What’s Metiria up to?

I’ve got the impression that Metiria Turei is contributing less to the Green effort in Parliament.

Comparing the number of questions in Question Time in recent months:


  • June – 4
  • July – 2
  • August – 3
  • September – 0


  • June – 5
  • July – 3
  • August – 2
  • September – 4

News/Press releases/Speeches for September:

  • Shaw – 8 (last on 17th)
  • Turei – 2 (last on 9th)

Also 5 (Delahunty, Genter), 4 (Roche, Sage), 3 (Browning, Clendon, Hughes), 2 (Hague), 1 (Graham, Logie, Norman).

Shaw was interviewed as Green co-leader on The Nation on 19 September. Turei was last on The Nation in June.

Turei is less prominent in a Google news search with her first few hits spread over two weeks and 39 hits over the last month:


Shaw has more current activity

ShawGoogleNewsIt could be that Turei is taking a bit of a breather from active politics, or she could be doing more that’s not getting publicised.

But it seems like Shaw has been significantly more prominent than Turei lately.

Green gender imbalance

When Russel Norman leaves Parliament at the end of October he will be replaced by next on the Green list, Marama Davidson. This means that the current 7/7 gender split will change to 8 female MPs versus 6 male MPs .

This shouldn’t be an issue but the Greens usually try hard to maintain gender balance.

To an extent it’s a quirk of a male MP resignig when the next on the list is female. But it could have been avoided by getting Davidson to stand aside to let a male replace Norman. There’s a precedent for this sort of list manipulation as two people on the Green list stood aside to enable Norman to replace Nandor Tanczos in 2008.

But Davidson is ambitious and is very keen to become an MP. She is rated highly in Green circles and they would have been expecting her to get into Parliament last year from number fifteen on their list, except that the Greens failed to improve their vote enough.

Davidson was understandable excikted by yesterday’s news.

was just stand up mighty for my ! I’m honoured up the wahzoo to be the 14th MP. Hugely thankful to so many of you <3

There has been a lot of excitement and congratulations.

Formidable wahine toa female MPs

So Davdson is highlighting her and their wahineness and Maoriness – I’m not sure that Delahunty would be thrilled with being separated like that.

And Marama Fox of the Maori Party might like to point out that Greens don’t have the only wahine Maori MPs.

Same for Nanaia Mahuta, Louisa Wall, Poto Williams and Meka Whatiri (Labour). And Paula Bennett, Hekia Parata and Jo Hayes (National). And Ria Bond (NZ First).

I don’t have a problem with this. Any party can have any mix of MPs they like. But for a party that makes an issue of promoting gender and race balance this seems to be a lapse of discipline.

Three wahine Maori MPs out of fourteen is 21.4% is about three times the population proportion.

There’s a total of twelve wahine Maori MPs (that are obvious to me) which is about 10% – about 15% of the New Zealand population is Maori so about 7.5% will be female.

Metiria Turei added her take on it:

Metiria Turei retweeted Alan

Or or or There will be 8 women in our caucus of 14 soon. All wahine toa.

So Turei is promoting them as representing strong, female, Maori, and seems to be applauding the female imbalance. This seems contrary to the Green ideal of equal female/male representation.

There are valid arguments for increased female and Maori representation to make up for past under-representation and to overcome entrenched non-Maori male domination.

But a party can’t be both gender and ethnically balanced and also promote and applaud imbalance without looking like their ideals can be bent when it suits some of them.

Green’s gender and ethnic imbalance is not a problem – unless balance is an ideal that mustn’t be compromised.

What now with refugees?

After a day of pressure from all directions it looks like the Government may revise it’s resistance to increasing New Zeealand’s refugee quota.

While I think that increasing the numbert of refugees we take in is overdue this raisies a number of questions. It’s not that world refugees are a new phenonenom. There have been millions of refugees stuck in camps around the world for years.

A drowned three year old in Turkey is certainly sad, but thousands of refugees have drowned already this year. Every time another child drowns is there going to be pressure to increase our refugee intake?

Every time there’s a war somewhere i the world are we going to be pressurred into increasing our refugee intake?

Should sudden media and social media consciences dictate our refugee policy?

Andrew Little and Metiria Turei have lambasted Key – how much would they increase our refugee intake?

A compassionate response is ok to an extent, but there must be limits and there must be some level of common sense.

Setting an emotionally reactioanry precedent is going to increase the number and intensity of emotional reactionary campaigns to set refugee and immigration policy by popular demand.

The refugee issue is far more complex than stoking up a bit of public emotion.

