Thank You!

There’s just one day to go before the New Zealand election.

It feels like just yesterday we were sat in a North London pub in 2014, watching National win a third successive term. There were tears then for a missed opportunity and for all the people back home who would be disadvantaged in the next three years.

We made a promise to ourselves on that day: next time would be different.

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We’ve kept our promise and built the biggest international political network New Zealand has ever seen. For our dedicated global team, the last three years has whizzed by in a flurry of activity.

The Greens are the only New Zealand political party with an international presence. Our London branch was founded by James Shaw in 2008 with a vision and a couple of supporters. One decade later, we have volunteers in five continents and more than two dozen countries.

No one knows quite how many Kiwis live overseas, although best estimates are that it’s somewhere between 500,000 and one million. But, last election, only 38,000 New Zealanders voted from outside New Zealand. This is a voice that is hugely underrepresented.

18485583_1496838430347615_480415555332941882_n.jpgThe Greens are still the only party to try to engage with these voters. We believe the values, hopes and voices of overseas New Zealanders matter just as much as any other Kiwi. We believe they have a valuable perspective to offer New Zealand, and that their voices are worth listening to. 

International New Zealanders come in many shapes and sizes. There are economic migrants who have sought a better life for themselves in Australia. There’s the traditional OE crowd in London or North America. There are NGO employees, backpackers, digital natives, students, Kiwis chasing the snow, Kiwis chasing the sun, Kiwis following their heart and Kiwis living life day-by-day with no firm plans. We’re in all corners of the globe, doing all sorts of things. 

All of us are Kiwis who have built a life overseas- permanently or temporarily – while still caring deeply about Aotearoa.

The Green Party understands this.

Our first decision was to expand our international presence, beyond London, to reach New Zealanders all around the world

We surveyed Kiwis overseas to find out what really mattered to them. The answers we got back from our Global Kōrero survey were illuminating. And they meshed with Green Party values:  poverty, the environment, transport and housing are all issues we care about. Most respondents wanted New Zealand to be a place they could be proud to call home, and where friends and whānau living there could thrive.

But a lot respondents simply hadn’t voted in the last election because they didn’t feel engaged, or didn’t know how.

12075067_10153650796281233_2620106317774780137_nSo we got to work building a comprehensive international network. For the first time ever, we set up an international campaign team with two volunteer coordinators (Megan in the Southern Hemisphere and Simon in the Northern Hemisphere) and a NZ liaison and creative director (Bryce).  For the first time since James Shaw ran for parliament from London, we also had a dedicated international candidate (Bridget).

Then we put the word out for international volunteers – and they poured in! We’ve had volunteers in traditional Kiwi destinations like the US, Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Hong Kong and Australia. And we’ve also found supporters in more obscure places like Guernsey, Chile and Niue.

This is a global movement! And we’ve achieved a lot…

  • We launched Kiwi Greens Global as a dedicated space for all volunteers, supporters or interested parties to chat and keep up to date with the NZ political scene. It’s across the web, with a presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and a blog.
  • We built a standalone campaign and volunteer recruitment website.
  • Bridget Walsh spent the last six months travelling the world hosting pop-ups for Kiwis far and wide, helping Kiwis enrol and sharing our vision for Aotearoa. She engaged with local musicians and artists across the world to help build a global community of progressive Kiwis.
  • Our London team visited COP21 in Paris to campaign for action on climate change and link up with activists from across the world.
  • James Shaw visited London for a Q+A session to keep us up to date what was happening back home.
  • We hosted a session on urban planning with expert Kiwis working in the UK on lessons to be learned from the London and New Zealand experiences.
  • We welcomed Metiria Turei to the UK, where she meet Kiwi community leaders and hosted an open drop-in session to say hi to all London-based Kiwis. We even made the news back home.
  • We popped up to Liverpool for the Global Greens conference and networked with Green Parties all over the world. We shared our knowledge on campaigning for international votes – it turns out we’re becoming a model for the rest of the world!
  • We’ve run a series of profiles of our volunteers explaining why they’ve committed their time to the campaign.
  • Our volunteers have been on the ground at Kiwi events like Waitangi Day and the Big Day Out in London. We’ve handed out flyers at Kiwi pubs before All Blacks and Black Ferns games all over the world. We’ve hung around queues when Kiwi bands come to town and stood outside Kiwi pubs. One of our team also spoke to football fans before All Whites games in Russia. That’s commitment!
  • We’ve forged links with cultural groups, businesses and networks around the world, promoting Green values and community-building among international Kiwis.
  • Our top lists candidates shared their messages for international Kiwis and lessons we can learn from overseas, as well as what makes NZ special.
  • Bryce designed collateral and merchandise unique for the international team and campaign – T-shirts, lanyards, stickers and flyers and with a close connection to the brand team in Wellington, kept the graphic design looking sharp and on-brand.
  • We got really adept at targeted online promotion and had a social media presence like never before.
  • We produced a video to remind Kiwis overseas to vote, and show how easy it is. s This was a truly international piece as it had segments filmed both in the UK and New Zealand, and the volunteers involved in professional production and post-production came from Italian, Spanish, Argentinian and British backgrounds. Between different edits, it now has over 140,000 views across all platforms!
  • We’ve door-knocked in a half-a-dozen cities across the world.
  • We instigated a collaboration with MP Marama Davidson on a series of online Te Reo lessons for Londoners and we even roped her into sharing a waiata for international Kiwis from Waitangi.
  • We’ve phoned almost 1000 Kiwis living abroad to ensure they know how to vote. Even today we were still having conversations with people who hadn’t voted.

