Last week, I announced that I will not stand again at the next election. Don’t worry though, I’ll be in Parliament working hard until that date, which will be the end of my third term here.
I’m leaving not because I am ungrateful for my extraordinary opportunities as a Green MP; it’s because it feels like time to create some balance in my life. When you enter your sixth decade, it’s an important time to reflect on how you want to live and what your family needs from you.
I am proud of the chance I’ve had to make change and be a voice for the people who need it. I am proud that I helped create the full-time Disability Commissioner via a Member’s Bill, that I negotiated an MOU on contaminated sites with Nick Smith which set up the National Register and changed the priority setting. I am delighted that I persuaded the Minister of Culture and Heritage to include a clause in the Te Pouhere Taonga Act that makes archaeologists more accountable to manawhenua.
Perhaps the most powerful moments have come from working with West Papuans and their supporters on their human rights and independence campaign, which has grown stronger in Aotearoa. I have been staunchly committed to numerous public quality education issues, and I initiated the Inquiry into Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Autism issues in schools. I have loved working on the swimmable rivers campaign and seeing Landcorp respond to pressure by reducing planned dairy conversions. I will continue to work on freshwater issues next year.
Sometimes it’s been important to be a consistent, strong voice, as I have been trying to be for much-abused family carers, and I’ve also tried to uphold the Tangata Tiriti voice on numerous issues across politics. This includes my Bill and petition protecting Māori land from Public Works acquisition. I have also campaigned to ban triclosan, a toxic ingredient found in household products like soap. The EPA has agreed to reassess triclosan if I pay them $50,000!
As a lifelong activist and community builder, I will continue to work for progressive change once I leave Parliament because there is a lot to do, but I look forward to doing more writing and having a more balanced life. The most inspiring thing about being MP has been the people and communities that I have worked with, and their vision and leadership – it’s been a true privilege. There’ll be plenty of time for proper goodbyes next year, till then I’ll be campaigning as hard as ever for those people and communities.