The 'a-ha moments' that led her to the greener side of life

MAHVASH ALI/Stuff.co.nz

Leilani Tamu is the Green Party candidate for New Lynn.

The housing crisis may have driven her out of her home, but it encouraged her to join politics.

Leilani Tamu says she was expecting her second child when the landlord of her Avondale home handed the young family a notice in 2015.

One year later she joined the Green Party and was selected as the party's candidate for New Lynn in 2017.

Leilani Tamu is the Green Party's candidate for New Lynn.
MAHVASH ALI/FAIRFAX

Leilani Tamu is the Green Party's candidate for New Lynn.

After moving out of Avondale, Tamu and her husband built their own house on family land in Sandringham where they have lived for the best part of two years.

They are surrounded by family members - her mother lived next door and her grandmother lived in the front.

Tamu's maternal grandparents arrived in the country on a "banana boat" from Samoa.

Leilani Tamu says her campaign is more about getting the Green Party vote.
MAHVASH ALI/FAIRFAX

Leilani Tamu says her campaign is more about getting the Green Party vote.

The "quirky name" comes from the fact that it was the vessel that was used to export bananas to New Zealand.

Her father, a "war baby", was adopted by a family with Maori connections.

So what was the 34-year-old's west Auckland link?

Leilani Tamu says she grew up around New Lynn.
MAHVASH ALI/STUFF

Leilani Tamu says she grew up around New Lynn.

Tamu said she moved to New Lynn as a university student and her first home was on Willie Ave, a street she still loved to visit.

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It was the coming together of so many cultures in one place that drew her to New Lynn.

But diversity was a term that should be used sparingly, she said.

Campaigning in New Lynn. Mafi Faukafa, left, with Leilani Tamu, Talei Kidd and Collette Kalolo.
MAHVASH ALI/FAIRFAX

Campaigning in New Lynn. Mafi Faukafa, left, with Leilani Tamu, Talei Kidd and Collette Kalolo.

Tamu said it was the "tokenism" of the word that made it cliche.

"It [diversity] is part and parcel of who we are as a society," she said.

Genuine diversity, she said, was accepting and incorporating "a new way of doing things".

The ex-Labour party member said a number of Green Party policies made her realise she was a better fit for the party.

There were two "a-ha moments" that led her to the Greens, she said.

"The first one was around the Kiwisaver policy and investing in children from birth."

Tamu said the Green's rent-to-own, and affordable housing policy also impressed her.

The former diplomat was posted across the Pacific region for about seven years from 2006 till 2013.

She said the job helped her learn about various cultures.

Tamu said she was looking forward to this year's election day on September 23, which was also her birthday.

 - Stuff

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