Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand (Māori: Rōpū Kākāriki o Aotearoa, Niu Tireni) is a left-wing political party in New Zealand.[2][3] Like many Green parties around the world it has four organisational pillars: ecology, social responsibility, grassroots democracy, and nonviolence.[7] It also accepts the Treaty of Waitangi as the founding document of New Zealand and recognises Māori as tangata whenua.[8]

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

Rōpū Kākāriki o Aotearoa, Niu Tireni (Māori)
General SecretaryGwen Shaw[1]
Co-leadersJames Shaw
Marama Davidson
Founded1990 (1990)
Preceded byValues Party
Headquarters17 Garrett St,
Te Aro, Wellington
Youth wingYoung Greens of Aotearoa New Zealand
IdeologyGreen politics
Political positionLeft-wing[2][3]
Regional affiliationAsia Pacific Greens Federation[4]
International affiliationGlobal Greens[5]
Colours     Green
SloganLove New Zealand[6]
MPs in the House of Representatives
8 / 120

The party's ideology combines environmentalism with left-wing economic policies, including well-funded, locally controlled public services within the confines of a steady-state economy.[9] Internationally, it is affiliated to the Global Greens.[5]

The Green Party has co-leaders: one male and one female. James Shaw is the party's male co-leader. The party's female co-leader is Marama Davidson, who was announced as the new co-leader on 8 April 2018.

In the 2017 general election, the Green Party secured 6.3% of the party vote and returned eight MPs.[10] This is down from 10.7% and 14 seats in the 2014 general election.[11] In addition, the Green Party contests local government elections throughout New Zealand, including Auckland where it campaigns under the City Vision banner together with the Labour Party.[12] It is currently the fourth largest political party in the House of Representatives,[10] and has agreed to support the Sixth Labour Government.

Principles and policies

The Green Party was founded to counter what it sees as the threats to the natural environment and environmental issues remain its main focus. In recent times, it has expressed concerns about mining of national parks,[13] fresh water,[14] climate change,[15] peak oil[16] and the release of genetically engineered organisms.[17] The party also spoken out in support of human rights[18] and against military operations conducted by the United States and other countries in Afghanistan and Iraq.[19]

In its economic policies, the Green Party stresses factors such as sustainability, taxing the indirect costs of pollution, and fair trade. It also states that measuring economic success should concentrate on measuring well-being rather than analysing economic indicators.[20]

The party said that if it formed a government in the 2017 election, it would legalise cannabis.[21] It would also "remove penalties for any person with a terminal illness, chronic or debilitating condition to cultivate, possess or use cannabis and/or cannabis products for therapeutic purposes, with the support of a registered medical practitioner".[22]



The Executive is the party's administrative body, responsible for the day to day overall administration of the party, instructed by and answerable to the membership, provinces and Conference.[23]


A province is a collection of branches which has sufficient sense of common identity defined by natural geographical boundaries.[23]


Branches are a collection of members with an electorate-based geographical area of responsibility.[23]


There are a number of identity or interest-based networks across the party. These include:

  • Business & Professional
  • Green Women
  • Inclusive Greens (a network for members living with a disability)
  • Pasifika Greens (a network for members with Pacific Island ancestry)
  • Rainbow Greens
  • Spirit Greens (a network for religious members)
  • Green Left (a network for left-wing members)
  • Te Roopu Pounamu (Māori network)[23]
  • Union Greens
  • Vegetarian and Vegan Greens
  • Young Greens



The Green Party traces its origins to the Values Party,[24] the world's first national-level environmentalist party.[25][26] The Values Party originated in 1972 at Victoria University of Wellington.[24][27] While it gained a measure of public support in several elections, the then first-past-the-post electoral system meant that the party did not win any seats in parliament. Some of the founding members of the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, notably Jeanette Fitzsimons, Rod Donald and Mike Ward, had been active members of the Values Party at the outset of the Green movement in the 1970s.

In May 1990, remnants of the Values Party merged with a number of other environmentalist organizations to form the modern Green Party. This sparked a resurgence of support, with the new group winning 6.85% of the vote (but no seats) in the 1990 election.

