COMMENT

My neighbour and friend Jeanette Fitzsimons leaves a huge gap in our local community, in our country and indeed in the world community of people working for the planet and our children's future.

The woman who wielded a chainsaw with the same ease as she fielded questions in national media was always grounded by her land and her family, was always cooking for guests, harvesting chestnuts and mentoring young people.

The last few years things were tougher in terms of her health but she kept going in the many networks she supported and inspired.

Advertisement

READ MORE:
Former Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons has died
Premium - Jeanette Fitzsimons: She came bearing daffodils
Premium - Editorial: Jeanette Fitzsimons - a principled woman

Her contribution in politics can partially be summed up by a public poll which voted her the most trusted politician in the country.

But there is far more to her story and her legacy.

Words like integrity and principle are bandied about but sometimes, with some people in politics, they are utterly meaningful.

Jeanette had a rare combination in public life, of a super sharp brain and a compassionate heart.

She always knew the science of the planet and how clean energy could work well before other people started to realise we were in deep trouble over fossil fuel pollution.

Jeanette Fitzsimons during a visit to the Bay of Plenty in 2012. Photo / File
Jeanette Fitzsimons during a visit to the Bay of Plenty in 2012. Photo / File

Jeanette was always serene in the political chaos but her focus on the limits to growth, and the need to change the economy was coherent and unwavering.

If we are actually interested in solutions for a healthy future we just need to read her speeches.

Advertisement

I was lucky enough to be in Parliament with Jeanette so a daily role model of dignity and respectful negotiation for the greater good was always present.

She also worked like a woman leader must work, late nights, early mornings, seven days a week.

If she was home she also milked the cow and dug up weeds because as committed organic farmers Harry and Jeanette lived off the farm and produced quality food.

She was a quality leader for the Greens, who basically built the Party out of the value base of the Values Party with her beloved colleague Rod Donald.

The quality of their relationship was inspiring and his untimely loss hurt her far more than not getting into Government in 2005, despite all reasonable expectations of the Labour Party.

Jeanette left Parliament in 2010 but that was not the end of her activism and leadership.

Some people are in politics for the cause not how many boards they get in when they leave.

The cause increasingly was climate change and it occupied her thoughts and priorities.

Former Green Party Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons protesting with Coal Action Network Aotearoa and 350.org in 2013. Photo / File
Former Green Party Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons protesting with Coal Action Network Aotearoa and 350.org in 2013. Photo / File

Coal Action Network and other groups benefited from her knowledge and her willingness to risk arrest for the greater good.

Others will document her huge political contribution in energy and the environment, her steady hand as a Party leader for so many years.

But for me, right now, I am thinking of the friend next door and her family who grieve.

This was a real person whose legacy contains a serious challenge to all of us, we need to face the urgent crises on our planet based on a failed economic system, as Jeanette so often said, there are limits to growth on a finite planet.

So please do not praise her name for just her dignity and integrity, study her challenge to us all to make change and help us who work for a just and lasting relationship with each other and the earth.

We owe her that effort.

- Catherine Delahunty is a former Green Party MP living in Coromandel

Former Green MP Catherine Delahunty. Photo / File
Former Green MP Catherine Delahunty. Photo / File