Simon Watts is our new National Party Member of Parliament for North Shore, with the former CFO winning the seat, vacated by Maggie Barry, in the recent election. Simon is new to politics, he's had a long career in finance and has lived and worked abroad. Since his return to New Zealand, Simon’s worked in heath focused roles (most recently as the Deputy Chief Financial Officer at the Waitemata District Health Board) and he also volunteers for St John as a frontline ambulance officer. Simon is married to Shannon and they have two school-aged sons. We put a few questions to Simon about his introduction into politics, representing the people of North Shore and about his summer plans.
Channel Mag: Congrats on your election win. How are you settling into the role?
Simon Watts: It’s a surreal feeling when you walk into parliament for the first time. However, that quickly transitions to the job at hand which is representing the North Shore. My local team are in place, my Takapuna office is operating and we are already dealing with constituent local issues such as immigration and housing. I’ve enjoyed the role so far and it reminds me daily what an honour it is to represent the people of the North Shore as their MP.
CM: What are you most looking forward to when it comes to representing the people of North Shore?
SW: Advocating for local issues that matter, including the reinstatement of the Stanley Bay ferry to reduce congestion, pushing to continue works on Hurstmere Road as delays cost our businesses millions, maximising the benefits of the America's Cup on the Shore, helping people stranded overseas wanting to return home and attending local school assemblies – we have amazing young people here. My portfolio areas include ACC and Associate Health so I’m ready to contribute my real-world experience down in Wellington and up here on the Shore.
CM: What are your family’s plans for summer?
SW: We will have a pretty typical summer holiday: plenty of time at the beach, barbecues and enjoying the coastal playground that we have on our doorstep. Holidays are about family and I’m looking forward to having some quality time with them. I’ll also do a few volunteer ambulance shifts over the break here on the Shore.
CM: The Shore has some special spots; where are your favourites and why?
SW: My favourite spots are our amazing beaches such as Narrow Neck and Campbell’s Bay as my boys love playing on the rocks and swimming.
CM: Do you have a favourite place for a meal on the Shore?
SW: Regatta is a favourite with the family, Fantail and Turtle with friends, Papermoon for brunch and Stanley Avenue Bistro on the weekend. We have so many great hospitality spots here on the Shore – we’re very spoilt.
CM: How does your family celebrate Christmas?
SW: We have a pretty typical family Christmas which will involve a bbq, my mum's famous pavlova roll, presents for the kids and secret Santa for the adults and then a walk along the beach while a few family members (who will remain anonymous, aka Dad) snooze on the sofa – we have a close family and Shannon and I are hosting everyone at our place here on the Shore this year.
CM: What are your hobbies and interests away from politics?
SW: With two young boys, our weekends involve anything that’s outdoors and active. During the summer it's bike rides, swimming, surfing, tennis and kicking a ball. In 2021 the boys and I are also learning to sail so watch out Team New Zealand!
CM: Is there anything you miss about living overseas?
SW: I miss travelling to new places, visiting friends and experiencing different cultures. I also miss the hustle of big cities after living in London for nearly 10 years. I wouldn’t trade the Shore for anything though, there’s no place like home.
CM: If you could have dinner with a few notable people throughout history, who would they be and why?
SW: I’d invite Sir Peter Blake, President Obama, Princess Diana and my grandmother Lilly who was a nurse in WW2 and died when I was very young.
CM: Do you have any books, TV shows or movies on your list for the summer holidays?
SW: I’ll be reading American Icon which is about the Ford Motor Group and of course the parliamentary standing orders!