Politician Erica Stanford is a Member of Parliament who focuses on immigration and education under the National Party. In an interview with television and radio journalist Rachel Smalley, WOMAN gets insight into life in the Beehive and what it really takes to work in policy.
Watch Erica’s interview with Rachel Smalley below as they discuss being a mother and a politician, avoiding the hateful land of twitter, and being the immigrant spokesperson during Covid. This is the third of a seven-part interview series for WOMAN, where Rachel will be uncovering extraordinary stories from a handful of exceptional kiwi women. Each has their own unique story to tell. Watch Erica’s full interview below.
During the pandemic, Erica Stanford volunteered for the immigration portfolio, having the foresight to see the challenges that would soon be presented for migrant families during lockdown.
“There were a lot of nurses and healthcare workers who were trapped here with their very young children and partners overseas. Now, these were the nurses who were working in our hospitals, on the Covid wards, looking after us, during the pandemic, and yet, there was no pathway there for them to be able to bring their children. If you imagine being without your kid for a few months, then a year, then 18 months, then two years… It was just a huge injustice that we tried to bring up with the government.”
Erica rallied for these women to be on television, to show New Zealanders the real faces behind the hundreds of people isolated and stuck without family connections.
“You may remember at the time, we were bringing in The Wiggles and film crews and all of these people for our economy, and yet forgetting these women who were here on their own looking after us. They were so brave, because I don’t know if I could have done this, these migrant women were on the news, holding pictures of their children that they hadn’t seen for 18 months and in floods of tears, just barely holding it together. It was brutal. Putting those women on the news night after night after night, there wasn’t a kiwi in this country that thought this situation was right.”
Erica says that you don’t need to be in policy to make change however, and encourages anyone to be an activist.
“People say you can only make a difference in government. That’s not true. If you’ve got the right skills, and you know how to get a story up and make sure that it gets nationwide attention, you can get policy changes. And that’s what we did, using the media and a number of journalists who were amazing. I didn’t do it on my own.”
Listen to the full audio version here:
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