Marama Davidson’s Speech to Green Party AGM 2023

Every year, our job of caring for Papatūānuku so she is thriving in her own right, and for the wellbeing of seven generations ahead - that mahi moves forward. And it moves forward with all of you.


Mā te oranga o te taiao, ka ora ai te iwi, mo te takitini kāore mō te torutoru anake. Mā te oranga o Papatūānuku te take - no reira tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Every year, our job of caring for Papatūānuku so she is thriving in her own right, and for the wellbeing of seven generations ahead - that mahi moves forward.

And it moves forward with all of you.

It is the single greatest honour of my life to lead the Green Party with James Shaw and to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you all - leading the fight to eliminate poverty, honour Te Tiriti, protect nature, and build a climate-resilient future for our mokopuna.

For many people, the struggle to put food on the table and to pay the bills, is the concern that rises above all others.

And understandably so.

Inflation and the increased cost of living hits lower-income families the hardest. 

Those whānau who spend the majority of their income covering the essentials like food and rent. 

As we approach one of the most consequential elections we have ever had, I know Aotearoa needs our solutions more than ever.

These next three months will be a fight for the future of Aotearoa. 

Over the last three decades we have carried the calls from the community into Parliament, and eventually into Government.

We have begun the long process of transforming Aotearoa. And we have done a pretty good job with the governments we have been given. 

But we all know that change isn’t happening fast enough. 

And so, today I want to talk as clearly as I can about the opportunity in front of us. 

What electing more Green MPs will mean for people’s lives and our communities over the next three years, the next 10 years, and beyond. 

And why the Green Party needs to be at the table, shaping the decisions that will determine the type of world our children and grandchildren grow up in.


As Greens we have always found humanity in being part of a collective. 

Most importantly - working with grassroots movements that stand for justice. Justice for Mama earth, justice for our precious wildlife, justice for people whose power and voice have been denied to them.

There is dignity and generosity in being part of a movement that is defined not by its leaders, but by its people.

A movement that is so much greater than the sum of its parts.

Every year I come to AGM, I am reminded of this - and our unique strengths as a party. 

Our connection to each other and our impatience for change. 

I am reminded that all of our actions, no matter how small or how large, are powerful, worthwhile and capable of delivering lasting change.

That the power of our people is always greater than the people in power.

That we are so much stronger together than we are on our own - and that by staying close to our communities we will always be at the centre of transformational change.

This is what always has - and always will - set the Green Party apart.

A promise that is written into our founding charter.


We are in better shape than we have been for many years. 

We are consistently polling above our 2020 election night result, which is unprecedented for a smaller party in government. 

Our research also shows that one in three people across Aotearoa are looking at our values, our policies, and our record of delivery in Government and liking what they see.

The task ahead of us over the next few months is to turn their potential support into a decision on October 14.

The work we are doing in Government, Parliament, and communities all over the country has set a different course for Aotearoa. 

Over the last five years, our MPs have dedicated themselves to delivering elements of the change that the Green Party has campaigned on for decades.

We have taken more action on climate change than the previous three decades of governments combined.

We have secured the biggest ever boost in funding to protect native plants and animals. 

And we have delivered this country’s first ever plan to eliminate family violence and sexual violence.

We have had big Green wins in areas like rainbow issues, alcohol regulation, seabed mining, and electoral reform.

And with James rightfully acknowledging yesterday the incredible work of departing MP Eugenie Sage, here I take a moment to remind us of the massive wins in areas like birth injuries, income support, workers rights, championing accessibility and tamariki wellbeing - from the ever staunch and savvy departing MP Jan Logie!!

So many wins across the board from us all - but is it enough? 

No. Not even close.

And so, while there should be no doubt that our time in Government has been defined by progress - and change that would not have happened were the Green Party not there - there is so much more we need to do. 


Today in Aotearoa, tens of thousands of tamariki will go hungry. 

Many thousands of adults will go without a meal so their children can eat. 

They will do everything they can to keep the children warm so they don’t get sick. Again. 

People will be forced to start looking for a new place to live because their landlord has just hiked up the rent beyond what they can afford. 

Others will lie awake all night worrying that they won’t have enough to pay this week’s bills. 

