Youngest Green Party candidate reflects on first time standing in election

By Jessica Tyson

Luke Wijohn of Ngāi Tūhoe and Te Rarawa, stood for Mount Albert in the 2020 election, the seat held by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Despite not winning, Wijohn says he enjoyed being among the “grassroots activism”.

“It really brought back and inspired progressive politics for me to be able to see that actually all these people getting together, all these people talking to each other about the values we all hold and the progressive change we can make for our mokopuna - that was so inspiring.”

Wijohn organised the School Strike 4 Climate marches in Aotearoa last year, where thousands of students took to the streets in September demanding more action on climate change from elected officials.

He says in the leadup to the election working with Chloe Swarbrick’s Auckland Central campaign and Marama Davidson’s Tamaki Makaurau was a highlight.

“I was blessed to have such a strong team of people,” he says.

Losing to Ardern was not an issue because the Green Party works in coalition with the Labour Party, he says.

Supported cannabis bill

“I wasn’t thinking I was going to be beating Jacinda but it was more about pushing Labour to be further to the left, to be more progressive, to care more about our people, about our planet, and more than that, to get the party vote,” he says.

Preliminary referendum results from the two referendums, the End of Life Choice Bill and the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, are expected to be revealed on October 30. Wijohn is in support of the cannabis referendum and says “it’s a no brainer really. We need to bring it out of the shadow.”

Wijohn graduated from secondary school last year and says marijuana is in every school, students "buying an unknown drug, from unknown people and unknown locations and it's just not safe.”

The proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill would allow people to possess and consume cannabis in limited circumstances. The bill would allow a person aged 20 or older to buy up to 14 grams of dried cannabis per day, enter licensed premises where cannabis is sold or consumed and grow up to two plants per household.

“We can have some control, some certainly. It doesn’t mean that all of the drug issues we have are going to disappear but what it does mean is that we can have less, that we can bring it out of the shadows and actually control it."

Next year Wijohn plans to study Māori or history at Victoria University in Wellington to become a history teacher or Māori teacher.