Green MP Elizabeth Kerekere attacks party co-leaders as she breaks silence over 'crybaby' scandal

She accused Marama Davidson and James Shaw of dragging out an investigation into her behaviour in a late-night conference call to party members.
She accused Marama Davidson and James Shaw of dragging out an investigation into her behaviour in a late-night conference call to party members. Photo credit: Parliament TV

By Craig McCulloch for RNZ

Green MP Elizabeth Kerekere has hit out at the party's co-leaders in a late-night conference call to party members, accusing Marama Davidson and James Shaw of dragging out an investigation into her behaviour.

Kerekere has gone to ground since the Greens launched an internal review into her behaviour last month. The inquiry was prompted after Kerekere was caught speaking ill of her colleague Chlöe Swarbrick in a message sent to the wrong group chat.

In a roughly 10-minute address, the first-term MP criticised the weeks-long investigation and said Davidson and Shaw were making it very difficult for her to continue working in the party.

She claimed a fellow MP had purposely leaked the messages and said the Green Party's processes were not well-suited to "bad-faith actors".

Kerekere told members she apologised unreservedly to Swarbrick for her group chat remarks and admitted she had been envious of her colleague when she wrote: "Sucks that her bill goes through during list ranking!"

But she said her follow-up comment - "omg what a crybaby" - had been misinterpreted and was meant in a self-deprecatory manner towards herself.

RNZ, however, has been leaked a new screengrab of the group chat conversation which shows one of Kerekere's initial responses on the night: "I am sorry I wrote down crybaby."

The comment goes on: "I am jealous Chloe [sic] has a bill going up during list ranking because it's great timing and I genuinely hope my bill gets pulled tomorrow."

Since the Greens' internal inquiry was launched, multiple sources close to the party have criticised Kerekere's broader treatment of caucus colleagues and staff.

Speaking on Friday evening, Kerekere told members she categorically denied any allegations of bullying. She said no one had gone on the record to back their claims and described that as a breach of natural justice.

Kerekere said she believed she was being criticised because she stands up against racism.

Members were not given the opportunity to ask questions. Kerekere had been invited to speak by the party's co-convenors Aroha Lowe and Rōpata Moore.

RNZ understands Kerekere has engaged the services of employment lawyer Steph Dyhrberg.

Dyhrberg declined to speak to RNZ on Friday. Kerekere has not responded to RNZ's request for comment.

Members are currently voting on the final ranking of the Green Party list which will help determine which MPs and candidates make it into Parliament this election.

Kerekere's supporters last week sought to delay voting, arguing members deserved to know all the facts, but they were unable to garner sufficient support from the membership during a last-minute conference call.

A draft list, devised by delegates, has ranked Kerekere in fourth spot, one place below Swarbrick, but above other senior MPs. The final list was expected to be published at the end of May.

Davidson and Shaw yesterday issued a statement suggesting they were unhappy Kerekere had accepted the invitation to speak.

"Consistent with Green Party values, we made clear that the process should be fair to everyone involved. In the absence of an agreement on what could be said, the parties involved have refrained from saying anything," the statement said.

"We remain committed to an internal process that is fair, and provides an opportunity to hear from MPs and present and former staff in confidence on matters that may have an impact on our ability to carry out our important work on behalf of the people of Aotearoa."

The co-leaders have been approached for further comment since Kerekere's latest remarks.