Healthworkers, checkout operators, bus drivers across the country will take on extra hours to help cover the weekly shop. 

Students will make the choice between skipping a meal or going cold just to make sure they have enough to pay for rent for a damp, mouldy house.

When thousands of our friends, our neighbours, and our whānau cannot afford to make ends meet then we have a fundamental choice to make. 

We can continue to allow the very rich to get even richer while everyone else struggles to get by.

Or we can collect the resources we need from those most able to pay and use that money to improve the lives of millions of people who have unjustifiably been missing out for generations. 

For decades, successive governments have repeatedly denied their ability to fix major problems.

They tell us their hands are tied. 

They say only little steps are possible.


Where’s the imagination? 

Where’s the vision, the courage to stand up and say “people deserve better”?

I’ll tell you where it is. 

It’s here. It’s right here in this room. It is in communities up and down the country.

And it is on every page of the Green Party manifesto that I am proud to launch today. 

This manifesto distils our party’s rich and extensive policies - developed by our members - into a bold, ambitious, and achievable plan for our next term in government.


We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. 

We have everything we need to create the Aotearoa we want to live in.

An Aotearoa that honours the promise of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Where everyone has enough to live a good life.

Where people have warm, affordable homes in communities.

Where we are regenerating nature and making space for it to flourish. 

We can be that country. 

The biggest barrier is not a lack of resources, but the absence of political courage and moral imagination.

I never want to look my mokopuna in the eye and say, “We did not do everything we could to make your life better because we’re worried about losing a few votes.”

We cannot do that. 

What we do to prioritise the lives and livelihoods of those who need our support the most, should be a measure of every political party.

Any party that stops short of promising to do everything it can to support people, is by definition choosing to make life harder for people. 

They are essentially saying to thousands of people who cannot afford to put food on the table, that’s it. 

That’s your lot.


Four weeks ago, we announced our Income Guarantee. 

A promise that no matter what, everyone will always have enough to afford the weekly shop, pay the rent, or cover unexpected costs – even when times are tough.

A transformational new way of doing income support that will lift every single family out of poverty.

It cuts taxes for people on the lowest incomes, makes sure anyone out of work or studying has enough to live on, tops-up the incomes for those raising tamariki, and guarantees extra help for anyone who is sick or disabled.

And every dollar we need to pay for it will come from making sure the wealthiest few and large corporations pay their fair share. 

Now, we know that one of the main causes of poverty is expensive, unhealthy housing. 

In many cases, landlords are raising rents by so much that they are literally forcing people to move, displacing whānau from their communities, forcing kids to move schools repeatedly and losing connections with their friends. 

One in five young people are currently growing up in Aotearoa living in unstable housing. 

Renting is more expensive and stressful than ever before. 

Our Pledge to Renters is a promise that in the first 100 days of a new government, we will introduce legislation to make sure everyone who rents always has a safe, healthy and affordable place to call home.

Some people who would rather ignore reality and fall back on tired ideologies have dismissed rent controls as part of the solution. This does a disservice to those forced to pay through the roof to live in cold, damp, and unhealthy homes and points to a country that has got its priorities all wrong. 

What kind of country are we, that housing has become nothing more than a get rich scheme for a lucky few and a source of instability and debilitating expense for hundreds of thousands of others?

Quality homes are a human right - and it’s the Government, not the market, who has a responsibility to uphold rights. 

While other political parties try to balance the right to a decent home with the demands of property speculators, only the Green Party pledges to be the political voice for people who rent and people without a home at all.

Our plan to build 35,000 quality new homes over the next five years, together with rent controls, will create a housing sector that meets everyone’s needs. 

It is a stronger plan for increasing affordable housing supply than any other party has, or is likely to announce. 

This, in addition to our Income Guarantee, will lift every single person in Aotearoa out of poverty.

The Prime Minister may well have ruled out rent controls, but if the one and a half million people who rent want a party that will uphold their right to a safe, healthy, affordable home and if people want better incomes paid for by a fair tax system, then that’s a vote for the Green Party.  

Green voices around the decision-making table means bolder action to end poverty and ensure everyone has what they need to live a decent life - including a warm, dry, affordable, accessible home.

