James Shaw promoting Green achievements

The Green Party were always going to achieve far more than in their years in Opposition now they are a part of Government, albeit outside Cabinet and the junior party.

Small parties often struggle to be seen to be having significant wins in the shadow of the major party in particular, and Greens are also in the shadow of Winston Peters.

Party survival is an important consideration.

Promotional emails seem to have slowed down, but co-leader James Shaw has just sent one out. It is quite self applauding, and solicits donations, but this is how he sees Green achievements (remember that this is a sales pitch targeting party members and supporters):

I am so proud of what the Greens have achieved at the heart of government. Your support has enabled us to do so much.  It’s YOU and people like you, who make the difference for the Green Party.

Because you gave us the chance – in government – to realise the dream of becoming a country where our natural heritage and our communities are at the heart of decision-making.

You’ve given us a shot at a country where every person has a place, a community, a sense of belonging, a country where every person is treated with dignity and fairness.

These are the values we bring to the new government and that we will continue to fight for.

Being in Government means we can deliver on our Confidence and Supply Agreement – but it also means so much more. For instance, we got an end to new exploration for offshore oil and gas – yet this wasn’t covered in our agreement.

This was possible because we are partners of this Government, because we are committed to transformational change, and because we can influence what happens at the highest levels.

Here’s what else YOU gave us the chance to accomplish:

  • Secured $14 billion funding package for walkway infrastructure, cycle-ways, buses and light rail
  • Real progress on taking climate action – with more than 15,000 submissions on the Zero Carbon Bill
  • A Green Investment Fund: $125 million dollars in Budget 2018 to set it up
  • Secured a win to wind-down Government subsidies of large-scale irrigation schemes
  • A big increase of $15 million into the Sustainable Farming Fund
  • A commitment that the review of the Overseas Investment Act will look at putting the protection of water at the heart of decision-making
  • Negotiated the largest funding increase for DoC in 16 years
  • Phasing out single use plastic bags
  • Funding for the world’s first Predator Free Capital
  • A world first to provide workplace leave for the victims of domestic violence
  • Over $10 million dollars to pilot a programme to ensure young people have access to timely, quality, mental health services
  • Warmer Kiwi Homes initiative funding two-thirds of the cost of insulating the homes of people on low incomes across Aotearoa
  • Committing to end the gender pay gap and representing women properly in the public sector and on public boards
  • Making headway on country-of-origin food labelling to re-include bacon
  • Leading the way on more open and transparent government – we’re pro-actively releasing our Ministerial diaries so people can see who we’re meeting and why we’re meeting them
  • Leading the way on a more accessible government – we’re on the verge of securing accessibility support for people with disabilities to be able to participate more easily in our democracy
  • Shaping the terms of reference for future trade agreements, so that they actually support and enhance our social and environmental goals, not undermine them.

And that’s not all!

When Jeanette Fitzsimons, a previous Co-leader, left Parliament she said in her valedictory speech, “… we need to find better ways of measuring our economic success, and that the aim should be a better economy, not just a bigger one.”

And now New Zealand Treasury and Statistics NZ are working to set up a comprehensive framework for measuring – not just economic success – but social, and environmental, and cultural wellbeing too. So, in next years budget the Minister of Finance will be required to report on our wellbeing, not just our economic through-put.

It will be interesting to see how ‘wellbeing’ is measured and reported alongside all the budget numbers.

Greens trying to attract attention on social, environmental issues

The business end of the Green Party – their ministers – have had a low profile and have been overshadowed by Labour and NZ First. This hasn’t been helped by Julie Anne Genter being on maternity leave, but James Shaw and Eugenie Sage aren’t attention seeker types of MPs anyway. They have largely pout their heads down and got on with their new jobs.

But they are trying to change this, albeit in a very low key way.

Stuff:  Greens look to social issues and rivers in second year of Government

The Green Party is keen to advance social policies in their second year of Government, like a promise to give free mental health services to anyone under 25.

The party put out a release looking ahead to their second year of Government on Saturday morning, despite the anniversary not falling for another month and a half.