The Alliance years

The following year, the Greens became co-founder members of the Alliance, a five-party grouping that also consisted of the Democrats, Liberals, Mana Motuhake and NewLabour Party.[24] The Greens contested the 1993 and 1996 elections as part of the Alliance.

Until the 1995 annual conference in Taupo, the Greens had no elected leaders. At that conference, Fitzsimons was elected unopposed as female co-leader, and Donald defeated Joel Cayford and Mike Smith in a three-way contest to become male co-leader.

With the adoption of the mixed-member proportional (MMP) electoral system in 1996, the Alliance gained entry to parliament, bringing three Green MPs with them: Fitzsimons, Donald and Phillida Bunkle.

In 1997, feeling that membership of the Alliance had subsumed their identity, the Greens took the decision to stand candidates independently of the Alliance at the next election.[24] While most of the Green party members left the Alliance, some decided instead to leave the Green Party and stay in the Alliance (notably MP Phillida Bunkle). Conversely, some of the Alliance party members who joined the Alliance via other parties decided to leave the Alliance and join the Green Party, notably Sue Bradford and Keith Locke, who both joined the Alliance via NewLabour.

Green Party in Parliament

1999 election

In the 1999 election, the Greens gained 5.16% of the vote and seven seats in Parliament. Jeanette Fitzsimons also won the electorate seat of Coromandel, believed to be a world-first in a first-past-the-post election.[28] However, the final result only became clear after the counting of special votes, so the Greens had a 10-day wait before officials could confirm their election to Parliament. During this time, Labour concluded a coalition agreement with the Alliance which excluded the Greens. However, the party supported the government on confidence and supply in return for some input into the budget and legislation. This led to the Greens gaining a $15 million energy efficiency and environmental package in the new government's first budget.[29] Over the term, the Greens developed a good working relationship with the government and also had some input into policy, notably Sue Bradford's amendments to the ERC legislation.

2002 election

In the 2002 election, the Greens polled 7.00%, increasing their strength in parliament to nine seats, although they lost the Coromandel electorate.[30][31] The electoral campaign featured strong tensions between the Greens and Labour. The Greens sharply criticised Labour for its plans to allow a moratorium on genetic engineering to expire, and believing that Labour would require their support to form a government, intended to make the extension of this moratorium a non-negotiable part of any deal. After the election, however, Labour and their coalition partner, the Jim Anderton-led Progressive Coalition, opted to rely on support from United Future, a party with conservative Christian overtones, shutting the Greens out of power.

Although the Greens no longer had any input into the budget, they maintained a close working relationship with the government, and the Greens remained involved in the legislation process. Often the government needed to rely on Green votes in the House to pass legislation not approved by United Future, a conservative family-values party. The government won praise from political commentators for juggling the two diametrically-opposed parties.

While the moratorium on genetic modification has now expired, the Greens remain heavily involved in attempts to prevent any GM releases under the new regulatory framework, and genetic engineering remains a major topic for the party.

2005 election

In the 2005 election, the Greens won 5.30%, returning six of their MPs to Parliament. Despite expressing clear support for a Labour-led government during the campaign,[32][33] they were excluded from the resulting coalition, due to a refusal by United Future and NZ First to work with the Greens in cabinet. They were however able to negotiate a cooperation agreement which saw limited input into the budget and broad consultation on policy.[34] Both co-leaders were appointed as government spokespeople outside cabinet, with Fitzsimons responsible for Energy Efficiency, and Donald responsible for the Buy Kiwi Made campaign.

After Donald's death the day before Parliament was due to sit,[35] Nándor Tánczos took up the vacant list position.[36] The position of government spokesperson on Buy Kiwi Made was filled by Sue Bradford. The co-leader position remained vacant until a new co-leader, Russel Norman was elected at their 2006 annual general meeting. The other contenders for the position were Nándor Tánczos, David Clendon and former MP Mike Ward.[37]

Child Discipline Act

The Child Discipline Act was introduced by Green Party member Sue Bradford. It sought to outlaw the legal defence of "reasonable force" for parents prosecuted for assault against children, and was drawn from the ballot in 2005. It led to widespread debate and accusations that MPs supporting the bill were fostering a 'nanny state' approach. Despite this, the Bill became law after it passed its third reading on 16 May 2007 with an overwhelming majority of 113 votes for and 7 votes against.[38]

2008 election

In the 2008 election the Greens increased their share of the vote to 6.72%, enough for 9 MPs, even though there was a swing throughout the country to the National Party. This initially gave the Greens two extra MPs, but counting the special votes brought in a third.[39] They became the third largest parliamentary party in New Zealand.

