Newshub Nation Backstory: New National MP Rima Nakhle shares Lebanese heritage, political motivations, love story 

How well do we really know our politicians and the personal values and experiences they bring to decisions that affect us all?     

Newshub Nation's Backstory series goes behind the scenes into our political leaders' lives and childhood photo albums.   

Rima Nakhle is National's new MP for Takanini and takes much pride from her Lebanese ancestry.    

While she was born in Australia and grew up in Sydney, she said being Lebanese makes her feel "very privileged" due to its "rich culture," and she has been back many times.  

"With Lebanese, it's very important to honor your guests," she said.    

Nakhle recalled a lesson from her childhood: "Even if you don’t like a person, or if they're an 'enemy,' it's so dramatic in the older terms, you still have to put out a spread of food for them."  

She said that this is one aspect of Lebanese culture closely aligned with Māori manaakitanga, or hospitality.    

Nakhle's father moved to Australia from Lebanon in 1969, before returning to his home village and marrying Nakhle's mother in 1973.    

"Mum came out to Australia and then I was born a few years later," she said.   

Leafing through old family photos, Nakhle described her father as "quite the gangster dresser".  

She revealed her father does not read or write but is a very smart man with an amazing memory, and a burning desire to have an education.    

Nakhle remembers her father consequently pushing very hard for her and her siblings to become educated.   

There was a period during her childhood "where things were very difficult for my parents", she revealed.  

"I don't talk about it too much but... I remember food parcels, Salvation Army but we got through it, and my parents just continued to work hard, but those things stick with me."   

Nakhle now lives with her husband Roger, who she met through "a mutual interest in Lebanese politics".  

"I used to say to my mum, 'I'm not going to get married unless I find someone that's perfect.'   

"She would say, 'There is no one perfect in this world' - but Roger is perfect to me and for me."   

They got married 12 years ago after being in a long-distance relationship for a couple of years prior. Roger said politics is a "common interest" for the two of them and he helped a lot with her campaign.    

Rima said she and Roger "work together, we travel together, we plan together, we campaign together". They also run the Te Mahia Community Village together, a former camping ground which Nakhle helped turn into a transitional housing facility.   

"The first few months that I started working full-time at the village, I'd come home and reflect on some of the things I saw and the situation that people were in and it broke my heart."  

She is still heavily involved with the village and received a warm welcome while showing Newshub Nation around.   

Rima is also heavily involved in the Takanini Gurdwara, which she described as "an exceptionally special place to me".   

The Gurdwara's president, Daljit Singh, said Riwa takes every opportunity to bring food around.    

"She brought over Lebanese food from Sydney, she always brings food for volunteers," Singh said.    

For Riwa, she said it's just a way of saying thank you.    

"It's one of my love languages, giving people food."  

Another key motivator is seeing people wrong done by, "That charges you", she said.  

Watch the full video for more.     

Watch Newshub Nation 9:30am Saturday/10am Sunday on Three & Three Now and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.     

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.