Green rhetoric versus reality

Greens have yet another Parliamentary inquiry under way, this one into selected special needs education. ODT reports: Limited scope of special needs inquiry criticised.

The inquiry, announced earlier this month, will focus on improving the learning experience of children with dyslexia, dyspraxia and autism spectrum disorders.

Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said, ”So many students are missing out on education because their learning differences are not identified early enough and help is not made available. We want to change the system so every child has a fair go.”

However Raewyn Alexander, principal of Dunedin special needs school Sara Cohen, said she did not understand why other ”challenges” such as Down syndrome and cerebral palsy were not included in the inquiry.

”If they want a fair go for every child, why have they only focused on those three specific challenges? If they want a fair go for every child, then they should be asking for an inquiry for all kids with needs, not just those three aspects of special needs.”

Alexander points out a basic problem with the Green approach. Selecting three disorders only for their inquiry is odd anyway, but it’s at odds with their “We want to change the system so every child has a fair go” rheotric.

Dunedin Green Party MP and co-leader Metiria Turei said the inquiry needed to be ”fairly clear in its scope” and restricting the investigation to three disorders would keep the focus on understanding what was lacking and what further resources needed to be provided so every child in New Zealand had a ”fair go” at school.

Turei re-emphasises the contradiction. It’s typical Green marketing practice to package things into soundbites of three, in this case choosing just three disorders to investigate. But that clashes with a general Green theme of giving every child a “fair go”.

”We want to hear from families and schools about what they need and what is clearly lacking, we want to hear about all those experiences so we can get a handle on the scale of the problem,” she said.

Except they only want to get a handle on only some experiences, ignoring the overall scale of any problem.

Ms Turei had been invited to Sara Cohen school events on numerous occasions, Mrs Alexander said, and had failed to ever respond.

”We find that pretty disappointing because of her party and also because she is a local,” Mrs Alexander said.

Ouch. Do Greens only want to hear from families and schools who fit the scope of their packaged inquiries?

Turei is a Dunedin based MP although stands in Dunedin North and Sara Cohen School is in Caversham which is in Dunedin South.

Maybe Greens should have an inquiry into why their rhetoric doesn’t seem to match reality.

The difficulty with the Left’s leadership

I thionk there’s two key things that many voters look for in political parties and in potential coalitions – a perception of competence, and capable and strong leadership.

The Left have problems in particular on leadership.

So far Andrew Little has failed to inspire as a leader. This is a significant problem for what should be the lead party in a potential coalition.

Winston Peters seems to be setting his sights high. It’s been reported as high as being Prime Minister for at least part of the next term. Peters seems to despise inexperienced wannabees leapfrogging his seniority. He seems to see himself as the de facto Leader of the Opposition.

New Zealand First is currently the smallest of the three Opposition parties. The Greens would presumably and understandably not be happy if Peters took a greater leadership role than them in a three way coalition.

But the Greens have a problem too – their dual leadeership might suit them in at a party level, but at a coalition level it dilutes their leadership.

Peters would not be happy sharing deputy leadership with two Green leaders who were at primary school when he first entered Parliament in 1978 (Shaw was five, Turei was 8).

It’s quite likely that the next election will be contested by John Key, undisputed leader of National, versus Little, Peters, Turei and Shaw, all competing for ascendancy.

When it comes to a leadership contest four versus one could be difficult to sell.

Greens reshuffle spokesperson roles

The Green party has announced a reshuffle of spokesperson roles following the election of James Shaw as new co-leader.

Shaw has taken on Climate Change, with Metiria Turei continuing her focus on Inequality.

Most notable is the promotion of Julie Anne Genter to the Finance role, taking over from Russel Norman. Genter has been one of the Greens’ most capable and prominent spokespeople in her previous role on Transport (which she retains).

Interestingly Genter is still only ranked ninth in the Green pecking order, having dropped a place from last year’s list after the promotion of Shaw.

