Teanau Tuiono, Elizabeth Kerekere and Ricardo Menéndez March: The Greens' three new activist MPs

The Greens are introducing three new activist MPs to Wellington's halls of power off the back of a successful election night picking up two additional seats in Parliament. 

The reason the Greens get three new MPs despite only winning two new seats is because Gareth Hughes - the party's longest-serving MP - announced his retirement from politics last year, leaving room for a newbie. 

The Greens had a successful election night with MP Chloe Swarbrick scooping up Auckland Central from National's Nikki Kaye, who stepped down from politics earlier this year following a brief stint as National's deputy leader. 

It was the first time the Greens have picked up an electorate since 1999 when former co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons won Coromandel, and with 7.6 percent of the party vote, the Greens now get to bring in three new MPs from their list. 

The first is Teanau Tuiono, number eight on the list, known as a veteran activist and education consultant who has worked at the United Nations and Massey University. He also ran an unsuccessful mayoral campaign in Palmerston North. 

Tuiono, of Cook Islands and Māori heritage, posed for a photo on Monday alongside the other two new Green MPs, Dr Elizabeth Kerekere and Ricardo Menéndez March, who sit at number nine and 10 on the Green Party's list, respectively. 

The image was posted on Twitter by Menéndez March and captioned, "The squad being inducted to Parliament."

Menéndez March is the coordinator for Auckland Action Against Poverty, a role he took up in late 2017. The Mexican-born activist spoke out against his party co-leader James Shaw for supporting $11.7 million of funding for a private Green School - which Shaw apologised for

Menéndez March is a strong supporter of the Greens' wealth tax policy, sparking up speculation last week that it would be a topic of coalition negotiations if Labour needed the Greens after the election, despite Jacinda Ardern repeatedly ruling it out.  

Dr Elizabeth Kerekere is LGBTQ+ activist and scholar. Of Māori descent, she has researched the development of takatāpui or same-sex identity in the 21st century, arguing that pre-colonial Māori were sexually experimental people. 

Dr Kerekere contested the Māori electorate Ikaroa-Rāwhiti for the Greens a second time this election but Labour's Meka Whaitiri came out on top, so she has been brought in on the list, the same as Tuiono and Menéndez March. 

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson is thrilled to bring them on board, especially after an anxious week waiting to see if the Greens would reach the 5 percent threshold to make it back into Parliament. 

"We historically have arrived under what we have polled and sitting quite close to the 5 percent threshold. So, it was a bit of a nail-biter there for us for a bit," she told Newshub Nation on Sunday. 

Davidson hailed Tuiono's election to Parliament as a "historical moment" because he's the party's first-ever Pacific MP. He's also of Māori descent like Dr Kerekere, meaning the Greens now have three Māori MPs including Davidson. 

"Teanau Tuiono... incredible international climate change negotiator, leading on indigenous rights, education expertise in his current work. Dr Elizabeth Kerekere - incredible strategist, works with young people, rainbow youth, planner, organiser for all of her career," Davidson said. 

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson speaking to Newshub Nation.
Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson speaking to Newshub Nation. Photo credit: Newshub Nation

"I am so deeply pleased to have been able to bring these two incredible MPs into our caucus."

The Labour Party will see its largest-ever Pacific caucus after claiming a landslide victory of 64 seats in Parliament and it will keep six of the Māori seats, losing one - Waiariki - to the Māori Party unless special votes tip it back into Labour's favour. 

Davidson said she hopes to run more Green candidates in Māori seats at the next election,

"We would love to see Green MPs in all of the Māori seats and that is my call right now - working right now to see who we can get and encourage and put some support around. Absolutely that's something we would like to see," she said. 

"We were unable to fill the Māori seats this time around. We haven't before been able to fill the Māori seats. So I'm hoping that this is a massive boost and we've got work to do. 

"We know that we've got to have stronger connections into Māori communities to be able to build that community support for candidates not just before elections but from now."