious about the long term impact that the pandemic might have on our economy and our education system in particular. Schools and educators reacted amazingly to the lock-down, with many of them having to figure out new ways of teaching remotely. I’m curious about how much of that innovation is going to carry through into teaching over the coming months and years. My hope is that we could use this tragic event as a catalyst to start being a bit more innovative when it comes to how we educate our children.
If you were going to invest in your future best self, where would you put your time and energy?
I’m a big believer in the concept of lifelong learning. I don’t think that we need to stop learning and educating ourselves just because we’ve left school or university to enter the workforce. So I would put my time and energy into figuring out what new skills or knowledge might be useful in my future, or simply what I would enjoy, and then seek out whatever learning opportunities I could.
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