Hectic time of change for co-leader

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei in Dunedin for the festive season. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei in Dunedin for the festive season. Photo by Craig Baxter.
It has been a time of change and hectic schedules for Metiria Turei after stepping into the job of Green Party co-leader about six months ago.

"It has been very intense, very exciting and stressful."

Ms Turei was elected to the role ahead of now former Green MP Sue Bradford at the party's conference, in Dunedin, in May, and had big shoes to fill, taking over from party stalwart Jeanette Fitzsimons.

She was given some advice from Ms Fitzsimons at the time that to be a leader you need to be a step ahead, wisdom she has found rings true.

Ms Turei said she had become aware of the administrative and management roles expected of a leader, something she had been unaware of previously.

"It is a different kind of job to being an MP," she said.

She has also had some advice from National Party deputy leader Bill English, who said that she should expect party members to have increased expectations from her as well.

"I'm still getting used to the job, but I can see that those expectations will increase over time."

Ms Turei said a highlight of the year for herself and the Green Party was attention being focused on MPs' expenses.

"That has been really good. It has thrown light in dark corners. It has been an important step and I'm proud that we took that. Parliament has changed for the better because of that."

She is also pleased by the work done in the area of one of the party's traditional strengths - the environment.

"I'm pretty pleased about our presence in Copenhagen, it is one of the things I wanted to make sure we did."

Jeanette Fitzsimons and fellow Green MP Kennedy Graham have been in the Danish capital and had been writing regular blogs about issues there.

Ms Turei said it was a good demonstration of the party's expertise in the area.

The party has also revealed some major issues to the public, she said, such as plans to mine Mt Aspiring National Park, Solid Energy investigating building a lignite plant at Mataura and intensive dairy farming in the Mackenzie Country.

In terms of working with the National Party, the major achievement was the home insulation scheme.

She said the party was polling at about 8% - above where they were for the 2008 election - but was going through a period of transition, particularly with the departure of Sue Bradford.

"There is a sense of freshness and renewal," she said.

Next year the party wanted to pursue more of its memorandum of understanding with the National Party, including the national cycleway.

Their main focus would be on implementing economic plans, most of which focus on the Green New Deal and cutting greenhouse emissions by 40%.

There was also much work to be done on helping families hardest hit by the recession, she said.

Ms Turei said it had been a frantic six months for her and she had not spent as much time in Dunedin with her family as she would have liked.

She hopes she will be able to spend more time here next year, but in the meantime, she was going to enjoy a family Christmas holiday in the city.

"I'm looking forward to not getting on a plane for a whole four weeks," she said.


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