Chester Borrows, former Whanganui MP, is gravely ill.
The daughter of former Whanganui MP Chester Borrows, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, says the family have been called to his bedside after his health “deteriorated considerably”.
Borrows, a former policeman, lawyer, and MP was diagnosed with head and neck squamous cell cancer, according to a Givealittle page.
The 65-year-old had been drawing from his savings to pay for a non-funded drug at $8000 per dose.
But daughter Abi Borrows said on social media today things had worsened.
“Some of you have been trying to get hold of Chester Borrows – as you probably know, his condition has deteriorated considerably and we’ve been given instructions to assemble the family,” she wrote.
“The problem we’ve got (among others) is we cannot access his Facebook account, so if you do want to pass messages on please contact any one of us in the immediate family.”
They were all “devastated, heartbroken [and] numb” but grateful for everyone’s support and they were together to rally around Borrows, she said.
The Givealittle page has raised just under $40,000 to help towards Borrows’ treatment and has now been closed as the target has been reached.
Loved ones and friends commented on Borrows’ daughter’s post, with one person saying he was an “absolute legend”.
“I know the whole community is mourning his health issues,” said another.
Borrows served as MP for the Whanganui electorate from 2005-2017.
“It’s a big electorate and you have to be absolutely everywhere. You have to be 200 per cent committed,” he told the Herald in a 2020 interview.
“If you want to be in charge of your brand, you need to work as hard as you can. Be everywhere, go to everything, comment on everything, always be friendly, always have that smile painted on.”
Borrows made headlines in 2016 following a run-in with anti-Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) protesters in Whanganui.
He was charged with careless driving causing injury when two women blocked his car and suffered minor injuries. He had then MP Paula Bennett in the car with him at the time.
While a judge found Borrows’ driving had caused the injuries, she did not agree it was because he was driving carelessly, and found him not guilty on the charge in the Whanganui District Court.
Previously labeled a “blue leftie”, the National member recently spoke out against the party’s controversial youth crime policy, which proposed sending some 15-17-year-olds to new military academies.
Borrows, who was Minister for Courts in John Key’s government, told RNZ boot camps were a cliche.
“I think it keeps coming back because it’s popular with a certain sector of the community,” he said on Nine to Noon.
“People like to think that these are the answers to problems within the criminal justice system: ‘lock them up for longer, throw away the key, feed them on bread and water’, all those sorts of things that we used to hear in our day when we were kids, we’ve tried it for 30 years, it hasn’t happened.”
In 2014, Borrows took on another temporary position as “Minister for Chicken Donating” after gaining a reputation when he donated chickens to a youth justice facility.
“Palmerston North got in touch to say they had built their chicken coop and they were ready for their chooks please,” he said. Borrows said at the time he knew Ramanui School in his town of Hawera was also interested in being given the chickens but he had to wait until the end of the electoral period before he could make the donation.
“I got in touch with them straight after election day and said, ‘Where do you want them and how many do you want?’” he said.
Borrows said there was “not a lot going on” with pets at youth justice residences and he believed it was good to teach residents to care for animals, as many people who abused animals went on to abuse people. “If you can teach kids to respect and care for and nurture animals, hopefully it will follow through.”