Speculation is brewing over which Green MPs will put up their hand to replace outgoing co-leader James Shaw following his resignation earlier today.
Nominations for the role of co-leader will open tomorrow and close on February 14.
Once nominations close next month, Green Party members will vote for their preferred candidate at local meetings. Each local branch is entitled to a certain number of votes proportionate to the number of members who live in that electorate.
The party has said it expects to announce its new co-leader on March 10.
During his resignation announcement, Shaw and co-leader Marama Davidson were adamant they would not back a candidate during the selection process.
“I’m not going to make any announcements on behalf of anybody today — that really is up to them,” he said. “It really is up to anybody who wants to put themselves forward to make those announcements themselves — that is up to them.”
Chlöe Swarbrick will be the most prominent contender, if not frontrunner, to replace Shaw, currently ranking third on the Greens’ list.
Following her first term, she became the second Green MP to ever win an electorate seat, in 2020, when she claimed victory in Auckland Central. That year, she also championed her party’s unsuccessful push to legalise cannabis by referendum.
She retained her electorate seat at last year’s election, becoming the first Green MP to hold onto their electorate seat for more than one term. The 29-year-old frequently registers on preferred prime minister polling, often ranking above Shaw himself.
In an October 1News Verian poll, Swarbrick was equal with Shaw at 2%.
In a media conference today, Shaw was asked about his past experience mentoring Swarbrick as an MP, and whether that could mean an endorsement.
He responded: “It is a pretty strict rule that we have applied, that we don’t take a public position on any nominations, even regardless of what we privately think.”
Ranked fifth on the Greens’ list at the last election, MP Teanau Tuiono publically contemplated running for the leadership two years ago.
His name emerged during an uncertain period for Shaw after a minority of the Greens’ membership temporarily ousted him in mid-2022.
Tuiono ended up opting not to run, with Shaw roundly re-elected to his role. The MP, 51, is currently serving his second term after first being elected in 2020.
This term, he was appointed an assistant speaker — becoming the first to hold the role while a Green MP. Over the past three years, he had been vocal as the party’s spokesperson for Pacific peoples.
Tuiono comes from a more progressive and activist side of the party, which may appeal to some members in contrast to years of James Shaw’s more pragmatic approach.
Julie Anne Genter
Experienced Greens MP Julie Anne Genter could also be another contender, having been in Parliament for 13 years — the most tenured MP in the caucus.
She last threw her hat into the ring during the 2018 co-leadership race, where she lost to current co-leader Marama Davidson. Last year, Genter drew fresh attention when she won the Labour safe seat of Rongotai for the Greens.
A familiar face in infrastructure and urban planning debates, the 44-year-old would be the only contender in the caucus to have previously held ministerial experience.
During Jacinda Ardern’s first coalition government, Genter was women’s minister and an associate transport minister. The US-born transport planner was first elected in 2011 — pre-dating Shaw’s own election to Parliament by four years.
Others could run too
The only other person in the Greens’ caucus of MPs with previous experience in Parliament would be Ricardo Menéndez March — who is currently in his second term.
However, there’s little suggestion the party’s members would go off experience in Parliament alone. Shaw, himself, was only elected as co-leader months after he became an MP in 2015, usurping bids from several experienced Parliamentarians in the process.
Though the odds are against it, new Parliamentarians could also be in the race if Green members felt a need for revitalisation in the ranks.
The party’s new MPs include former Auckland councillor Efeso Collins, who wields a prominent profile given his unsuccessful bid for the city’s mayoralty in 2022.
The Greens’ constitution also allows for the election of a co-leader outside of Parliament, so theoretically any party member could be elected — however unlikely that may be.
Green Party rules about co-leadership
The party adjusted its leadership requirements in 2022, removing the requirement that one leader must be a man. The Greens said it was part of a commitment to give non-binary and intersex people leadership opportunities.
Now, the requirement for the party’s co-leadership is that one co-leader must be a woman, whilst the other person can be any gender.
The party’s rules also state one co-leader must be Māori. Marama Davidson, being a woman and Māori, currently covers both of those co-leadership requirements.