Metiria Turei

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Metiria Turei
Metiria Turei crop.png
2nd Female co-leader of the Green Party
In office
30 May 2009 – 9 August 2017
Co-leading with Russel Norman, then James Shaw
Preceded byJeanette Fitzsimons
Succeeded byMarama Davidson
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Green Party List
In office
27 July 2002 – 23 September 2017
Personal details
Born (1970-02-13) 13 February 1970 (age 48)
Palmerston North, New Zealand
NationalityNew Zealand
Political partyGreen Party (2002–present)
Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (1996)
McGillicuddy Serious Party (1993, 1999)
Spouse(s)Warwick Stanton
ChildrenPiupiu Turei (daughter)[1]
Alma materUniversity of Auckland[2]
OccupationCommercial lawyer[3]

Metiria Leanne Agnes Stanton Turei (born 1970) is a former New Zealand politician. She was a Member of Parliament from 2002 to 2017 and the female co-leader of the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand from 2009 to 2017. Turei resigned from the co-leader position on 9 August 2017 amid a political controversy arising from her admission to lying to the Ministry of Social Development to receive higher payments when she was on the Domestic Purposes Benefit and later, to being enrolled to vote in an electorate where she was not eligible when she was 23.[4]

She was the Green Party spokesperson on Inequality, Justice, and Building and Housing.[5] She was defeated in the 2017 general election and retired from politics.[6]

Early years[edit]

Metiria Turei grew up in a working-class Māori family in Palmerston North in the North Island.[7] She failed her high school examinations and in 1987 she worked her first job as a kitchen-hand at the Hard Rock Café in Palmerston North working the late shift.[8] Between 1989 and 1991, Turei was the Tumuaki ("Head") of Te Iwi Maori Rawakore o Aotearoa[a] and involved with Te Roopu Rawakore o Aotearoa. Turei was a founding member of the Random Trollops performance art troupe.[9] She studied law at the University of Auckland and later worked as a commercial lawyer at Simpson Grierson.[10]

Political career[edit]

She was a candidate for the McGillicuddy Serious Party in the 1993 election, for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party in the 1996 election and for McGillicuddy Serious again in the 1999 election. In 2001 she stood as the Green Party candidate for Mayor of Auckland, finishing a distant fifth with 2.05% of the vote.[11]

Member of Parliament[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
2002–2005 47th List 8 Green
2005–2008 48th List 6 Green
2008–2011 49th List 4 Green
2011–2014 50th List 1 Green
2014–2017 51st List 1 Green

In the 2002 general election, the Green Party received 7.00% of the vote, which allowed them 9 seats in Parliament.[12] Turei, standing in Tāmaki Makaurau, was ranked 8th on the Green Party's party list, and so entered Parliament as a list MP. When she was elected, Turei left her job as a corporate lawyer for Simpson Grierson to become a Member of Parliament.

She retained her place in Parliament ranked 6th on the Greens' list in the 2005 election when she stood in Te Tai Tonga.

2005–2008[edit]

In 2009, Turei's Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill was drawn from the member's ballot.[13] The bill received a conscience vote at its first reading, but was defeated 84–34.[14] Later that year, her Liquor Advertising (Television and Radio) Bill was also drawn, but it too was defeated.[15]

Turei in 2008

In 2008 she was ranked 4th on the Green Party's list and stood in the Dunedin North electorate. She lost the election in Dunedin North to Labour's Pete Hodgson, finishing third with 11.09%[16] of the vote. However she was returned to parliament due to her high ranking on the Green Party list.

2008–2011[edit]

On 30 May 2009 Turei was elected as the fourth co-leader (and second female co-leader) of the Green Party. In line with Green Party policy, there must be both a male and a female co-leader. She was elected ahead of veteran MP Sue Bradford, who had had three private member's bills passed by then.

