Although her immediate reaction to being called up to take a seat in Parliament is one of sadness at the circumstances, Wairarapa’s new Green Party list MP Celia Wade-Brown is ready to get stuck in.
As number 15 on the Green Party list, Wade-Brown has spent the past few months “waiting on the reserves list”, something she said was a strange position to be in.
“One never knows when that call may come,” Wade-Brown said.
“You must be prepared for it to happen at any time while getting on with your current commitments and interests.”
Due to the resignation on Tuesday of Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman in the face of accusations – and now charges – of shoplifting, that call came this week.
Wade-Brown said she had mixed feelings when Green Party co-leader James Shaw rang her to tell her the news, with her thoughts immediately going to Ghahraman.
“I felt a profound sadness that Parliament would be losing such a strong advocate for communities all over Aotearoa,” Wade-Brown said.
“She has been resilient to many challenges so far and has done the right thing for her and the Greens by taking full responsibility. “While these are not the circumstances in which I had hoped to enter Parliament, I am ready.”
Sitting over a cup of freshly brewed coffee and with her rooster crowing in the background, Wade-Brown sat down with the Times-Age to talk about local issues she wants to draw attention to in parliament.
Public transport and its infrastructure has always been a topic of interest for Wade-Brown, and she said that one of her first jobs will be to learn what the latest is regarding the fleet of 18 four-car hybrid electric trains earmarked for the wider Wellington region in 2028.
“It’s pathetic only having one morning and one evening service at the weekends,” Wade-Brown said.
“The frequency will increase, reliability will increase, they’ll be more comfortable and lessen emissions.”
However, the arrival of this fleet is years down the line and, in the meantime, Wade-Brown wants to “work with what we have” and improve the services already available in Wairarapa.
“We need to talk about promoting what there already is in the way of buses, as the number 200 going around Wairarapa is often quite empty, which puts it at risk,” Wade-Brown said.
“I’m also aware that when the train is late to Featherston, the bus to Martinborough doesn’t wait for it.
“There needs to be a stronger liaison between those services in the immediate future.”
Wade-Brown – who is actively involved in local predator-free groups – said another issue she is looking to stay on top of is the 2050 Predator Free goal.
“I have government experience of being on the board of Predator Free Wellington and hands-on experience at my own place,” Wade-Brown said, who lives in an off-grid cottage near the Mangatarere River.
“I’ve worked with different catchment groups to come up with a plan for Mangatarere Valley.
“It’s wonderful to see the birdlife coming back, I get woken up by bellbirds and ruru invade my dreams, and their presence is only because we’re doing a fair bit of predator control.”
When it comes to other environmental issues – in particular, climate change – Wade-Brown is concerned about some of the new government’s policy changes.
She said that “the jury is out” for how emission reduction goals can be achieved through the coalition government’s enacted policies.
“I think we expect Christopher Luxon to honour his commitment to the Zero Carbon Act,” Wade-Brown said.
“One of the roles of opposition is to hold government to account.”
Another priority for Wade-Brown is upholding the principles of Te Tiriti in parliament and ensuring te reo Māori continues to be valued.
Wade-Brown is joining National’s Wairarapa electorate MP Mike Butterick and Masterton-based Labour Party list MP Kieran McAnulty in parliament, and she said that she’s looking forward to working together and finding common ground.
“We had a collegial approach in the election campaign, and we’re fortunate in Wairarapa to have MPs who can discuss policies and try to find common solutions.”
Over the next few weeks, what portfolios Wade-Brown will be managing as a Green spokesperson will be finalised, and she said she’s getting ready for “a huge year in politics”.
“Thank you to all the people who have offered me congratulations already. Their voices reflect the diversity of our communities.”