Green Politics in Future New Zealand



I sense a renewed commitment by the Green Party to contribute to the governance of New Zealand, and not simply snipe from the sidelines. Getting the ‘Red Peak’ flag on the menu for this year’s flag referendum was a masterstroke of political pragmatism that allows for a process in which people can more easily make reflective rather than reactive decisions about an alternative flag; a flag that might replace the defaced blue ensign that tells the world we are both a state of Australia and a British overseas territory. (In the end it was New Zealand First – alias Winston’s Imperial Army – that showed its true colours during Wednesday evening’s debate. Who else really wants the United Kingdom flag to be part of our flag?)

But I’m not really writing about the flag here. I’m sensing that James Shaw is acting to position the Green Party as a genuine power broker, and in part by emphasising Green’s primary purpose, to advocate (and legislate) for the natural environment.

The issue is particularly pertinent at present because the signs are that, given past precedents, Winston Peters will be in a position in 2017 to insist on becoming Prime Minister as a condition of his party’s support in forming either a Labour-led or National-led Government.

The message the Greens need to give is that their first preference is to participate meaningfully in a Labour-Green or Labour-Green-Māori government. Of equal importance, they must give the clear message that their second preference is meaningful participation in a National-Green or National-Green-Māori government. Both of these options render New Zealand First superfluous.

While it is possible that there will be enough votes for the first (with Labour) preference, it’s much more likely that there will be enough votes for a National-Green-Māori supply-confidence combo. Further, I am sure that Mr Key would much prefer a National-Green-Māori line-up to a National-Winston administration.

(While making predictions may be brash, I did get this year’s British election right; United Kingdom General Election on 7 MayScoop, 23 April 2015. I think that the effective vote percentages in New Zealand in 2017 could be Green 12%, Labour 30%, NZ First 10%, Māori 3%, National 40%, Act 5%.)

While Winston would probably negotiate principally on the basis of leadership, the Greens would negotiate on the basis of environmental policy. Further, once in the governing tent, the Greens would be in a position to advocate for a more publically-oriented form of capitalism in economic policy.

TDB Recommends

My position is that I want good policies, and if Mr Key presiding over good policies makes his legacy look better than most people on the left would rate it, then so be it. I look forward to a National-Green-Māori government closing out this decade. I would also be more than happy to have a Labour-Green-Māori government. Indeed, I can see no reason why both Green and Māori should not be a part of all future MMP governments.

One final note, on progressing the matter of climate change that is dear to James Shaw’s heart. From my point of view, the science (while important) is incidental to how we should behave. We should reduce our pollutant carbon (and other harmful) emissions because such emissions represent a fouling of our home. We don’t need proof of anthropogenic global warming to reach this ethical conclusion about how we should behave towards our planet.

And for those climate-change deniers, who for the most part think that large-scale pollution is OK; they should be asked what they would do (and what policies they would recommend) if ever there was incontrovertible proof (ie proof that even they would have to accept) that human-induced pollution was creating long-term adverse consequences for the global environment.

An ideologue is a person whose opinions are influenced by neither facts nor ethics. Opposition and minority-party politicians (and journalists) need to probe our key decision-makers, to ensure that their opinions are influenced by both facts (including newly discovered facts) and ethics. The Greens, if they choose, can ‘punch’ above their weight in the governance of Aotearoa New Zealand. In democratic politics, ethics and facts trump ideology. People, for the most part, are principled pragmatists.


  1. Wow! The size of your delusion astounds me!

    Maori are no longer anything. They have chosen to lie down with National and are struggling in the polls by contamination.

    The same will happen to the Greens. They are already well on the way to oblivion and the rub off from National will affect them as well.

    This is an inevitable cancer that is largely incurable.

    The middle class of NZ/Aotearoa have this odd juxtaposition of opposites; their consciences want them to be left and socially aware, but they desire the imagined security of tedious ineffective conservative government. Thus have they latched on to the fraudulent concept of centrism, the third way.

    And look what happened to the smug Blairites in the UK…

    Maybe when the housing bubble explodes (and please God, be soon) they will finally be alerted to what is really going on here and get off their lazy fat white arses and do something for the benefit of the whole country rather than their own stupid interests.

    I’m not holding my breath because they are equally self deluded…

    • The Greens and Labour have not sold out – and the Greens are very far from oblivion. The govt. owned media discredits and laughs at anything non-NATZ. Get the word out to the public maybe ? through other means than Channel 1 and Channel 3.

