Chlöe Swarbrick throws hat in the ring for Green Party co-leader

Chlöe Swarbrick has announced she will be running for the Green Party's vacant co-leader position.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Swarbrick described herself as a "hard-working researched radical" and said she will strive to grow the Green Party caucus as the "leading movement of the political left". She also set the ambition goal for a Green-led Government.

James Shaw announced his resignation after nine years in the position on Tuesday, confirming he will be stepping down in March. He added he will not be publicly endorsing any candidate for the co-leadership.

Swarbrick, the Auckland Central MP, told reporters on Friday the party asked her to run for the role.

"I am a proud member of the Green Party. More than any other party we understand that there is far greater leadership out there in the community than there is in the so-called halls of power," Swarbrick said. 

"I am here to serve my communities. Over the past three days, they have asked me to stand up and put myself forward for this role."

It's the first time the Greens will change co-leaders since Marama Davidson replaced Metiria Turei in 2018.

As soon as Shaw announced his resignation, Swarbrick's name was thrown around as his potential successor.

Swarbrick was touted for the role back in 2022 when Party members voted to re-open nominations against Shaw. At the time, Swarbrick said she did not want to run for the position. No one ended up running for the role, so Shaw remanded co-leader.

She told reporters on Tuesday her change in mind over the leadership position was due to people in her community asking her to stand up.

Chlöe Swarbrick announced she would run for leadership on Friday.
Chlöe Swarbrick announced she would run for leadership on Friday. Photo credit: Newshub.

Ranked third on the list, the 29-year-old has been an MP of the Green Party since 2017. 

"Conventional, incremental politics has failed to rise to the challenges we face - those intertwined climate, inequality, biodiversity and housing crises," Swarbrick told reporters.

"What is possible in politics is only ever defined by the willingness of those in power. As co-leader, I want to show everyone in this country the power running through their veins to choose our future. We cannot leave politics to the politicians.

"Institutions are just made up of people making decisions, and throughout my lifetime, these decisions have been often constrained by systems designed to give power and privilege to the few. But this system is man-made and it can and must be remade."

Swarbrick said she will be spending the next few weeks talking to members of the Green Party about her vision for the future of the Party's movement and to ask their trust in her. 

"If I am elected to work alongside Marama Davidson, I will grow the Green movement to achieve tangible, real-world, people-powered change - as I have since I first signed up - but now, at an even greater scale," Swarbrick said.

"That means more Green members across the country, running local campaigns and implementing local solutions. It means more Greens Local Body members, Councillors and Mayors. It means more Greens MPs in Parliament and ultimately, our nation’s first Green-led Government.

"I will challenge this Government's cruel agenda and communicate the imagination, potential, and the necessary hope to mobilise for the sustainable, inspiring and inclusive Aotearoa that I see reflected every day in our communities."

'Bad things happen when good people stand idly by'

Swarbrick described herself as a "hard-working researched radical" who wants a livable planet, wealth tax, rent controls, healthy rivers and a guaranteed minimum income for all.

"I am stepping up and I am asking everyone across this country to realise their power to do the same because bad things happen when good people stand idly by," Swarbrick said.

"The Government has a clear, cruel agenda. Whether it's attempting to rewrite our history and trample the rights of tangata whenua, pouring fuel on the fire of the climate crisis or knowingly magnifying inequality. 

"I see no plan whatsoever for a unified, happy, green Pacific nation at the bottom of the world  but I do see that imagination, that potential and the seeds of that vision every single day in our communities."

She said she has a proven ability working to grow the Green Party's movement, referencing her work to extend protections in the Hauraki Gulf, creating a fund for candidates with disabilities in general elections, saving Auckland's St James Theatre, regulating student accommodation, protecting urban trees, legalising drug checking and organising COVID-19 and climate change-charged weather events.

"I have proven that we can not only mobilise but win concrete change so today I am announcing that I want to do that at scale, alongside Marama Davidson as co-leader of the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand," Swarbrick said.

"We will grow our green branches and provinces across the country to run local campaigns and implement local solutions above and beyond the election cycle…. 

"We will continue to grow our Green Party caucus as the leading movement of the political left and ultimately we can lead Government."

Nominations for the co-leadership position opened on Wednesday and will close on February 14. The Green Party allows all members to vote and run for the leadership.

Under the Party's mandate, there must be at least one female and one Māori co-leader. Since those criteria can be filled by one person, and Davidson is wahine Māori, the position can be filled by someone of any ethnicity or gender.

The new co-leader is expected to be announced on March 10.