Our international  team comes from a wide range of backgrounds. We are students, designers, campaigners, hospitality workers, musicians, IT people, dancers, netball players, health workers, journalists.

We are mums and dads. Single and married. Pākehā, , Māori, Asian and Pasifika. Straight and gay. We come from poor backgrounds and rich backgrounds. Urban and rural. From the North Island and South Island. 

We are Aot16472894_1389959794368813_5101964274168736352_n.jpgearoa in microcosm. And we share a common goal to make our home the best it can possibly be. We want New Zealand to be a place we’re proud to call home. We want all our whānau in New Zealand to be able to thrive.

Between us all, we’ve spent the last 18 months exploring every avenue for engaging international Kiwis. In 2014, we reckon we reached 6,000 international voters. This time around we think we’ve increased that ten-fold. More than 60,000 Kiwis all around the globe have heard our message.

International votes will help change the government and put a Green heart in the middle of it.

We will do things better. 

We can eliminate poverty in NZ. We can clean up our rivers. We can lead the world on climate justice.

21192507_1605299632834827_1015299367604497429_nWe made that promise to ourselves three years ago – no more crying over results. Let’s get out and get this done. Every international Kiwi we’ve meet has been warm and friendly and amazing. Now we’re asking you for one more favour.

We need your vote. And your friend’s vote. Everyone’s vote!

A vote for the Green Party is a vote for a government led by Jacinda Ardern supported by the Green party. We will make sure Labour prioritise your values. Because they’re our values too.

If you haven’t voted from overseas already there’s still time to do so. Either pop into an international voting post (most close their doors around 4pm on Friday) or upload or fax your ballot paper to arrive in NZ no later than 7pm on Saturday 23rd New Zealand time.

Party vote Green for a country you can be proud to call home, no matter where in the world you live.

Kia kaha, kia toa, kia manawanui

From Megan, Simon, Bryce, bridget and the entire Kiwi Greens Global volunteer team.

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Why I vote Green #7: Megan

As the 2014 Election draws closer, members of the Kiwi Greens UK group share what inspires them to vote Green.

This week, London branch volunteer Megan talks about protecting the Kiwi lifestyle she treasures.

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Grew up in: Auckland
Now living in: East London
Favourite Kiwi treat: Hot feijoa & apple crumble with hokey pokey ice cream
Dream job: Policy researcher & writer at an NGO that works on one of the several issues I’m most passionate about!
Actual job: IT & Business Support Manager (at a group of GP clinics)
Best London tip: If you’re under 30 or a full-time student, it’s free to sign up for an Access All Arias card which gives you amazingly affordable entry to English National Opera productions at the London Coliseum

Growing up in New Zealand, friends and family were unlikely to think of me as a “greenie”. In fact, they probably would have had a good chuckle at the notion. Sure I recycled. Of course I never littered. But nature was hardly my passion. On the beach I was more likely to be immersed in a book than watching critters in the sand. And without the distraction of good conversation I was liable to get bored pretty quickly even on the most scenic of bushwalks.

But my parents persisted in exposing me to nature. My response varied at the time but often veered toward ambivalence. Now, though, I’m grateful for those experiences and the chance to see so much of our beautiful county at what was a formative time for me.

I’m still unlikely to wax lyrical about fish or to be engrossed by trees but I’ve realised that, despite that, I’m still a greenie.

It took leaving New Zealand for me to realise how much I love the land, the light, and especially the sea – our land, light and sea. It’s subtly (or sometimes markedly) different from land, light and sea found anywhere else in the world. It wasn’t until I went overseas that I understood how much my identity is shaped by and linked to Aotearoa’s environment. It’s a sentiment I’ve heard expressed by others after they moved overseas from New Zealand: “I’ve never felt so Kiwi since moving away.”

The irony of my patriotism being strongest after moving to London is not lost on me. I realised pretty quickly after moving here how I felt about New Zealand. I love being in London. It’s an experience – sometimes a remarkable experience, sometimes an exhausting one and often both!

But there’s a reason people talk about the New Zealand lifestyle, and that’s because it’s what Aotearoa offers. It’s a way of living. It’s not a mere experience, but a day-to-day lifestyle. I am here in London for the experience. I will return to New Zealand’s lifestyle because it is home.

