More big names in Greens

The Dominion Post - - Politics - STACEY KIRK

A Birm­ing­ham-based singer and en­tre­pre­neur, and a for­mer diplo­mat who couldn’t stand work­ing for Na­tional min­is­ter Mur­ray McCully any longer are among the lat­est high­pro­file names to join the Green Party’s ranks.

A for­mer United Na­tions cli­mate change lawyer is the third to round out the lat­est in­take of in­ter­na­tion­ally-suc­cess­ful women the party has added to its books.

Brid­get Walsh, Leilani Tamu and Teall Crossen all have dif­fer­ent out­looks, dif­fer­ent mo­ti­va­tions and dif­fer­ent pet is­sues, but they do have one thing in com­mon.

In three sep­a­rate in­ter­views, each de­tailed their own ver­sion of a ‘‘world on fire’’ and their de­sire to pro­tect New Zealand from a re­gres­sive push for na­tion­al­ism.

Walsh said Brexit and Trump’s elec­tion were events she never thought would hap­pen. Both ap­peared to have prompted a boost in Green Party mem­ber­ship and were a cat­a­lyst for her lat­est chal­lenge.

Tamu, who is seek­ing the party’s nom­i­na­tion to stand in New Lynn, did not be­lieve New Zealand was head­ing the way of the United States and some Euro­pean coun­tries but said com­pla­cency was not an op­tion.

Trump’s elec­tion ‘‘ap­palls’’ Teall. ‘‘It makes me more in­clined to be a part of our democ­racy.’’

All three are among the hope­fuls to de­liver their pitches to the wider party at its up­com­ing can­di­dates’ con­fer­ence. They’ll join other big names in­clud­ing broad­caster Hay­ley Holt, one-time Auck­land may­oral can­di­date Chloe Swar­brick and hu­man rights lawyer Gol­riz Gharah­man seek­ing se­lec­tion.

Brid­get Walsh

She’s amassed her own in­ter­na­tional cult fol­low­ing as The Elec­tric Swing Cir­cus’ front­woman, and kick­started her own so­cial en­ter­prise.

Now Walsh, 31, has her sights set on be­ing an over­seas-based can­di­date for the Greens, ded­i­cated to cam­paign­ing for the ex­pat vote.

Born and raised on Auck­land’s North Shore, Walsh got into the habit of over-acheiv­ing early, at­tend­ing Auck­land Univer­sity from age 16.

When she started fronting Bri­tish band The Elec­tric Swing Cir­cus in 2013, an in­ter­nal cri­sis en­sued. Be­ing paid to do the thing she loved took Walsh away from her causes.

‘‘But then I re­alised the way peo­ple were re­spond­ing to me was giv­ing me far more of a plat­form to reach peo­ple.’’

It was one of the things that spurred Walsh to set up INDHE (pro­nounced Indie) – a kind of LinkedIn for artists. A crowd­fund­ing cam­paign on Kick­starter spawned into a so­cial en­ter­prise, link­ing top artists glob­ally, within a month.

Com­bin­ing her mu­si­cal sched­ule with pol­i­tics, Walsh is plan­ning to cam­paign in Switzer­land, Swe­den, France, Canada and the US, Mex­ico and Aus­tralia through her vast net­work and through the Greens’ own in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to turn out the over­seas vote at the Septem­ber 23 elec­tion.

‘‘The cool thing about the Greens is that, I’m a busy lady; it’s an al­bum year – I’m record­ing an al­bum – I’m work­ing on build­ing INDHE this year, and the Greens round out my holy trin­ity of Brid­get.’’

Leilani Tamu

Her par­ents came to New Zealand from Samoa in the 1960s, dad – Bill Bur­goyne – was Pakeha and quickly be­came a rugby league leg­end here.

Tamu is can­did about his strug­gles with gam­bling ad­dic­tion. Af­ter an Auck­land wo­man ac­cused Sir Peter Leitch of racist re­marks, Tamu penned a high-pro­file blog de­tail­ing her fa­ther’s deal­ings with him. ‘‘I’ve al­ways been a bit of a fighter in terms of stand­ing up against in­jus­tice.’’

The first in her fam­ily to go to univer­sity, Tamu gained a masters in his­tory. Later, she be­gan work with the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and Trade in Welling­ton, be­fore be­ing sec­onded to DFAT in Aus­tralia.

Af­ter giv­ing birth to her first child, Tamu and her fam­ily moved to Tonga in 2010. Af­ter two years work­ing at the New Zealand High Com­mis­sion there, Tamu said she was ‘‘fed up’’.

‘‘I got quite frus­trated work­ing un­der the Na­tional-led Gov­ern­ment – I was quite dis­il­lu­sioned with their gen­eral ap­proach to devel­op­ment in the Pa­cific. So I quit ... I just couldn’t work un­der McCully any longer.’’

Now blog­ging, rais­ing two chil­dren, and pub­lish­ing her sec­ond book – the prod­uct of a Ful­bright fel­low­ship to Hawaii – Tamu says she’s ‘‘pretty de­ter­mined’’.

Her in­ten­tion is to start door­knock­ing in New Lynn from the first week­end of March.

Teall Crossen

Throw­ing her hat in the ring for Welling­ton’s Ron­go­tai elec­torate is Crossen, who has been been an en­vi­ron­men­tal lawyer and ac­tivist most of her life.

Her lengthy ca­reer boasts stints work­ing for both For­est and Bird and Green­peace, as well as a cli­mat­e­change ne­go­tia­tor for the Pa­cific Is­lands, based at the UN in New York.

‘‘When I was at the ne­go­ti­a­tions, work­ing for the Pa­cific, I had to hear the New Zealand Gov­ern­ment an­nounce an emis­sion re­duc­tion tar­get that would ini­tially mean the demise of coun­tries like Tu­valu.

‘‘That’s when I de­cided I wanted to re­turn home and join the po­lit­i­cal party that was cam­paign­ing for real cli­mate so­lu­tions. There’s no rea­son why New Zealand can’t be a cli­mate leader.’’

Crossen ex­pects to ex­pand on the Greens’ suc­cess in her home elec­torate. She will be cam­paign­ing for the party vote in the area which Labour has al­ready con­firmed it will stand Welling­ton Deputy Mayor Paul Ea­gle in place of veteran An­nette King af­ter she moves to its list.

‘‘I want to cam­paign on cli­mate change. When you do that lo­cally, it trans­lates into things like trans­port. Welling­ton has huge trans­port prob­lems, and our emis­sions from trans­port are about 60 per cent of all our emis­sions.’’

Crossen gained ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing on party co-leader James Shaw’s Welling­ton Cen­tral cam­paign in 2014. ‘‘Elec­tions hold the pos­si­bil­ity of change, and the pos­si­bil­ity of a bet­ter fu­ture, and I’ve been part of cre­at­ing that.’’

From left, Brid­get Walsh, Leilani Tamu and Teall Crossen all have dif­fer­ent out­looks and pet is­sues but they are all keen to pro­tect New Zealand from a re­gres­sive push for na­tion­al­ism.

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