Green Party faces existential crisis over James Shaw's ousting as co-leader as former MPs weigh in

The Green Party is at war tonight over whether James Shaw should remain a co-leader alongside Marama Davidson or make way for a fresh new face.

On Saturday night party delegates voted not to re-elect him and some Green members want Chlöe Swarbrick.

But one former MP told Newshub the vote was "moronic" - and "political nonsense".

James Shaw is at the centre of a battle for the soul of the Green Party after a long-running fight by disgruntled delegates to vote their co-leader out.

"It is hard when there is a group that's organising against you," Shaw said.

"There has always been a group that has tried to organise to pass this threshold, and this year they got there."

Trav Mischewski is one of 32 Green delegates who voted against Shaw's re-election. He said they want a "more engaged, sustainable impact for the climate, and a more progressive leader".

Seventy percent of the Green delegates voted to keep Shaw as leader. But it only takes a quarter to trigger a contest.

"This is a membership-driven decision. This is not a handful of people who've gone rogue," Mischewski said.

Shaw is waiting to talk to Caucus before deciding if he'll run again and said he hoped to retain his colleagues' confidence.

"I haven't had a chance to have that conversation," he said.

But he's lost the confidence of a number of members - and former Green MPs.

"Our Government, led by James as Minister, has been shown not to be reducing emissions, not to have ambitious mandatory targets, but to actually be weak," former Green MP Catherine Delahunty said.

"You have to remember you're in the Green Party - you're not here to placate Labour and necessarily stay in power for the sake of it."

"The dissatisfaction's been growing for some years," added former Green MP Sue Bradford.

"The Green Party has lost its way - I'd love to see it find its way again."

For the Greens - it's become an existential crisis. One former senior MP told Newshub: "I think it's moronic. I think that there's always been a strand within the Green Party who thinks it's preferable to be in Opposition. I think that's politically nonsense."

Another said electing a left environmentalist "would diminish their party vote".

Shaw has led the Greens into two terms of Government and the party's doing well in the polls.

"I personally think that's a reflection of the broader public view that the Greens are making a difference," Shaw said.

But dissatisfaction in the base is building. Some Green members - and the public - want to see Chlöe Swarbrick in charge.

James Shaw and Chlöe Swarbrick.
James Shaw and Chlöe Swarbrick. Photo credit: Getty Images

"She's in touch with the younger generation and they're gonna be the future of New Zealand," one member of the public told Newshub.

"James should stay. James is doing a great job," another countered.

The Greens - and Shaw - stuck at a crossroads - should he stay, or should he go?

While Shaw told Newshub he was still deciding, all the other Green MPs have gone to ground.

Some say they want to respect the process - there is no word at all from Swarbrick on whether she's considering a leadership bid.

But some Green Party members say Swarbrick is the only viable option who could run against James Shaw.

One member told Newshub they quit the party because of Shaw's leadership - but the prospect of Swarbrick becoming co-leader drove them to join again today.

Another said they were "angry and frustrated" - that yesterday's vote was undemocratic and called it destabilising for the Greens.

So there's a lot of work to do in a divided party - and less than a week before nominations close.