Reflections on Green Party AGM



I’ve been to all the MANA conferences and more Labour Party Conferences than I can remember but the last Green Party AGM I went to was when Nandor was still an MP and the radical politics being expressed then are a million miles away from the Green Party of today.

The first thing that strikes you when you look around at a Green Party AGM is just how white and middle class it is. I am talking whiter than white, I’m talking polar bear against a white back drop, I’m talking the diversity of a National Party front bench, I’m talking blizzard in Antarctica white, I’m talking KKK on laundry day. I’m talking a cocaine party in the Arctic, I’m talking Honkytown, Crackerville, I’m talking white bread on white bread on white.

It. Is. White.

Which helps explain the Greens utter lack of  traction as a political party in a city as diverse as Auckland.

What was also prevalent was the deep seated frustration of not being in a Government. These people have deep held beliefs about the environment that border on the religious and they want that policy implemented believing that all else – welfare, economics, gender equality, identity politics and societal values will flow from that environmental policy  The appalling manner in which the Labour Party have treated the Greens over the many years of MMP have generated a faction who want power regardless of who the other partner is.

It was this faction, made up of blue-green and Identitarians, who were pushing for a neutral strategic stance until the MoU was rushed through.

It is these deep seated beliefs that will be the most difficult part for the Greens and Labour leadership to reign in. The social media tracks of Green Supporters on Twitter verge on the inquisition side with ritual crucifixions for those who speak heresy and blasphemy, I understand why Labour wanted to come to the Green AGM based in the middle of no where, because mixing these two groups together is a recipe for combustion.

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I was a guest speaker at the 1999 Alliance Conference that Helen Clark attended. The energy in that room heralded the demise of the National Government, this on the other hand was a far smaller, far more controlled event because there wasn’t any clear certainty of how the wider green membership would react.

It is the depths of these environmentally spiritual beliefs that will be the most difficult to negotiate for the leaderships of both parties while not alienating soft NZ First and National voters.

They have 18months to make this gel, and so far the Greens seem to have righted themselves after severe wobbles post Russel leaving.

Deeply questionable staff decisions (Ruminator as your strategist, FFS!), a weird state of the nation wonk idea that no one now remembers, Red Peak wankery and the audible groan when James Shaw, a past consultant to Coke, was elected all led to some truly wobbly moments there for the Greens. Those seem to have passed and that stability has led to the MoU.

If they can forge a shared policy platform and a list of electorates to work together on, they could well replace Key next year and that’s why Paddy Gower was so hysterical. You know what scares the Government by how frantic Paddy gets.


  1. Good wrap mate, I came back to NZ in 1998 from 10 yrs in UK/US/Canada and joined the Greens during that time also when the Greens were actually a mix of professionals/hippie types with a fridge of us blue collar trades folks around the edge as we were.

    But we noticed the urgency between both Greens/Labour to get an agreement in 1999 to roll the present National toxic cancer from Parliament then.

    So it seemed good logical idea to us all then, and the plan worked as the Shipley National sell-out NatZ went out the door as NZ First/Greens/Alliance joined a coalition lead labour Government that lasted 9yrs.

    I was asked to start our own movement fighting for public beaches, and other issues, that the HQ of the Green Party then said we should not use Greens as an alliance to.

    Every Party is mostly run by their administration sadly and I do see why Winston wants to retain his fingerprint on NZ First here for this reason.
    I sincerely hope history repeats itself now as it did back in 1999 because we need all three involved to eject this toxic regime from our shores as soon as possible. So this beginning is hopefully going to achieve this end result.

  2. yes the Green Party has changed…personally I like my Greens rough around the edges ( roughage)…full of nutrients…not watered down crap neither here nor there…i like Greens that are real Greens and call a spade a spade and stop trying to woo the Nacts

  3. You really think Paddy gives a shit? Scandal and hysteria is modus, if only he’d focus on the actual scandals in this country, rather than the idiotic personal schoolyard-politics junk.

  4. The Green Party is very welcoming to anyone who isn’t a white oldie. It’s like how nearly everyone who does conservation work is white and over 40. You can’t give them a hard time for being who they are.

    • I remember when the Values Party emerged in the early 70s. They were quite a lot like what you see as the Green Party now Martyn.
      Mostly alternative types, university educated ex-hippies, anti-war and a burning desire to make environmental concerns a cornerstone of all government policies.
      But yes, they were mostly white middle-class types. This changed when the Greens became part of the alliance but when they left it the party slowly went back to more “Values Party” ethics.
      So why don’t the Greens appeal more to Maori, Polynesian, etc.\?
      Possibly because they can’t identify with calls for everyone to clean up their act when they are preoccupied in just surviving under National’s purgative regime. When you are down to basics you don’t have much opportunity to change your lifestyle when it costs more to do so.
      To be cruel, perhaps it is that New Zealanders demand that a political party offer them obvious cash incentives to do anything. The Greens don’t have the opportunity to do this because most of their policies require tax or levy increases, at least in the short term.
      It is a hard sell to tell people you have to increase their taxes so you can clean up the planet when they are not likely to be around to see the results and a lot of people would just rather take the money now and let the planet take care of itself.
      National plays on this of course, but the other parties also do this to varying extents.
      Perhaps the Greens are doing the right thing in some respects. There is an old saying that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em and being part of government is in theory more effective than being on the outside.
      Time will tell I suppose.

