Globetrotting Greens #3: Sarah in London

Globetrotting-Greens_1

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.

Save

Save

Advertisements

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.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Candidate Kōrero #8: Bridget Walsh

Candidate Korero_2

In the run-up to the NZ election, we are profiling our Green Party candidates and sharing their messages with Kiwis around the world. Today we have  a message from Bridget Walsh, our international candidate.

Current Role:
I’m a touring musician, based mostly between the UK, the USA and Aotearoa. I’m also the founder of a social enterprise and online community for artists and musicians (www.indhe.org) and humbled to have been selected as the International Candidate for the Green Party of Aotearoa. I’ve taken a summer off festivals and shows to focus instead on “political touring”, rallying together overseas-kiwis in cities around the world, and helping to get them ready to #votefromanywhere ❤

My Number One Goal in Government:
My main goal this year is to get as many of my incredibly talented, wise, brave and inspiring friends and colleagues into parliament as possible, by mobilising and uniting our overseas community of kiwis and empowering them to use their voice to vote this year, and help us to change the government. I believe that, if I myself was to be voted into parliament, it would be a really positive sign for the wider Aotearoa community, that someone like me was being brought to the table, given that my background is not terribly typical of those with political aspirations. I am political by nature, and believe wholeheartedly in communities working together, making positive choices and speaking up for the things they believe in. My background is in the arts, media and education, so creating collective experiences and spaces for expression, exploration and having your voices heard and your feelings reflected is something I’m hugely passionate about.

My favourite thing about being a Kiwi:
It is a privilege to call a beautiful land like Aotearoa home, and the rich and diverse culture, history and mana of New Zealand is something that I am truly grateful for, and carry humbly with me in everything that I do wherever I am in the world. I think that we as a nation have a lot of work to do to get things back on track, but I believe the essence of Aotearoa is something truly special, and that if we can work together to look after each other, to honour and cherish the stories and experiences that have shaped us, and to truly care for the world around us, that we will all be able to be truly proud to call ourselves Kiwis, wherever we are in the world.

One lesson we can learn from overseas:
I learn new things from people, places and experiences every day, which I suppose is the answer to the question – there is such a big, wide world out here waiting to be discovered and explored so my piece of wisdom is to “show up”. Take part in life, be open to meeting new people, learning new things and seeking new experiences – whether it is simply going a few streets beyond where you’d normally stroll and saying hello to new faces, getting on a train and taking a little adventure to a new part of Aotearoa, or backpacking your way across the other side of the world. Show up and take part in life. There is SO much to be found, loved and learned from!

My favourite place overseas:
Oh my gosh. I couldn’t possibly name one! I really strive to, when I’m in a new city, connect with locals and experience things as if I live there. I’m not great with the “tourist” vibe – it stresses me out a bit with so much consumption, jacked-up prices and excessive “stuff” everywhere. Of course I love to see and experience all the historic and significant landmarks and sites, just like everyone else, but I’m not a great “tourist” as such. Which is probably why some of my favourite places are say, Broadway Market on a Saturday morning in London, around the corner from where I used to live. And Champs vegan diner in Brooklyn. Singing with jazz musicians in Philadelphia or Cuban musicians in Mexico.

There’s a beautiful city in Switzerland called Basel, which is a joy to visit, explore and perform in, and a crazy little spot in Wales called Southstack, near where one of my producers lives, which feels like the edge of the world. I stayed in a capsule hotel in Tokyo, which was just as ridiculously wonderful as I expected. I LOVE going to little Cantonese eating spots in Hong Kong, with friends there who are locals and can order delicious vegan food for me, that I wouldn’t have the faintest idea how to order myself! I love walking around Montmartre in Paris, and I always enjoy efficient and affordable public transport. Like I say… I can’t even begin to try and name just one! Everywhere has got a little bit of magic hiding somewhere – you just have to go out there and find it!

My favourite place in New Zealand:

I grew up in Auckland, but moved to Wellington in 2008 to do my Post Grad in teaching, before moving to the UK in 2009. I love Wellington, a lot – the food, the coffee, the art, the music, the people, the vibe. But I also really love standing in the middle of some of Aotearoa’s natural beauty and absorbing the magic of the world around me. Somewhere like Karekare or Muriwai, or the shores of Lake Taupo. But there are little hidden miracles everywhere in Aotearoa, some of which I haven’t even scratched the surface of, which is why I feel so passionately about helping to look after it all!

My message for International Kiwis:

I know first hand that “home” is wherever you choose it to be. Home is about a little bit of comfort, a little bit of security and a whole lot of love, and you can find that or build that in any corner of this beautiful planet, if you so desire. But if you identify Aotearoa as having some meaning to you as “home” in your past, present, or future, then I would urge you to please help us work together to look after it.

It doesn’t take much research to see that things have slipped in the last few years, and that our “100% Pure” imagery isn’t quite what we’d like it to be. New Zealand (and the world as a whole) is facing some real challenges at the moment, with people, communities and our wonderful natural resources not receiving the care they need and deserve. I met up with a wonderful kKwi couple in Brooklyn this month, and we discussed that this election isn’t really about getting New Zealand back to it’s “former glory”, it’s about acknowledging the REAL work that needs to be done to get us back on an even keel – this work that must be done before we can start focusing on the bells and whistles.

We have to protect and restore our land, our water and our people as a top priority, before we can get back to work on the proactive stuff. The Green party is committed to doing the mahi that is desperately needed to truly help Aotearoa back onto a path that will help us be a global pioneer for kind, progressive, sustainable and joyful living, but we need your help to do so. This is no longer a matter of a “fresh lick of paint” approach – we need to tackle the big foundational issues of our time, and tackle them now… and THEN we can do the redecorating!

Follow Bridget on Facebook here.

___
International voting is open until September 22!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Change is brewing

For those in the UK, we now have a few packs of The Green Party Blend whole bean coffee up for grabs; literally fresh off the plane.

Wellington-based roastery Peoples Coffee have created The Green Party Blend – a fair trade and organic brew with chocolate sweetness and creamy caramel overtones, freshly roasted and made with ethical and sustainable practices from crop to cup. You’d be hard pressed to find a more ‘green’ coffee and it’s a great way to help support the Kiwi Greens Global campaign. Peoples Coffee value flavour and freshness as much as ethics, so we’re keen to find a home for all of these by the end of the week!

£11 plus P&P (2nd class tracked)
Drop us a line by email at global@greens.org.nz or message us by Facebook

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save