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Greens re-elect Shaw as co-leader

James Shaw has been re-elected as co-leader of the New Zealand Greens, ending a tense standoff with members over the role of the party.

The 49-year-old, also climate change minister in Jacinda Ardern’s government, was stripped of the role after a vote of grassroots members in July.

A shocked Mr Shaw received 70 per cent support at the party’s AGM, short of the 75 per cent threshold co-leaders need to avoid spilling their position each year.

The Wellingtonian was the only nominee for the position when it was reopened, and received 97 per cent backing by party delegates after a month of campaigning.

“It is an honour and a privilege to be re-elected … with the overwhelming support of our members,” he said.

“My attention will immediately turn to making sure the Greens are back as part of the next government, with more Green ministers around the cabinet table.”

The Greens serve in the New Zealand government as part of a cooperation agreement with Labour, which won a majority in the 2020 election.

As Labour leader, Ms Ardern chose to invite two Greens to serve as ministers outside cabinet: Mr Shaw, and his co-leader Marama Davidson, as family violence minister.

Their presence inside government has created tensions other Greens MPs and grassroots members, who have a long list of critiques of the government and felt hamstrung by ties to Labour.

“If I’m honest, I’ve found it hard to get the mix right between being a minister and a co-leader and … I haven’t quite nailed it,” Mr Shaw admitted in a Facebook post in July.

Mr Shaw, a former consultant, is seen by many in the party’s activist wing as too moderate.

Ms Davidson offered “huge congratulations to her friend James”, telling members the pair shared their frustrations at Ms Ardern’s government.

“Much like me, he gets frustrated at the slow pace of change and wants to see the Government move much faster than it is,” she said.

The leadership drama has not affected the Greens polling.

With an election expected next Spring, the Greens are polling around 9-10 per cent, ahead of their 7.9 per cent result in 2020.

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