Metiria Turei has been elected at the Green Party National conference to replace Jeanette Fitzsimons are female co-leader.
Her election is no real surprise. Turei brings youth and a lack of baggage. Youth is important for a party whose MPs’ average age is 55, apparently the oldest average (apart from Jim Anderton). Sue Bradford, who has had an enormously successful political career, is unfortuantely stained by the s59 debate.
Turei does not bring the intellectual heavy-weight of Fitzsimons or Bradford but there is plenty of intellectual heft in her fellow MPs. If anything, something the Greens need is less intellectualism and more accessibility (without slipping into the shallow political pragmatism that some see in Russel Norman) and Turei can provide that.
She is the first Maori to become leader of a Parliamentary Party outside the Maori Party and New Zealand First. In both those cases the party was founded around the leaders, rather than chosen by the members. That’s something to be proud of.
I’m sure Turei will grow into an able leader and help push the Greens to better success in the next election.
Something for the long-term. With both Norman and Turei relatively young (42 and 39) it’s important they don’t remain as co-leaders until the ends of their political careers as their predecessors did. Rotation of leadership is healthy. It may be that loyalty in the wider membership and the Greens’ unwillingness to create conflict serves to block leadership changes as happen in other parties.
That said, the Greens are the only party that lets the members decide the leaders. Today, the membership made a good choice.