Chris Luxon – The Man Behind The Leadership
There’s no question last year was a tumultuous one for the National Party, with the end of 2021 culminating in a ‘changing of the guard’ for the opposition.
We thought it was time to sit down with Chris Luxon to find out exactly why he got into politics, his vision for New Zealand, and what he does with his extensive collection of Ryobi tools.
Who is your political hero and why?
I’m a big fan of Barack Obama. I lived in Chicago when he first came into federal politics and I admired the way he built a good team around him. When I worked for Air New Zealand, I actually brought him out here to speak about leadership.
If you could only give one piece of advice on what it takes to be successful – what would it be?
I think it is about getting connected to a purpose and mission bigger than yourself. We all have unique experiences, so how do you make your life count and attach it to something greater?
Marmite or vegemite?
Definitely marmite, with cheese on toast.
What attracted you to politics/ why do you think you can make a difference?
I spent a lot of time in the commercial world overseas and as part of my job, I saw a lot of different countries and the good and bad of different systems. And when I was the CEO of Air NZ, I worked with different governments and political parties, seeing many of the challenges faced, alongside the positives.
When I finished at Air NZ, I could have carried on doing another corporate job here or overseas, but I realised I wanted to do something that would give back. I’m not a career politician, but I do think New Zealand is the best country on earth and I want to help it reach its maximum potential in all areas – environmentally, socially and economically.
What skills have you brought to your new position from your previous roles at Unilever and Air NZ?
As a CEO you have many skills that are transferable. It is about having a vision of where you want to go, defining problems and developing solutions to get different results. In the National Party there are 33 MPs who have real world experience that they are bringing to Wellington, and it is my job to use the power of those people.
What values from your upbringing have stayed with you and shaped your career and decision-making?
I was lucky to have two awesome parents, who still advise me to this day. They left school early and went into their respective jobs and careers, but then mum actually came to University when I was there, to become a counsellor. She always trained me, even as a young child, to think about people. She would tell me to always walk across the room to different people and listen, to understand things from their perspective.
My dad was a sales rep, who was (and still is) a big positive, optimistic guy who told me you can achieve anything if you work hard at it. He taught me that when you fall over, you get back up and going, with goals and plans in place.
What is a typical weekend like in the Luxon household?
We are busy, so we work really hard to make family time, which is usually a movie night out on Saturday, where we grab dinner together. Otherwise, it is hanging out with each other and friends at home, listening to music, boating and going to music concerts.
If you hadn’t gone into politics, what do you think your next career move would have been?
I could have gone back into a corporate job somewhere else – like Australia or the US, but I felt I had done everything I wanted to in the commercial world. The other opportunity was to focus on a project we are working on as a family, which is the issue of modern slavery. There are 40 million people still in slavery in 2022, so the non-profit route was definitely an option (which it still could be in the future).
If you could have dinner with three people – deceased or alive – who would they be and why?
William Wilberforce – who was a leader of the movement to abolish slavery. Winston Churchill. Madeleine Albright – who I have actually been fortunate to meet and hear her many interesting stories.
What is your ultimate Ryobi tool that you don’t yet have in your vast collection and what would you do with it first?
Recently I was gifted the car polisher, so I think I am probably someone with the largest set of Ryobi. I had been working on putting up some floating laundry shelves, but then the leadership changeover happened and I just hadn’t had the time to finish, so thankfully my father sorted them at Christmas.
If you were Prime Minister tomorrow, what is the first law you would repeal?
The limiting of interest deductibility on property for landlords, as it is restricting the number of houses available for renters.