Why did you decide it was important that you run for Green Party Co-Leader?
It wasn’t the easiest decision, but in the end I felt I was best to maintain our independence, grow our movement, and be transparent for our membership. It’s going to be really important for us as a smaller party to maintain our point of difference, because we know around the world that is a problem for smaller parties in government. Because I’m not a Minister, I have the capacity to speak independently.
In your time in parliament what do you think has been your greatest achievement?
I’m proud of the amount of attention that putting Te Reo in schools – both in the party agenda and in the 2017 election. It’s changing the nationwide conversation. I’m really proud of the publicity and media we were able to get from that.
I’m also proud of co-chairing the enquiry into homelessness and really being accountable to the communities on how bad the problem of homelessness actually is.
As a politicians, what do you think makes you different?
I am already well-networked and have respect with the progressive campaigns and diverse communities. That’s what we are going to need in the Green Party, so I will continue to reach into those communities. For example, all of the climate change movement campaigns, all our Iwi groups mobilizing against deep sea oil and fracking, all of our groups caring for our water and rivers, the groups who have been clear in their stance against the TPPA.
That’s who we are going to need going forward.
What are your goals for the Green Party in the next 3 years?
Not to go below the threshold of 5% to be in parliament! Like seriously, we are at risk of having our political existence be cut by 2020, so I want to make sure we grow our support base. The way we are going to do that is by being very different, because otherwise people won’t see the relevance of having the Green Party in parliament.
How important is it for the Green Party to have a Maori leader?
We cannot take for granted our Maori support and our steady progress over recent years of building that up. All the political parties understand how important having Maori support is if they are going to sustain themselves into the future.
That’s what I offer the leadership on. I’m the only Maori MP in the Green Party right now, and the membership has the choice to give that Maori political aspiration the mana of a co-leader mantle.
My priorities will be to unify our caucus and give the membership some faith and hope that we will be accountable to them and protect the unique Green kaupapa that has always been important to us.