Kim Dotcom's political venture, the Internet Party, has a new leader. But she may not be in New Zealand for the election - given she is living in self-imposed exile in Moscow.

Activist and citizen journalist Suzie Dawson has been seeking temporary asylum in Russia since late last year.

Dawson claims she was severely harassed and her family threatened by the Government after reporting on the GCSB's spying on New Zealanders, including Dotcom.

The 36-year-old, who has been involved in the Occupy New Zealand movement, has also been an outspoken supporter of Wikileaks and whistleblowers Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.


In an exclusive interview with the Weekend Herald, she said it came as a "huge surprise" when asked in January to consider the leadership position during a general election year.

"I had never considered entering politics. But the more I examined the idea, the clearer the synergies were."

She said her IT management experience, media skills, and "first-person insight into politics and activism" meant she had the qualifications required.

"What finally sealed the deal for me was listening to what Laila Harre said in her first speech as Internet Party leader. She said, 'If me standing here inspires younger people, especially women, to back themselves and their beliefs, then that will be my reward'."

When asked about the young, but well-publicised history of the Internet Party and its campaign during the 2014 Election alongside the Mana Party she said, "It took a huge amount of political courage".

"Had it worked and Internet Mana entered parliament, the same commentariat who were derisive of the pairing would have had to cheer it as a brilliant strategic move," she said.

"While optimism is awesome, I think expectations were set too high in 2014, unrealistically so, and that this is a long game not a fast one."

But given her current status seeking temporary asylum in Moscow, it was unclear if she would be in the country during the election campaign.


"Exile is not a choice and although I seldom talk about the price that I have paid it has been incredibly high and not just paid by me."

Dotcom with former party leader Laila Harre during the election campaign in 2014. Photo / File
Dotcom with former party leader Laila Harre during the election campaign in 2014. Photo / File

Dawson now viewed the party as part of a wider global trend and a movement towards the future of governance.

"Society is changing fast but our parliamentary system barely changes at all, unless it is to dole out annual pay increases to MPs.

"We have been working to forge international relationships so that we can bring the most innovative and modern political, technological and social progresses to New Zealand."

She said New Zealanders were "understandably sickened and disillusioned by the drudgery, corruption and puppetry of traditional politics".

"Showing New Zealand that we are about creative solutions, tech-savvy engagement and fun is where it's at for us. You can expect us to be constantly innovating and setting our own trends, rather than following what everyone else is doing."

Suzie Dawson has been named as the new leader of Kim Dotcom's Internet Party. Photo / Supplied
Suzie Dawson has been named as the new leader of Kim Dotcom's Internet Party. Photo / Supplied

Dawson added the party's primary goal was longevity and sustainability.

"To be a party of the future we have to look beyond any one election cycle. For now, letting people know that we are here, we aren't giving up, and that we are committed to building incredible things for our country in the long-term."

The political climate of the past three years had not improved the living standards and outlook for Kiwis, she added.

"We thought in 2011 that we were already at epidemic levels of homelessness and child poverty. Now look at the situation. Even working New Zealanders can't afford to live anymore."

Dotcom, the party's founder, resigned from the executive committee in February and has not been a member of either the policy or campaign committees, she said.

"Kim was not involved in designing the strategic or tactical planning for the 2017 campaign, nor is he involved in its implementation. While the original vision for the party was his, he never reigned over it with an iron fist as some like to fantasise."


History of the Internet Party

Dotcom, after being arrested at his Coatesville mansion during an armed raid by 76 police and two helicopters, announced the formation of the Internet Party in January 2014.

The party was registered on May 13, 2014, and then appointed former Alliance MP and Minister Laila Harre as leader.

The party then formed a coalition with the Mana Movement to contest the 2014 General Election.

However, the alliance failed and only gained 1.42 per cent of the vote.

Dotcom, 43, later told media on election night that he took full responsibility, "because the brand Kim Dotcom was poison for what we were trying to achieve".

After the election Harre resigned.