Former Greens chief of staff says the leadership spat is ‘shocking but healthy’

By Whatitiri Te Wake

As the Green Party leadership issue continues, former chief of staff and current delegate Tory Whānau says there has been dissatisfaction among the party for "several years".

The fight was sparked at the weekend when James Shaw was shunted from the top job following a failed attempt at reaching  75% support from the party's delegates. Whānau says the vote outcome speaks to the party’s diversity.

“It was an emotional moment for quite a few of us. I believe it would have allowed James to reflect on his leadership. What are the things he needs to address? What are the members' concerns that he needs to address?” she asked.

Second challenge

With election year fast approaching questions remain over the damage this 'un-election' has caused to the party that could form the next government.

Appearing before reporters on Monday morning James Shaw declared his "job wasn’t done", and confirmed that he will contest the co-leadership.

“I'm standing to lead the Green Party into the next election alongside Mārama Davidson.”

This, however, isn't the first time his leadership has come under fire from his own party. He won comfortably against James Cockle in 2021 when his leadership was challenged at the last Green Party AGM.

The remaining co-leader, Marama Davidson, does not agree this has damaged the party and says it's merely the party holding the co-leaders to account.

“We’ve always had this process available. We’ve always had the ability for co-leaders to be confirmed or not. Every single year.”

'Writing on the wall'

“This is a good opportunity to say we all want more in climate change, on protecting our taiao, on making sure people have what they need to have good lives,” she said.

Political analyst Dr Lara Greaves, however, said the writing was on the wall.

“There's been quite a bit of talk about Shaw being a bit too centrist for the Green party base - the activist wing of the party.”

 MP Teanau Tuiono is known for his activist background but asked in recent days whether it was time for Shaw to step down, he said it was up to members to decide.

“Ia te tau ka pērā ngā amuamu me ngā kōhimuhimu, kaore he paku aha ki a au. Ko te mea nui kia kaha tātou ki te whai i te rangatiratanga o roto”

“Every year we see the gripes and whispers. I don’t take too much from that. The main thing is we need to be strong in our pursuit striving toward democracy within our party."

Although no other contender has put their hand up to battle it out with Shaw for the top job so far, the race is on with delegates expected to vote in coming weeks.

Later yesterday Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick said despite rumours she was not in the running for the co-leadership.

“After the re-opening of nominations for Green party co-leader on Saturday, there has been a lot of speculation. What happened at our AGM was unprecedented and I, like all of our Green MPs, wanted to respect the process and take time to reflect and listen. That reflection will continue in the coming days and weeks.

Swarbrick said she thanked “all of the lovely and kind people who’ve expressed their confidence in me. I will continue my work as Auckland Central’s MP, in my parliamentary portfolios and on the finance and expenditure committee".

She said the party process was that MPs did not endorse any candidates who put themselves forward.