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Turei picked as new Greens co-leader

Published: 3:45PM Saturday May 30, 2009 Source: Newstalk ZB/ONE News

Metiria Turei has been elected as the new co-leader of the Green Party, replacing Jeanette Fitzsimons, who is stepping down from the job after 14 years.

The vote was taken at the party's annual conference in Dunedin, where about 120 delegates picked  the new female co-leader.

Metiria Turei and Sue Bradford were the top contenders for the job.

"It's a new face and new energy for the co-leadership, but it's dedicated to the same cause and values that the Green Party has always stood for," Turei says.

The party's priorities remained the same Turei says. "We'll continue to promote plans that tackle the economic and environmental crises at the same time. The $323 million home insulation fund in this week's Budget is a good example of this type of Green New Deal program."

"We also remain committed to protecting New Zealand's water, land and wildlife and to promoting honest politics. These are fundamental to the Green Party."

Outgoing co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said the Party was in good hands: "We were spoiled for choice with two strong candidates and Metiria has a great mix of experience and new energy. It is the right time to pass the torch and I think she will form a very strong leadership team with Russel."

Turei, now in her seventh year as a Green MP, has previously served as the Party's musterer (whip).

The Dunedin-based list MP was formerly a resource management lawyer at Simpson Grierson, and Tumuaki Wahine, Te Hunga Roia Maori o Aotearoa (Co-President of the NZ Maori Lawyers Association). Born and raised in Palmerston North, Turei has also worked as an advocate for the unemployed.

Turei's early political career in the 1990s saw her stand for both the McGillicuddy Serious and the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Parties. She admits that back then she never envisaged being in the position she is now and she says she is amazed she has become an MP given that she didn't have much of an educational background until she got a law degree later in life.

Turei says it's a huge privilege to be part of the Greens, let alone have the chance of being its co-leader.