Metiria Turei was elected at the 2009 annual general meeting after former female co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons left the party in February 2009.[40][41]

2011 election

In the 2011 election, the Green Party received nearly a quarter of a million party votes (247,372), equating to 11.06% of the total valid party votes nationwide, earning them 14 seats in the new 50th Parliament. Preliminary results on election night showed them with 10.6% of the vote, equivalent to 13 seats, but special votes increased their support enough to gain an extra seat.[42] They remained the third largest parliamentary party in New Zealand.[43]

2014 election

In the 2014 general election, the Green Party's share of the party vote fell slightly to 10.70%. Despite this, they retained all of their 14 seats and remained the third largest party in parliament.

James Shaw was elected at the party's 2015 annual general meeting over fellow MPs Gareth Hughes and Kevin Hague, and party member Vernon Tava. He succeeds Russel Norman, who resigned in November 2015 to work as Executive Director of Greenpeace Aotearoa New Zealand.[44]

2017 election

The Green Party announced their final list of candidates for the 2017 election on 30 May 2017, with a number of lower listed members becoming one of the top 14–15 members most likely to enter parliament after the election.[45] During the party's campaign launch on 9 July, the Green Party proposed charging bottling companies a ten percent tax for exporting water with the resulting revenue being split between local councils and Māori tribes or iwi. In addition, the Greens announced that they would ban new resource consents for bottling companies until the establishment of a new comprehensive commercial water pricing scheme.[46]

In July 2017, the Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turei criticised the populist New Zealand First party and its leader Winston Peters for its alleged racism, particularly towards immigration.[47] Coates also penned an article in the left-wing "The Daily Blog" claiming that the Greens would call a snap election rather than be excluded from a prospective Labour and New Zealand First coalition government.[48] Turei and Coates' comments were fiercely criticised by both Peters and Deputy Leader Tracey Martin, who warned that this would affect post-election negotiations between the two parties. Fellow Co-Leader Shaw later clarified that Coates' remarks did not represent Green Party policy.[49][50]

On 16 July, in order to raise awareness of the inadequacies of the welfare system, Turei disclosed that she had committed benefit fraud in the past.[51] Turei also advocated raising the domestic purposes benefit for families during the Green Party's electoral campaign. Her disclosure generated considerable interest from the media, politicians, and the New Zealand blogosphere.[52][53][54][55][56][57] On 7 August, two Green MPs Kennedy Graham and party whip David Clendon resigned as Green Party candidates due to their disagreement with Turei's actions and handling of the situation. They formally resigned from the Green Party's parliamentary caucus the following day after the Party made moves to remove them "involuntarily."[58][59]

On 9 August, Turei resigned as Co-leader and as a List MP; stating that the media scrutiny on her family had become unbearable. Co-leader James Shaw will remain the Green Party's sole leader for the 2017 election.[60][61] Clendon has stated that he would not be returning to the Green Party list despite Turei's resignation. On 12 August, the Green Party Executive declined Graham's application to return to the Party list following Turei's explanation. Leader James Shaw indicated that there was considerable animosity within the Party towards Clendon and Graham for their actions.[62][63]

On 17 August, it was reported that the Green Party had fallen by 11 points to 4 percent in the 1 News–Colmar Brunton Poll. This could mean that the Party would fall short of the five percent threshold needed to enter Parliament under New Zealand's Mixed Member Proportional system. The Party's sharp drop in the opinion poll was attributed to negative publicity around the Green Party's infighting and the ascension of Jacinda Ardern as leader of the center-left Labour Party, the Greens' nominal ally.[64][65] By contrast, the Roy Morgan opinion poll placed public support for the Green Party at 9 percent.[66]

