More big names in Greens
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.
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.’’
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.
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.