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Lisa Owen interviews incoming Green MP Marama Davidson

Lisa Owen interviews incoming Green MP Marama Davidson

New Green MP wants to improve party’s connection with Maori, saying it traditionally hasn’t had a strong presence in Maori communities

Wants “every decision we make” to “put children front and centre”.

Opposed to any new mining, but says transition from existing mines needs to protect families

On parental consent for abortions, says “the final decision has to rest with the young woman”

Asked if Maori should be able to access NZ Super before the age of 65, she replies: “Both of my own grandparents didn't make it past 65, and so we need to look at how to make things more equal for those discriminations.”

Lisa Owen: Well, Green Party leader Russel Norman is jumping ship to Greenpeace, paving the way for social justice advocate and Nation panellist Marama Davidson to surface as the party’s 14th MP. She joins me this morning. Good morning.
Marama Davidson: Kia ora.
Last election you said that you might need a thicker skin to be an MP, so how hard do you expect this job to be?
I think that as a public person and as an activist I’ve had to grow a thicker skin, but I also don’t think that being a politician or being anybody is any excuse for anyone to be rude to you, so I think it’s really good to stick to the issues and leave the rudeness completely out of it.
When you got the call-up, did you have a moment when you thought, ‘Ooh’?
As I was saying, I had to keep it completely to myself for quite some time, because, you know, even though we’ve known this was coming for a little while, when it actually came it, it was a little bit like a bus crash running me over, and so I just had to sit with it and settle it in my head a bit. There was both nerves and anxiety and, underneath that, some excitement as well.
All right. Well, you say that your passions are for Maori and environmental issues, so why do you think that the Greens are struggling to connect with Maori?
Yeah, so I hope to be able to help with that and support that. So traditionally I don’t think the Green Party has had a strong presence in Maori communities and in Maori politics, which is hard for me, because with our policies and with our kaupapa, we’ve absolutely stood next to Maori political aspirations, for example, foreshore and seabed, opposing Statoil and deep-sea oil drilling. So in my belief—
But you’ve not won those votes from the Maori or the poor, have you? Because, I mean, just looking, it’s four times— you’ve got four times more votes in Epsom than you did in Manurewa or Mangere.
Yeah, so I’m really pleased with the diversity work that we’ve acknowledged we need to do, particularly in Auckland at the moment, and we’ve got our membership in grass roots reaching out and making those connections, and we need to be present in communities. So, yeah, that’s one of my strengths, I think, is being present in the community.
Is the problem that if you are struggling to make ends meet now and put food on the table now, the state of the planet in 50 years’ time is not your top priority? It’s not a luxury that you can afford?
And what I’ve always said is that every decision we make at every level needs to put children front and centre, not just today’s child but tomorrow’s child. So, for example, the way that Housing New Zealand has held back millions of dollars and has neglected to fix up our state homes has a direct, direct impact on our most vulnerable, and our children have been dying and, indeed, sick from that decision.
Well, I’m wondering if you could ever see yourself as being part of a coalition with National?
So, what we’ve always done is worked across parties, and we’ve had good Green policy gains working with National as well, and insulating our homes was a direct score for what we want to uphold.
Yeah, but I’m asking you about a coalition. Could you see yourself in a coalition?
So, personally, at the moment National’s direction is far apart from the Green kaupapa and our own political aspirations. The membership at the moment, they decide that, and the membership at the moment have said it’s highly unlikely.
Okay, well, let’s take a quick look at some of your personal views so we can get a sense of where you sit. Um, girls under the age of 16. Should they need parental consent for an abortion?
I think that the ultimate decision has to lie with those young women, and everyone knows that I was in that position myself. But I do absolutely acknowledge that whanau... whanau have a right to be involved. I think the final decision has to rest with the young woman.
We're gonna talk about taxes soon on unhealthy foods. It could save lives, but tax on food obviously hits the poor the hardest. Where do you stand on that? Tax on unhealthy food?
So our Fair Share tour around the country. People have been saying we have healthy food, less expensive than junk food. I don't know what the exact answers are to make that that happen for our vulnerable families, but definitely our healthy food needs to be accessible.
Okay, are you opposed to all offshore and onshore mining in New Zealand?
For drilling for oil, even if we burn the stuff that we know about and that we've got, our planet and our future and our children are going to suffer. So we have to be really clear about that, and we have to not continue opening up new mines. I think that's where we have to be clear about.
No to new mines but existing...?
The transition from existing mines has to be one that doesn't hurt families even more.
And very briefly, should Maori be able to access New Zealand Super before the age of 65?
Uh, so the Greens don't have a policy on that at the moment, and I just—
What's your—?
Inequalities. The inequalities are that my own... Both of my own grandparents didn't make it past 65, and so we need to look at how to make things more equal for those discriminations.
All right. Marama Davidson, thanks for joining us this morning.

Transcript provided by Able. www.able.co.nz


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