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Nicky has lived in Christchurch her whole life, where she studied, worked and raised her two sons alongside husband David.

After leaving school Nicky trained as a secondary school teacher and taught at Hagley High School and Hornby High School before taking up a position at the Christchurch Polytechnic.

In 1991, following her time teaching, Nicky became a foundation partner in a nationwide marketing company which specialised in promoting New Zealand fashion designers and their product. This was the beginning of a series of businesses which included retailing, manufacturing, and distribution.

In 1998, she established an internet and e-commerce business specializing in on-line marketing and the development of industry clusters. She also served as a director of the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce and the Ashburton Savings Bank, and is a member of the Institute of Directors.

In 2002 Nicky was selected as National’s candidate for Christchurch Central.

Following the election, Nicky was elected as a Canterbury Regional Councillor in a 2003 by-election, and was re-elected to a full term in 2004. She stepped down from this role at the 2007 local body elections after serving as Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee for two years and the Transport (busses) Committee for two years

Following the 2005 election Nicky entered Parliament as a List MP before becoming MP for Christchurch Central in 2011 following a recount triggered by an election night draw.

In 2014, Nicky was appointed as a Minister in the fifth National government, with responsibility for Statistics and Customs.

Following the 2014 election, Nicky retained her Customs portfolio and gained responsibility for Disability Issues. Before the 2017 election, Nicky also became Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration. During this time, she was also an Association Minister for Conservation, Christchurch Earthquake Recovery, Health, and Tourism.