New portfolio line-up for the Green Party

New portfolios
MP Portfolio
Metiria Turei Inequality

Building and Housing (inc. Social Housing, HNZ)

Maori Affairs

James Shaw Climate Change

Economic Development

Russel Norman Trade

Justice (electoral)

National Intelligence and Security (inc. NZSIS, GCSB)

Kevin Hague Health (inc. ACC, Sport & Recreation)


Rainbow Issues

Eugenie Sage Environment

Primary Industries

Land Information

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery

Earthquake Commission

Gareth Hughes Energy and Resources

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment

Science and Innovation



Wellington Issues

Catherine Delahunty Education (inc. Novopay)


Human Rights

Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Kennedy Graham Foreign Affairs (inc. Defence, Disarmament, Customs)

Veterans Affairs

Senior Citizens

Julie Anne Genter Finance (inc. Revenue, SOEs)



Mojo Mathers Commerce and Consumer Affairs (inc. Regulatory Reform)

Disability Issues

Animal Welfare

Jan Logie Social Development (inc. Women, Community and Voluntary Sector)

State Services

Local Government (inc. Civil Defence)

Rainbow Issues

Dave Clendon Tourism

Small Business

Criminal Justice (inc. Courts, Corrections, Police)


Denise Roche Workplace Relations and Safety


Immigration, Pacific Peoples, Ethnic Affairs

Internal Affairs (inc. Statistics, Arts Culture & Heritage, Ministerial Services, Racing, Gambling)

Auckland Issues

Steffan Browning Organics




Food Safety

Greens confuse democratic process with democratic votes

Despite what some try to claim he number of submissions in a democratic process is not a measure of popular support.

Submissions are not votes.

A high number of submissions promoting one view has become common, but they often mean that one view has been organised and promoted with mass submissions.

Green co-leader Metiria Turei recently sent out an email that was predictably critical of the Government emissions target announcement but her argument is a bad example of the confusion of democratic process versus democratic votes.

Here are five reasons why this weak target should be a concern for all New Zealanders:

  1. This target undermines our democratic process. Back in May, thousands of New Zealanders participated in the Government’s climate consultation. An overwhelming majority (99% of those who specified a target) asked for a more ambitious target than what the Government is proposing. John Key’s administration has effectively ignored almost everyone who participated in the consultation, from doctors and business leaders to scientists and conservation groups.

For a start this doesn’t even give the total number of submissions, she just claims “an overwhelming majority (99% of those who specified a target)”.

How many submissions were there?

How many submissions didn’t specify a target?

But claiming “this target undermines our democratic process” is based either on ignorance of democracy (which is alarming from a party that claims to be more democratic than any other) or it is deliberately deceptive.

Submissions are an important  part of the democratic process, a means of giving the public a say.

But organising mass submissions has become common practice from parties like the Greens and also allied activists:

Like Generation Zero: Use our quick submission tool to call on the Government to commit to a pathway towards zero CO2 emissions by 2050 or earlier, and call for a global zero carbon target in the Paris deal.

This is our chance to call for a plan to Fix Our Future. Take a few minutes to add your voice by submitting below.

It’s easy to have your say. Just fill in your details and tick all the points you agree with.

Personalising your submission will really add weight to it so please add your own thoughts and comments at the end of the form.

In an open democracy like ours groups are free to organise mass submissions, a form of group speak.

But claiming that the number of submissions is some sort of democratic measure of support is an abuse of democracy, or ignorance of how democracy works.Metiria Turei

Either way a party leader should know better than to make claims like Turei has.

Are the Greens confused about democratic processes? Or are they deliberately trying to confuse?

Native Affairs political debate

There’s been a lot of controversy around Maori Television lately with accusations that Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell intefered with and was involved in the calling off of a political debate.

There has also been an exodus of Maori TV journalists.

Native Affairs has often been an interesting look at Maori orientated politics. Tonight the debate that was supposedly called off will air – 8.30 pm on Maori Television.

So it’s my last show. Thought I’d invite some politicians on and talk about some controversial stuff

The promo says:

On Native Affairs we host our first political debate of 2015. Our leading Maori politicians are live in studio to discuss all the big issues.

Whanau Ora. Kohanga Reo. First right of refusal. And Maori land.

I believe that Te Ururoa Flavell will be there as well as Metiria Turei (Greens), Winston Peters (NZ First) and Alfred Ngaro (National).

Party positions on medical cannabis

In DHB delays treatment application for teenager in coma Stuff  canvases parties to gauge their position on allowing the use of medical cannabis.

Labour MP Damien O’Connor wants action.

O’Connor is also calling for Parliament to debate the issue of access to medicinal marijuana, particularly in cases such as Alex’s, where all conventional medications have already been tested.

Peter Dunne (UnitedFuture, Associate Minister of Health):

If the application to the ministry is successful, the ultimate decision comes down to Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne.

He would not comment on Alex’s specific case, but said he was already doing work around the possibilities of making medicinal cannabinoid (CBD) more readily available.

“While the evidence to date wasn’t strong … we have begun assessing from New Zealand what the situation should be.”

“I don’t know how long this process will take, but we are gathering evidence. I’ve had a series of meetings with officials around what it might look like and the process is ongoing.”