Remarkably I went looking for this and can’t find anything other than the Stuff report – I can’t find it on the Green Party website, nor on their Facebook page, nor on the Green or Shaw’s Twitter feeds. What are their PR people playing at?

In it, co-leader James Shaw talks up the party’s priorities for the second year of the Government.

“Our key objectives for our second year in a Government with Labour and New Zealand First will include transforming our social safety net so no child is left in poverty,” Shaw said.

“We’re going to work really hard to address the mental health crisis in New Zealand, working towards accessible mental health services irrespective of where you live or what you earn, with free mental health services for anyone under 25.”

That mental health policy was campaigned on by the Greens and is included in the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Labour Party – so has a good chance of actually happening.

If NZ First don’t hobble it. Shaw doesn’t sound overly confident here.

But other changes to protect New Zealand’s waterways and introduce a rental warrant of fitness have not been agreed to by the other governing parties.

“No one said this was going to be easy. This Government holds a diversity of views, just like our community does, and everything we work on must be worked through together, as adults,” Shaw said.

It won’t be easy. Not only do Greens need to get Labour into giving their policies some sort of priority, they also have to convince NZ First to back them as well, or National.

“That is the beauty of a diverse Government and a world-leading MMP voting system, the alternative is US-style politics with mega parties that hold all the power, representing the few.”

Lipstick on a pig of a governing arrangement?

The tussles between Labour and Winston Peters are looking ugly enough, and Peters is likely to be even less willing to concede policies and power to Shaw.

As much as Shaw may like to promote a Green wave of progress, he doesn’t seem to be a strong leader and he has a weak political hand to play with.

He isn’t a politician that naturally attracts attention through controversy, and especially after Metiria Turei’s disaster last year he is unlikely to want to risk a stunt approach.

So what else can Shaw do but plug away nicely and quietly? Probably not a lot.

It doesn’t help when the party puts out a release on a Saturday morning, a very slow political news time, and does not make it available on any of the major social media platforms nor their website as far as I can see – and I went looking.

Green differences over 1080

Groups and individuals have staunchly opposed the use of 1080 to control pests like possums and rats, but the Department of Conservation and conservation groups see it as an essential tool in protecting native species.

Some take extreme measures. RNZ: Loose nuts threaten DOC staff safety

There are fears for the safety of conservation workers and contractors after recent attacks on their vehicles.

In three instances wheel nuts on the vehicles were loosened in acts believed to be connected to protests over the Conservation Department’s use of 1080 poison for pest management.

In the most serious case a contractor avoided injury when a wheel came off while he was driving, after its nuts had been loosened.

DOC director-general Lou Sanson said toxic bait had been put in a staff letterbox and he had also seen other threatening posts on Facebook recently.

“Threats to put wires across gullies to bring down helicopters and a number of brochures put on DoC vehicles depicting targets of helicopters.”

He said it was extremely disappointing as DoC staff were working hard to try and preserve New Zealand’s native birds.

“Rats, stoats and possums have been winning. We know we can turn it around and we have.”

“Keas have made a great recovery in nearly 20 percent of the Southern Alps and there has also been an amazing recovery in kākā and mohua in South Westland.”

Mr Sanson said people had a right to protest but it had gone too far.

There seems to be a difference within the Green Party on this.

Newshub: National MP accuses Marama Davidson of undermining Conservation Minister

National MP Sarah Dowie says Marama Davidson has undermined fellow Green Party MP and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage with comments over 1080.

Ms Davidson said on Wednesday protesters who threw dead birds and fake pellets on the steps of parliament had “valid concerns”.

“We need to listen, and we need to have community-led conversations about this,” she told Stuff.

“They are trying to be heard, and we will need to keep listening.”

“There are some concerns about 1080 but it is the major tool we’ve got in the tool box to assist particularly in the more remote and mountainous areas,” Ms Sage told Stuff in June.

Ms Dowie said it was not a good look for the Greens to have two MPs apparently disagreeing about the poison.

“Ms Sage will be highly embarrassed by Marama Davidson’s comments to the anti-1080 lobby,” she said.

“She’s basically undermined Ms Sage’s efforts with respect to the protection of our biodiversity.”

