Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman 'humbled and excited' after special vote win

SIMON MAUDE
Last updated 15:22 07/10/2017
Chris Skelton/STUFF

Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman fled to New Zealand from a war-torn Middle East with her parents.

Golriz Ghahraman....New Greens MP

CHRIS SKELTON/STUFF
A Middle Easterner, making it to Parliament is gratifying, Golriz Ghahraman, daughter of Iranian political asylum seekers said.

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New Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman has been a right trouper - in a non-militaristic way, of course - shunting furniture around her new home.

The human rights lawyer has just moved into a small flat in the Auckland suburb of Freemans Bay - on a weekend she was elected to Parliament as a list MP after special votes were counted in the 2017 general election.

Fittingly, everything in the apartment is a shade of green: The "kitsch" recycled art, the vases and even the balcony safety rail are all green, complementing the astroturf decking.

The kitchen feature wall and pillars are teal, almost if conjecture about a possible National/Greens coalition government is painted into the walls.

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Ghahraman bought the modest split-level apartment with her comedian partner Guy Williams.

Naturally the top she wears is green, but 'the girl who throws flowers' - that's what Golriz means in Farsi - is fretting over her wardrobe choice.

"I hope I don't get in trouble for wearing jeans," the yet to be "media-trained" 36-year-old repeats.

Friday was spent doing news interviews - lots of television - and now, moving tables for photos: The light is good by the windows overlooking the block's leafy parkland.

Saturday afternoon, however, has been about letting the news sink in after nudging into Parliament following the Greens' strong special vote showing.

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"I'm excited and really, really humbled.

"I feel a sense of responsibility to the thousands of volunteers that helped me get here but also to everyone around the world who has reached out since I became a candidate," she said.

"Being someone from the Middle East making it to Parliament is gratifying," the daughter of Iranian political asylum seekers said.

"We get to stand as a counterpart to the politics of Trumpism and division and hate and brexit, and I'm really proud of that.

"I want to end poverty in New Zealand, and I want to see real action taken on climate change."

The new MP was ready to work with New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, despite his party's stance on immigration.

"This is about democracy ... the majority of New Zealanders do want us to work together and to form the next government and change this government.

"People have voted for Winston Peters and they've voted for us to work with him and to create that next stable government."

FLEEING HER COUNTRY

Ghahraman was nine when her family fled their home town of Mashhad in the post Iran-Iraq War.

"Fearing for their lives," the Ghahramans were able to travel to New Zealand unimpeded, something refugees and asylum seekers today find difficult.

"I remember the fear and anxiety we carried for the journey, if we were turned back God knows what would have happened."

"Making it down those escalators at Auckland Airport, and being welcomed, everyone we spoke to was so welcoming."

Now "we don't let anyone arrive here as asylum seekers".

"Usually" refugees are stopped overseas trying to leave for New Zealand, she said.

As a new Greens MP, Ghahraman wants to "double then double again" New Zealand's refugee quota and end what she calls the country's "race-based" refugee entry criteria.

"At the moment New Zealand doesn't accept anyone from Africa or the Middle East unless they have immediate family members here - that's a massive downfall".

*Comments on this article have been closed

- Sunday Star Times

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