April 16, 2018
Issue 3 2018

Marama Davidson – who is she, what does she do and why does she matter?

Marama Davidson is the newly appointed co-leader of the Green Party. She is the official spokesperson for Maori Affairs, Housing, Pacific Peoples, Disability and Ethnic Affairs. So, Davidson is essentially the golden girl representing left-wing values.

Davidson won against Julie-Anne Genter, the other candidate for the position of co-leader, by a vote of 110-34. This is an incredible win for Davidson as Genter has more of a public profile than Davidson does, potentially indicating that the care for public image is decreasing and that policy is making a comeback.

Davidson boasts a ten-year career at the Human Rights Commission and has worked part-time as the Chief Panelist for the Glenn Inquiry into Domestic Violence.  She also has a hashtag on Twitter, a campaign of her co-leadership, called #WeAreMany.

So, why does she matter? She’s slightly new to the Greens and brings a different understanding as a mother to six and a Maori Rights activist. Her parents were both Maori activists as well. Her being an activist and mother will potentially cast light on the social issues that could have been over-looked by Genter and Shaw.

Davidson’s win shows the Green Party is listening to its members. Members, who have not been named by media, threatened to quit if Genter became co-leader. Their reasoning ranged from racial diversity to long-standing alliances. Because of these members being extremely vocal, it shows that the people voting within the party are paying attention to the new direction that the members are wanting it to go.

Genter hasn’t been that provocative in the past, but I believe that she isn’t ‘left’ enough for where the party is wanting to go in future. Also, to have such heated responses by members of the Green party, there may have been behind-the-door- disputes that were dragged out into the public.

Davidson has been retweeting responses to her election into co-leader and thanking the people for support. One that has stood out as being particularly funny and shows how in touch Davidson is with the online community of New Zealand is her retweeting a user’s tweet with an Oprah meme on it. This Oprah meme has Oprah tearfully saying on video, “She is…the mother I never had. She is the sister…everybody would want. She is the friend that everybody deserves. I don’t know a better person”. This meme is widely used in appreciation of somebody and is especially used by fans of celebrities, politicians and youtubers. Davidson responded with “too funny” for the tweet, expressing her gratitude for the support.

But it’s not only fan-girls of Davidson that have been getting the retweets either. Guy Williams, New Zealand comedian and television host, tweeted Davidson saying, “I’m so excited that @MaramaDavidson is the new Co-leader of the Green Party! @JulieAnneGenter would have also been a great choice. The greenies will be celebrating in their traditional way: a group rubbish collection party and composting session hurrah!” With which Davidson responded with, “For real for our birthdays we go to parks and we do a rubbish clean-up #WhenJokesAreRealLife.”

These online interaction marks a new era for the Green leadership as neither Shaw or Turei had this level of social media presence. The new era means there will hopefully be a wider audience for the Green Party to meet. They now have a new channel to win back voters and actually connect with the people of New Zealand and hear their concerns.