Globetrotting Greens #4: Kylie in the Netherlands


In the lead-up to the election on September 23, we’re profiling some of our widespread international volunteers and asking them to share why they’re voting Green in 2017. Today, meet Kylie. She’s a Kiwi living in the Netherlands with her husband Mark. She is a freelance communications consultant and enjoys geeking out on scifi, kiwi music, and pop culture in general.

New Zealand has a lot to be proud of. We’re great at sports. We make awesome films, produce phenomenal music, and write amazing books to great acclaim all around the world. We are inventors, and innovators. We make unfathomably delicious wine and chocolate! Our little corner of the world is breathtakingly gorgeous. We are lucky to come from Aotearoa, a place with a deep and rich culture. Living overseas has shown me that internationally we have a fantastic reputation for all of these things, people want to talk to us about them all the time. They are things to absolutely be proud of.

But what makes a country really, truly successful? Is it that we look beautiful to the outside? Or is that just clever marketing?

In what other ways do we lead the world?

New Zealand has the highest youth suicide rate in the world. Our rangatahi are killing themselves at a rate twice as high as their American counterparts, and five times that of British young people.

We have the highest rates of family (child) and intimate partner violence in the world.

We have the highest percentage of homelessness in the OECD. 42,000 Kiwis now live in “precarious” housing such as garages, caravan parks and cars.

More New Zealand children are killed by poverty-related diseases linked to cold, damp, and overcrowded housing than are killed by car crashes or drowning accidents.

We top the IMF’s housing unaffordability list.

I’m not proud of these statistics.

They are all interconnected, and reflect a Government and a society that has the wrong priorities. We see the consequences of this inaction in our education, health and crime statistics. All of these factors disproportionately impact Māori.

If solutions aren’t found for these systemic problems, our people don’t thrive, limiting our potential. If our government continues to prefer running at a surplus over properly funding programmes to improve these outcomes, they are part of the problem. If we are to judge the success of our country by how we treat our most vulnerable, we are failing. Catastrophically.

Multiple governments have tried and failed to fix these problems. Something’s got to change. We have to try something new.

Watch this short excerpt from when Kylie and Mark met our international candidate Bridget Walsh on her recent global pop-up tour.

This election I’m proud to be voting for the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand. Along with a clear plan to tackle climate change, they have become the strongest opposition voice in parliament for our most vulnerable. A representative democracy can only be strengthened by having Māori, youth, queer, disabled, and refugee voices in government. As a member, I am proud that all of these voices and perspectives are represented in the top ten of our party list. I believe in the Green kaupapa, and I believe we have policy to begin to combat all of the challenges we face. A Green heart in the next Labour Government will ensure a truly progressive government, working to improve life for all New Zealanders.

Check out our social polices here and our newly announced mental health policy here.

 Enrolment and International voting are now open until 22 September.







Globetrotting Greens #3: Sarah in London


In the lead-up to the election on September 23, we’re profiling some of our widespread international volunteers and asking them to share why they’re voting Green in 2017. Today, meet Sarah – a new Kiwi mum living in London.

Rugby. Lord of the Rings. Lorde. Bungee jumping. Sunshine hours. Sheep. Rugby. Sometimes I want to burst into my own 2017 rendition of the Kiwi Burger song.  It’s become a cliche that when you tell someone you are from New Zealand, their eyes light up and they start listing the things they know (or think they know…) about Aotearoa. Flight of the Conchords famously did a bit on it (“there’s Vikings there, right?”) and now some people add Bret and Jermaine to the list of things to enthusiastically tell you about to prove they know what NZ is. (Though yes, there are still people who look confused and ask if New Zealand is in Europe.)

And everyone says “Oh I’d love to go there!”. People like me – young(ish), educated(ish), middle class globe-trotting lefty types, often have an idea that New Zealand is a utopia. Constant sunshine and social equality, office jobs swapped for days on the beach or in the bush. It’s the blank, sunny canvas on which they project their own dreams.

In my early days abroad I used to revel in this.  But the longer I had been away, the more it felt uncomfortable and like a half-truth.