      J.S. Bark “self – deluded” — perpetuate the propaganda illusion instead of offering some good ideas about how to get us out of this toilet pit stop that the Natz have driven us into. Seems that Winston’s and the Mana/Internet party platforms and some in the Maori Party could look at options to work with Labour and Labour COULD look at options of not freezing out potential partners. Lets all work together somehow to guarantee change. Compromise; less ego and more cooperation.
      Wake up voters and stop believing the polls and the main stream media and the propaganda lies put out by this train wreck of a govt.

  2. People, for the most part, are principled pragmatists.

    It turns out that, in fact, we’re mostly deluded and irrational – sitting inside an illusion of rationality and freedom of choice.
    The better manipulators of the illusion will win. – this 20 minute video will open your eyes and you’ll get an idea of how vulnerable you are, continually – and finally how we might use this for good.

  3. Hi Keith thanks for your thoughts but I couldn’t disagree more.

    The Greens have bought into a shokey process, JK vanity project that completely lacks integrity and principle. Getting Red Peak included in the flag referendum in my mind is a sop. In mind my it is like a violent partner saying I am not going to hit you but I will scream abuse at you and you concluding that you have won some sort of victory. 50,000 support Red Peak. I estimate about 2 million voters at least. That is a small minority. Frankly it looks like some triangles to me that someone is ascribing meaning to. But that’s not the point. Even if I loved it the process has been beyond disgusting.

    You may not want the current flag, but it appears the majority of NZders do. Labour were attempting to have that question included in the first ballot. Key played Labour and the Greens.

    IMO the Greens have been either stupid or devious. I have voted Greens but never again. Every time they stand up in Parliament and talk about lunches in schools, I will always think “you are the p…ks who cost us more in the wretched referendum for an f….g flag………..”

  4. Totally disagree. The Greens have been played.

    WAKE UP.

    If I was an opposition strategist I would have number 1 strategy – Does this help National?

    If the answer is yes, don’t do it!

  5. That wasn’t pragmatic politics it was astounding amateurism. This is possibly the most deluded article I’ve ever read on the daily blog. I am currently urging all of my friends not to renew their Green Party memberships. What the GP has done is inadvertently illustrate that we need to build bottom up democratic movements because this electoral thing just isn’t working.

    • “…we need to build bottom up democratic movements because this electoral thing isn’t working.”

      If a 50,000 signature petition presented to parliament via the Opposition which resulted in a/the desired law change “isn’t working”, then what would “working” look like?

      Admittedly it’s not as important an issue as walking away fom the TPPA, but nevertheless it is an example of principled political pragmatism.

    • Wow – the Greens fight their butts off against this govt for the past seven years including doing the biggest share of getting signatures for the Keep Our Assets petition, not to mention anti-deep sea oil drilling, breakfast for school children etc, and you are telling all your friends not to vote for them because of a flag design?

  6. “snipe from the sidelines”.

    What is this? RadioLive? Sean Plunket would be pround of such an ideologically loaded statement. Or perhaps this blog post was written for Kiwi Blog?

    “An ideologue is a person whose opinions are influenced by neither facts nor ethics.”

    Yes, that’s a good point Keith, but try to incorporate the environment into your suggestions.

    I’m with George Monbiot. Stop pretending caring for the environment is not connected to left & right economics.

  7. The day the Greens side-up to National as a coalition partner will be the day most of their members quit and they will lose their support base, including myself. It won’t happen and the Greens themselves don’t want that to happen. (I know tons of Green supporters who say this. Even their politicians say there’s no way in hell they would do this.)
    I suggest talking to a wide range of Green supporters to see that.
    The Greens want to be first cab off the rank with Labour, this is true, but Labour has a history of snubbing them and going further over to the right wing often…
    Labour needs the Greens and the Greens need Labour. And it is the best answer to mainstream politcs in this country right now. They need to form an agreement together of mutual support.

  8. The Greens’ are now dancing with the devil and have lost so much political capital and credibility and for what? To allow Key to save face. Naivety and political ineptitude and the Greens leadership are incredibly obtuse to allow Key to play them so badly and the Greens can gain absolutely nothing from any association with National.
    A National/Green coalition would spell the death knell for the Greens, political pragmatism means you surrender the moral high ground and lose sight of your core values.
    The Greens would have lost a lot of respect from the Left this week.
    James Shaw would be best advised to remember the old proverb ‘If you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas.’ And the Greens are now covered with Nationals fleas. An infestation that may be long lasting.

  9. Keith Locke says “My position is that I want good policies”

    Our aguemnent now is NZ First have a far better rail policy then Greens have Keith so why do they?

