Newshub Nation Backstory: New Green MP Kahurangi Carter discusses acting history and Christchurch collective housing community 

How well do we really know our politicians and the personal values and experiences they bring to decisions that affect us all?        

Newshub Nation's Backstory series goes behind the scenes into our political leaders' lives and childhood photo albums.     

Kahurangi Carter got into Parliament at 14th on the Greens' list, with her entrance only confirmed after special votes had been counted and the party gained an additional seat. 

Carter and her five siblings were raised by their mother in a small Waikato farming community and she described her upbringing as "rich in whānau.   

"I just remember being around lots of kids and cousins, and just going on adventures," she said.    

An important part of her childhood was that "everyone was always welcome in our home, and that's something I've really tried to continue in my life".  

Carter described her mother as a "really earthly person".  

"She would take us to tree plantings, would make us pick up rubbish from the side of the road and always make us leave a place better than we found it."   

Carter recalled that, if her and her siblings were ever fighting, their mother would encourage them outside to "go outside, stand outside and reconnect with nature".   

She still employs this tactic with her own children now, children she had in her early 20s.  

"I was one of those mums who took my toddlers to Splore," she laughed.  "I guess you've got lots of energy when you're young, I was just ready to be a mum, I loved having kids when I was younger and it really worked for me."   

Carter credited the support of friends and whānau, whose doors were always open, as a part of that success.    

While Carter was taking her children to music festivals, she said she would also take them back a month later and do some tree planting.   

Carter's children spent some of their upbringing in the countryside but she also wanted them to spend time growing up in a city.   

"I love Christchurch, Christchurch is an amazing city," she said.    

She now lives in the Avon Loop area which Rod Donald, the founder of the Green Party, helped establish.    

"I get to wake up every morning and see Rod's vision, in reality."    

The community is tight knit with a common vision of sustainable living.  

"We all have our different roles that we play in the community, we each do an hour of service each week," Carter said. "We also have a potluck dinner each week where we get to hang out and have a good time together, but it also means that neighbours can support each other when they need it."   

Though the community is rental based, residents have a home for life.    

"You don’t ever have to move out, you don't have a finish date on your lease."   

The Green MP has always been drawn to artists and art and she said she loves "the way artists touch the hearts and minds of people and that they can be a catalyst for change".   

She spends time on the board for a local art gallery called The Physics Room.   

"I feel like artists give me so much so that's why I wanted to give back to the art community."   

Her mother is a weaver and Carter said she has learned a lot from her art, namely "the way that she cares for a harakeke bush before she harvests the leaves and then anything that is left, she will take back to that plant and leave it at the roots to help nurture and rejuvenate the plant".   

For Carter, that reciprocity is something she has taken forward.    

While she wasn't the most academic student at school, Carter was "a bit of a jock, I played lots of sports", she said.  

She never won any major sporting awards but Carter said that she did win the school spirit award, which she thinks is truer to her spirit. She is also a trained actor and has appeared in multiple different advertisements and movies.   

There is "one particular ad that sticks in people's minds and it was called the Giganaire", she said.  

Kahurangi Carter in Spark's Giganaire advertisement.
Kahurangi Carter in Spark's Giganaire advertisement. Photo credit: Spark

"It was such a fun day. All of the kids thought I was so cool and all of the adults thought I was so cringe." 

Now she is an MP and will be spending time in Wellington, Carter said that she will not forget the people of Christchurch and where she came from.   

"I will always be true to that privilege and the love and support that I've had in my life."   

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