While visiting European cities in weekend mini-breaks,  I would tell people I was a Kiwi and they’d marvel at how far I must have come. When I added that, actually, I lived in London they would look a little cheated. For a brief time I didn’t have a New Zealand passport, and started telling people I was British. It felt odd. A convenient half-lie to get out of unwanted chat. The “oh, ok” non-reaction was strange. I wasn’t used to not being special!

But it wasn’t just my geographical reality that made me uncomfortable about the universal gushing about NZ. It was a feeling that the world had believed the hype. The 100% Pure marketing had got to them. All the post-Brexit “I’m moving to New Zealand!” types didn’t help.

New Zealand is a wonderful country. It is my country. But it is not perfect. Our child poverty, youth suicide rates and inequality continue to make headlines at home. Waiting lists for medical treatment make me ever more grateful for the NHS. The rivers we see in those “Pure” adverts would make you very sick if you swam in them. And the neoliberal agenda – tuition fees, cutting benefits, the dismantling of the welfare state and state housing – had taken hold back home (shortly…) before I was born. Kiwi experts were brought over to the UK to advise on implementing similar policies here.

We gave women the vote first. We had the world’s first transgender MP. We are proudly nuclear free. We have a lot to be proud of.  But we can’t rest on our laurels and expect the advertising industry to create the appearance of the sort of nation we want.

Clean rivers, healthy and attainable homes, green energy, modern public transport, a commitment to pay equity, a welcome new home for refugees.

This will be my third election in the UK. I will go to New Zealand House on Haymarket, revel briefly in the accents, and give two ticks Green. One day I hope to move back to Aotearoa. In the meantime I will visit and show my daughter where I grew up, and I want her to be proud to say that she is part New Zealander.

Enrolment and International voting are now open until 22 September.



Globetrotting Greens #3: Bryce in Brighton

I’d always voted Green. But I only took serious notice of politics and joined the Green Party in 2011, while I was living in London. It was a bit of a quick ‘statement to the universe’ really, and I certainly never expected to be involved so deeply nearly three elections later.

Between myself and a few dedicated other volunteers, including the stalwart Simon Wood, we evolved the overseas presence that James Shaw had pioneered. We grew the London branch into an active and imaginative grassroots campaign targeting the overseas vote in the UK in 2014. Despite the frustrations of that election, we kept things ticking over so there would be an established structure to give the 2017 effort a head start.

Late in 2015 I received the news that my sister had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

I was luckily in a position to be able to completely pack up my UK life and head back to Auckland to be with her and my family for her last months. I thought that was the end of my Green involvement, and was given my first ever pounamu (which ironically has also now had a story of there-and-back-again) as a beautiful but bittersweet farewell gift from the London team.

Back in Auckland, my then 11-year-old nephew asked “are you still running the Green Party?” I said that was just in London, and in New Zealand I was nothing. He replied with a very definitive “You’re not nothing. You’re my uncle.”

I’d committed to stay in New Zealand for at least a year to be with the family following my sister passing away. But I was desperately seeking out familiarity and purpose. I was in the midst of not only grief but also reverse culture shock (it really is a thing). Being around South Auckland – especially Manurewa, where my sister had lived – was a big jolt from a London media lifestyle.

So once again I started championing the buildup towards an overseas campaign. Firstly as a way to keep connected with feeling like a global citizen, but also to put energy where it was still sorely needed. This time however I was able to understand how to get things done with the Green Party structure and people right at the source instead of 18,000km distant. Local branch and province meetings, joining the energising Fundraising and Marketing committee, and getting to know some of the Wellington office team in person instead of just by email, all gave me new insight and resource for overseas campaigning.

But being back in NZ gave me more than that. I got to properly meet and spend some time with MPs and the up-and-coming new candidates. From filming Marama Davidson for a Maori Language Week initiative, to racing around Mt Albert in the dark of night helping Julie-Anne Genter pull down her hoardings before the next day’s by-election, to drinking plenty of Chloe Swarbrick’s coffee at her new cafe, this exposure reinforced my gut instinct from the occasional meetings with James Shaw and others:

New Zealand Green MPs are a different type of politician. In it for real reasons. And the right reasons.

