Green Party co-leader Russel Norman resigns
Russel Norman will stand down as co-leader of the Green Party in May, citing family reasons, but will remain an MP.
Norman made the announcement this morning, saying it was time for a change. He will officially leave at the party's annual meeting where a replacement will be voted in.
Metiria Turei will stay on as co-leader.
Norman said it was "time to find a new challenge for myself and to spend more time with my family, and now is also a good time for new leadership for the party."
Norman's partner Katya Paquin recently gave birth to their third child, a girl.
Norman will stay on as a list MP.
"That's my plan at this stage but I still need to look at my options further out," he said.
Turei said she and Norman were partners in crime and it was a privilege to work with a "talented and committed" colleague.
"There is of course life outside of the Green party and parliamentary politics," she said.
The job was hard with a young family, she added.
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"Russel stepped up when we needed him most," she said, visibly upset .
Turei said the election of co-leader would be smooth transition and there were "plenty of high-calibre men" to choose from.The party has have decided not to comment on candidates.
Its rules mean Norman must be replaced with a man and a clear front runner would be health spokesman Kevin Hague.
The shock move follows a disappointing general election result for the Greens in September, where they fell well short of their 15 per cent target.
Norman was a party volunteer from 1997 and started working in the parliamentary officer in 2001.
"I never imagined I would end up as co-leader," he said today.
Labour Leader Andrew Little has wished Norman well for the future.
"Russel has made a significant contribution to New Zealand politics in his nine years as co-leader of the Greens," he said.
"In that time he more than doubled the number of Green MPs in Parliament and has been an excellent communicator and advocate for his party's issues.
"I wish Russel well as he gets to spend more time with his young family," Little said.
RUSSEL NORMAN'S FULL SPEECH
"Good morning and thank you for being here.
I am announcing today that I will not be standing for co-leader of the Green Party at our AGM in May.
This is my ninth year as co-leader and I think it's time for a change.
This is something I have considered for some time and over the summer break I have had the space to think hard about my future.
I concluded that after nearly a decade, it is a good time to find a new challenge for myself, and to spend more time with my family, and now is also a good time for new leadership for the party.
My replacement will start from a strengthened base and will have a full parliamentary term to establish himself in the role and take the Greens into government in 2017.
The time is right.
I have always held the view that no organisation should be reliant on any one individual, or indeed two.
I am proud of my contribution to the Green Party and the green movement, but know that others can pick up and build on this work and take our party to even greater success.
One of the hallmarks of the Greens has been our successful leadership renewal.
When I became male co-leader in 2006, after the tragic death of Rod Donald, many commentators chimed the death knell of the Greens. How wrong they were.
In my nine years as co-leader we have more than doubled our electoral support to over 10 percent.
I am personally gratified to have been part of a team that led our party to its two most successful election results ever, the only time under MMP that a party other than Labour and National have received more than 10 percent of the vote two elections, in a row.
The Greens are now unquestionably the third party in New Zealand politics and are an important and influential part of our political landscape. I am very proud of that achievement.
Our electoral success has been built on developing policy that is both principled and realistic, a strengthened party organisation, and a highly professional and effective parliamentary structure.
Our membership has never been higher and our branches never more active. That forward momentum will continue.
It has been a pleasure to work alongside a smart and passionate caucus and dedicated staff who are the best in the business.
We have put forward positive smart solutions to the issues facing our country, while leading the opposition and holding the Government to account.
Our policy work in the last election is a blueprint for modern progressive green government and I am proud to have played a key role in shaping that.
In particular, as lead spokesperson on economics and the environment, I have relished the opportunity to develop policy that is both good for the economy and good for the environment. It has been inspirational to see, in spite of a disinterested New Zealand Government, that there are so many great businesses and organisations taking up the opportunities of sustainable economics in New Zealand and around the world.
Those countries and businesses that embrace the opportunities of sustainability will dominate the twenty first century.
The Greens are focused on the future and not simply managing a status quo built on the past.
That is the distinctive role that the Green Party plays in our democracy. We are thought leaders and catalysts, pushing ideas and solutions against the headwinds of fear and inertia.
We operate at the vanguard of change and it has been a pleasure to be at the helm for a time.
But as they say, all good things must come to an end.
I started as a party volunteer in 1997 and later, after my PhD was completed in 2001, I started work in the Green Parliamentary office. I never imagined I would end up as Co-leader.
It has been a most rewarding job.
I want to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues in the Green Party for their unwavering support over my nine years as Co-leader.
In particular I want to thank Metiria. Together we have built a true political force that serves New Zealanders well and offers genuine choice and leadership on the issues that matter. I know that you will carry this work on with a new male Co-leader.
I also want to acknowledge the support of my family and in particular my partner Katya. I know that you have carried a lot at home while I have been off at events up and down the country.
Being Co-leader while raising a young family has been an interesting experience, one that I feel has enriched my political work and strengthened my passion for building a better world for the next generation.
One of my political heroes Gough Whitlam once said "a conservative government survives essentially by dampening expectations and subduing hopes. Conservatism is basically pessimistic, reformism is basically optimistic."
I will leave this role optimistic. Optimistic for our party, our country and our world.
We will continue to reform with optimism."