During the 2017 general election, the Green Party's party vote dropped to 6.3% with the Party gaining eight seats in the House of Representatives.[10] The Green parliamentary caucus' newest members are Chlöe Swarbrick, who is currently the youngest member of the House, and Golriz Ghahraman, the first refugee member of the House.[67][68] Following the election results, Party Leader Shaw stated that the Greens would not be seeking a coalition with the National Party. He added that the Party was pursuing a coalition rather than a support agreement with the Labour and socially-conservative New Zealand First parties.[69]

On 9 October, the Greens leader Shaw took part in negotiations with the Labour Party.[70] During the coalition–forming negotiations, NZ First leader Peters turned down Shaw's invitation for the two parties to negotiate directly on the grounds that the Greens and Labour had campaigned together under a memorandum of understanding during the 2017 election.[71][72]

The Green Party in Government

In October 2017, the Greens entered a confidence and supply arrangement with the Labour Party which gives them three ministers outside cabinet and one under secretary role.[73] This marks the first time the Greens have been in government.[74] Party leader James Shaw was appointed Minister for Climate Change and Statistics and Associate Minister of Finance. Julie Anne Genter was made Minister for Women and Associate Minister of Health and Transport. Eugenie Sage was made Minister of Conservation and Land Information and Associate Minister for the Environment. Jan Logie was appointed Parliamentary Undersecretary to the Minister of Justice Andrew Little with a focus on domestic and sexual violence issues.[75]

As a support partner of the Labour-New Zealand First coalition government, the Greens secured several policies and concessions including a proposed Zero Carbon Act, a referendum on legalizing personal cannabis use by 2020, establishing a proposed Climate Commission, a proposed Green Transport Card to reduce public transportation costs, investing in rail and cycle infrastructure, light rail construction to Auckland Airport, increasing the Department of Conservation's funding, eliminating "excessive" benefit sanctions and the gender pay gap, a rent-to-own-scheme as part of KiwiBuild, and re-establishing the Mental Health Commission.[76]

Local body elections

2013 local elections

In the 2013 local elections, Greens won three city council and two regional council seats in Wellington,[77] a council seat in Dunedin,[78] and also enjoyed success in Christchurch and Gisborne.

2016 local body elections

During the 2016 local elections, Green Dunedin candidate Aaron Hawkins was re-elected to the Dunedin City Council and was joined by the Green Party's first elected Pasifika representative, Councillor Marie Laufiso.[79] During the 2016 Wellington local election, four Green candidates Sue Kedgley, Iona Pannett, Sarah Free, and David Lee were elected onto the Greater Wellington Regional Council and the Lambton, Eastern, and Southern Wards of the Wellington City Council.[80][81] Several Green candidates also contested seats on the Auckland Council, local boards, and licensing trusts during the 2016 Auckland local body elections.[82][83][84]

Electoral results


Election Party votes Total percent Place Seats won Government
1990 124,915 6.9% 3rd
0 / 97
Part of the Alliance
1999 106,560 5.2% 5th
7 / 120
Supported Fifth Labour Government
2002[30] 142,250 7.0% 5th
9 / 120
2005 120,521 5.3% 4th
6 / 121
Supported Fifth Labour Government
2008 157,613 6.7% 3rd
9 / 122
2011 247,372 11.1% 3rd[85]
14 / 121
2014 257,356[86] 10.7% 3rd
14 / 121
2017 162,443[10] 6.3% 4th
8 / 120
Supported Sixth Labour Government

Office holders

Male Co-leaders

Female Co-leaders

Male Co-convenors

Equivalent to the organisational president of other parties. The Green Party constitution bars co-convenors from standing for parliament. There is always one male co-convenor and one female co-convenor.