Ms Dowie said the division may go even further, considering another governing party’s stance on the poison.

“New Zealand First actually campaigned on banning the use of 1080,” she said.

Both National and Labour say 1080 is the most effective pest control tool New Zealand has. They have the support of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, the Department of Conservation, the Environmental Protection Authority, and lobby groups including Forest and Bird, Federated Farmers, WWF and Ospri.

A tweet from ex-Green MP Kevin Hague yesterday:

 

There seems to be a clash between the environmental Greens and the activist Greens.

Nation interview – Marama Davidson

Green co-leader is calling for an enforceable warrant of fitness for rental homes – a regime that will check out rental properties before they can take on tenants.

She said this policy hasn’t been costed, and it is Green policy so won’t necessarily get Government support.

When challenged on the apparent dominance of NZ First in policy achievements Davidson repeatedly rattles off Green achievements.

She says that the Greens always have been and remain a strong feminist party when challenged over her ‘c-word’ campaign – she seems to have learnt from that misstep and responded fairly well here.

Green candidate John Hart:

Interesting question from to about whether the Greens are an equal partner in Govt, based on NZ First and Green wins. So much depends on what each base wants, is willing to budge on, not just the number or $ value of policy wins.

But it would be fascinating to see an attempt at an objective metric

Ghahraman fettering free speech, links Farage to UK MP death

Green MP Golriz Ghahraman has raised free speech eyebrows even higher after linking Nigel Farage to the murder of a UK MP in trying the fetter his free speech.

(fetter v. restrain with chains or manacles, typically around the ankles)

This follows her selective application of free speech to people she agrees with versus those she doesn’t.

But she was challenged on this:

Let’s see appeal for Nigel Farage’s right to speak when he comes to NZ I won’t hold my breath

Her response:

Picking those she things ‘free speech’ and who’s tongues should be chained is controversial enough, but linking Farage to Cox’s death is just about jumping the shark territory.

Gharaman has become a bit of a loose cannon on Twitter, which doesn’t reflect well on the Green Party.


A comment from Missy (from the UK):

She shows her complete ignorance with that tweet.

She obviously believes the left’s spin on Farage, his Brexit campaign was not that much more dishonest than that of the Remain side, and since the referendum hate from the pro EU has risen more than the other way. As for hate crimes rising exponentially, they haven’t, many of the so-called hate crimes have since been proven to be either made up, or not so much hate crimes but normal criminal activity but because the victim was a migrant they were reported as hate crimes.

This is dishonest and misleading from Golriz.

I am not really a fan of Farage’s as such, but he is fair and he gives everyone a chance to air their views whether they agree with him or not – in fact on his show he regularly gets annoyed that no-one who disagrees with him calls in and constantly asks for those that disagree to call in. He is a believer in free speech.

This woman just keeps making stuff up to suit herself.

 

Green climate refugee policy lacking support, refugees

Green leader James Shaw was keen on a new refugee category for people adversely affected by climate change, but has no support from Labour and no potential refugees.

Green Party policy: Welcoming more refugees

The Green Party will:

  • Create a new humanitarian visa for people displaced by climate change in the Pacific.

Climate change will only make the global refugee crisis worse. We’re committed to providing new homes for some of the people who are forced out of their own communities and countries by rising seas and extreme droughts, particularly in the Pacific.

There was no mention of this policy the Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement.

Stuff:  Humanitarian visa proposed for climate change refugees dead in the water

A proposed “experimental” visa for climate change refugees is dead in the water, with the idea gaining little traction among Government officials and Pacific leaders.

Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced the Government would consider a special visa for Pacific peoples displaced by climate change in October 2017, after a tribunal rejected refugee status for two Tuvalu families.

Shaw, who was overseas and unavailable for comment, told RNZ in October the Government would consider an “experimental” humanitarian visa category as “a piece of work that we intend to do in partnership with the Pacific islands”.

The families argued rising seas would make their lives unsustainable, but climate change is not a recognised ground for refugee status under the UN Refugee Convention.

Minister for Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway said on Friday that Pacific peoples have expressed desire to continue to live in their own countries, and current work is primarily focussed on mitigating the impacts of climate change.

