New Zealand Green Party Leader Resigns

‘It has been the privilege of my lifetime to serve as New Zealand’s climate change minister for the last six years and as Green Party co-leader for nine.’

Co-leader of New Zealand’s Green Party James Shaw today announced he has stepped down from the role he has held for the past nine years.

His resignation was expected after the Greens were pushed out of parliament at 2023 general election.

In speaking with reporters on Jan. 30, Mr. Shaw said, “It has been the privilege of my lifetime to serve as New Zealand’s climate change minister for the last six years and as Green Party co-leader for nearly nine.”

Fifty-year-old Mr. Shaw entered parliament in 2014 as a Green list representative, and in 2015, was appointed male co-leader with Metiria Turei. He was the sole party leader in the 2017 general election before he was joined by incumbent Marama Davidson.

After pledging the Greens’ support to Labour, Mr. Shaw became the minister of statistics, minister for climate change, and associate minister of finance (outside cabinet) in October 2017. The appointments were unique in that Mr. Shaw was the first Green Party member elected to a ministerial position.

Following the 2020 general election, where the Labour Party retained a majority, Mr. Shaw was re-appointed as the minister for climate change.

Labour leader and former prime minister Chris Hipkins said via a statement that Mr. Shaw had been effective in raising awareness and propelling action on climate change.

“He was very persistent, very persuasive, and very passionate in his advocacy and I think the results speak for themselves. I mean, we’ve made huge progress on climate change over the last six years—still a lot more to do, but I think the work he did set up a really good framework for continuing that,” he said.

His departure comes during a tumultuous time for the Greens which are still reeling from the resignation of Golriz Ghahraman, who stepped down from her role as an MP after being charged by police for three separate shoplifting incidents in the period leading up to Christmas.

Former Green MP Golriz Ghahraman (L) and Auckland Central MP Chloe Swarbrick. (Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
Former Green MP Golriz Ghahraman (L) and Auckland Central MP Chloe Swarbrick. (Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Mr. Shaw, along with Ms. Davidson, stated that Ms. Ghahraman had “taken responsibility and apologised,” adding that the party supported her decision to resign.

In light of Mr. Shaw’s resignation this morning, talk in political circles has pivoted to who will be the next leader of the Greens with speculation that Auckland Central MP Chloe Swarbrick is positioning herself to run.

Mr. Shaw told reporters he was not going to make any endorsements for the vacancy, despite having acted as a mentor for Ms. Swarbrick throughout her brief, but successful political career. He said Ms. Swarbrick will have to go through the process along with any other candidates and would not receive any special treatment.

Writing about Mr. Shaw’s legacy on her Instagram account, Ms. Swarbrick said, “There will and must be time and space to reflect on your contributions to our movement for climate and social justice. For now, I just want to mihi [pay tribute] to the leader who never backed down from the right thing, always fought for our team, and has climate action baked into his DNA.”

Prime Minister Chris Luxon also paid tribute to Mr. Shaw’s work within the climate change sphere.

“James Shaw is one of the Opposition MPs I really respect. I got to know James outside of coming to politics myself, and I’ve obviously become good friends with him over the last three years as well, I’ve really respected James and what he’s achieved,” he said.

“I think he leaves this place having left in place something that’s pretty enduring in the net zero legislation.”

 

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