In July 2009 Turei's Marine Animals Protection Law Reform Bill, intended to strengthen protection for dolphins and other marine mammals, was drawn from the member's ballot.[17][18] The bill was defeated at its first reading later that month.[19]

In September 2009 Turei led the Green campaign opposing the government's plans to allow mining in New Zealand's national parks.[20] Her Crown Minerals (Protection of Public Conservation Land Listed in the Fourth Schedule) Amendment Bill, which aimed to strengthen the protection for national parks, was drawn from the member's ballot in April 2010.[21][22]

2011–2014[edit]

In October 2012 her Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009 (Application to Casinos) Amendment bill was drawn from the ballot. Before its first reading however, National, ACT and United Future said they would not be voting for it.[23]

Turei, along with the rest of the Green Party, voted in support of Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act 2013, allowing same-sex couples to legally marry in New Zealand.[24]

2017 general election[edit]

Political activists with banners saying "I stand with Metiria"

During the 2017 election campaign, Turei publicly stated during an interview on TVNZ's Q+A Show that the New Zealand First leader Winston Peters "was on a roll partly because of a very racist approach to immigration." Her comments triggered fierce criticism from Peters and NZ First Deputy Leader Tracey Martin, who rejected Turei's claims and warned that there would be consequences for the Greens in any post-election talks with NZ First. Turei refused to apologise and reiterated that the Greens were still committed to negotiating a coalition deal with NZ First following the election.[25]

On 16 July 2017, during the launch of the Green Party's 2017 election campaign, Turei admitted to benefit fraud over a period of three years in the early 1990s, stating that she had not disclosed to Work and Income New Zealand that she was accepting rent from flatmates. Turei justified her action on the grounds that she and her young daughter depended on the Domestic Purposes Benefit to survive. During the campaign, Turei advocated raising the domestic purposes benefit for solo parents and low-income families.[26] Turei's disclosure attracted polarising responses from other politicians, the New Zealand media, and blogosphere, and criticism from Social Development Minister Anne Tolley, Labour Party leader Andrew Little, and media commentators Barry Soper and Patrick Gower.[27][28][29][30] The left-wing journalist Chris Trotter and blogger Martyn Bradbury spoke out in support of her, faulting what they considered Work and Income's "punitive" treatment of beneficiaries.[31][32] When the next Colmar Brunton poll came out covering the period 22 to 27 July, the Green vote had surged to 15%, with some of the support coming from Labour which had fallen to 24%. The low ratings caused Little to resign the Labour Party leadership on 1 August.[33]

The right-wing pressure group New Zealand Taxpayers' Union announced it would invoice her $57,000 in damages but she said it was a political stunt and she would not respond. Some beneficiaries and anti-poverty advocacy groups spoke in support of Turei[34][35][36] and she said she had spoken with other beneficiaries who had been withholding information about their benefit status from Work and Income.[27] Turei also advocated an amnesty on beneficiaries, while acknowledging that she had not been aware of an amnesty instituted during the 1990s.[37] On 26 July 2017, Turei announced that she would be meeting with the Ministry of Social Development's investigative unit to calculate how much she would pay back in compensation.[38] It was then revealed that in 1993 Turei had been enrolled to vote at the same address as her child's father. Turei denied living with the father, which would have disqualified her eligibility for the domestic purposes benefit. She stated that she had enrolled at that address in order to vote for a friend; such conduct constitutes an offence under the Electoral Act.[39][need quotation to verify]

On 7 August 2017,[40] Green Party MPs David Clendon and Kennedy Graham announced that they were planning to resign as Green Party candidates for the 2017 election, due to the fraud revelations and Turei's handling of the resulting situation.[41] Both Clendon and Graham resigned from the party caucus the following day,[42] after the party made moves to remove them.[41]