Of course New Zealand doesn’t have the extreme level of “career politician” manufacturing such as you see in the UK from the likes of Eton College, and I’m sure there are MPs in other NZ parties who are in it make a difference too. But the candidates and MPs I’ve met in the Greens have consistently and completely impressed me with their totally genuine passion for making life and the world better – and, well, absolute ordinariness.

Along the way also I got past my reverse culture shock, and rejuvenated a, shall we say more informed and perceptive love of New Zealand. So as 2016 rolled into a 2017 of intense election campaigning and political events, I got more involved than ever in the overseas campaign. Thanks to the energy of our international candidate Bridget Walsh, the dogged commitment of other volunteers, and the support of the Wellington marketing team, it has grown from being a UK-based effort into a global presence. We’re meeting and connecting with Kiwis all around the world online and in person like never before.

Outlining the overseas campaign plans to an Auckland Province meeting with Bridget

In July I returned to live in the UK again.

It’s been more than a bit odd moving back after the emotional journey of the last nearly two years. Things have changed. I’ve changed. But my enthusiasm for protecting Aotearoa is stronger than ever, and I believe a green heart in government is the way to do that. In a way, everything I’ve done with the Greens since 2011 has led up to this point and I’m committed (to the point of obsession at times) making this election the one where things really change for the better.

A lot of people said how good a person I was for dropping my UK life and going back to do what I could for my sister and family. But as much as I did for my sister nearly two years ago, it’s what I can do for her kids, my nephews and niece, and in fact the planet they live on, that feels like one of the most important and worthwhile things I’ve done.

Overseas votes can make a world of difference in Aotearoa. Make yours Green.







Globetrotting Greens #2: Penny in Munich


In the lead-up to the election on September 23, we’re profiling some of our widespread international volunteers and asking them to share why they’re voting Green in 2017. Today, meet Penny – a Kiwi living in Germanypenny_family.

I left Aotearoa in 2008 and I’ve been in Munich since 2011. I’m married to a German and have two half-German children. I’m a full time mama and a part-time student.

I still miss home fiercely, and one of the times that’s strongest is at election time. And it’s never felt worse than the last few weeks.

I care deeply about the future of our amazing country. Every day I read the news and I see stories of people living in cars, rivers so dirty they can’t be swum in and people struggling to get by, let alone thrive. There is a deep division in our society, exacerbated by years of neoliberal policies. Neoliberalism teaches people to care about themselves and get by while ignoring those struggling because, hey, at least you’re doing better than that person down the road eh? This government doesn’t seem to care. What happened to he tangata, he tangata he tangata? It is the people, the people, the people.

In public discourse, blame is shifted onto those already doing it hard. It has gendered and racialised aspects as well as those around class. Metiria Turei shone a light on this problem. And I know damn well I would do the same thing if it meant I could look after my child. It makes me furious and incredibly sad that it was necessary. I feel like we’re standing at a tipping point – more of the same oppressive policies, or a new way. Metiria has opened the conversation, so let’s discuss these important issues at the heart of our society.

I’m voting Green from Munich this election, like I have since 2002, because I desperately want us to step away from this tipping point and embrace a new direction. Let’s turn away from the “Me First” and the “Gimme Gimme” attitude that has become so common, and instead start taking care of what really matters – our people and our environment.

Let’s make our economy work for our people, rather than blindly following the market. Let’s really honour Te Tiriti, rather than trying to draw a line under it. Let’s get out of traffic jams and into modern public transport and onto bikes! I converted to biking when I moved to Germany and haven’t looked back. Let’s look at the long term of where we want to go, rather than what we can cram through in a three-year electoral cycle. Let’s be brave enough to speak truth to power and ask ourselves hard questions about who we want to be.

My reasons for voting Green have changed subtly every election. You can read about why I voted Green in 2014. It’s clear to me that my resolve is much stronger, and more visceral this time. I’ve learned a lot over the last three years, about myself and what privileges I have been afforded to me in life. While I think that’s made me (at least a bit) more careful and less blustery, it’s also made me mad. Mad for those who haven’t been as lucky as I was, and even madder still that the structures and institutions of our society entrench and normalise privilege, while simultaneously denying it exists.

I’m voting Green! I really hope you will too.


Enrolment is open now and International voting begins on September 6.