New ACT MP Andrew Hoggard was born in Kaitoke Upper Hutt where his grandfather originally purchased a farm.
“My grandfather farmed it, dad farmed it, and I loved it,” Hoggard said.
“It was a quiet little road, so we just roamed free,” he said recounting his childhood on the farm.
He recalled making forts and getting up to mischief with his siblings.
“Because I was the oldest, I gave them orders on what they should be doing and tried to organise everything,” Hoggard said, a possible early sign of his eventual path to politics.
He described himself as shy and quiet at school, with a few teachers wondering whether he had speaking difficulties.
“Just that grey kid that disappeared into the background and no one expected a hell of a lot from.”
Hoggard said that people often perceive him as a Footrot Flats-style character, “not that bright and dumb, and a big buffoon type”.
“Yet I’m reasonably intelligent on a hell of a lot of things as I assume most people have now worked out,” he said.
“People underestimate me at first and then I surprise them.”
Hoggard played rugby in high school and dreamed of being an All Black, but “that goal vanished about halfway through university when I realised, I probably won’t make it to that level”.
After university, Hoggard went to Canada for a year and worked on a dairy, beef, and grain farm there.
“I realised this is enjoyable, this is what I like doing,” he said.
Hoggard said that he struggles sitting at desks typing out long reports.
“I’ll have to overcome that now,” he said.
Hoggard’s father was part of Federated Farmers at a provincial level and was part of him getting involved with Young Farmers.
Over the next 18 years, Hoggard progressed to the top job, Federated Farmers President.
As a farmer, Hoggard says the hardest thing is managing the weather.
“You feel like the world shrinks around you and you feel like you’re taking the weight of everything on your shoulders,” he said.
He credits groups like Federated Farmers and Rural Support for helping farmers through tough times by “bringing everyone together for a beer at the pub and events like that”.
“You soon realise, everyone else is in the same boat, and you’re doing all you can.”
Hoggard believes that a big reason farmer’s mental health is an issue is that they try to take things on by themselves too often.
He’s now been married to his wife for 15 years.
“When I met her she was in the army and it just sort of clicked and that was us.”
They have two daughters.
“If you’d gone back 20 years ago and asked if I’d want to be an MP I would have said no.”
“When David Seymour put the idea into my head a couple of years ago my answer consisted of two words, and you can probably guess what those two words were,” Hoggard laughed.
“There’s no guru book I would point to and say these are my beliefs, I don’t really read any of those books anyway,” he said.
“It’s mainly Star Wars books I read, so if it was any guru, it would be Yoda.”
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