That lifestyle, however, is being scarily eroded by many of our politicians. We as society are starting to understand the old adage that the personal is political, but we need to bear in mind that the inverse is also true. The political is personal. The decisions that politicians make have very real effects on people’s lives. With this in mind, it’s wearisome and infuriating watching politicians play football with important issues, kicking them about in an attempt to score points.

This game-playing approaPhotoch encourages short-term thinking, with each issue viewed in isolation from other considerations. One party sticks their colour band-aid on for an election term or two, only for the next party to tear it off and replace it with their own colour band-aid in next election cycle. Is it any wonder that so many Kiwis are disheartened by the state of politics?

I don’t vote Green for environmental reasons. I don’t even vote Green for social reasons, or for economic reasons, although they have an outstanding policy record in all these areas. I am a Green voter because the Greens have vision.

When I moved overseas, I realised being a Kiwi was about both the place and the people in it – and that’s something that the Greens understand too. They see that these areas are interconnected: social progress requires economic stability; economic progress at the cost of the environment is perilous and short-sighted; caring for the environment goes hand-in-hand with caring for members of our society.

The Greens are the only party to make sure their policy clearly reflects this holistic perspective. We’re promoting economic growth through innovative green technology, tackling child poverty in a financially responsible way that will save money in the long term, and consulting tangata whenua and community organisations in environmental aims and plans.

This connected, interrelated approach is what allows the Greens to effectively put forward transformative goals and policies. When most parties approach issues in isolation, the policies become less effective, more reluctant and the narrow scope weakens their ambition. Parties aim to merely maintain the status-quo by applying band-aids.

But Kiwis have a great track record of not being satisfied with the status quo. We have a history of insisting on better, and we certainly shouldn’t settle for a slowly eroding status-quo this year either! The Green Party offer visionary policies for a better New Zealand, built from strong and positive ambition for our country.

Our policies are smart, providing solutions that are forward-thinking and long-lasting by addressing the root causes of systemic issues. Green policies offer all New Zealanders a better, more ethical, more prosperous society.

I vote Green in support of this vision, because that’s how we ensure Aotearoa continues to offer a lifestyle to call home.


If you’re a kiwi living overseas, there’s still time to vote in the NZ election. Check out votefornz.com for all the essential information – plus come join us at our election breakfast party on the morning of the 20th.

And now a word from our founder.

James Shaw is the Green Party candidate for Wellington Central. He also founded the party’s London branch in 2007. He reminisces on his time in the UK and ponders the importance of overseas votes in this year’s election.

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Kiwis in London and the UK consistently change the outcome of elections. Overseas voters have added an additional Green MP to Parliament in every election except for 2005 – and in 1999 were responsible for getting the Greens over the 5% threshold and ensuring Green voters were represented in Parliament at all.

A handful of us set up the branch in 2007 because we wanted to create something that would ensure beyond just the next campaign – a base from which to build so that each campaign would be stronger and better prepared than the last.

I hosted a couple of sessions at my office on Battersea Park Road with some incredible takeaways from Holy Cow down the road – and a LOT of Post-It Notes. Together this small band put together the foundations of a vision, values and strategy for what we wanted to create.

2008_12And it was a real pleasure to catch up with them again when I was visiting London recently – not just because they’re a terrific group of people to hang out with, but because it was inspiring to me to see how much the branch has progressed since I stood as a List Candidate based in London in 2008, alongside Lizzie Gillett.

In many ways, our London branch is in stronger shape than many of our domestic branches. The team includes advertising creatives, social media experts, film producers, former Parliamentary staffers, ecologists and journalists. It’s a skills mix any political operation would be delighted with.

And the results are showing – Kiwi Greens UK are attracting new members and volunteers through creative social events reaching out to an ever-widening pool of expat Kiwis. They are having fun. (Take a look at their Facebook page)

Hanging out with them at a pub one evening brought back memories of our campaign in 2008, which was also some of the most fun I’ve had in politics. Question: Where do Kiwis in London hang out? Answer: Gigs, pubs and specialist (often Kiwi owned and operated) coffee houses. So campaigning in London in 2008 basically consisted of going to a lot of gigs, getting together for a few pints or meeting over one of London’s better brunches.

In 2014 the team are a lot more sophisticated, with really strong social media and well-positioned events. So the augurs are good – all the signs point to yet another year of the expat vote sending an additional Green MP to Parliament. Whoever it is, I’d be delighted to represent the Kiwi expat community and the hopes of the Kiwi Greens in London in Parliament after 20th September.

Keep up the good work team. You’re doing great!

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If you’re a kiwi living overseas, find out how you can vote this September at www.votefornz.com. Plus check out the brand new overseas groups Kiwi Greens Australia and Kiwi Greens USA!