Russel Norman

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Russel Norman
Russel Norman2.jpg
2nd Male co-leader of the Green Party
In office
3 June 2006 – 30 May 2015
Co-leading with Jeanette Fitzsimons, then Metiria Turei
Preceded byRod Donald
Succeeded byJames Shaw
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Green Party List
In office
27 June 2008 – 30 October 2015
Preceded byNándor Tánczos[a]
Succeeded byMarama Davidson[a]
Personal details
Russel William Norman

(1967-06-02) 2 June 1967 (age 55)
Brisbane, Australia
NationalityNew Zealand
Political partyGreen Party
Other political
Democratic Socialist
Domestic partnerKatya Paquin[1]
OccupationPolitician and Environmental Campaigner

Russel William Norman (born 2 June 1967) is a New Zealand politician and environmentalist. He was a Member of Parliament and co-leader of the Green Party.[2] Norman resigned as an MP in October 2015 to work as Executive Director of Greenpeace Aotearoa New Zealand.[3]

Early life[edit]

Norman was born in Brisbane, Australia, and worked a number of unskilled roles after dropping out of medical school. As a student in Queensland, his first ever vote in 1986 was motivated by the desire to oust the Premier of Queensland at the time, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.[4] Whilst living in Australia, Norman was involved with the Democratic Socialist Party for several years,[5] and contested the House of Representatives for the party at the 1990 federal election, placing fifth of five candidates in the seat of Griffith.

Norman moved to New Zealand in 1997, saying this was to observe the red-green Alliance coalition. He wrote his political science PhD thesis on the Alliance, and was active within the party, editing its party newsletter.[5]

Involvement in politics[edit]

In New Zealand Norman became involved in organic farming, and was active in the Auckland branch of the Green Party, helping to set up the Waiheke branch.[6]

Later, he worked as an assistant to Green MPs Sue Kedgley, Nándor Tánczos and Keith Locke.[citation needed] He was a researcher for the party from 2002 to 2004 and was the national campaign manager prior to the 2005 election[6] and the national Party Development Co-ordinator afterwards.[citation needed]

Following the death of Rod Donald, Norman put his name forward as a contender for the male co-leader position. He won the position on 3 June 2006 at the annual meeting, beating Tanczos, David Clendon and former MP Mike Ward in an STV vote by delegates from electorates around the country.[6][7]

Member of Parliament[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
2008 48th List 10 Green
2008–2011 49th List 2 Green
2011–2014 50th List 2 Green
2014–2015 51st List 2 Green

In the 2002 election general election, Norman contested the Rimutaka electorate, where he placed fourth. He was ranked seventeenth on the Green Party list. In the 2005 election, he did not contest an electorate, but was ranked tenth on the Green Party list. On 27 June 2008 Norman was declared elected to parliament when Tanczos[8] resigned after Ward and Catherine Delahunty, who were above Norman on the party list, agreed to stand aside. In the 2008 general election Norman stood in the Rongotai electorate against senior Labour Cabinet Minister Annette King. He placed third in the electorate, but was second on his party's list, and so was returned to parliament.[9]

Norman stood as the Green Party's candidate for the Mount Albert by-election in 2009, following the resignation of Prime Minister Helen Clark. Norman came third with 12.09% of the vote.[10]

In June 2010, Norman claimed he was assaulted by Chinese security staff when he protested against a visiting Chinese delegation of the Vice President Xi Jinping with a Tibetan snow lion flag. Norman lodged a complaint of assault with the New Zealand Police and the Speaker of the House, but police did not find enough evidence to substantiate his claims.[11]

In November 2013 it was announced that Norman would be challenged for the party co-leadership by former Green candidate and Auckland Council policy analyst David Hay. Norman was the first Green co-leader to be openly challenged for the position, stating of Hay "it's an open democratic process, he's entitled to his opinion."[12] Prior to announcing the challenge Hay was informed by the party that he would not be a candidate in the next general election leading to a Green Party spokesperson to say the leadership challenge was "a case of sour grapes".[13] A leadership vote did not eventuate as before the party annual general meeting took place Hay's membership was suspended for one year after an investigation panel found his behaviour breached party rules. Hay admitted breaching the rules after attacking the leadership through via media and leaking internal party documents though also found him to have a genuine grievance for being barred from the candidate pool based on allegations with no evidence. Norman remained leader without being subjected to a delegate vote.[14]


