Green Co-Leadership a battle for the ideological direction of Party



Radio Live asked for my opinion on the Green Party Co-Leadership race over the weekend, here were my thoughts.

The 3 main contenders for the Co-Leadership of the Greens represent the ideological battle that is currently playing out inside the Party.

Kevin Hague – Represents the status quo. The difficult balancing act the Greens currently face by trying to be all things to all people. Kevin won’t make a call for either side of the ideological fencepost and will champion the ‘Greens aren’t Left or Right, we are forward’ mantra that Russel Norman adopted to brush off questions about where the Greens stand. He has seniority but faces the challenge that members are wanting a definitive position around which they can build.

Vernon Tava – represents the blue-green dimension of the Greens, wants to open the possibility of working with National and states that the Nats would be very willing to work with them. Tava is running because it’s too soon for James Shaw to run.

Gareth Hughes – One of the Greens best performers in Parliament, Hughes appeals to the large chunk of Green Party members who are Gen Xers and Gen Y, his argument that the youth wing of the Greens should be represented in the leadership role is a difficult one to refuse.

Conclusions: The Blue-Greens don’t have the membership numbers to push through their working with the National Party agenda at the moment and so Tava’s candidacy is more a staking out of intentions by that block. Kevin will have difficulty explaining how his candidacy will be the circuit breaker many members are desiring after their disappointing 2014 election result and Gareth Hughes appeal to the youth vote is probably the biggest opportunity for growth.

The difficulty for the Greens is where will they pick up new voters. They can do that by appealing to the youth vote (where Hughes would be their strongest weapon), but their strategy will need to be aware of the political landscape they will be entering for the next 3 years.

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Labour’s recent smack in the face to Metiria by denying her a seat on the Intelligence Review is a reminder Labour intend to cannibalise as much Green vote as possible in time for 2017.

With Labour focused on being a 40% Party again and with their move to the middle, should the Greens change ideological tack and chase the same electorate or would staying left and progressive syphon disgruntled Labour voters to them while pulling in larger numbers of youth vote?

It’s the question the members will need to answer as the Greens work through where their future stance will take them.


  1. A staunch Green supporter in my late 60s, I’m going with Gareth Hughes here, simply because to me he represents the direction where NZ should be heading. That’s towards a positive progressive future, where every NZer is valued.

    Watching him perform in Parliament, Gareth comes across as strong, level headed, reliable, consistent and knows his stuff well. Most of all, like Russel Norman he is a force to challenge Key.

    Progression + positive + future doesn’t register with the Natsies or Labour. It’s the here and now with them, stagnating and decaying in the present.

    I place my faith in the NZ Greens to take NZ ahead and for me, Gareth is the man to do it.

  2. The Greens have, for decades, avoided an alliance with Labour that would involve invidious policy compromises. It seems… unlikely… that a rush to the right could be achieved without substantially worse damage. Being the Greens however, the matter will probably be determined by the membership, democratically.

  3. Were Hughes to get the coleadership role, I would be down to sign up for the GP again in time for the local elections next year. With Hague, I’d wait and see, then maybe fork-over the $15 in time to vote for list placings, and help out with the general election. With Tava, I’d be off to sign-up with MANA.

    I have been waiting for the IP to pull itself together, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. Emails to the local exec have gone unaswered; so I’m on the verge of just writing them off as a lost cause. Not wanting to be a rat deserting the ship in a time of need, but my staying isn’t likely to stop it from sinking.

  4. I agree, Gareth all the way for me, the thought of him and Metiria as a team has really sparked my interest. Should Gareth win, it could even be a vote changer for me.

  5. What has happened to Kennedy Graham? Has he pulled out?

    I favour Gareth out of the 3 choices above, but also like Kennedy.

    That because a lot of foreign policy decisions are important at this time for this country. Wars, Occupation, UN, Spying, mass surveillance are all issues that are going to effect our way of life in this country.

    Metiria focus seems very local and the Facebook site does not really inspire me as the issues are often very specific. I can’t put my finger on it, but it looks more like a local community board than a party in parliament.

    So a counter to that in a co leader by having a voice like Kennedy which is older and who has worked at the UN could be useful for the Greens.

    It might actually cannibalise the National votes.

    Minor parties should be looking to take National votes without polarising the Greens existing vote base. Someone like Tava is not a good idea.

    Kennedy could have been useful by appealing to National swing voters and more conservative people who also believe in peace and disarmament.

    At this time foreign policy is a big issue. Labour have dropped the ball, National are unpopular on this and Winston is gaining votes on this.

    Also be careful about thinking youth are more a Green voter, not sure as so many young NACT types about. Yes Gareth is youthful but are the young voting? How many disillusioned baby boomers and gen X are there who do not have a voice and remember the Vietnam war and the problems that caused. They might like Kennedy with a few rousing speeches.

    Any way, see it between Kennedy and Gareth but think there needs to be more information about both and Kennedy should be a contender.

    • Food for thought here,

      Lets be smart and let them all perform in debate and see how effective they all are against all the Key clones during the run up to the June voting date selection of the Green party for a replacement seems a wise move.

      Yes Kennedy Graham also is superbly polished and has lots of stature as Gareth, & Kevin often does.

      We do not know much about Vernon Tava the new named entrant here, who prefers to deal with NatZ.

      Do we any more that may enter between now and June I wonder?

    • In this piece on The Nation, Kennedy Graham all but rules out standing:

      [5:37 – Voiceover] 68 year old Graham is also not ruling out running – if only to generate debate.
      [Graham] I would much prefer that some capable man from the next generation generate that debate.

      It’s less of a hatch-edit job than the GP usually get on TV3 (especially when Sabin Jr is involved – I couldn’t quite decipher Gower’s jerky preamble to decipher who assembled this piece; Torbyn Achehole?). However, there was clearly a set line; who will be keenest on “cosying up to National”, and way too much time devoted to having Trotter riding his hobbyhorse around for the camera.

      • I wouldn’t mind seeing a debate about where they see NZ and the Green party. If Kennedy could go to the next election with a view to Gareth taking over. Maybe Kennedy does not want to run but he probably would be taken more seriously by MSM and middle NZ and a disallusioned baby boomer and gen x , that is where I was coming from.

        I’m totally against the Greens doing a deal with National as they will split their voter base so there is no point like the Maori party. Also National under Key, Joyce, Brownlee and Collins, my God, a hideous thought. However I would not mind with NZ First or Labour or Internet Mana if they run.

  6. MPs like Sue Bradford, Sue Kedgely, Nandor Tanczos, Keith Locke, Jeanette Fitzsimons (and others) didn’t give a rats about positioning, where the next vote would come from blah blah. They focused on issues and policy and allowed whatever followed to follow.

    It’s not about votes and alliances. Which party would rather have the Greens as a partner in preference to not having them there at all? I can only think of one and they’re not currently in parliament.

    Forget who’s most electable – who will most strongly push Green principles.

  7. For god’s sake give us a party with vision, ideas for a better more cohesive future – not the same old recycled and repackaged garbage – I don’t care who heads it. Greens? I’m late 60s, but, Gareth all the way – as long as he’s got the stamina to withstand a much increased level of attacks and put downs!

  8. Gareth would be better, if he doesn’t allow anyone to run in Ohariu and ruin the next election, again.

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