The relief of letting go was painted all over James Shaws’ face.
“The time for a new co-leader is now,” he said at a press conference announcing his resignation.
After nine years at the helm of the Green Party, Shaw said his job was done.
“I guess I’m standing down because I feel like my time here and my work here is complete.”
He was a stabilising force through some of the Green Party’s more tumultuous times, including the fall of his first co-leader Metiria Turei. He fought the 2017 election campaign on his own.
“This has been the fight of our lives,” he said afterwards.
It was a fight against all odds to lead his party into Government for the first time, achieving world-first legislation enshrining climate targets in law through the Zero Carbon Act.
“I’m really pleased to see the Zero Carbon Act survive its first real acid test in the recent change of Government,” he said on Tuesday.
Getting it across the line was a battle, but he couldn’t name his toughest climate fight.
Building consensus around ideas often dubbed radical is his MO, a practice of pragmatism.
“Pragmatism is how you deliver idealism.”
Something that grated with die-hard Green members, who tried to roll him as the leader a number of times.
Now he’s going on his terms after a record result in last year’s election.
“What I committed to was taking the Greens into Government and then safely out the other side.”
It’s now over to the Green membership to fill the pragmatist’s shoes.
“When we let our members make decisions, they tend to make very sensible, well-considered decisions,” he said.
When it was put to him that they also tried to roll him a couple of times, he said: “Yeah, I’m not going to get into specific moments, but we’ve all had our ups and downs.”
Under the Green Party rules, at least one co-leader must be Māori and at least one co-leader must be female.
With both criteria filled by Marama Davidson, it’s anyone’s game, but the standout candidate is Auckland Central MP Chlöe Swarbrick.
Shaw said the leaders wouldn’t publicly endorse any candidate for the co-leadership.
Davidson also refused to commit to remain in her role through to the next election.
“I have learnt that I take things day by day and right now I am here and committed… no decision made.”
The Greens could yet turn over an entirely new leaf.