Turei, according to her political adversaries, lives in a
castle. She comes to Parliament dressed in $2000 Adrienne
Winkelmann designer jackets. And then she wants to talk about
Yesterday, the Green Party co-leader tentatively opened her
doors to our photographer - and revealed a wardrobe filled
with more blue than green. "I quite like blue," she laughed.
So what's she doing with the left-leaning Greens, this
power-dressing politician with a three-storey, turreted home
looking out over Blueskin Bay?
Well, this visit clears up a few things. The two-bedroom
"castle" is made from stone and corrugated iron. Old fridges
serve as cupboards and doorways; a large truck tyre has been
turned into a window frame in the master bedroom. A new pizza
oven, made from mud, straw and sand, rests on a stack of
It would seem she's living the slogan: reduce, re-use,
Turei and her husband, Worik Stanton, bought the castle for
$137,000 last year - a sum that won't even buy a one-bedroom
studio apartment in central Auckland.
She stood atop the turret, clad in clothes from The Warehouse
and K&K, and surveyed her domain. "It's a castle but it's
not a mansion, and we love it," she said.
The castle had hosted many community events including
children's birthday parties, potluck dinners and a funeral.
But there were some concessions to that power-dressing
political lifestyle, she conceded. The master bedroom was too
small to store her clothes so she kept them in the spare room
Leading the way in, she pulled aside a purple curtain to
reveal a makeshift wardrobe.
Senior Cabinet minister Anne Tolley had labelled Turei "a
list MP who has no constituents, lives in a castle and comes
to the House dressed in $2000 designer jackets".
Fellow minister Chris Finlayson accused her of lecturing
National on social justice while "resplendent in her Adrienne
And a third minister, Judith Collins, hammered in the final
nail, calling Turei a "sanctimonious hypocrite" in an "ugly"
"She could sell a jacket and feed a child for a year,"
But Turei was unrepentant yesterday as she showed off another
"made-to-order" Adrienne Winkelmann suit, hanging from a hook
in the castle. "Being a slightly older and more luscious
shape, it can be very difficult to find really good quality
suits that fit off the rack."
It should be noted that Collins, Education Minister Hekia
Parata and the Prime Minister's wife, Bronagh Key, have all
been seen wearing Winkelmann designs.
Turei was loyal, she said, to Auckland-based Winkelmann and
Dunedin designer Tanya Carlson.
"As a bigger woman, they treat me really well. They are very
kind about my body - they never disparage my shape or my
Also hanging from the hooks in Turei's make-do wardrobe were
clothing from Dunedin thrift store Purple Rain and the
boutique Roadside Attraction in Waikouaiti, 20km up the road.
Draped among the designer clothing was the soft brown jacket
of her father, who died in 1995.
He had bought it in 1975 when she was a 5-year-old, she said.
"It's perfect in every way - I wear that one a lot."
So, one question remains to draw a line under this sorry
dispute: does she regret accusing the National ministers of
Uh-uh. "I have absolutely no regrets for naming that elitism
and that sexism and that racism," she retorted. "I have no
regrets for calling them out.
"I don't care what they look like. I don't care what they
wear. I just really wish they were genuinely compassionate
for the people who need them."