Petone's Holly Walker is one of four new Green list MPs who will sit in the House for the next three years.
Speaking to the Hutt News on Sunday morning after a 1am election night-party finish and a deserved sleep-in after weeks of campaigning, the 29-year-old said the feeling was "quite surreal but great".
She understands she will be the second youngest among the 2011-14 crop of MPs.
The Greens had set a target of 10 per cent of the party vote and pre-election polls consistently showed they looked like they'd exceed that.
Ms Walker, No 12 on the Green list, said rather than being confident she'd be an MP, she had been "cautiously optimistic".
In fact, the Greens picked up 10.6 per cent of the party vote, meaning the No 13 on the party's list, Mt Roskill's Julie Anne Genter, is also in. And with special votes still to be counted, the Greens could yet get a 14th MP.
"It's within the realm of possibilities; we'd only need another .2 or .3 per cent."
But even if it's only four extra MPs, "it's a pretty good boost to the ranks" from nine MPs, and Ms Walker argues it is strong evidence the policies the Greens hammered during campaigning more "green" jobs, getting more children out of poverty and cleaning up the nation's rivers resonate with a lot of Kiwis.
It "puts us in a strong position to be a really effective opposition party".
"For example, National has had unpopular policies before that haven't been allowed to go through, such as mining on conservation land. We hope that we have a strong mandate to really oppose some of those policies, like asset sales, and lead a campaign against them.
"On areas where we do have things in common with them, we've worked very effectively with [National] and again, that increased mandate means we're in a strong position to negotiate some policy wins with them."
She gives the example of extending the home insulation scheme to a further 200,000 homes.
More environmentally-sound jobs and cleaning up rivers "will definitely be on the table" as well.
She argues it would be foolish for the two bigger parties to ignore the Greens looking ahead to 2014. "We've got a very clear position now in politics as a third party, a very clear constituency. Our issues are now mainstream issues. It does behove both National and Labour to take the Green Party seriously."
Ms Walker says the Greens will be meeting during the next week to allocate portfolios and it is "probable" she will be the party's spokeswoman on several topics.
Her "interest, passion and expertise is in the social justice area" (as a policy and media adviserto the Greens for the last two years nte she led the party's poverty research project) so she hopes she may end up with a portfolio in that area.
"I've worked a lot on child poverty, inequality, women's affairs, education ... but I don't know exactly what I'll get."
The former Rhodes Scholar has a masters in development studies from Oxford University.
She has the outline of New Zealand tattooed in green on the top of one of her feet. It was done just before she left New Zealand on her scholarship to Oxford in 2007.
"I did it so I'd be taking a little piece of home with me."
Ms Walker remembers her political awakening started while she was a student at Hutt Valley High School. A teacher played a video of Springbok Tour protests in 1981 and she remembers being greatly impressed by a "fluoro orange jacket and helmet-wearing" Rod Donald, who later became a Greens co-leader.
In another incident she was arguing with her economics teacher "over some orthodox economic theory".
"I remember he called me a trendy lefty."
She took it as a badge of honour.
- Hutt News
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