Turei resigned as co-leader of the Green Party and as a list candidate for the 2017 election on 9 August 2017, saying that the "scrutiny on [her] family has become unbearable."[4] She stated that her intention was to not return to Parliament after the election.[4] Not being on the list meant that, if she failed to win the electorate of Te Tai Tonga where she was standing, she would not return to Parliament after the election. During August, the Green party fell in opinion polls to around the 5% threshold, below which there wouldn't be representation in Parliament, and Labour's new leader, Jacinda Ardern, generated such a turnaround that by the end of the month, Labour overtook National in the ratings.[43] In its 26 August edition, the New Zealand Listener summarised the situation as follows:[44]

The media outcry over the case and extensive coverage given to the benefit fraud by the mainstream media in New Zealand has led to claims of political agendas being promoted by the media. Specifically the case has been contrasted with that of Bill English (and the relative lack of media and public "outrage"), and to a lesser extent, that of John Key.[45][46]

During the 2017 election, Turei contested the Te Tai Tonga Māori electorate (which covers Wellington and the entire South Island). She was defeated by Labour's candidate Rino Tirikatene[47] and retired from politics.[6]

Life after politics[edit]

In October 2018, Metiria Turei gave her first interview since leaving politics. During the interview, she revealed that she is studying art at the Dunedin School of Art, and has work entered in a group show "wā o mua" at the Blue Oyster Art Project Space in Dunedin.[48]

Personal life[edit]

Metiria Turei has a daughter, Piupiu Turei, and is married to Warwick Stanton.[1][49] [50]In February 2014, Turei and her husband were living in Blueskin Bay, a coastal estuary to the north of Dunedin in the South Island. She is also a performing arts enthusiast and participated in a performing group called Random Trollops and medieval reenactments at her Blueskin Bay home. Turei also wore Adrienne Winkelmann jackets, which elicited criticism from several National Party MPs[why?] including Judith Collins.[51][52]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Te Iwi Maori Rawakore o Aotearoa is a group whose name translates approximately as "The Improverished Māori of New Zealand"