“Responses to the impacts of climate change would likely be considered as part of future discussions on Pacific immigration policies, but there is no specific plan for an ‘experimental visa’ at this stage.”

Not surprisingly, people prefer that problems are prevented or fixed so they can stay in their own countries.

Green Party immigration spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman​ said it was still party policy, but research on the ground showed a visa was likely unsuitable to address climate migration.

“The climate migration issue looks like it’s much broader than us coming up with a visa … Tuvaluans want to continue to be Tuvaluans.

“That became apparent fairly quickly when we started looking into it.”

It looks like the Greens first came up with the policy, then “started looking into it”, research “showed a visa was likely unsuitable to address climate migration” but the climate refugee policy remains.

Perhaps the Greens could do some looking into some of their other policies and see whether they stack up.

 

 

 

Greens leaning greener

The most significant signal from the Green conference in the weekend was their obviously deliberate focus on green (environmental) policies.

I think that most people will generally approve of a greater green focus, and will support policies that will protect or improve the New Zealand environment, but some may baulk at policies that impact or impose costs on themselves.

Bryce Edwards’ political roundup: The Green Party goes greener

Those who want the Green Party to focus primarily on the environment should be very happy with the direction the party is heading in. Over the past 10 months in government – and especially during the weekend – it has become clear that the party is more about the environment than ever before and much less focused on economic and social issues.

The conference in the weekend presented the party at its most green ever. All of the main issues that the leadership and membership focused on were environmental. Unlike last year’s conference where Metiria Turei unveiled an incredibly leftwing welfare policy – and dramatically confessed to welfare fraud – at this conference the talk was all about climate change, conservation, landfill waste issues, and water bottling.

For the best account of how the party has returned to an environmental focus, see Henry Cooke’s Bruised Green Party go back to basics at annual conference. He points to the two major announcements on water and waste, saying these “catered entirely to the more environmentally-focused wing of the party”.

Cooke suggests the focus is strategic: “With the party facing a raft of criticism from the commentariat that it was forgetting the ‘Green’ in the party’s name, launching some solid environmental policies made sense. The water testing stuff, clearly aimed at big foreign water bottlers, was some of the most populist policy the Greens have had in years, and will be well-received across the country.”

Of course it’s strategic – annual conferences are a primary way for parties to package and promote their current strategies.

Do the Greens need to get more radical?

A number of commentators have pointed to the Greens getting fewer policy wins than the New Zealand First party, and the fact that they haven’t been able to make more of the environmental wins they have achieved. For Guyon Espiner it’s a case of the MPs simply needing to use the “weapon the Green Party appear reluctant to use: Its voice” – see: The Green Party needs to speak up.

Many are pointing to the need for Davidson, in particular, to speak up more. And although Espiner agrees, he says others should too: “As a backbencher Ms Davidson is completely free to speak her mind. Even the Green ministers are largely free of the constraints of collective responsibility, in that it only applies to their portfolios.”

Given responses to Davidson speaking up recently, that may not be a positive thing for Green support. While Davidson was riding the greener Green wave at the conference, much may depend on what she chooses to champion ongoing, especially on social media.

Similarly, Sam Sachdeva has said the Greens need louder voice in government. He argues that “The party may need to fight its corner more often if it is to survive and thrive”. In particular, “A dead rat or two may be palatable, but the Greens must show they can choose their own cuisine when they want to.”

A huge challenge for any small party in power is to not only show they can be a cohesive part of the Government, but also to retain their distinct identity and credibility. They have struggled with that at times, especially over their odd position over the waka jumping bill.

Being seen to focus more on green (environmental) issues is a smart move, because that’s where the Greens are most likely to pick up support they lost in the lead up to last year’s election.

But we will need to wait and see whether a greener Green is a short term strategy, or a longer term shift in direction.

Q+A – Marama Davidson and James Shaw

Colrin Dann interviewed both Green leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson on Q+A last night.

James Shaw on Greens in Government: “you’re not going to please all the people all the time”

Marama Davidson: no campaign on c-word, at a rally for racism I talked about the words used against me

Davidson may have heeded feedback and decided it was not going to be a popular issue to pursue.

