Prime Minister Chris Hipkins pays tribute to Chester Borrows after former MP dies from cancer

The Prime Minister has paid tribute to former National MP Chester Borrows, whose death from cancer was announced on Monday

Speaking at his post-Cabinet press conference, Chris Hipkins said he had served alongside Borrows on a number of Select Committees and worked with him when the National MP was the Deputy Speaker of the House. 

"I always found him to be a really honest, straight shooter. Someone who I really enjoyed working with, someone who was passionate about his local community and an all-round thoroughly decent bloke."

Hipkins sent his condolences to Borrows' family. The former MP is survived by his wife Ella, three children and three grandchildren. 

"He was just so sensible and normal. He loved his politics the same as the rest of us do, but he also just wanted to get on and get the job done," Hipkins said.

He remembered how Borrows would give a "scorecard at the end of urgency from the Speaker's chair on who he thought had done the best filibuster speeches which made the most novel and entertaining contributions".

Hipkins said it was a "uniquely Chester innovation".

National Party President Sylvia Wood said Borrows dedicated his life to service.

"Chester’s devotion to South Taranaki and Whanganui was matched by his commitment to the National Party. 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.


"While Chester did not make it to Parliament in his first two attempts in 1999 and 2002, he did not let it dull his resolve."

She said it was clear in his 2005 maiden speech that he was "fueled by his aspiration to improve the lives of all New Zealanders".

Others paying tribute to Borrows include former United Future leader Peter Dunne, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, and sociologist Jarred Gilbert.

"Very sad news about Chester Borrows - a genuine and compassionate man who served his community well. RIP," said Dunne.

"It is with sadness that we learn of the passing of former MP Chester Borrows earlier today," said Peters. "He was well-liked and well-respected by fellow MPs from all sides of Parliament for his character and honesty. Sincere condolences to his wife Ella, family, and friends."

"Incredibly sad news about Chester Borrows," said Gilbert. "I did a fair bit of work with Chester and he was a such a good man. He will be greatly missed."

Borrows was the National MP for Whanganui from 2005 until his retirement in 2017. During his tenure in Parliament, he served as a Minister for Courts and Deputy Speaker during the Sir John Key Government.

Prior to entering the House of Representatives, Borrows was a police officer, detective and lawyer. In 1978, he received a Queen's Commendation for Brave Conduct for arresting an armed murderer in Wellington's Miramar.

He was made a Companion of the Queens Service Order in the 2017 New Years Honours.

Although he was a former National MP, Borrows often criticised his old party's policy after he left Parliament. Last year, on the back of National announcing a policy of boot camps for serious young offenders, Borrows said it was a "cliche" suggestion. 

"I hope that we get past cliches and billboards and actually talk about the actions we need to take in a very precise manner, and how we can ensure that kids don't go down this track."

He was diagnosed with head and neck squamous cell cancer last year. Over the weekend, his family said the cancer was "terminal"

"Following surgery, radiation and chemotherapy the cancer is now terminal and Chester has begun a series of treatments which are not funded by the health system," a Givealittle page said. 

A celebration of his life will be held at Hawera's TSB Hub on Thursday afternoon.