Former New Zealand Diplomat Stepping Up for New Lynn

So here is the official announcement: I have put my name forward to be the Green Party candidate for the New Lynn electorate.

I’ve spent a good part of my life working in New Lynn, Avondale, Blockhouse Bay and Kelston. I care about the communities that live in this electorate and I want to stand up and tackle the issues they are facing – especially growing income inequality, housing insecurity and homelessness.

As a teenager I spent time on the streets in New Lynn, and I know first-hand what struggle in this electorate feels like. I also know that under National things have gotten a lot worse and that the electorate needs strong leaders who are unafraid to speak up – in all spheres of life – to stand up for the issues that matter.

Across the different communities in the New Lynn electorate I see many strengths and some amazing community organisations that are doing great work. I want to represent this community and bring the passion it deserves to Parliament.

Most importantly I want to grow the Green Party vote in the electorate and demonstrate how our policies can and will make a positive difference when it comes to housing, transport and income inequality.

As a Pasifika woman, under the age of 35, with children, who has had a successful international career, academic success and who has a heart first and foremost for the community – I am excited about this decision.

I am also really excited to announce that my campaign manager will be a strong local Pasifika leader, mum, and active Green Party member – Shari Neva-Moffitt. I asked Shari to be my campaign manager because she shares the same values, worldview and background to me. As a strong woman who has overcome significant struggle (her first-hand experiences with Autism being one of them) I have a tremendous amount of respect for Shari and am so happy she has agreed to walk this journey with me.

Our final Green Party candidate selection process will take place next Saturday 18th February. I’ll be putting my best foot forward next week and will hold my head up high for the New Lynn electorate. Wish me luck xo

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Fuck being mum

(This is the post that I hope my daughter reads before she decides to have children)

When I was a girl I thought I could grow up to be whatever – do whatever – I wanted. My mum told me that. My nana told me that. My teachers told me that. And I believed them, all. I never thought there would be a difference between what I ‘could’ do and what the boys in my classes ‘could’ do with their lives. I never thought there was a difference between what I ‘could’ do IF  I chose to have children vs. IF I didn’t.

You see choosing to have children AND choosing to be successful in my career, in my life, was never presented to me as an ‘either/or’ choice. So I’ve approached my whole life that way. Finished school. Met my partner-in-life. Finished my first degree. Got engaged. Finished my Masters. Started my career. Got married. Had baby number 1 (when I was 28). Continued with my career (while my partner took care of baby number 1). Took a break from my career at 31 (while my partner started his career). Had baby number 2. Completed a Fulbright. Took a part-time job for a while. And have now started working full time and am about to take the biggest step of my career so far: putting my name forward to be ranked as a candidate on the NZ Greens List.

So things from here on in should be all good, right?

Uh-uh say all the knowing mums and dads reading this post. Why? You know why. Don’t try and make out like it’s not the case. The truth is – it’s because I’m a mum, eh? Would you shake your head like that if I was a dad with two young kids?

You see, I’m at the height of my career. But so is my husband. We are both in our early thirties. And we have two (wonderful) children that we love more than anything in this world – and they need time, care and attention. And as much as I want – with every bone of my body – to say it’s all good and it doesn’t make a difference whether it’s their mum or dad whose home with them: the truth is, I know in my heart of hearts, that it does. It does to my kids. It matters to them.

And that’s why for the first time in my whole life, I’m doubting my course. Up until this moment in time I’ve never doubted anything I’ve set out to achieve. Never doubted anything I’ve put my name forward for. But for the first time – as I write, with tears streaming down my face – I am questioning whether I am making the right decision. Even though, ethically – and intellectually – and in every single fibre of my body I KNOW that I have a hell of a lot to contribute to making a difference to politics in this country. But I also know that there are some amazing women who are also putting their names forward (or standing again) who have either chosen NOT to have children (for whatever reason) OR whose children have grown up or are older than mine. And the sad thing is: I hate that our society is structured in such a way that for any parent – woman or man – who wants to be successful in their career AND have children (and be a great parent to those children) that THIS IS WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO. That our society has been structured in such a way that a whole bunch of us are just expected to suck it up and remain mum – which google tells me is:

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Well. Fuck you Google. I refuse to be silent about this anymore. I am a mum, and I’m proud of it. And to all the mums, dads, teachers and people out there reading this – I am asking you to stop being mum about this issue too. The truth is, we cant do it all. The truth is, a whole bunch of us HAVE to choose, whether we like it or not. And the truth is that for a long long time – and right now – most of us who are HAVING to choose are women. So what does that tell us about our society? Are we going to keep staying mum about that? Or are we going to do something about it? The choice is yours.

And the choice is mine too. But I dont want my children to pay for it. So what should I do?

Hey TVNZ: Back off our Burqas

So this post is going to be short and sweet. Because the message is simple and should be straight-forward. It’s for TVNZ.

After a week of public discourse around the implications of racism in our country, your organization publishes a divisive poll with a picture of an unnamed woman on it (did you even bother to ask her permission?) and the words “Should New Zealand also ban burqas and full face veils?

I mean seriously – did you even consider how this would make NZ’s Muslim community feel? Stigmatised, targeted, discriminated against-much?! Hello: TVNZ?! I hope your senior executives have done some serious ‘Michelle Boag’ moment thinking here and realised this kind of rubbish is what lies at the heart of racist rhetoric. So from now on: can you stop asking stupid questions (that contravene people’s human rights) and Back off our Burqas!