    See UK green policy on rail is very involved isn’t it?

    UK Green party have the full policy on rail.

    But NZ Greens don’t have much more than a wet bus ticket on rail.

    “Repair and upgrade our national rail network including reinstatement of mothballed sections”???????

    pitiful in content specifics.

    How can you do that (“reinstatement of mothballed sections”) when the mothballed sections have been ripped up and designated for future use in your policy of cycle ways (See below Russell Norman below, – cycling with John Key after a rail was removed for a cycleway in northland)

    So by then after which is happening now or been given to these golf rail cart operators for a 25yr lease which may happen to Napier/Gisborne rail line may become, how are you going to restore rail again??

    You are effectively then leaving all communities with a dangerous environment left with a Green Party assistance to government blessing of them to breathe dirty air, and suffer endless 24/7 truck noise and dangerous roads with Truck gridlock?????

    This is so shocking as it is scandalous for Green Party current members when NZ First has a good rail policy and you have squat.

    Show me Keith where you say is in the current Green Party manifesto where it says Greens will restore and even built new sections of the rail network when Greens get into Government, as this is what NZ First is prepared to do for rail?

    I’m about to consider joining NZ First for this alone along with many in HB/Gisborne now without any rail and greens sat there and did nothing when National wrecked it by robbing the maintenance funding for Auckland’s passenger rail our rail was washes out by a storm so you are joining a rail wrecking national Government, gee thanks.

    Go talk to your new leader James Shaw as we sent a letter from our community group on all this rail issue, – to him two months ago and he never answered us on it!!!!!!!!

    But I will send you a copy to you toady to take to James and Metiria who also got a copy of it then, and put this right for once.

    When I was a Green Party member during Rod Donald/Jeanette Fitzsimons Greens ear, we had a far more composite (regional) export productive sector rail policy to assist our communities and producers.

    So you need to step up as “True Greens” not just keep saying greens have done so much” models.

    Big trouble with the current Greens is that they know with their help, the National Party will be returned without NZ First and Greens & labour coalition helping each other.

    Greens are not about to join in a grand opposition coalition for the public good we are afraid and a lot of people are aware of this.

    Perhaps the greens are hi-jacked by the corporates?


    We hope they change before the 2017 election Keith, just remember what Rob Donald would think now?

    Speech: Russel Norman comments at Twin Coast Cycle Trail budget funding announcement

    Published By Catriona MacLennan / May 3, 2015 / No Comments

    MIL OSI – Source: Green Party – Press Release/Statement

    Headline: Speech: Russel Norman comments at Twin Coast Cycle Trail budget funding announcement

    Russel Norman MP on Sunday, May 3, 2015 – 13:01

    Thank you Mayor Carter. It is great to be in the sunny North today.

    The commitment of funding to complete the Twin Coast Cycle Trail is great news.

    This funding will make a truly great ride from coast to coast and offers great tourism opportunities for this region.

    Working with the Government on the New Zealand Cycle Trail has been a very important project for the Green Party.

    We are proud of the part we have played in this partnership with National, which exemplifies smart green policy in action.

    Our memorandum of understanding with National has delivered over $400 million worth of green initiatives for New Zealand.

    Prime Minister, you might not be surprised to learn you have spent more on Green projects in our MOU than on initiatives with your formal coalition partners! And exceptionally good investments they have been too!

    This cycle trail is part of a wider Greens National policy package, including the successful home insulation scheme, the clean-up of the contaminated Tui mine site and the establishment of a register of toxic sites and trials of non-poisonous trapping of pests in the DOC estate.

    Together these success stories represent just the tip of what is possible as we transition New Zealand to a richer greener future.

    And getting out of cars and onto our bikes can be a big part of that future.

    Put simply the cycle trail is good for people, good for our economy and great for our environment.

    It is win win win for New Zealand.

    Investing in cycling makes sense for New Zealanders.

    Greater investment in cycling infrastructure encourages more cyclists. And more cyclists is a good thing for our environment and our roads.

    Across New Zealand more and more of us are switching from cars to bikes to get to work and the Cycle Trail offers a healthy and unique way to see our beautiful country.

    The economic benefits of the cycle tail are significant. Cycle infrastructure generally has a higher benefit cost ratio than roads. Cycle ways can also become tourism magnets. The success of the Otago Rail Trail shows the potential business opportunity for the North.

    And our environment benefits too. Reducing our dependence on cars and fossil fuels will be an essential component of reducing our carbon emissions to combat climate change.

