Newshub Nation: National MP Chris Penk shares his Backstory and talks about struggles of politics, Twitter

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.

Chris Penk was raised in west Auckland and was one of five boys.

As a self-described sports-kid, he "just wanted to play cricket, soccer and hockey".

Penk is "very nostalgic for that time".

His mother Deborah was a teacher by trade, but with five boys to raise, she had her hands full. 

"Lots of teachable moments in there," Penk laughed. 

His father worked at Auckland Law School, originally as an administrator and later as a teacher. 

After realising he wouldn't be able to play cricket for the country, Penk joined the Navy, first New Zealand's and then Australia's. 

He was after "the adventure and to see the world, and all those corny things that at the age of 20 seem like a pretty good idea".

As an officer of the watch, Penk was often responsible for steering the ship the HMNZS Te Kaha while only 21.

Penk's mother described him as "always ambitious".

However, she also recalled a parent-teacher interview where she found out that Penk had been asked to do something and responded, "do it yourself".

Penk admits that the politician's life is not always easy on him and his wife and young children. 

"Going to Parliament 30 weeks or so of the year is tough on them, let's be honest."

One way they have started spending time together recently is bike riding.

"We're not going to be in the next Commonwealth Games but we chuck the kids on bikes and get out there and explore a bit of Auckland."

Penk said "every MP comes in with a background that has shaped them".

"Sometimes it will be an ethical or a moral or a religious faith.

"For me, I had that background growing up and I do reflect on whether I am living up to values of looking out for others and doing unto others as I would have them do unto me."

Penk admits he knows "I fall short often, basically every tweet".

Penk is a prolific tweeter and often finds himself in hot water on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

"But at least I know it," he said.

"And I can vow to do better next time," he laughed. 

Watch the full video for more. 

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