Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Greens buoyed by prospect of having 15 MPs

Jan Logie. Photo / Supplied
Jan Logie. Photo / Supplied

The Greens launch their campaign tomorrow in Wellington with a sense of excitement and confidence that they will probably achieve their biggest parliamentary presence.

Should the party reach its target of 10 per cent of the party vote, its tally of MPs will rise from nine to about 12 or 13.

If it gets to 12 per cent, which remains a real prospect, it would get 15.

Including those who will replace departing MPs Keith Locke and Sue Kedgley, as well as the additional MPs, that would mean eight new faces for the Greens in Parliament.

The convoluted and occasionally controversial selection process has delivered a crop of new list candidates giving an accurate snapshot of where the party is right now.

Number six on the list, Eugenie Sage, was profiled this week in the Herald. The seven others include Hollie Walker, Julie Anne Genter, and James Shaw, a trio of younger candidates who represent the party's move towards the mainstream and two seasoned left-wing activists in Jan Logie and Denise Roche.

The list is rounded out by organic horticulturist Steffan Browning and water policy specialist and mining opponent Mojo Mathers.

The Greens have made no secret of their wish to be taken more seriously and Ms Walker, Ms Genter and Mr Shaw are well qualified on paper at least.

Ms Walker has a story of overcoming the odds to rival that of Prime Minister John Key and his Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. From her beginnings as the daughter of a solo mum living in a council flat in the Hutt Valley she went on to a Rhodes scholarship and study at Oxford University.

However, she says she is loath to use her story for political gains as Mr Key and Ms Bennett have done by offering their achievements in pulling themselves up by their bootstraps as an example to others.

That, she says, is hard to swallow when some of their policies amount to kicking away the ladder they themselves ascended.

Mt Eden resident Ms Genter has been the Greens' transport policy guru. She has a wealth of academic qualification in that area and studied political science in Paris before moving to New Zealand in 2006.

However the US native also has experience in the "real world" as a consultant to big transport infrastructure builders and designers which goes some way to counter the view that as a party staffer turned candidate she is a political careerist.

She grew up in Los Angeles which she says made her aware of the effects on communities of poor urban and transport planning. She left the US in 2002 in frustration at the re-election of George Bush jnr.

Mr Shaw is a management consultant who, for some time, has spent half the year working overseas for his company Future Considerations. The firm's clients have included BP, Amex and Coca-Cola. The other half of the year he has spent working free for the Greens. Suspicion about his "corporate" background and demeanour has been compounded by the fact he has given "executive coaching" to co-leader Russel Norman and continues to do so to co-leader Metiria Turei.

He is an outside chance, but should the Greens win 12 per cent and he takes a seat in Parliament his priorities will be climate change, energy and sustainable economics policy.

Ms Logie has a solid record as an activist for women's, youth and children's rights, including a stint working for former Greens social justice stalwart Sue Bradford during the campaign to legislate against violence against children, or the "anti-smacking" law.

She does not see a tension between the Greens' recent bid for economic credibility and their social justice agenda and says the Greens' economic and social policies are complementary.

Ms Roche, whose career includes 16 years as a trade unionist, served as an Auckland City councillor for three years until last year.

She lives on the Orapiu Grove Farm on Waiheke Island.

The co-operative vineyard, olive and lavender farm, referred to by some as a commune, has been something of a political hotbed.

Former Alliance MP Laila Harre also lived there, and it is where, in 1997, Russel Norman came from Australia to write a thesis about the Greens and Alliance party's rocky relationship. Ms Roche and his other subjects clearly captured his imagination.

Mr Browning, at 57, is one of the older faces among the new fresh candidates. The former owner of New Zealand's largest organic greenhouse operation has solid experience as a businessman as well as an activist on green issues in and around his home in Marlborough.

If he gets into Parliament he is likely to take over from Sue Kedgley in leading the Greens on food safety, animal welfare and genetic modification issues.

He has been active in his Marlborough community and says he enjoys good relationships with farmers.

Mother of three Ms Mathers became involved with the Greens in 2002 through her opposition to the Central Plains water scheme in Canterbury and through her personal connection with the late Greens co-leader Rod Donald.

She contributed significantly to the Greens' water, agriculture, forestry, and disability policies.

Ms Mathers is profoundly deaf but believes that if she becomes an MP, expects a combination of technology - an electronic notetaker and a laptop - and "positive attitudes" will enable her to follow the debate.

Her presence could result in employment of a signer to give a sign-language version of what is being said, which would benefit the wider deaf community.

The new Greens

If polls are correct these Green candidates could become MPs on election night

Jan Logie, 9 (list place)
42, Mana candidate. Left her work among the children of Mumbai's slums to become Sue Bradford's executive assistant during the "anti-smacking" legislation debate. Solid background in advocacy for women, children and youth. From the party's left.


Steffan Browning, 10
57, Kaikoura. Organic horticulturist from Marlborough, likely successor to Sue Kedgely on food safety, genetic modification and animal welfare issues. Probably representative of the party's political middle ground.


Denise Roche, 11
48, Auckland Central. Former Auckland City Councillor and trade unionist. Lives on Waiheke Island. From the party's left.


Holly Walker, 12
28, Hutt South. From humble beginnings has attained a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University. But as a party staffer turned candidate has been criticised as a political careerist with little "real world" experience.


Julie Anne Genter, 13
Mt Roskill. Born in Minnesota, raised in Los Angeles. Well qualified and experienced in her policy speciality of transport issues; another party staffer.


Mojo Mathers, 14
44, Christchurch East. Long term party member. Joined the party because of concerns about dairy intensification in Canterbury. Speciality in water policy.


James Shaw, 15
38, Wellington Central. Management consultant on a mission to change the system from within. Perhaps epitomises the Greens' bid for mainstream credibility. Accordingly regarded with suspicion from some on the party's left.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 29 Dec 2014 09:52:01 Processing Time: 324ms