Turei’s exit seen as great loss

Metiria Turei resigned as Greens co-leader this week. Photo: Getty Images
Metiria Turei resigned as Greens co-leader this week. Photo: Getty Images
Metiria Turei was the first leader brave enough to share her experience of the "punitive" welfare system and had come under "sustained attack" for doing so, Dunedin Green Party member Aaron Hawkins says.

Cr Hawkins, who is also a Dunedin city councillor, said the Dunedin-based co-leader’s resignation was a loss for the city.

"Dunedin isn’t overly represented in Parliament."

Aaron Hawklins
Aaron Hawklins

It was also a major loss for the fight against poverty.

"For the first time in 25 years we’ve had a political leader brave enough to say our welfare system is punitive by design, and use their own lived experience to illustrate that point."

She was warm and generous, easily connecting with other people, Cr Hawkins said. A good public speaker, she made it look "effortless".

"She had the capacity to be able to talk to people without talking down to them."

Cr Hawkins said there was a "degree of hostility" towards a "strong Maori woman who challenged the establishment". Dunedin South MP Clare Curran said Ms Turei championed an end to child poverty and raised awareness of violence against women.

"I’ve worked alongside Metiria in Dunedin for nine years and will miss her warmth and genuine commitment to change," Ms Curran said.

Ms Turei is campaigning in the Te Tai Tonga seat but will not have a place on the party’s list.

She resigned on Wednesday, saying the scrutiny of her historical benefit fraud and personal circumstances was too much to bear.

University of Otago law professor Andrew Geddis knew Ms Turei socially as a "nice, warm, friendly person".

The party enjoyed strong support in Dunedin and Ms Turei had previously stood as its Dunedin North candidate.

"I imagine there are a lot of party members and supporters feeling extraordinarily gutted.

"Social media has been a well of tears," Prof Geddis said.

Ms Turei was a key campaign figure for the party, which would fight back but had been hurt.

If the party looked like it could fall below the 5% threshold for remaining in Parliament, Labour would need to "throw them some form of lifeline".

That could mean joint events between Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and Green Party leader James Shaw.

Ms Turei was well liked, but faced ideological opposition from the right-wing.

"There’s a segment of the population that saw her as being flaky and representing the worst aspect of environmental socialism," Prof Geddis said.

eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

Comments

They would think that, wouldn't they?

The tribal right is gleeful, because it means the Coalition seems to be in trouble. The Right are not Conservatives. On media, they want National hell or high water.

MT had some support from Conservative quarters in Auckland.

Her exit is a great loss, both to the country and Dunedin. I just hope that the political establishment is mature enough to allow her to return to politics in the near future.

Ms Turei defrauded the taxpayers of New Zealand by not declaring her true financial position. Not the government, taxpayers. Every cent Ms Turei took is one cent less for other people.

If Mr Hawkins seriously believes that it is ok for anyone, let alone a politician, to defraud the people then he should get out of politics now.

It is hardly surprising the greens have dropped so far in opinion polls. Only the truly misguided will vote green when their various members think the way Mr Hawkins does.