Labour leader Andrew Little…

…agreed with O’Connor that it was time for a debate, and would support a bill on the matter.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei…

…said Alex’s case was another example of the law not working.

She said the current process put up too many barriers for doctors and families, and it was time to consider opening up access to medicinal marijuana.

ACT leader David Seymour and Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox…

…were also open to a debate on the issue.

NZ First leader Winston Peters…

…said nobody could stop a debate in Parliament but he’d want to be sure all other legal options were exhausted before considering granting access to medicinal marijuana.

That’s five in favour of addressing medical cannabis and one who sounds reluctant.

Notably absent from that list is National.

But this may not need to go through Parliament. Dunne and the Ministry health are able to approve the use of drugs for medicinal use..

Greens use Dunedin to highlight major climate problem

The Greens have linked the heavy rain in Dunedin on Wednesday to climate change. In Question Time in Parliament yesterday Green co-leader Metiria Turei started with these questions.

1. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister for Climate Change Issues : Does he agree that local authorities will face greater adaptation costs and find it more expensive to protect infrastructure and property as the climate changes; if not, why not?

A reasonable question – “as the climate changes” is debatable but most science suggests it may get warmer and with more extreme weather events.

Metiria Turei : Does the Minister agree with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change editor Professor Blair Fitzharris that as global warming continues, Dunedin is likely to face more extreme rainfall events, storm surges, and extreme winds, and that low-lying, densely populated areas, coastal communities, and major transport infrastructure, including Dunedin Airport, are particularly at risk?

These are important points that we would expect the Greens to raise.

Metiria Turei : Does the Minister agree with Dunedin City Council’s submission on New Zealand’s climate change target, which says “More effective mitigation could significantly reduce potential future adaptation costs” and that “the Government should consider investing more in climate change mitigation”; if not, why not?

The Dunedin City Council is fairly Green leaning so this is no surprise. But it’s highly questionable whether the Government can do anything that would significantly alter any effects of climate change – New Zealand’s emissions are a very small proportion of global emissions and reducing emissions here by 40% as the Greens want is likely to make a very small difference at best.

Metiria Turei : How does the Minister justify the National Government’s record on climate change, which shows a 13 percent increase in net greenhouse gas emissions, to the people of Dunedin and to the Mayor of Dunedin, Dave Cull, who said today “There may be some areas with sea level rise that we end up retreating from and not putting any more infrastructure in and actually taking the buildings out of. That is the challenge going into the future with climate change.”?

That would be a major for Dunedin, which has large flat areas – reclaimed swamp – that are inhabited. These include South Dunedin, St Kilda and St Clair, plus much of the Taieri Plains. If Dunedin “retreated” from those areas it would more than decimate the city.

Metiria Turei : Is the Minister taking into account increased adaptation costs for local councils when determining New Zealand’s emissions reduction target, given that the Dunedin City Council estimates that engineering options to protect private property and infrastructure in high-risk areas against a 0.3 metre rise in the sea level will cost around $10 million, and that protection against a 1.6 metre rise in the sea level will cost around $150 million?

If these “increased adaptation costs” prove to be necessary it is going to be regardless of what New Zealand does with emissions. We have a minute effect on world climate systems.

Metiria Turei : By not taking urgent leadership on climate change, has his Government not abandoned the Dunedin City Council and the people of Dunedin to pick up the cost of more extreme rainfall events like yesterday, when the city was swamped in 24 hours by 2 months’ worth of rain, causing flooding, electricity outages, sewerage overflows, the evacuation of rest homes and schools, the Otago Peninsula being cut off, and which left the side of State Highway 1 “looking like a canal”?

Now Turei is trying to emotionally use a single weather event to criticise the Government and promote Green policy on climate change.

Yes, parts of the city were swamped – large parts of the city used to be swamp and have always been at risk of heavy rain accumulation.

“24 hours by 2 months’ worth of rain” is overstating things. On Wednesday there was 150-170 mm of rain. While it’s common for Dunedin to get 40-80 mm of rain in a month it’s not uncommon to get much more. For example:

  • April 2014 – 144.8 mm
  • June 2013 – 195.2 mm
  • May 2013 – 141.8 mm

So only two years ago there was 337 mm in two months.

  • May 2010 – 207 mm
  • June 2009 – 158.4 mm
  • May 2009 – 163 mm
  • June 2002 – 137.4 mm
  • May 2002 – 205.4 mm

So it’s quite common to get heavy rainfall at this time of year. In a single month there was more rain than there was on Wednesday.

