A bright green light has gone out over the Coromandel and Aotearoa with the passing of Jeanette Fitzsimons.

MPs today paid tribute in Parliament to the former Green Party co-leader.

She was remembered as groundbreaking, principled, tenacious, often ridiculed for now commonly-held views on climate change, and someone paved the way for change.

But she always brought respect and dignity to debates, said politicians across the spectrum.


And even in a drab Auckland hall on a winter's day during back-to-back submissions, she brought brightness with a posy of bright yellow daffodils which she had cut from her garden that morning.

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Taken too soon

Fitzsimons, 75, died on Friday after suffering a "massive stroke" in hospital after a fall on her Coromandel farm on Thursday morning.

Her death was untimely and too soon, said Green party co-leader Marama Davidson.

"I took for granted that she was going to continue to be around to mentor me as co-leader, to mentor us as Green politicians, and to hold us, as the Green Party, to account.

"I really did think that we had her for a lot longer."

Fitzsimons was a beacon

James Shaw, standing in her shoes from a position she once held, said Fitszimons' biggest success was where she'd once been ridiculed the most - economics.

The current Green party co-leader met his past counterpart at a hui in an Ohakune lodge. He was in his last teens and she'd already wrapped up her time in the Beehive.


It was there he learned to separate the person from the policy.

"It was clear to me that Jeanette was a beacon by which others navigated.

"The debates continued through dinner and through drinks and on into the lodge's sauna.

"I was a little bit startled to find that not only were the policy prescriptions very Northern European - but so was the dress code."

Former Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimmons passed away last week.
Former Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimmons passed away last week.

Shaw read Fitzsimons' words from a 2003 speech to Parliament:

"GDP is both too narrow and too generalised to measure anything useful.


"It does not tell us whether the poor are getting poorer, and if most of society's wealth is held by a few.

"It does not tell us if we are paying more and more to control pollution and crime, rather than for real goods and services.

"It does not tell us if we are plundering the environment to produce short-term monetary returns."

Fitzsimons' greatest regret was that she couldn't move the establishment on this point, Shaw said.

But almost two decades later, Grant Robertson, echoed Fitzsimons' sentiment on the Government valuing the wrong things when he unveiled the wellbeing Budget, Shaw said.

New Zealand is still a long way from being the country Fitzsimons once envisaged.


"But we have gotten started," Shaw said.

"And I hope that she knew in the end that she had won."

A bright green light has gone out

In a colourless Auckland community hall, Fitzsimons came bearing a posy of bright yellow daffodils cut from her garden, said Scott Simpson, National MP for Coromandel.

Before speaking about the Zero Carbon Bill, she put the flowers on the submissions table.

"And they sat there as a bright beacon of hope and inspiration while she gave her considered submission in that otherwise drab room.

"And then when she finished her submission, the flowers remained ... and they stayed there long after her submission had finished."

Former Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons with her husband Harry Parke.
Former Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons with her husband Harry Parke.

Fitzsimons' criticisms were never personal - it was always about the policy, the argument and the debate, Simpson said.

"She was a character and personality sometimes larger than her sometimes diminutive stature might have foretold.

"She was always passionate, energetic, and articulate in her advocacy for the policies and principles that she holds and lived by every day of her life."

Simpson extended condolences on behalf of the National Party and the people of Coromandel to her husband, children and wider whanau.

"A bright green light has gone out on the Coromandel and across Aotearoa New Zealand too soon."

A politician ahead of her time

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Fitzsimons' legacy is the path she laid on important environment and conservation issues.


She helped shift the entire country's thinking, especially on climate change, Ardern said.

"In many ways Jeanette was by necessity a politician ahead of her time.

"Her job here was to agitate, to educate, to force change from those reluctant to make it.

"It seems strange now, but when Jeanette was first talking and writing about climate change, or global warming as it was often referred to then, she was an outlier, a bearer of an inconvenient truth.

"She was mocked and she was ridiculed for her earnest and persistent call for political action on the state of the planet."

Ardern thanked Fitzsimons for her leadership.


"Thank you for your determined optimism.

"Thank you for laying the path that ultimately has meant that you left this place better than you found it. Haere rā."