Final debate marks end of Green Party Co-leadership campaigns

By Talisa Kupenga

Marama Davidson maintains she is the right choice for the Green-Party co-leadership but so does fellow contender and colleague Julie-Anne Genter.

The campaign period ends tonight with the pair's final debate face-off in Dunedin.

Davidson says she's got the goods to co-lead the Greens.

"The membership knows I am the best fit to build a strong and diverse following for the party," says Davidson.

But so does Julie-Anne Genter.

"I have a lot of experience both in parliament,holding a wide range of portfolios- and I've demonstrated an ability to get cut-through," says Genter.

American-born Genter is a minister outside of cabinet.  Davidson, a backbencher, is the party's only Māori MP.  Both say they're advocates for Māori issues.

Davidson says, "Right now I am here representing our voters.  I am a voice for Māori, the communities, women, mothers and for the Treaty”.

Genter says, "The majority of New Zealanders are Pakeha and I think it can help advance these issues to have Pakeha advocating for- actually respecting and honoring- Te Tiriti".

Last election those on the Māori roll gave more party votes to National than the Greens.  The Green Party's vote also dropped to six percent- down from 10 percent in 2014.

Davidson says, “That is another challenge for The Greens".

Genter says, "With only eight MPs and only one Māori MP it is going to be more difficult for us to reach Māori voters who have traditionally voted Labour".

Within the next two weeks the party membership and delegates will cast their votes. 

April 8 brings the announcement of who will stand alongside James Shaw.