    • Absolutely EP. And the young are not interested in the hard physical labour and years it takes to learn conservation ethics and methods. it is a lifestyle based on skill, knowledge and values ,so yes Bomber pillory us old farts for being
      quasi religious. Doesn’t alter the facts that the young are unwilling to take on the realities involved in environmentalism because it’s fucking hard work!

  5. The blue-Greens and Green-Greens can go vote for National. They can help Nicky Wagner plant a few trees and take selfies.

    Everyone else who has a brain knows that environmentalism can’t be neutral on capitalism. The Greens are far enough to the right as it is

  6. In which universe does this qualify as useful analysis? FFS! This column has to be one of the schizophrenic columns I’ve read in a long time, possibly ever.

    Your obsession with the racial composition of a small and no doubt unrepresentative sample of the party’s full membership is bordering on Trumpian. Odd that you also ignore the fact that one of the party’s co-leaders isn’t white, but I guess that’s just an inconvenient truth and shouldn’t get in the way of a wee tanty and an analogy run.

    I guess this column wan’t intended to be a contribution to mature conversation or particularly informative and in this respect it succeeded splendidly, or otherwise it really, really bombed.

    In the interest of disclosure, I don’t work for the Green Party and am not a member although I have given them my party vote and made some donations over the years. I have never voted in any shape or form for National, NZ First, Act, United Future, Conservative or any of the other minnows, and have only ever given Labour an electorate vote if I felt the local candidate deserved it and personally had values that were aligned to the party’s main achievements during specifically the Savage and Kirk periods.

  7. I was speaking with a local Green Party official today and was told there are deep divisions within the Green Party because the hierarchy has lost touch with the ordinary members. Indeed, certain individuals have attempted to bypass Green Party systems in order to promote particular agendas. Many members feel betrayed because Green Party policies have been leaked to Labour over a period of many months and Labour have then presented those policies as originating within Labour.

    I was told Labour is a regarded as a joke, absolutely desperate to find something to hang onto to avoid irrelevance and obliteration at the next election but nevertheless dangerous because secret deals might be made to prevent local Green candidates from standing in order to allow certain Labour candidates a better chance of being elected.

    It’s all getting very grubby in all political parties. No wonder such a large portion of potential voters no longer bother.

  8. Martyn, those panel shows you did yesterday & the day before were really good. I don’t normally bother with the blogosphere due to getting bored easily but the MoU is a bit of a tectonic shift in Aotearoa’s political culture (better late than never). Here’s my feedback on your impressions of our conference (which I wasn’t at) & your analysis..

    Your perception of a faction that wants the GP to be non-aligned is encouraging because such people are authentic greenies. Presumably you recall the political green movement emerging globally in the early ’80s as `neither left nor right, but in front’. Those of us who entered the green belief system via the counter-culture in ’68/9 were mostly apolitical because the revulsion induced in us by the political left was almost as intense as that induced by the political right. Dumb & dumber. So we had to forge a third alternative.

    Refugees from Labour swelled our ranks sufficiently in the early ’90s that they were able to take eventual control: I left mid-’95 in disgust & rejoined 18 months ago to see if the situation could be improved. While it’s true that I seized the time in March ’91 & persuaded our conference to adopt a leftist alignment should we ever enter parliament, that was just because the Bolger govt was closet-fascist and pre-MMP parliament was binary. Non-alignment wasn’t realistic.

    The correct time to ditch that leftist alignment was 2003, after Helen Clark had proved it would never work. Too bad those in control of the GP have demonstrated that they were/are slow learners. However, I do agree that Aotearoa would benefit from a change of govt, so I welcome the MoU – perhaps our leftists are genuinely trying to achieve unity?

    I suspect the faction you identified similarly feel we can afford to give the left one last shot at getting their collective act together. After all, we do share their values & aspirations. We just get alienated by their simple-mindedness, poor judgments, lack of political nous, etc.

    The left has wallowed in a morass of sectarianism too long. Their pathological need for divisiveness has prevented them identifying common ground on which to proceed. Aotearoa needs them to play a constructive role in our political arena. Pretending to be progressive just seems a sham to others when you’re not actually being progressive. The government will not change unless the left stop preaching to the converted and start giving swing-voters good reasons to shift leftwards…

  9. One thing these two parties agree on is to oppose the TPP. Labour finally came out against it and now it is time to walk the walk. One of the fastest ways to secure popularity but also to rescue NZ from the claws of National’s TPP is to state out-right that they will withdraw from the TPP before it comes in to force. This is the period after ratification but before it is active and is just after the election – a time when we can withdraw easily. The next election needs to be about the TPP and this is the one area these two parties can agree. I’d like to see some action there. It will give many hope. Including me.


      That’s a real defining “LINE IN THE SAND” that will sort the men out from the boys, so to speak.

      This would get the subject back on the front burner again where it should be again!!!!!

    • greens are very popular with the young if a coalition with greens gets them to the ballot box whats the problem
      who wants a fucked up planet only a natact there is so much common ground acres of it

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