Greens' Dr Elizabeth Kerekere not running for vacant co-leader spot

Greens' Dr Elizabeth Kerekere not running for vacant co-leader spot
Photo credit: Newshub.

Green Party List MP Dr Elizabeth Kerekere will not run for the vacant co-leadership position.

Dr Kerekere was on Monday night openly considering putting her name forward for the role, telling reporters at Wellington Airport that she was speaking to "trusted advisors" about whether to challenge James Shaw.

However, in a statement on Tuesday morning, the MP said she has decided against it. 

"Like many of my fellow MPs, I received many messages following the AGM; asking me to stand and some members asking me to support other candidates," Dr Kerekere said.

"I have taken the time to reflect and discuss with my whānau, party members and Caucus colleagues once we were all in a clearer head space before making any decisions regarding the outcome of recent events.  

"Having done so, I will not be running for co-leader of the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand in this election."

But Dr Kerekere, who entered Parliament on the List in 2020, said members had "clearly signalled a desire for accountability from our co-leaders" and believes that needs to be listened to.

"I believe this election presents an opportunity for any and all candidates who may run to clearly state the progressive, left-wing values which are the only way to achieve the critical system shifts we need to uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi, address climate change and inequality, and protect biodiversity," she said.

"I look forward to working with the successful candidate to uphold our Green kaupapa, uplift our Green member voices, and make good Green change as a united Party. As we head into the local body elections and the next general election, it is critical for me to continue to push from within and keep our co-leaders and MPs accountable to all we say and do."

It leaves Shaw as the sole nominee so far from the Green Party caucus. Party members can also put their names forwards. 

More than 25 percent of party delegates voted on Saturday to reopen nominations for the co-leadership position occupied by Shaw until that point. Nominations of the role stay open for about a week and then members have time to assess any contenders before delegates vote again.

Dr Kerekere said the Greens caucus was "surprised" by the vote.

High-profile MP Chlöe Swarbrick - who was speculated as a potential contender - on Monday afternoon confirmed she wouldn't seek the role.

"As we continue to navigate a global pandemic, our planet is burning. The top 10 percent sit on 70 percent of this country’s wealth while 2.5 million New Zealanders are being told to fight over 2 percent of the scraps," Swarbrick said.

"None of this is the natural order of things. It's our 'economy' turned into a game of Monopoly. The rules were made that way by vested interests and they can be remade. Our Green movement was built to transform the systems which gave us these problems and I will continue to put everything I have into that."

Speaking at a press conference on Monday morning, Shaw said he wanted to lead the party into the next election alongside co-leader Marama Davidson. He said he spoke to a number of local Green Party branches and members over the past 48 hours which "has reassured me that I have the support necessary to be able to retain the leadership".

He went on to say he was "quietly confident" he would be returned as co-leader.