22 Feb 2024

Fa'anānā Efeso Collins' death brings another new Green MP to Parliament

5:33 am on 22 February 2024
Green Party co-leader James Shaw speaks in Parliament after the death of Fa'anānā Efeso Collins on 21 February, 2024.

James Shaw speaks in Parliament, with other members of the party listening behind him. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Fa'anānā Efeso Collins' death signals the entry of the third new Green MP to Parliament since the final election result was revealed.

The event has led to a short period of mourning in the House, and means yet another shift in the party's caucus.

What's happening at Parliament

Select Committees were sitting in the morning, but were suspended after the news broke about 10am.

After sitting briefly at the usual 2pm with a special session to mark Fa'anānā's death on Wednesday, Parliament rose for the remainder of the week.

The half-hour sitting included speeches from the party leaders, a waiata sung by the whole House, and a minute of silence for contemplation.

Parliament had sat under urgency the night before, passing the Misuse of Drugs (Pseudoephedrine) Amendment bill through its first reading; and the first and most of the second reading of the Legal Services Amendment Bill.

However, the House adjourned about 10pm, after the government indicated it did not want to continue in urgency and would resume debate the next day.

The Land Transport Management (Repeal of Regional Fuel Tax) Amendment Bill had also been slated to be debated and passed through all stages under urgency but will now have to wait until next week.

Parliament is in the second week of an unusually long four-week sitting block, which ends just before the government's 100-day plan comes due on 8 March.

What next for the Greens?

The final vote count in the weeks after election day saw an increase in the Green Party's share, allowing them to welcome MP Kahurangi Carter to their ranks.

But since then, another three departures from the caucus have made room for three new faces in the party.

Golriz Ghahraman's resignation over accusations of theft meant former Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown would join the ranks of MPs.

When James Shaw announced he would be resigning after shepherding a member's bill through the House, it signalled Dr Lawrence Xu-Nan would soon also join the caucus.

He would be New Zealand's first ever Chinese-origin Green MP. He has a PhD in ancient history and first ran for the Greens in 2020 in Pakuranga, but switched to stand for Epsom in 2023.

He came fourth, losing to incumbent David Seymour, but was running a campaign primarily for the party vote. His entry means five candidates for Epsom will be in the House of Representatives including Seymour, National's Paul Goldsmith, Labour's Camilla Belich, Xu-Nan, and NZ First's Tanya Unkovich.

Fa'anānā's death sped up the timeline for Xu-Nan's entry, and means there will be space for yet another hopeful - Francisco Hernandez - to become an MP when Shaw does leave.

Hernandez, the son of a member of Joseph Estrada's ruling party in the Philippines before its government changed in 2001, according to the Otago University magazine, is a former president of the Otago University Students' Association with an Honours degree in politics. He has also worked as an advisor at the Climate Commission.

He stood for Dunedin in the last election, coming third with more than 8000 votes - not far behind National's Michael Woodhouse (over 9000) but a far behind the more than 17,000 votes of Labour's Rachel Brooking.

The caucus is going through major change, with Shaw's departure after nearly nine years expected to see Auckland Central MP Chlöe Swarbrick join Marama Davidson as co-leader.

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