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Metiria Turei's daughter 'would've been hungry'". Newshub. 23 July 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  2. ^ Turei, 2017 & 184-190.
  3. ^ Turei & 2017 193.
  4. ^ a b c "Metiria Turei resigns as Green Party co-leader". Radio New Zealand. 9 August 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Metiria Turei MP". Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Metiria Turei bows out". Radionz.co.nz. 24 September 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  7. ^ Turei, 2017 & 178-179.
  8. ^ "My Summer Job: Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei". The New Zealand Herald. 28 December 2016. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
  9. ^ "A Random Trollop to rock the House | Scoop News". Scoop.co.nz. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  10. ^ Turei, 2017 & 184-193.
  11. ^ "Final Official Election Results". Archived from the original on 27 June 2002. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  12. ^ "2002 GENERAL ELECTION – OFFICIAL RESULT". archive.electionresults.govt.nz. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  13. ^ "Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 8 December 2009.
  14. ^ New Zealand Parliamentary Debates 655 4850.
  15. ^ "Liquor Advertising (Television and Radio) Bill". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 10 December 2009.
  16. ^ "Official Count Results – Dunedin North". archive.electionresults.govt.nz. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  17. ^ "Marine Animals Protection Law Reform Bill". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 8 December 2009.
  18. ^ "New Bill good news for dolphins and fishing industry". Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand. 2 July 2009. Archived from the original on 22 May 2010. Retrieved 8 December 2009.
  19. ^ New Zealand Parliamentary Debates 656 5273.
  20. ^ "Kiwis can speak out on mining". Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand. 2 September 2009. Archived from the original on 23 December 2009. Retrieved 8 December 2009.
  21. ^ "Crown Minerals (Protection of Public Conservation Land Listed in the Fourth Schedule) Amendment Bill". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
  22. ^ "Greens' bill protecting conservation land drawn from ballot". The New Zealand Herald. 22 April 2010. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
  23. ^ "Casino crime bill doomed to fail". 3 News NZ. 15 November 2012.
  24. ^ Harkanwal Singh; Andy Ball (17 April 2013). "Marriage equality bill – How MPs voted". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  25. ^ Trevett, Claire (9 July 2017). "Green Party's Metiria Turei 'racist' call riles NZ First's Winston Peters". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  26. ^ Kirk, Stacey (16 July 2017). "Benefit raise, tax cuts for poorest and hikes for wealthy in new Greens policy". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  27. ^ a b Moir, Jo (26 July 2017). "Greens co-leader Metiria Turei won't report woman committing benefit fraud". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  28. ^ "'We can never condone breaking the rules' - Andrew Little won't support Metiria Turei's stance of not condemning benefit fraudsters". 1 News. 26 July 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  29. ^ Soper, Barry (25 July 2017). "Metiria Turei vs Barry Soper: Listen to heated debate". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  30. ^ Gower, Patrick (26 July 2017). "Patrick Gower: Metiria Turei's political fraud is ripping off the New Zealand public". Newshub. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  31. ^ Trotter, Chris. "Sins Of Admission – critiquing John Armstrong's attack on Metiria". The Daily Blog. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  32. ^ Bradbury, Martyn. "The importance of what Metiria has done and why we should all support her". The Daily Blog. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  33. ^ "Labour at all time low, Greens surge in new poll". National Business Review. 30 July 2017. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  34. ^ "Taxpayers' Union to invoice Metiria Turei after she admitted lying to WINZ". Newshub. 18 July 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  35. ^ Gaston, Nicola (25 July 2017). "Growing up on the DPB: on Metiria Turei, fraud and fear". Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  36. ^ Barraclough, Breanna (18 July 2017). "'I am Metiria': Beneficiaries share struggles with WINZ". Newshub. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  37. ^ "Greens' Turei calls for amnesty for beneficiaries who break law". Radio New Zealand. 26 July 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  38. ^ Jones, Nicholas (26 July 2017). "Metiria Turei to pay back what she owes". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  39. ^ "Labour to assess whether Metiria Turei's electoral revelations could damage party". The New Zealand Herald. 4 August 2017. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  40. ^ "Statement from James Shaw on Kennedy Graham and David Clendon" (Press release). Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand. Scoop. 7 August 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  41. ^ a b Patterson, Jane; McCulloch, Craig (8 August 2017). "Green Party in chaos after two MPs rebel". Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  42. ^ "Rogue Green MPs withdraw from caucus - party 'united' behind co-leader Metiria Turei". Stuff.co.nz. 8 August 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  43. ^ Young, Audrey (2 September 2017). "English in fine fettle despite prospect of second historic loss". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  44. ^ de Lore, Clare (19 August 2017). "The Greens' James Shaw on Metiria, the election and meeting his dad a third time". Noted.co.nz. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  45. ^ "The sins of Metiria, Bill and John: sense-checking the fact checkers". Thespinoff.co.nz. 9 August 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  46. ^ "Benefit fraud vs tax evasion: NZ's hypocrisy". Newsroom.co.nz. 16 August 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  47. ^ "Turei tells supporters she has no regrets". Otago Daily Times. 23 September 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  48. ^ Russ, Waveney (3 October 2018). "Metiria Turei: Beyond politics". The Spinoff. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  49. ^ "Metiria Turei: My daughter saved me". New Zealand Woman's Weekly. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
  50. ^ "Hanging out with the political Wags". Stuff. Retrieved 2018-10-13.
  51. ^ McAvinue, Shawn (3 February 2014). "Metiria opens 'castle' doors". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  52. ^ "Metiria Turei's road to Parliament came on back of colourful and often hard early life". New Zealand Herald. 9 August 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • Turei, Metiria (2017). "Stroke of Genius and Luck". In Katene, Selwyn & Katene, Rāhui. Point of Order, My Speaker?: Modern Māori Political Leaders. Huia Publishers. pp. 177–205. ISBN 978-1-77550-332-3.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Jeanette Fitzsimons
Female co-leader of the Green Party
2009–2017
Served alongside: Russel Norman, James Shaw
Succeeded by
Marama Davidson