N.Z. Prime Minister ‘Samoan’ at heart
Culture, family and faith.
These are aspects New Zealand Prime Minister, Bill English, loves about Samoa.
The Prime Minister is in Samoa for the first time as the leader of his country.
Yesterday, he joined Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi at the celebration of Samoa’s 55 years of political independence.
Mr. English is joined by his wife, Dr. Mary English, whose father is Samoan from the Scanlan family.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Mr. English said he has learnt a lot about the importance of faith from his wife’s family.
“What I’ve learnt from the Samoan part of my family is the strong sense of family,” he said.
“The importance of faith to the Samoan families and the drive to be successful which in Mary’s family focuses strong on education. Her whole family has been well educated. That’s because of strong parents, making sure that the children would succeed through education.”
Mr. and Mrs. English have six children.
The Prime Minister was asked how he manages to run the country and be a father and husband at the same time.
“We make sure that we have quite very specific family time,” he said adding that going to church is important to them.
“We try to keep our Sundays clear.”
He said that even when Parliament is in session, he makes time for his family.
“For parliament, I always go home for the evening meal and then back to Parliament. I often have to work late. So it’s important to us that we have that time as a family,” he said.
He also commented on how Samoan families are hard workers in New Zealand.
“There are a lot of families who have to work hard, particularly a lot of Samoan families who are in New Zealand and maybe on lower incomes.
“Parents on shift week and those parents don't always get recognition.
“We do because we’re in public life. But what those parents are doing is just as important and they work harder,” said the Prime Minister.
During the trip, Mr. English is scheduled to be bestowed a title at Faleula today.
“It’s a real honor,” he said.
The Prime Minister also commented on the admiration he has for the Samoan culture.
“We admire the success of Samoa as an independent country and that’s why it’s such a special day to be reminded about it. We admire the resilience, the strong leadership and the sensible way the country sets out to have a good economy. As well as maintaining the uniqueness of its culture.”
ABOUT BILL ENGLISH
According to the government’s official website, Mr. English has served New Zealand and the National Party since his election to Parliament in 1990.
Born in Lumsden in 1961 and educated at St Patrick’s College Silverstream he studied Economics at the University of Otago and English Literature at Victoria.
He went on to work as a Treasury analyst before returning to the family farm in Dipton and standing in the seat known today as Clutha-Southland – a post he held until his decision in 2014 to stand as a List MP only.
As Finance Minister from 2008 until 2016, he oversaw one of the fastest-growing economies in the developed world, steering it through shocks including the Global Financial Crisis and the Christchurch earthquakes and returning the Government’s books surplus.
He also focused on tackling New Zealand’s toughest social problems, including inequality, welfare dependence and the educational under achievement of Maori and Pasifika children, aiming to give all New Zealanders the best chance of succeeding. He is married to Mary, a GP, and they have six children.