Up for new challenge

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Beehive beckons... The new Southland elec torate Member of Parlia ment Joseph Mooney and his wife Silvia enjoy the moment of victory on Saturday night when it became obvious Mr Mooney was the success ful candidate for the seat. PHOTO:SANDY EGGLESTON

A man who says he has lost count of how many times he has been knocked down is the new Southland electorate member of Parliament.

National Party candidate Joseph Mooney won the seat with 17,817 votes, about 5000 more than his closest rival, the Labour Party’s Jon Mitchell.

However, his majority was almost 10,000 votes lower than former MP Hamish Walker’s 14,354 majority in 2017.

Labour won 38.5% of the party vote, compared with National’s 36.8%.

Mr Mooney said life always had challenges and adversity.

“It’s how you respond to adversity that determines the outcome,” he said.

“Adversity always creates opportunity.

“I’ve been knocked down more times than I can count.

“You learn to dust yourself off, get back up and try again.”

Pressure could either crush people or “turn them into diamonds”.

“It’s not a bad thing to have pressure .

“You learn to deal with it and also appreciate it.”

Mr Mooney is married to Silvia and the couple have three children.

As an older student, Mr Mooney attended the University of Waikato and studied law.

In his 10-year law career he had built his own law practice, but before training as a lawyer he had worked in many fields, including on farms, orchards, ski-fields and crayfishing boats.

He “loved” working hard.

“I’ve obviously had to, but I also enjoy it.”

This varied work experience had helped prepare him for the next challenge of being an MP.

“I think it’s given me a really good grounding and insight into what it likes to live and work in all sorts of different sectors.

“It probably gives me empathy and understanding of different people’s lives.”

His priority in his new role was to be “an advocate for the region”.

A lack of workers and adequate health care for people were two challenges facing the region at present.

“We don’t have enough people to pick our fruit, bring in our crops on the farms and to staff our motels [and] hotels.

“We’ve got probably the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world in Southland and we don’t have the testing, diagnostic or treatment facilities that even other DHBs [district health boards] in New Zealand have.”