27 Feb 2023

Former National MP Chester Borrows dies

2:28 pm on 27 February 2023
Chester Borrows at Whanganui District Court 2 August

Former National MP for Whanganui Chester Borrows died on Monday in Taranaki. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Former National MP Chester Borrows has died after being diagnosed with cancer last year.

Borrows, who was 65, represented the Whanganui electorate from 2005 until he retired in 2017.

He served as courts minister and associate minister of justice and social development in Sir John Key's National Government.

Before that, he was a police officer and a lawyer.

His family confirmed on Facebook they were called to his bedside in Hāwera over the weekend after his health deteriorated considerably.

Borrows was diagnosed last year with terminal head and neck squamous cell cancer.

In a statement, National Party President Sylvia Wood said her thoughts were with his loved ones and "the communities he dedicated his life to serving as a police officer, local MP and community advocate".

"Chester's devotion to South Taranaki and Whanganui was matched by his commitment to the National Party," Wood said.

"Members still speak of his thoughtful contributions to policy remits at party conferences, and he went out of his way to offer support and mentorship to newer MPs and candidates," she said.

"To Ella, Katy, Abi, Zac and all of Chester's friends and loved ones, thank you for sharing Chester with us all for so much of his life - New Zealand is better for it."

Despite not making it to Parliament in his first two attempts in 1999 and 2002, his resolve remained because he wanted to improve the lives of New Zealanders, Wood said.

In his maiden speech in 2005, he said: "I want to live in a country that claims all children as its own and accepts the glory and the responsibility of that - the responsibility to create opportunities for them to stand straight with chin up and chest out, and not to slouch on extended welfare for their whole working lives, never to stand proudly unaided.

"I want to live in a country where all talents and abilities are rewarded; not just the flavour-of-the-month occupations but the brain surgeon and the drain digger, the social worker and the rocket scientist, the chippy and the chairman of the board. That, Madam Assistant Speaker, is why I joined the National Party and why I stand here today."

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins also paid tribute to Borrows, describing him as an honest straight-shooter, who he enjoyed working with.

"Chester and I served on a number of select committees together. He served as deputy speaker of the House of Representatives at a time when I held a variety of different roles connected to the House in opposition.

"[Borrows was] someone who was passionate about his local community, an all-round thoroughly decent bloke. So I want to send my sympathies and condolences to his family."

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