  • Chris Thomas (1990–1992)
  • Harry Parke (1992–1994)
  • Rex Verity (1994–1997)
  • Joel Cayford (1997–1998)
  • Ian Stephens (1998–2000)
  • Richard Davies (2000–2001)
  • David Clendon (2001–2004)
  • Paul de Spa (2004–2006)
  • Roland Sapsford (2006–2012)
  • Pete Huggins (2012–2014)
  • John Ranta (2014–2018)
  • Wiremu Winitana (2018–present)

Female Co-convenors

  • Meg Collins (1990–1992)
  • Dianna Mellor (1992–1994)
  • Danna Glendining (1994–1997)
  • Leah McBey (1997–1998)
  • Christine Dann (1998–2000)
  • Catherine Delahunty (2002–2004)
  • Karen Davis (2004–2007)
  • Moea Armstrong (2007–2010)
  • Georgina Morrison (2010–2015)
  • Debs Martin (2015–2017)
  • Katy Watabe (2017–2019)
  • Penny Leach (2019–Present)

Male Policy Co-Convenors

The Policy Co-Convenors are the leaders of the Policy Committee, which is autonomous from both the caucus and the party executive. While lower in profile than the party Co-Convenors, the policy co-convenors are considered to have the same status as the party co-convenors, and are elected in the same way. There is always one male policy co-convenor and one female policy co-convenor.

  • Matthew Grant (2001–2004)
  • Bill Brislen (2004–2005)
  • Ivan Sowry (2005–2009)
  • Richard Leckinger (2009–2013)
  • Paul Bailey (2013–2016)
  • Barry Coates (2016)
  • Julian Lumbreras (2017–2018)
  • Jack McDonald (2018–2019)
  • Leighton Thompson (2019–Present)

Female Policy Co-Convenors

  • Karen Davis (2001–2004)
  • Nancy Higgins (2004–2007)
  • Caroline Glass (2007–2012)
  • Jeanette Elley (2012–2014)
  • Wendy Harper (2014–2016)
  • Caroline Glass (2016–present)

Current members of parliament

The Green Party won 8 seats in the 2017 general election.

The MPs are, in order of their 2017 election list ranking:

Rank Name Term in office Portfolios & Responsibilities[88]
1 James Shaw 2014–present
2 Marama Davidson 2015–present
  • Female Co-leader of the Green Party
  • Deputy-Musterer
  • Spokesperson for Housing
  • Spokesperson for Māori Affairs
  • Spokesperson for Disability
  • Spokesperson for Auckland Issues
  • Spokesperson for Sports and Recreation
  • Spokesperson for Pacific Peoples
  • Spokesperson for Ethnic Affairs
3 Julie Anne Genter 2011–present
  • Minister for Women
  • Associate Minister of Health
  • Associate Minister of Transport
  • Spokesperson for Christchurch Issues
4 Eugenie Sage 2011–present
5 Gareth Hughes 2010–present
  • Musterer
  • Spokesperson for Energy and Resources
  • Spokesperson for ICT
  • Spokesperson for Primary Industries
  • Spokesperson for Commerce and Consumer Affairs
  • Spokesperson for Wellington Issues
  • Spokesperson for Economic Development
  • Spokesperson for Tourism
  • Spokesperson for Animal welfare
  • Spokesperson for Technology, Research, Development and Science
6 Jan Logie 2011–present
  • Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice
  • Spokesperson for Workplace Relations and Safety
  • Spokesperson for Social Development
  • Spokesperson for Te Tiriti
  • Spokesperson for Superannuation
  • Spokesperson for ACC
  • Spokesperson for Community and Voluntary Sector
  • Spokesperson for State Services
  • Spokesperson for Rainbow Issues
  • Spokesperson for Senior Citizens
7 Chlöe Swarbrick 2017–present
  • Spokesperson for Education
  • Spokesperson for Tertiary Education
  • Spokesperson for Broadcasting
  • Spokesperson for Local Government
  • Spokesperson for Arts, Culture and Heritge
  • Spokesperson for Small Business
  • Spokespeson for Youth
  • Spokesperson for Internal Affairs
8 Golriz Ghahraman 2017–present
  • Spokesperson for Human Rights
  • Spokesperson for Immigration
  • Spokesperson for Global Affairs
  • Spokesperson for Trade
  • Spokesperson for Defence, Security and Intelligence
  • Spokesperson for Corrections
  • Spokesperson for Police
  • Spokesperson for Overseas Development Aid
  • Spokesperson for Justice (including Electoral)

Past Members of Parliament

1.^ Stayed with the Alliance when the Greens left.

See also


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