Mana Campaign Launch speech

Thank you all for coming to the Mana Greens election year campaign launch. It’s an exciting day for us as it signals a changing of gears in our activism and for me personally a shift to part-time work and more of a chance to get out into our communities. I would like to firstly thank the Mana Greens for selecting me as their candidate and the north of electorate for such support in the by-election.. Raumati South and Paekakariki are two greenest places in NZ and I feel incredibly honoured and lucky to campaign in such a great place with such great people.

This election is a critical one for us as a community and for the entire country. We are fighting for the very heart of this land and community. The government is putting us into debt and riding over our views to build roads that will either increase CO2 or not be used as we pass peak oil. We know the only way we will stop this agenda is to change the government.

This week I’ve been remembering the last election and how I felt the day after – when we knew we were heading for a National government. While we had increased the number of Green MPs it still felt like a bleak day to me as I reflected on my memories of the 90s.

In the 90s I was working as the women’s coordinator with the National University Students Association and then setting up a Youth Health Service in the Hutt Valley. It was a time of continued social upheaval following on from the introduction of a relatively undiluted new right agenda by the 1984 Labour Government. It was a time of when we were told we were all individuals and rather than a duty to look after each other we had a duty to not lean on anyone else. Suicide increased dramatically over this time.

My enduring memory during the 90s was facilitating a workshop on the topic of suicide prevention with a group of young unemployed people aged up to 20. These young people had not been successful in school and were mostly completely disconnected from family and work and education. Despite this they were smart and had huge amounts energy and quite a few of them were really charismatic.

Asked who they thought was responsible for the success of a range of famous people. They all answered the individual themselves.

Even when presented with the leading question – Who do you think helped them and do you think that made a difference? “They resisted any world view that incorporated a sense of shared responsibility.

I found this workshop profoundly worrying. All of these young people were effectively saying they saw themselves as responsible for their own lack of success and thought they needed to find solutions alone. They were facing a life sentence outside of mainstream society and were at profoundly at risk.

More recently a friend was talking to a young person about some of the things going on in the world now and the young woman said “but we can’t do anything can we?.”
Again this doesn’t surprise me, in fact it could almost be taken as a reflection of the zeitgeist, but I’m not willing to accept this. It makes me too sad to accept it.

I need to be clear while I oppose the actions of this current government right down to the pit of my stomach, I do not believe they are solely responsible. Labour put the new right car into motion and during their 9 years in government they never addressed the fundamental mechanisms that held it in place and created so much harm.

I want a different future for the young people I mentioned. I want them to believe they count and that together with others they can make a difference to the streams in their neighbourhood, or to the benefit rates or indeed to feel they could stop a road being built over their wahi tapu. I mention their stories today because I believe political action and local organising can by itself and certainly in the long run can make a difference.

Each of us will find our drive from different things. I am so glad that you’ve all brought it to Raumati today. By bringing our visions of the future together and joining together to campaign we can move us all towards something entirely new. The Green vision is a new vision. It’s a vision that holds equity, economy and environment together and acknowledges we are all important and we have a duty of care to this planet without which we have no ground to stand on.

Our campaigning can reduce our own sense of isolation or disillusionment and give other people a new future that right now they may not even dare hope for.

I know you’re all fabulously talented and probably busy people but I do hope you will see our requests for assistance this year as opportunities to create something almost unimaginably wonderful in this country and give yourself a treat of community at the same time.

I absolutely loved the conversations I had with people and the gardens I got to see during the by-election, and I feel incredibly lucky and privileged to be the candidate for this electorate.
Globally the Greens are in the ascendance – Germany, Canada, Australia, the U.K. We are winning local seats and even winning a majority of votes. This is a time to take action and jump on that roller coaster.

If we’re lucky and work hard enough we may even stop the expressway and through smart green economics actually achieve some of our other social, environmental goals.

There is something we can do. And I’m stoked to be able to do my bit here in the gorgeous Kapiti Coast and I hope I get to spend time with all of you lovely people along the way.

Finally I would like all our wonderful team who helped make this happen:
Rachael our fundraising coordinator, Eli alias Hula Hope for the stunning music, Liz our campaign coordinator, Stacey the Mana Greens Convenor, Eleanor our volunteer coordinator, Prue our MMP campaign organiser for support with the raffle. Sue Kedgley for coming out and for such kind words, Maria for donating the piwakawaka and Rosemary O’Hara for the stunning baking dishes, and David and Rosemary for the Klezma Rebs CD and of course all of you for coming.

How lucky we all are for such talent and generosity.

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