 

Greens – landfill levy (rubbish dump tax)

On the second and most important day of their annual conference the greens announced an environmental policy – a ‘universal landfill levy’ – in old vernacular, a rubbish dump tax.

It won’t happen until 2020 at the earliest and will be put to public consultation first.

I don’t know how well this will be received by the public, if it’s noticed much at all.


Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage has announced a programme of work to take action on New Zealand’s long-neglected waste problems.

Today at the Green Party’s 2018 Annual Conference in Palmerston North, Eugenie Sage announced a work programme approved by Cabinet to tackle waste by looking at options to better manage waste going into landfills, how to improve gathering of  data on waste and options to expand product stewardship schemes.

“Our Waste Minimisation Act is a great Act, which began as a member’s bill by Green MP Nandor Tanzcos and was picked up by the Clark Labour Government and passed in 2008, but it’s tools have not been used to the full,” Eugenie Sage said.

“Ten years on from 2008, the Green’s confidence and supply agreement commits this Government to minimising waste to landfill with significant reductions in all waste classes.

“Little action over the past decade has seen volumes of waste going to landfill increase and New Zealand has been left woefully unprepared for the impact of international events, like China’s decision to close its borders to the world’s low-quality recyclables.

“Today I am announcing that Cabinet has approved my work programme to deal with some of the big problems in waste.”

Eugenie Sage said the Ministry for the Environment would lead work on:

Landfill waste management, which would include options to expand the waste disposal levy to apply to more than 400 new landfills as a tool to encourage more materials recovery and diversion of material from landfill. There will be public consultation on the levy review.

Improving New Zealand’s waste data by requiring landfill operators to report on the composition and quantity of waste, and obtaining data from councils and the private sector on how much is reduced, reused and recycled.

Analysing where investment is most needed to help businesses minimise waste, increase our local processing capacity for recyclables and provide local jobs. Technical experts are also identifying priority sectors where waste can be significantly reduced and where changes in the supply chain can help.

Whether to implement a greater mix of voluntary and mandatory product stewardship schemes for products like vehicle tyres, e-waste (starting with lithium batteries), agrichemicals, and synthetic greenhouse gases to ensure we better manage their disposal.

“This work will generate a world leading step change in how we manage waste in New Zealand. This leadership will accelerate the long overdue shift to a circular approach to the economy and help to create a sustainable, productive and inclusive economy.”

 

Marama Davidson’s conference speech

Co-leader Marama Davidson’s speech at the 2018 Green party conference.

Karanga Hokianga, ki o tamariki, he uri rātou, he mōrehu.

Kohikohia rā, kei ngā hau e wha

Kōrerotia – ko wai rātou.

Kōrerotia – ko wai rātou.

Kei aku nui, kei aku rahi, i te tī, i te tā – tēnā koutou.

Rangitāne, ka tū te manawa i tō whenua ātaahua, i ō manaaki ki a mātou, hei te mana o te whenua – tēnā koutou.

Ki a koutou te hunga kākāriki, nāku te whiwhi kia kōrero atu ki a koutou i tāku hui-ā-tau tuatahi hei kaiārahi takirua o te rōpū nei – tēnā koutou.

Kia ora tātou katoa.

Hokianga Whakapau Karakia

Exactly a week ago I was being called on to my marae in Whirinaki, in Hokianga, by my home people.

They had been planning this event for months to celebrate my election as Co-leader of the Green Party. Their pride in me was humbling.

I was joined by my other hapū from across the Hokianga harbour, Ngāi Tūpoto, and a large presence from the Green Party, including my Co-leader James Shaw.

In my kōrero to my hapū I recalled stories of my childhood.

Of being raised at the foot of my maunga, Te Ramaroa.

Of swimming in my Whirinaki awa.

Of gathering seafood from our Hokianga moana.

Of being sustained and nourished by the bounty of our whenua, our gardens and our trees.

There was laughter across the wharekai as I talked about a bunch of my tutu cousins and I almost setting the hill on fire.

My home peoples’ faces burst with love as I talked about our old people, who have mostly passed on, who cooked for us, looked after our marae, embraced our traditions.

