We see them in the mags or on the news or walking down the street, and we form an opinion of them based on the opinions of others or on our own (very limited) knowledge. Yet when I meet them in person I get a totally different idea of who they really are.
I spoke to a senior MP about the lack of progress on the Rena shipwreck, and he happily told me what should have been done. When I suggested he was just talking politics, boy, did he get mad and all of a sudden I saw the real person. I heard his heart....
I've met rich and famous sportsmen who I wouldn't mind going out with my daughter and I've met rich and famous sportsmen who are arrogant and rude.
The same goes for teachers and employers - their position doesn't in any way guarantee their character. I want to respect you, in fact I'll give you respect because of your role, but there are times when I wouldn't respect either your decisions or your behaviour.
I hear what they say, but I want to know what they really think - I'm looking to see if their actions in any way match their rhetoric. It's not about who you are, or the cut of your suit, or your fancy title or how well you can chase a ball. It's about what you're like under pressure and what you get up to when you think you're not being watched.
I want to know if they keep their word. (David says there's a reward for those who "swear to their own hurt" and don't change their mind.) I don't really care if you're left-wing or right-wing, I just want to know whether you genuinely care about people or your biggest ambition is to line your own pockets.
I had a lot of respect for Jeremy Dwyer, a former mayor of Hastings who often quoted the Maori proverb:
11 years later, and I still can't disagree. It takes all types, whatever their background, whatever their function. There's a place for you and despite our differences of opinion, there's a place for me. After all, if it wasn't for all the "interesting" types, the world would be a boring place, wouldn't it?"He aha te mea nui? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata!What is the most important thing? It is people, it is people, it is people!"