Green Party leadership battle: Chlöe Swarbrick wins race to be next co-leader, replaces James Shaw

Chlöe Swarbrick has overwhelmingly won the race to become the next Green Party co-leader, replacing James Shaw.

The party confirmed the news on Sunday morning, with co-leader Marama Davidson welcoming the news.

Swarbrick paid tribute to her supporters in a statement.

"Thank you to Green Party members across the country who've put their faith and trust in me to lead our movement alongside Marama. I ask everyone to put that faith and trust in themselves too, and in our collective capacity to transform our world for the better," Swarbrick said.

"Aotearoa can be a place where everyone has what they need to live a decent life, and our natural world is restored and protected, on a foundation honouring te Tiriti o Waitangi. That is the Greens' vision, and one we work to see realised every single day."

Swarbrick also used her first opportunity as new co-leader to hit out at the current Government, describing their 100-day plan as "cruel and, frankly, bizarre".

"They know that many of the things they have done will make things worse for people and planet and they've told New Zealanders that they don't care," she said.

"We've heard from people across the country of their deep despair. That's precisely what this Government wants from you: to switch off. Don't.

"They want you to acquiesce to oil, gas and mining lobbyists' wishlists to destroy our natural environment," she said.

"They want you to give in to their bonkers agenda that'll see more people die from smoking to fund landlords' tax cuts. They want you to believe all politics and politicians are the same - it benefits them and their donors for you to switch off."

"Don't let this Government's bully boy behaviour silence you. Let it motivate you. We've been here before with regressive conservatives. It was organising by regular people that changed the course of history."

While the announcement of Swarbrick as co-leader seemed a given, she did have to fend off one challenger.

Dunedin-based activist and conservationist Alex Foulkes, 48, announced in February he was entering the co-leadership race.

Dunedin-based activist and conservationist Alex Foulkes was Swarbrick's only challenger for the co-leadership role.
Dunedin-based activist and conservationist Alex Foulkes was Swarbrick's only challenger for the co-leadership role. Photo credit: RNZ

But on Sunday morning he confirmed his concession, handing Swarbrick victory.

The Greens confirmed Swarbrick received 169 votes from party membership delegates, Foulkes received zero votes and two votes were cast to re-open nominations for the position.

Foulkes released a statement congratulating Swarbrick on her victory and overwhelming mandate to be the next co-leader.

"I have spoken to Chlöe and given her my congratulations on being elected. Chlöe will do an incredible job alongside Marama Davidson, and I would like to wish them both all the best in leading the party into the future," he said.

"I am confident Chlöe and Marama will lead the party from strength to strength. I have enjoyed the debate with Chlöe and the party members and would like to commend and thank the party staff for the efficient organisation of the election and the members for their engagement and respectful, intelligent, and thoughtful questions throughout this process."

Davidson said it's fantastic to have Swarbrick alongside her to fight against the Government's "cold, cynical and cruel agenda".

She described Swarbrick as an incredible MP, colleague and friend who has proven time and time again her "unique ability to mobilise communities to push for the change Aotearoa needs".

Shaw also passed on his congratulations to Swarbrick and added there is no one he would rather take his position as Green Party co-leader.

"Ever since I first sat down to coffee with her after her mayoral campaign in 2016 she has struck me as a remarkable leader with an extraordinary belief in the power of people to make a difference. Her passion and strength is second to none, and alongside Marama, will lead the Greens to make even more of a difference in the future," he said.