After three-and-a-half years in the job, Cambridge’s Louise Allen has moved on from her role as MP Support for Taupo MP Louise Upston.
She has returned to the Hamilton City Library, a place where she worked when her now grown daughter was just three. “I loved it back then. It’s going to be quite familiar to me… like going home.”
Louise has become the face behind many of the local events involving Louise Upston. She took on the part-time role in October 2019, thinking it would be a far easier gig than her then 60-hour a week job in early children’s education, certain she would pick up the administrative requirements with relative ease.
“At that stage, I had moved on from children’s education centres and was operating as a home-based provider. I had four three to four-year-olds in my care. I was feeling increasingly exhausted, so I answered the ad for the job as MP support.
“I had no idea what I was getting into,” she laughed. “I thought this would be a quiet little office job, but nothing I had done could have prepared me for it.”
What Louise didn’t know at the time was that the exhaustion she put down to working with young children was linked to a serious health problem, and after just six months in the job, she took five weeks off for treatment. Even though she was more comfortable with the role when she returned, she said it took her a good couple of years to fully understand the complexities of the job.
“Louise has been a delight to work for. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who works as hard as she does,” she said, “and I’ve learned such a lot. This is an electoral office rather than a National Party office, which means that supporters of any political party can come in, approach Louise and she will take their concerns to Parliament. She will advocate for anyone … people often don’t realise that.”
Covid was something of a game-changer during Louise’s tenure. While the physical office was closed, people could still make contact, with Louise as the conduit.
At one stage, an incident involving protesters at a meeting with the MP left her feeling particularly uneasy.
“I don’t mind the concept of protesting at all, and Louise [Upston] had already said she was willing to meet with them, yet they still came in and upset some of those attending the meeting. It was a really disrespectful display.”
Helping her make the decision to change jobs was something Louise remembers her 7th form organ teacher telling her.
“She said that if you’re in doubt about pressing a key, then don’t. I have made a lot of choices in my life, some good, some bad, but I always remember that when I’m making a decision.
“I applied it this time around, and I’m pretty confident this is the right move for me.”