They taught us how to care for our whenua and our water, taught us how to care for each other collectively, ensured that we knew who we were, and how we connected to our place.

I talked about Aunty Josie’s delicious cooking.

And Aunty Lucy’s quiet yet staunch karanga.

And about Aunty Queenie Broughton’s beautiful flower garden.

I recalled Uncle Brian and Aunty Kiri Wikaira taking my whole family into their home because we felt we urgently needed to be back there.

And about my Uncle Nia who is like another father to me, who was always taking a bunch of us Valley kids to kapa haka, to sport, to the Ngāwha pools.

As my home people sat there listening to me I admitted that while I never dreamed of being Green Party Co-leader, being there with them that day made me realise that maybe my tupuna did.

It was these basic things that defined our existence; a need for our river to be clean, a reliance on our moana to be healthy and when one of us needed support, the whole Valley stepped up.

It is those realities that also define my politics.

Those teachings drive my aspirations for our communities, for Aotearoa, for the world.

Planning for future generations

Our country faces huge challenges that we must meet head on.

People are struggling even in paid work to pay their rent and buy healthy food.

More and more rivers are becoming too polluted for us to swim in.

Too many families are continuing to be harmed by persistent violence.

This degradation is the result of a system that pits us against each other and collectively against our earth, for the benefit of the few.

This stands in complete contrast to my upbringing that I just talked about, which made me recognise that our power lies in coming together and understanding our role as kaitiaki of our natural world.

Recalling our ancient wisdoms, harnessing our innovations, and pulling together for the generations ahead, is the only way we will get through.

When my hapū talk about strategic planning we don’t talk about one-year, or three-year, or even ten-year strategies, we talk about planning for seven generations ahead.

Looking at the challenges ahead of us through that lens, we realise just how immense they really are.

In seven generations will my hapū still be able to sustain ourselves from our land and water as we have always done?

Will our indigenous species, such as the majestic kauri trees of Waipoua forest, still exist?

Will we even have a habitable planet to live on?

There is no time for complacency or half-measures.

No time for tinkering around the edges of the status quo.

We know that what is required is transformative and systemic change.

Delivering in Government

In the short time the Greens have been in Government, we have set the country on that path.

We have delivered a fundamental shift in environmental policy in Aotearoa.

In Budget 2018, the greenest Budget in our history, Hon. Eugenie Sage, as our Green Minister of Conservation, negotiated the largest funding increase for DoC in 16 years.

After years and years of neglect, we have a government that is backing nature and investing in conservation.

The dollar figures are huge, an extra $181 million over the next four years is a massive boost for conservation – for DOC to work with hapū and iwi, councils and communities, to turn our predator crisis around and protect our indigenous species and the places they live.

Ending offshore oil and gas exploration has long been a key goal of the Greens.

Before I entered Parliament, I stood with communities in the North, on the East Coast and in Taranaki, to stop oil exploration and drilling in our oceans.

And now we’ve delivered on it, making history.

This Government drew a line in the sand and said no new offshore oil and gas permits.

But the decision to stop new exploration wasn’t in our Confidence and Supply Agreement with Labour.

It was possible because we are partners of this Government, because we are committed to transformational change, and because we can influence what happens at the highest levels.

I want to acknowledge the amazing work of Green MP Gareth Hughes in negotiating this end to offshore oil and gas permits.

And backed up by the sustained and powerful campaigning of tangata whenua, activists, communities and environmental NGOs, change happened.

When the pundits and mischief makers try and tell you the Greens no longer know what it means to be Green, or that we’ve lost our environmental focus, just remind them of this.

In the space of only ten months we have already put an end to offshore oil drilling and stopped an open-cast coal mine at Te Kuha.

We’ve put us on the path to phase out plastic bags, and secured massive funding commitments on conservation, climate change and public transport.

While there is still much work to do to implement that agreement, we are also not content with that alone.

I am so proud of my role as a non-ministerial Co-leader. It is my job to lead our engagement with communities and with our membership – to always be a champion for our kaupapa and the flaxroots of the movement.

We know that in some areas we need to negotiate and work with our Government partners to go even further, to be even bolder.