    It is long standing Green policy for there to be a set of connected cycle trails around New Zealand. We want to see these great rides connect to urban cycle networks too.

    On that score it was pleasing to see the Government’s commitment to spend $100 million over four years on urban cycle ways at the election.

    We would have loved it to be a bit more, well four times more to be precise, but we are more than happy to work with you on the rollout of that project.

    But this commitment of funds is great news. It is great for the North, great for cyclists and we are proud to be here today part of the announcement.

    • Uh huh, but I’d like to point out that Nationhal Cycleways do not take me to work or the supermarket. City cycling needs upgrading and taking care of. Don’t confuse the two.

    • Just to keep in mind – NZ First would like to send all Syrian male refugees back to Syria to fight (a citing form Winston). Plus they want all the unemployed to work for their dole (how about generating actual jobs and having enough work for those in jobs as this could take jobs away from them, not to mention prevent many on the dole from actually looking for work, not to mention discriminating them potentially). Sure the Greens need to improve their regional rail policy. But they have an in-depth climate change policy and have been focussing far more on inequality than NZ First. I’d look more closely at what each party do and stand for before reacting so strong. The Greens are member driven and can and will improve their rail policy, but NZ First is run by Winston and he alone controls their polices… (he hols power of veto in his party for instance, what does that tell you…)

    • That’s completely incorrect – look at their policy on this. There are many views on this issue and they plan to phase it right out in a manageable way with alternatives. This will take research investment as they emphasize.

      • Ah right… kinda like giving the farmers more time before carbon emissions apply to them while the taxpayers subsidise them. Yay… I can’t wait…

  10. I could not look forward to any government less, involving National especially after the last 7 years and apart from propping up this corrupt government what on earth have the Maori party got to show apart from the fact they can be bought at damn near any price.

    As for the industrial desgined red peak flag thing which popularity is highly questionable and that kept Keys stupid flag spend up alive, a master stroke it is not!

  11. Good post Keith. You’re clearly living in the real word, unlike many of the posters above.

    It’s interesting how the Left continually ties itself up in arguments about ‘ideological purity’ whilst missing the opportunity to actually get some policies implemented. I have never figured out why that is.

    Surely the objective of the Greens (and other political parties) is simply to GET STUFF DONE. Otherwise they’re wasting their time.

    • How the hell could the Greens “get stuff done” in coalition with National, when the stuff that Greens want (social justice, action on climate change) is the total opposite of what National want (business as usual)? Care to explain how you see that working ‘in the real world’ Andrew?

      Shaw saw an opportunity to deal to show the 50,000 that signed the red peak petition that he is a smart operator. That is not the same thing as the Greens helping Key get a 4th term.

      • To those who responded to my post:

        You’re assuming there is zero overlap between the Greens and National. Pressing and practical issues where they could find common ground include the removal of pest species in our forests (both flora and fauna) and the creation of ‘inland islands’ where our native birds can flourish. Wouldn’t it be worth getting some of these ‘runs on the board’. Maybe the Greens could assist with the thousands of miles of riparian planting that National instigated with their national water standard legislation.

        The process is political. It’s messy and imperfect but it generates progress.

        Sure economics impacts the environment but unless you intend to remove all trace of mankind on the planet you’re always going to have to find a balance somewhere. Could a Green/National coalition move that point of balance to somewhere closer to where you would like it?

        As always he’s the High Priest of ideological purity, determining from his imaginary throne what is imaginary correct and what is not. But like always, you didn’t actually make a point that required a response.

    • GEt stuff done??? No matter what the process is??? Even if the polls show the majority don’t want the flag change? Even if the motives for the flag change lack integrity and are JK vanity project???? Even if it costs an extra $400,000 when we have kids living in Poverty???? Really? Give me a break.

    • “Good post Keith. You’re clearly living in the real word, unlike many of the posters above.”

      Andrew, does your ‘real world’ include how our economic system impacts our environment…because it does for the rest of us.

    • You’re clearly living in the real word

      I think what you’re trying to say is that Keith and you share the same illusions.

    • “Ideological purity”?!

      Oh, I think you mean principles, Andrew. Y’know; the concept that is as alien to John Key as the middle of a volcano is to a polar bear.

      Funny how you folk on the right deride “principles”, eh? “Getting stuff done”? Authoritarian regimes “get stuff done” , Andrew, but ‘ll bet you any day that you wouldn’t want to live in one.