In January 2015, shortly after the birth of his third child, Norman announced he would stand down as co-leader of the Green Party. However, he said he would remain as a Green MP for the foreseeable future.[15] He named what he saw as his key political victories as co-leader as: forcing the Government to reverse its decision to allow mining on Schedule 4 conservation land, and leading a campaign and referendum against National's asset sales programme.[6] Norman was succeeded by James Shaw as co-leader on 30 May 2015.[16] On 11 September 2015, Norman announced that he would resign in October as an MP, and that he would also formally resign from the Green Party, prior to taking on the role of Executive Director of Greenpeace Aotearoa New Zealand. This enabled the next person on the Green Party list, Marama Davidson, to become a member of parliament.[17] In his valedictory speech in Parliament, he spoke about the loss of democracy in New Zealand, and said there were significant problems regarding access to official information.[18]

Personal life[edit]

As of 2011 Norman and his partner, Katya Paquin (sister of Anna Paquin), live with their two sons and a daughter in Hataitai.[15][19][20]

In 2012 when Norman and David Shearer shaved their heads for a cancer appeal, he revealed that he had had a melanoma mole removed from his forearm at age 15, leaving a 10 cm scar.[21]

In 2014, Norman was awarded a Bravo award by the New Zealand Skeptics for responding to Steffan Browning's comments on homeopathy stating, "stating that this was not something the Green Party would support as they take 'an evidence based approach.'"[22]


  1. ^ a b Normally, list MPs do not have individual predecessors or successors, but Tánczos resigned during a sitting parliament and therefore was succeeded by Norman, who later resigned himself and was succeeded by Davidson.


  1. ^ Hartevelt, John (7 June 2010). "Red is dead as guard changes". The Dominion Post. Archived from the original on 9 June 2010. Retrieved 14 June 2010.
  2. ^ "Russel Norman completes last day as Green Party co-leader". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  3. ^ Edwards, Brent (31 October 2015). "Russel Norman quits Greens for Greenpeace". Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  4. ^ Cherie Howie (29 June 2014). "Leaders' first trip to ballot box". The New Zealand Herald.
  5. ^ a b "Truly tiresome Trev". Frog Blog. 2 February 2006. Archived from the original on 4 February 2006.
  6. ^ a b c d McCulloch, Craig (30 January 2015). "Profile: Russel Norman". Radio New Zealand News. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  7. ^ "Green Co-Leader announced". Green Party. 3 June 2006. Archived from the original on 22 May 2010. Retrieved 5 April 2010.
  8. ^ "Greens co-leader now an MP". The Dominion Post. 27 June 2008. Archived from the original on 13 September 2012.
  9. ^ "Rongotai results 2008". Archived from the original on 11 December 2008.
  10. ^ "Official Count Results – Mt Albert". 24 June 2009. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  11. ^ Fox, Michael; Hartevelt, John; Field, Michael (18 June 2010). "MP's Tibet protest flag removed". Fairfax Media NZ Ltd. Retrieved 18 June 2010.
  12. ^ Vance, Andrea (27 November 2013). "Russel Norman faces leadership challenge". Stuff. Retrieved 24 July 2022.
  13. ^ Davison, Isaac (29 November 2013). "Green leadership challenge 'sour grapes'". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 24 July 2022.
  14. ^ "Greens suspend leadership challenger". Stuff. 24 February 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2022.
  15. ^ a b "Green Party co-leader Russel Norman resigns". 30 January 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  16. ^ "James Shaw named Greens new co-leader". The New Zealand Herald. 30 May 2015. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  17. ^ Jones, Nicholas (11 September 2015). "Russel Norman quits Greens and Parliament to head Greenpeace NZ". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  18. ^ "Russel Norman gives final speech to Parliament". Radio New Zealand. 22 October 2015. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  19. ^ Hubbard, Anthony (16 October 2011). "'Being poor didn't mean we were bad'". Sunday Star Times. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  20. ^ Kilgallon, Steve (24 August 2014). "Greens' Russel Norman - a reluctant leader". The Sunday Star Times. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  21. ^ Chapman, Kate (26 March 2012). "Norman reveals teenage cancer scare". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  22. ^ "Bravo Awards". New Zealand Skeptics. Retrieved 7 November 2016.

External links[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Green Party List
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Male co-leader of the Green Party
Served alongside: Jeanette Fitzsimons, Metiria Turei
Succeeded by