Who should be the new Green Party co-leader?

25 May 2015

The next male co-leader of the Green Party must be the contender with the best media skills. That’s because if the winner can’t get his points across in attractive 10 second sound bites, the party will struggle. The vote will be taken this weekend.

Russel Norman’s ability to do this in media interviews was a major reason the party climbed to around 10 percent in the last two elections. Journalists often went to him for comment because they knew he would give them interesting sound bites. He often overshadowed David Shearer because of his ability to do this.

Looking at the contender statements on the Green Party website, I’m amazed that not one mentioned their communication skills as a reason they should become the new leader.

It appears that Kevin Hague is the frontrunner for this weekend’s vote. While he is experienced and respected, he does come across as quite mundane in front of a camera. Media training would help, but he needs far more energy.

Gareth Hughes has had his problems with the media. Who can forget his “hey Clint” comment when he asked an advisor what he should say while half-way through a TV interview. He must have thought this would be edited out, but it wasn’t. That amateur mistake would make Green supporters nervous if he gets the job.

I don’t know enough about the other two contenders to comment on them.

If the Greens don’t find an effective media communicator, they may well get far less media publicity than they have over recent years. This will do nothing for their vote in 2017.

I’m always surprised that media skills are rarely considered the most important trait of a leader when it comes to political party leadership races. I still think Labour made a serious error when they elected David Cunliffe over Shane Jones. I believe that Jones has been the only Labour contender since Helen Clark left with the skills to foot it with John Key.

Time will tell what happens with the Greens.

For more on my media training workshops, contact or 029 200 8555.

Written by

Pete is a leading New Zealand media trainer and regular blogger for his company, Media Training NZ . He has helped leaders from all sectors of society communicate with the media and other stakeholders. Pete is a former daily newspaper reporter and press secretary in the New Zealand government. From these roles, he understands the media process from both sides of the camera.

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