  12. The drive and push for Red Peak is just as dodgy as John Key’s flag process. What’s really behind the change in the Green Party? Winston Peter’s was right when he said under Russell Norman, the current GP’s back stabbing dirty politics would never have been considered.
    I have read commentaries from a number of sites but it was the following post that I found to be very revealing and sheds an interesting light on the change of the GP.

    25 September 2015

    Considering that; the Red Peak flag was created by a Xero product design director (Dustin), has had its online campaign coordinated by another Xero associate (Simpson), and was included in the top 40 while the Xero CEO (Drury) was one of the dozen on the selection panel; perhaps we should ask how has the Greens relationship with that company changed recently?

    Two years ago:

    Norman issued a media release yesterday questioning whether Palantir, a firm co-founded by wealthy US technology investor and Xero shareholder Peter Thiel, had been hired by the Government to spy on New Zealanders…

    Drury accused Norman of putting “relationships at risk”.

    The Greens had been the “smartest politicians” until now, but it looked like the party was “selling out New Zealand”, he said.


    Two months ago (from Hughes in parliament):

    …enterprising companies, like Xero, based in the Land of the Long White Cloud, and selling globally through the cloud…

    We need to get the right settings to encourage the Internet economy with new infrastructure like a second Internet cable, support for start-ups like in the games sector and leadership like a Chief Technology Officer as called for by Rod Dury.

  13. Well…one good thing apart from all this is Steve Braunia’s satire on John Key today in the NZ Herald.

    Quite insightful and reminiscent of McPhail and Gadsby .

    Makes the point perfectly – and focuses on the big picture.

    Unemployment figures , and the use of a sports team to further diversion of attention from the signing of the TTPA , – and also the use of…..Panda’s…along with Dotcom as a political sacrifice and the role Mike Hosking has in his relationship with Key.

    Seems like this flag issue has been yet another successful diversion from major issues.

    Key must be laughing in his Hawaiian mansion tonight….

    As for the flag…I’m for retaining the old one which would settle the issue and negate this whole raft of diversions and focus us all back to a united front against this perverted and corrupt govt.

    • Indeed, the purpose of Act is to finagle an electorate seat for National through the device of a (so-called) separate party.
      It has no legitimacy as a distinct party.
      It’s a gerrymander in a voting system where that supposedly can’t happen.

      As is Dunne’s seat and “party”.

  14. 2017. That will be in the midst of The Great Unravelling, won’t it?

    Collapsing global fiat monetary system, collapsing global energy supply and collapsing global environment -sorry we’re already at that point, I mean accelerating collapse of the global environment: nearly 410ppm CO2 and no ice in the Arctic, completely disrupted jet streams, mega-storms, droughts, rising oceans, and hordes of refugees.

    Thanks the Greens, for keeping silent about Peak Oil, Abrupt Climate Change and Ponzi finance for such a long time.

    • Thanks the Greens, for keeping silent about Peak Oil, Abrupt Climate Change and Ponzi finance for such a long time.

      What? Are you confusing the Greens with any of the other parties with no strong environmental policies? The hint’s in the name of the party.

      And if you’re still confused, try using the power of Google for some historical research, and you could even try reading their policies.

  15. Another vacuous load of bollocks.

    “Who else really wants the United Kingdom flag to be part of our flag?”

    At last count about 69% of the population. The idea that the Greens have somehow served the people in giving them an extra $400,000 choice is laughable. Party self-interest in favour of genuine public representation is the one thing disillusioned NZ’ers are heartily sick of. If self-interest prevails by indulging an equally vain and self-indulgent government rather than champion majority public sentiment, one has to wonder how genuine this environmental political shroud is. It’s now reasonable to assume it’s also self-interest in disguise … a bus ticket. And that’s the message loud and clear. Greens have mounted the bus because they feel it is better than waiting at the stop. No so smart if it’s the wrong bus.

  16. I don’t see anything “pragmatic” about the Greens becoming just another neoliberal National-Lite party.

    But hang on, this guy isn’t the full Green picture. Where’s Metirea Turei on all this?

    • And THAT is exactly what I want to know too Sam.
      Everyone seems to have assumed that Shaw is the leader. He is not. He’s a co-leader. Let’s hear from the other leader.


    No doubt the “green” party will be players used to roll out the UN’s centralized global govt.

    All the different colored political parties( brown blue red) they are all “nothings”, tentacles of the same political entity. Groups used by the Crown to trick people into identifying with ideology and to believe you have a choice, a democracy.
    As long as you keep believing the lie of “democracy” by silence and voting you are consenting to the oligarchys rule.

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