Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence, Associate Housing Minister,
Green list MP and Greens co-leader
Age 48, first elected November, 2015
Referendums: For End of Life Choice Act, for legalising recreational cannabis
Fascinating fact: Was an avid video game player – a master of Tomb Raider
Q: How did you arrive at politics?
A: Mostly from being involved in community activism and collective action for progressive change. It was definitely anchored in environmental protection. Te Tiriti o Waitangi rights, social justice, environmental justice and especially around [the] fossil fuel industry was where I picked up a lot of my activism and got involved.
I was also very involved and [did] a lot of work around child well-being, whānau well-being.
And then, it was really just working particularly with Māori women to get our political voice out there. And that did eventually lead me into being asked to stand as a candidate for the Green Party.
Q: What are some of the qualities that make a good minister?
A: In my opinion, remaining connected to the realities. As a minister, this is a very privileged lifestyle – it would be far too easy to not remain aware.
It's easy to know that there are people lining up at food banks, anybody can know that. But actually remaining immersed in what that feels like, that's quite different.
And one of the reasons why my portfolios are important to me is because, literally, there'll be a news item about someone who's living in a car and it could be my cousin, or my neighbours, my family around me.
Similarly, when it comes to family and sexual violence. I heard first-hand while I was the chief panellist for the Owen Glenn inquiry into the domestic violence and child abuse, how traumatising it was for people to seek help when they had been harmed.
So remaining deeply, deeply connected to what it feels like to be outside of a privileged life that we, as ministers get to live, I think is incredibly important.
Q: Did you ever have any part-time work or full-time work while you were studying?
A: Yes, both. I did a lot of motel cleaning when I was at Waikato University. It was a really good part-time job to have while you're a student because you often had to do that early in the morning and you could still get to lectures.
I did a lot of sort of hospitality work, waitressing work at restaurants in Manukau when I was at Auckland University – that's actually where I picked up my outdoor enthusiasms.
I was involved in the gym. I was a trainer and aerobics instructor so a range of different part-time jobs.
Q: What were you studying?
A: I achieved my Bachelor of Arts majoring in English literature and Māori studies. I also did a Postgraduate Diploma at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
Q: Are you happy to see the back of Winston Peters and New Zealand First?
A: Oh, look, we made it very clear that we were trying to get things done, and they made it clear where they were coming from.
I'm looking forward this term to being able to get through some of the changes we really need.
That's something that we're just going to have to wait and see what happens.
Q: Surely you must have been frustrated and feel a lot more relieved now that you don't have that bogging you down?
A: Oh, that is a relief. But of course, it still remains to be seen, there are still political relationships to be made. That's the case even among the Labour Party as a government themselves.
You know, it doesn't matter what party you're from you're still having to negotiate your ministries, your agencies all the time so that work's still here,
I'm not taking anything for granted that anything is going to go through easily.
Q: What is your favourite beach in the country? And why is that?
A: Hokianga heads up in Northland, which is where I'm from. It's a wild coastal beach where there are rock pools, sand dunes and a whole lot of dotterels. All the native species are out there and we take our family there every summer. It's my children's favourite; we call it a free Rainbow's End. It's like a free adventure park. There's sliding [on] sand hills, swimming and rock pools.
Q: If you could pick three celebrities, alive or dead, to invite around to your place for a dinner party, who would it be?
A: I can't go past Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from the US.
I've got so many singers who I would want.
So I'm going to say Anika Moa would be a lot of fun. These ones always stumped me. Who's the guy who plays The Witcher? (a video game and Netflix series) ... Henry Cavill.
Q: Because you're a bit of a gamer, aren't you? Well, you used to be?
A: Yes, absolutely. I was into Tomb Raider. A bit of Diablo and Aliens. There was a couple more… what was the one with the zombies? No, not Tomb Raider. Not Diablo. The other one with the zombies - the names have gone out of my head. But those were the sort of main ones to enjoy. All nice vintage. Well, I thought that was vintage.
Q: Do you think you'd be playing any of the remastered versions of the summer?
A: I would love to but probably I have an amazing ministerial reading ... to partake in.
KFC or McDonald's?
Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay?
Long black or Flat white?
Tramping or skiing?
Dog or cat?
Tennis or cricket?