Over the next three months the Green Party will continue to set out our plan to build a climate-friendly Aotearoa that honours Te Tiriti and meets the needs of everyone within the boundaries of the planet, so that we and the rest of nature can thrive.

Sitting underneath these key priorities is the wider policy platform I am announcing today. 

Our manifesto speaks to who we are, what we stand for, and the values we will take with us into every decision we will make over the next three years.

That is why we are saying everyone in Aotearoa will have what they need to have kai on the table, a safe place to call home and live a good life - and that we will tax the mega-rich to pay for it. 

We must reduce the outrageous and immoral level of income and wealth inequality we have in this country. 

We must confront climate change with the urgency and the scale that it demands - and invest in action to protect our rivers, land, forests, beaches and oceans. 

We must uphold Tiriti justice, returning resources directly back to iwi and hapū, so tangata whenua can finally have the autonomy and authority over our whenua and wellbeing that we were promised. 

This is the Aotearoa we are fighting for over the next three months. 

Everything we need to make life better for people in Aotearoa exists. What’s missing is the political willpower to use it.


I would not be standing here if I did not believe with all my heart that this is what most people want for our country. 

The time is now to be bold.

We are proud of everything we have achieved over the last six years. But a majority government has made it clear: 

If people want a government that will build an Aotearoa that works for everyone and asks the most privileged members of our community to chip in to make it happen, then we need more Green MPs to influence the direction of the next government.

I am upfront about what we will put on the table and push for in post-election negotiations: 

A tax on the richest few that will raise money we can use to build a climate friendly, wiser, and more prepared Aotearoa that we can all be proud of. 

An Aotearoa where everyone has a warm, affordable place to call home - and food on the table. 

Where housing is treated as a human right not a get rich scheme for the already wealthy.

Where people have the choice to walk or cycle – or hop on fast, frequent, affordable buses or trains – to get to work, to meet their friends, or get to the shops, to school, to the park.

Where everyone has access to the healthcare they need, whenever they need it, wherever they need it - and where our health workers and teachers are paid what they deserve.

Where all of our students can succeed without having to skip meals to make ends meet.

Where we have restored our rivers, oceans, forests and wildlife to health for the benefit of everyone.

Where Te Tiriti and Mana Māori motuhake is honoured and embedded in everything we do and every decision we make. 

Where land is rightfully returned to tangata whenua so that we may have tino rangatiratanga over our whenua and resources.


Our progress is not inevitable. 

It’s the result of choices we make together. 

Choices based on the understanding that we are all connected.

If there's just one child going to bed hungry tonight, their whānau matters to all of us.

If there's a family who cannot pay the rent and has to send their kids out to work instead of school, then that makes us and our humanity all the poorer. 

If there is a nurse, a midwife, a teacher, or a social worker struggling to make ends meet and cutting back on heating their home, we are all worse off.

What most other political parties don't understand is that this election is not about them. 

It is not about the fight for the so-called ‘political centre’.

It is not about the polls, or the soundbites.

It is about all of us. 

Our campaign isn’t just about keeping National and ACT out of government. 

It isn’t just about winning more votes and getting more Green MPs into Parliament where we can fight every day for change.

Our campaign is about transforming Aotearoa.

Our campaign is about freeing ourselves from the constraints of majority government and creating something new, something better. 

Our campaign is about creating a country where everybody has what they need to thrive. 

A government that works for everyone. 

It will not be acceptable to the millions of people who are demanding bolder action if the next government fails to show the courage necessary to end poverty; guarantee everyone a decent place to make a home; and take the boldest possible climate action. 

In the absence of any other party giving a clear voice to the solutions we know people need, it is up to us. 

And we have a plan.

The time is now. 

For a government that guarantees everyone enough to live on and a warm, healthy place to call home.  

A government that protects our moana and indigenous wildlife so they can regenerate and flourish.

A government that will whakamana te Tiriti o Waitangi and uphold tino rangatiratanga, for the wellbeing of tangata whenua and tangata moana.

A government that will prioritise climate action and builds thriving communities that work for people and nature.

That's what we can achieve together. It's possible. 

Ko tenei te wā.

Nō reira, tēna koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.