One of those areas is freshwater – our wai.

Championing freshwater

Our environment depends on it.

It’s the lifeblood of our communities – ko te wai te ora o ngā mea katoa.

The Greens have long championed protecting freshwater and cleaning up our rivers and lakes. We put this issue on the political agenda and now all parties acknowledge it needs addressing.

This term we have already secured a win to wind-down Government subsidies of large-scale irrigation schemes.

It cannot be overstated just how significant this is.

We have negotiated stronger regulatory instruments to deal with pollution, and more funding for freshwater restoration.

And I am proud to say that the Green Party has secured yet another Government commitment to further protect our water.

We heard the calls from communities around New Zealand and have worked with our Government partners to protect our water from sale.

I’m stoked to announce today that the review of the Overseas Investment Act will now look at putting the protection of water at the heart of decision-making.

Changing the law and making water extraction one of the issues to be considered when overseas corporates apply to buy rural land would ensure that this and future governments recognise that water is ours, and that it’s a vital natural asset.

Water should not be for sale to the highest bidder. Changing the law is a key step towards protecting it for the generations ahead.

Minister Sage and I will keep pushing hard to see that this change is included in the reforms that come out of the review.

We need to ensure that we are not giving away water to foreign corporations to bottle, export, and reap profits from, at the expense of New Zealand’s long-term interests.

The Greens leadership is still needed.

Our rivers are clogged with excess nitrates, sediment and e-coli contamination.

They are literally drying up due to over allocation.

The freshwater standards for pollutants need to be drastically strengthened and rigorously enforced.

As was highlighted in a report released just this week by Forest & Bird, we cannot only rely on nitrate measurement and farm plans monitored by overstretched regional councils.

Government must actively promote sustainable land use; we need to accelerate riparian planting, and support farmers to shift up the value chain to grow the value of our rural economy.

But we cannot go on the way we are.

I want to acknowledge and celebrate the Government farmer, Landcorp, for their leadership towards a modern greener model of agriculture.

We should be a world leader in organics and in sustainable agriculture.

Our point of difference on the world stage lies in our clean green brand and we can be adding even more value to our exports by following the example of many farmers who have already recognised this.

Clean freshwater is not a nice to have after we make a profit off it, it is life for land and people.

And we must honour the rights, interests and responsibilities of tangata whenua in freshwater.

It should be for hapū and iwi to lead us on what that looks like.

Outright ownership of water is anathema to both Māori and Green values.

If anything, the water owns us.

The Greens recognise the intrinsic value of freshwater and its inalienable right to be protected from pollution and over-use.

But we are also very clear that Māori have rangatira and kaitiaki rights over water, guaranteed in Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The Crown has a responsibility to work alongside tangata whenua in a spirit of true partnership for the protection and restoration of our water.

On this, the Greens are holding true to our longstanding position.

The Te Awa Tupua Act 2017 received huge international coverage as it set a precedent in law to recognise water, the Whanganui awa, as a living entity, and for mana whenua decision making authority to be recognised as central to its protection and restoration.

We need to build on this work.

Protecting the environment and recognising Māori rights go hand-in-hand.

You cannot achieve one without the other.

As we saw in our Rivers Tour in the last parliamentary term, led by former Green MP Catherine Delahunty, tangata whenua and communities are at the forefront of cleaning up our waterways.

Right around the country it is hapū, iwi and rural communities who are doing the urgent work on the ground; fencing, riparian planting, and pushing for sustainable land use decisions.

As Co-leader and Water spokesperson I will continue to stand alongside those communities in pushing for what’s needed to restore the right of all children in Aotearoa to be able to swim in their local river.

E te whānau kākāriki, as we reflect on nearly a year as a first-time party of government, we have so much to be proud of.

But there’s still so much more work to do.

To restore our natural world, stabilise our climate and bring about economic justice for all people.

We need you, our members, alongside us every single step of the way. James, the MPs and I cannot do this on our own.

It’s going to take every one of us if we are going to succeed in transforming our country and our world.

And there’s no time to waste.

Nō reira, huri rauna i tēnei whakaruruhau o tātou​

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.