Green Party AGMs have a particular cycle attached to them and not the two wheeled kind of cycle the Greens are fond of.
Leading up to every AGM there's the usual grumbling from members, often coalescing around a particular person or issue, with an attempt to castigate co-leader James Shaw in some way.
The AGMs often end the same way too, with the lingering feeling that maybe things aren't as bad as they might have been, Shaw isn't the Tree Tory many fear, and the wins of Government are possibly worth the dead rats swallowed for a seat at the table (or rather, as ministers outside of Cabinet, for a seat proximate to, but not quite at the table).
The Green Party's 2022 AGM has been no different. There have been reports of an attempt to topple Shaw, although no remits have been lodged for a no-confidence vote, and no candidates have put their name forward to contest his job (unlike last year, when activist James Cockle contested the job, winning four votes to Shaw's 116).
That's not to say that things are perfect.
Earlier this year, when news broke the party would be changing the rules around who could be elected co-leader, to drop the requirement that one co-leader be male, some senior members began to muse over Shaw's eventual replacement (Shaw himself has publicly said he wants his leadership to take the party into Government, and out the other side).
Even members on the "James side" of the party mused that it might be time for a co-leader who was more obviously onside with members, and more aggressive in challenging Labour's gravitational centrism.
But despite much commentary to the contrary, disappointment in Labour never irks Green members quite as much as the idea of a National-Act Government terrifies them. Shaw easily survived the musings, and appears to have rallied wavering members and assuaged their concerns. Members will be given the opportunity to "reopen nominations" for his job at the AGM. The vote will almost certainly fail.
The big contention this year is over two remits that will go before delegates at the AGM.
One will adjust the way that party delegates, powerful members with voting rights on things like governing agreements, are allocated to party branches. This will tilt the delegate balance in favour of cities (the Wellington Central branch's delegate count will double), which is where members are concentrated.
The more significant remit is one that would require a 10-day cooling-off period between negotiations concluding on any governing agreement, and it being put to delegates for a vote.
The remit is being put by The Green Left, a group within the Greens comprising its most left-wing members.
The remit risks becoming something of a proxy for the tension that exists in the party between members who wished caucus kicked Labour in the shins a bit more (or even sat on the cross benches) and those who are satisfied with the trade-offs of Government. The usual proxy for this is Shaw himself - The Green Left is the same group who, in 2020, recommended members rank Shaw in an unwinnable position on the party list. Members instead ranked Shaw second, suggesting the TGL, as it's often called, isn't always successful.
While the tension over going into Government or not is always consistently overplayed, those opposed to the remit are concerned it could be seen as a low-risk proxy for delegates to remind the caucus who is really in charge of the party.
Shaw has some concerns. He's circulated a paper to voting delegates outlining his experience negotiating the last two governing agreements, making the case that the remit, were it to pass, would make those negotiations - which weren't easy to begin with - even more difficult.
The issue is that the remit might weaken the Greens, right when the next election could leave them at their most powerful. If Labour were forced to negotiate with the Greens, who had a choice to sit on the cross-benches, that would give the Greens an effective veto over legislation. And to avoid this, Labour would likely dish out more portfolios and policy wins to a Green Party willing to go into coalition and be bound by collective responsibility.
The fear is then that those wins would be a boon to National and Act, who would use the 10-day stand-down period to whip the public into a frenzy about a tail-wagging-the-dog Labour-Green Government.
The stakes are high for two reasons: the first, is that after quarter of a century in Parliament, the Greens are closer than ever before to this ideal governing formulation (having been robbed in 2020 by Labour's landslide).
The second risk is that it prejudices talks in ways yet to be understood. The Greens are New Zealand's most successful MMP party when it comes to Parliamentary representation, scoring well in each MMP election (if you count their showing in the Alliance), but they've had bad luck when it comes to being in Government.
Of the nine MMP elections, the Greens have only found themselves in Government twice.
There are just 10 elections between now and 2050, the date that New Zealand must hit net zero emissions, and the Greens will probably only be in a credible governing position in about half of them, meaning each set of negotiations is crucial. The party will want to avoid repeats of 2002 and especially 2005, when they were passed over by Labour for parties to Labour's centre.
The remit will need "consensus" or 75 per cent of delegates to pass. At this stage, it looks likely to pass but with a shorter timeframe of closer to three days.
Win or lose, the party's annual, very democratic method of vetting its leaders is, in many ways, a useful valve for the stress that builds up in Parliament - better in many ways than letting it build up in caucus, as happens in Labour and National.
In other respects, the party is in rude health.
Jack McDonald, the former candidate who disavowed Shaw at the 2019 AGM, is now with Te Pāti Māori (another former Green staffer has joined him). He appears to have found a political home there - and relations between the Greens and Te Pāti Māori are healthy, despite both offering similar philosophies, therefore competing for ideological room.
This year is a local body AGM, and the Greens will use the platform to spruik their local body candidates. The Greens currently hold the Dunedin mayoralty, and former chief of staff Tory Whanau (who will be at the AGM) has turned the race in Wellington from an expected Andy Foster versus Paul Eagle contest into a three-horse race. She's not the favourite to win, but you wouldn't rule her out either - and a strong Green-endorsed placing in the Wellington mayoral contest is a victory of sorts for the party, regardless of whether or not Whanau gets the mayoral chains after November.
Wellington regional councillor Thomas Nash will also attend - the Greens have had a great deal of success this triennium in Wellington. Changes to the Let's Get Wellington Moving transport plan, though not what the Greens wanted, are far greener than the airport-centric plan proposed in 2019.
In Auckland, the party has thrown its endorsement behind the favourite, Efeso Collins, who is not a member of the party.