Green Party MP Teanau Tuiono considering co-leadership bid

STUFF
Green MP James Shaw says he will again stand to be Green Party co-leader, and wants to lead the party into the next election. Shaw's co-leadership of the party was opened up for contest by a vote during the party's AGM on Saturday, July 23, 2022.

Green Party MP Teanau Tuiono says he may challenge Climate Change Minister James Shaw for the party's co-leadership.

“I’m not ruling anything out,” he said on Wednesday afternoon.

Tuiono said it was important, particularly to young members, the Green Party had a strong and independent voice that was not tethered to the Labour Party. He said he continued to speak with party members about the matter.

The first-term MP’s eagerness to discuss the possibility of a co-leadership run has come after days of speculation about whether Shaw would face a challenger.

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Shaw was unexpectedly deposed from the party's co-leadership after he failed to gain support of 75% of the party’s members at its annual meeting at the weekend.

“It’s really, really, important that our members feel that they’re able to hold our leaders to account, and also our MPs to account ... It’s an important part of the Green tradition,” he said.

Asked whether he would make a better co-leader of the party, he said: “That’s up to the membership.”

“It's important that the role of the co-leaders is to actually stay connected to the grassroots communities and stay connected to our branches as well. That's the message I'm getting very clearly.”

Green MP Teanau Tuiono gives a media conference to say he is considering challenging the co-leadership role against ousted leader James Shaw.
ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff
Green MP Teanau Tuiono gives a media conference to say he is considering challenging the co-leadership role against ousted leader James Shaw.

He said he had a different political background from Shaw, having engaged with indigenous communities and environmental movements across the world.

And, he said, being the party’s first Pasifika MP “my communities are on the frontlines of climate change”.

“I really like the guy, we get on really, really well,” he said of Shaw. The two spoke on Tuesday.

Shaw promised on Monday to run again for the job. He had been co-leader since 2015, and led the party into Government with Labour after the 2017 election.

On Wednesday, Shaw posted a lengthy missive to party members on his Facebook page, promising to be a better party co-leader if re-elected.

“If I’m honest, I’ve found it hard to get the mix right between being a minister and a co-leader and, quite clearly given the vote last weekend, I haven’t quite nailed it,” he said.

“I guess I’ve thought that the best work I could do for the Greens was my work as climate minister. I can see that I need to spend more time working on my role as co-leader. If members do choose to have me back, I will do that.”

He said he would ask the party co-convenors, who manage the non-parliamentary wing of the party, about whether a “process for grievances to be aired and reconciliation found”.

Greens Climate Change Minister James Shaw says he will re-contest for the co-leadership position.
ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff
Greens Climate Change Minister James Shaw says he will re-contest for the co-leadership position.

“Despite our commitment to non-violent conflict resolution and appropriate decision-making, there are times when we don’t live up to that standard. I’ve always found that painful, and I’d like to do something about it.”

A new vote for the position will take place within the next five weeks.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson, who retained her job at the weekend, said she was aware members needed to be reminded of how the party had pushed Labour to be better.

“[It] will be up to the members to assess whether they think we are making enough gains, whether they think we’re standing strongly enough on our green kaupapa.”

Green Party MPs considered possible contenders, Chlöe Swarbrick and Elizabeth Kerekere, ruled themselves out earlier this week.