Mojo Mathers

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Mojo Mathers

Mojo Mathers.jpg
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Green party list
In office
10 December 2011 (2011-12-10) – 23 September 2017 (2017-09-23)
Personal details
Mojo Celeste Minrod

(1966-11-23) 23 November 1966 (age 53)
London, United Kingdom
NationalityNew Zealand
Political partyGreen
RelationsH. L. A. Hart (grandfather)

Mojo Celeste Mathers MNZM (née Minrod, born 23 November 1966) is a New Zealand politician and a former member of the New Zealand House of Representatives. She became known through her involvement with the Malvern Hills Protection Society and helped prevent the Central Plains Water Trust's proposal to build a large irrigation dam in Coalgate. She was a senior policy advisor to the Green Party between 2006 and 2011. She stood for the party in three general elections. Her candidacy for the 2011 election created significant media interest due to her high placing on the Green Party's list. Mathers was elected to the 50th term of Parliament, becoming the country's first deaf Member of Parliament.[1]

Private life[edit]

Mathers was born in London, UK in 1966.[2] Her parents named her after the Muddy Waters' 1957 version of the song "Got My Mojo Working".[3] She herself has three children.[3] In her personal life, she "strive[s] to reduce [her] personal impact on the environment by being vegetarian, supporting GE free, non-toxic, organic, fair trade and local, [and] using public transport".[2]

Mathers "was born profoundly deaf after oxygen was cut to her as newborn baby during a difficult birth". She is not, however, mute, and is a lipreader. She only began to make significant use of Sign Language in the late 2000s (saying she had "found it very useful for some situations"), preferring to lipread and communicate orally before that.[3][4]

Her grandfather was the legal philosopher H. L. A. Hart.[5]

Professional life[edit]

Mathers has an Honours degree in Mathematics and a Master's degree in Conservation Forestry.[2] She has applied her environmental ethos to her work, being the joint owner of a "small business offering forestry management services" from 2001 to 2006.[2] She was a senior policy advisor to the Green Party between 2006 and 2011.[2] In 2019 Mathers started working as a policy advisor for Disabled Person’s Assembly of New Zealand (DPA). [6]

Political career[edit]

Her interest in political environmentalism began when she settled in Coalgate, a village in Canterbury region in New Zealand. She became spokeswoman for the local community's opposition to the building of a large dam, proposed by the Central Plains Water Trust as part of a broader project to "convert the local area into intensive dairy farming". She was a founding member of the Malvern Hills Protection Society which "managed to stop the dam being built".[2][3]

Mathers first stood for Parliament in the 2005 election in the Rakaia electorate, when she was ranked 16th on the Green Party list,[7] winning 1,631 votes.[8] In 2008 she was ranked 13th[9] and contested Christchurch East, winning 1,843 votes.[10] On neither occasion was she elected.

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
2011–2014 50th List 14 Green
2014–2017 51st List 9 Green

At the 2011 general election, she was number 14 on the list,[11] and stood again in Christchurch East. She finished third in her constituency, with 4.5% of the electorate vote,[12] but her main hopes had lain with being elected as a list MP. Indeed, opinion polls just prior to the election had indicated that the Greens could hope for up to fifteen MPs, and The Press reported that Mathers was "poised to become New Zealand's first deaf MP". Mathers noted that, if she were elected, she would need "some sort of laptop or screen coming directly to me at the desk" in Parliament, along with a sign language interpreter. She suggested that "having sign language in Parliament" might help "enable the wider deaf community to access political debate". New Zealand Sign Language is already an official language of New Zealand but, unlike English and Māori, it was not represented in Parliament.[3] The preliminary election night vote counts gave the Green Party only 13 seats, but when official counts were released on 10 December 2011, they had obtained sufficient special votes to gain another seat, meaning that Mathers was elected into Parliament.[1][13]

Mathers had previously made submissions to Parliament on bills, opposing clauses of the Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Bill 2009 and arguing for the "setting of minimum environmental standards" across the country.[14] She also wrote in opposition to the Climate Change Response (Moderated Emissions Trading) Amendment Bill 2009, arguing it "would substantially weaken the existing emissions trading scheme, reducing incentives to reduce emissions while providing large ongoing subsidies to climate polluters at enormous cost to the taxpayer".[15]

Mathers describes her areas of policy interest as "rural issues, biodiversity, forestry and water, as well as animal welfare, disability and women's rights".[2]

As an MP, Mathers was provided, after some delay, with an electronic note-keeping assistant. Speaker Lockwood Smith also said he "planned to develop a captioning service to make proceedings of the House more accessible to the hearing impaired" among the general public.[16]

She lost her seat in the September 2017 general election.[17]


Mathers (left) in 2019, after her investiture as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit by the governor-general, Dame Patsy Reddy

In the 2019 New Year Honours, Mathers was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to people with disabilities.[18]


  1. ^ a b "First deaf MP to join Parliament", New Zealand Herald, 10 December 2011
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Mojo Mathers". Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e Danya Levy (23 November 2011). "Mojo Mathers set to be New Zealand's first deaf MP". Stuff. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  4. ^ "Mojo Mathers – Generation Zero's Elect Who?", Generation Zero, 10 November 2011
  5. ^ "How got Mojo Mathers got her name". The Dominion Post. 19 February 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  6. ^ DPA welcomes new staff "DPA's Information Exchange - 15 November 2019"
  7. ^ "2005 Election: Party Lists of Successful Registered Parties". New Zealand Electoral Commission. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  8. ^ "2005 Election: Official Count Results – Rakaia". New Zealand Electoral Commission. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  9. ^ "2008 Election: Party Lists of Successful Registered Parties". New Zealand Electoral Commission. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  10. ^ "2008 Election: Official Count Results – Christchurch East". New Zealand Electoral Commission. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  11. ^ "2011 election candidates". Green Party. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
  12. ^ "Christchurch East Electorate – Election 2011", New Zealand Herald
  13. ^ "Greens 'ecstatic' to have 14 MPs", TVNZ, 10 December 2011
  14. ^ "Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Bill: Submission by Mojo Mathers", Parliament of New Zealand
  15. ^ "Climate Change Response (Moderated Emissions Trading) Amendment Bill: Submission by Mojo Mathers", Parliament of New Zealand
  16. ^ "Mojo Mathers' funding approved", New Zealand Herald, 9 March 2012
  17. ^ "'I know I made a difference' Mojo Mathers says as she's ousted from Parliament",, 24 September 2017
  18. ^ "New Year honours list 2019". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2018. Retrieved 10 January 2019.

External links[edit]