  • January 2002 – 251 mm

2002 was a much wetter year than this year has been so far.

  • October 2001 – 164 mm

Source: University of Otago Weather Station

So while this week there was an abnormal amount of rain in a day the total over a month. Including this week’s downpour Metservice shows that rainfall in Dunedin over the last 31 days is just over 200 mm, that’s much higher than usual but not uncommon.

Turei’s last question:

Metiria Turei : Is the Minister not confirming by his dismissive attitude towards the science of climate change that someone is paying the cost of his doing nothing on this issue, and that this week that just happens to be the people of Dunedin?

The present and past Governments haven’t done nothing. They have done far less than the Greens want them to do. But the reality is that even if we eliminated all our emissions, wiped out all emitting animals from the country and reforested the whole country it is likely to have a negligible effect on the world climate.

New Zealand reducing emissions is necessary but in the whole scheme of things it would be little more than a token change, and not weather changing.

As part of the international community New Zealand needs to do something, and should do more than at present.

But Greens have a major problem – if they overstate weather events, if they link single local weather events to world wide climate and if they try to shame other parties into adopting their climate targets then they are likely to find it difficult to get co-operation.

Their over the top claims are more likely to repel rather than attract support for their ideals. Like this One News report:

Climate change and Government’s ‘inaction’ to blame for Dunedin’s 100-year-flood, say Greens

One News have chosen that headline on a rolling blog on the rain in Dunedin that covers many topics.

The Dunedin flood is a result of climate change and the Government’s “inaction” on the issue, the Green Party says.

“The flooding in Dunedin highlights that the National Government needs to stop being the problem and start being part of the solution on climate change,” Green Party local government spokesperson Eugenie Sage said.

“Since National came to power in 2008, New Zealand’s net emissions have increased by 13 percent; the scientific consensus is that increasing emissions will cause more extreme weather events.”

Ms Sage said the Government should aim for an emission target reduction of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.”Last month it was Wellington. Yesterday it was Dunedin. What region will suffer next from a lack of strong, cross-party leadership on the climate?”

“Strong, cross-party leadership on the climate” – Green-speak for ‘do what we want’ – would have had no effect on flooding in different parts of the country.

At a recent climate change consultatin meeting in Dunedin two Dunedin councillors spoke:

Dunedin City councillor Aaron Hawkins also stood up to speak, his voice cracking.

”I want to acknowledge the anger that’s felt by my generation and people younger … that the question of even having children is such a moral and ethical dilemma.”

Hawkins is not speaking for “my generation and people younger”, he’s speaking for himself and like-minded Greens, a minority.

Cr Jinty MacTavish said the target of a 40% emissions reduction by 2030 many people in the room were calling for – and which was criticised as being inadequate by Prof Bob Lloyd earlier in the night – was a ”compromise”.

So claims for a 40% reduction are seen as a minimum by some.

And their claims are not universally supported. The ODT reports:

Don’t blame climate change for city deluge, weather experts say

The flooding in Dunedin on Wednesday was not caused by climate change, a University of Otago climatologist says.

”I think this is just a weather event,” Dr Nicolas Cullen, of the department of geography, said.

The Green Party and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull have been quick to link the downpour to climate change.

Dr Cullen cited a 1929 downpour of 220mm within 24 hours, and estimated Wednesday was a one-in-30-year event.

”This particular event is more related just to the weather patterns that developed over the period which allowed that frontal system to really hit Dunedin quite hard.”

”You tell me. It’s wrong,” Dr Cullen said when asked why it was called a 100-year event by the Dunedin City Council.

”I wouldn’t put this in the climate change basket too quickly.”

If the same rainfall happened every month for a year ”then we can start talking about climate change”.

The flood did, however, demonstrate the city’s potential vulnerability to sea level rise, he said.

So a climatologist disputes the claims of the Dunedin City Council politicians and the Green party.

Dunedin hydrologist Dave Stewart said his initial estimate of Wednesday’s flood was a one in 30-to-50 year event.

He had not had time to analyse the data, but rainfall at various sites ranged from 140mm to 180mm.

Mr Stewart was scathing about the DCC’s 100-year claim, saying he did not know how it arrived at the estimate.

He also dismissed the idea the event was linked with climate change.

And a hydrologist disputes the claims of the Dunedin City Council politicians and the Green party.

This highlights a major problem with climate change – exaggerations and unsupportable claims don’t help the Green case of action on reducing emissions. They make it easier to dismiss them as a bunch of extremist nutters.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,114 other followers