As might be expected given their numbers, many of our politicians have little known talents, hobbies and past accomplishments outside of their political lives.

Take Gerry Brownlee, affectionately known as Twiggy to his intimates. How many people know Gerry was once the Canterbury Junior Pole-vaulting Champ and I’m informed, can still clear 5 metres.

House Speaker Trevor Mallard is an accomplished flageolotists who can often be heard at it late at night from the Speaker’s apartment, sometimes accompanied by his wife, journalist Jane Clifton, a more than capable flautist.

Then there’s Melissa Lee, a life-long unicycling devotee, currently rated second in Auckland’s women unicycling rankings. Former Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias is also an enthusiastic participant, although not currently in the top ten.

Future Cabinet minister, newcomer Deborah Russell, is notable for her improbable academic matchings, namely philosophy and accountancy, which may well be a world first. She and her husband Professor Malcolm Wright, also boast possession of the world’s largest beer mat collection.

Paul Goldsmith has the unique ability of being able to sing Amazing Grace backwards, a skill he boasts took him only 5 weeks full-time to accomplish. He rates it his proudest accomplishment.

Kris Faafoi generously once hopped on one leg from Levin to Porirua to draw attention to the declining hedgehog population.

Perhaps less surprising ACT’s David Seymour spent a year in an Ethiopian monastery as a trainee monk. I say less surprising as the particular sect is noted for it’s clergy’s flamboyant dancing rituals, which experience led to Seymour’s selection for Dancing with the Stars.

Fitness fanatics Nick Smith and Stuart Nash begin each day hanging upside down for 20 minutes from a crossbar. I’m told Chloe Swarbrick eats only watercress in the weekends, while the Green’s leader James Shaw has the life-long eccentricity of wearing a monocle on Sundays.
In their younger days both Paula Bennett and Eugene Sage were accomplished female boxers, although rumours that Eugene paid her way through university as a pole dancer are apparently unfounded, a pity as I have a feeling she’d be very good at it.

In short, there’s a lot more to or MP’s than they’re credited for.


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