Greens co-leader Marama Davidson says a message Greens MP Dr Elizabeth Kerekere reportedly sent seemingly calling colleague Chlöe Swarbrick a “crybaby” looks “to be mean and not with good heart”.
RNZ on Thursday reported that Dr Kerekere accidentally sent a text message to a group chat with other MPs calling Swarbrick a “crybaby”.
It was sent as Swarbrick spoke in the House on her Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Harm Minimisation) Amendment Bill on Wednesday night. The Bill ultimately failed to pass its first reading.
“Sucks that her bill goes through during list ranking! Please Universe, pick my bill tomorrow,” Dr Kerekere reportedly said.
“Omg what a crybaby,” she then added.
She later acknowledged she “wrote an inappropriate message” and sent it to the wrong group chat. She denied calling Swarbrick a crybaby when contacted by RNZ. She’s not responded to Newshub.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday afternoon, Davidson said it was disappointing as the party is “about celebrating each other and working together hard to get stuff done”.
“We have always been really clear about supporting each other individually and collectively as a caucus and this appears to have not met those standards from our MPs. So we are disappointed. We will be fully investigating. We are taking this really seriously.”
An internal investigation is now underway and Davidson said the party would not “rush ahead” with making judgements or determinations. It will be treated similarly to if such comments were made in a business environment.
However, Davidson did say that on the face of it the content of the messages “appears to not be at all in the vein of working together and celebrating each other’s successes.”
“On the face of it, the message looked to be mean and not with good heart and certainly not with the comradery and culture of working together.”
Neither Davidson nor co-leader James Shaw would say if it’s bullying. Davidson also wouldn’t say if Dr Kerekere had offered an apology to Swarbrick or to the co-leaders.
“We really want to protect the integrity of the process. We won’t be giving further information about what has and hasn’t happened at this time.”
It was suggested to Dr Kerekere by the party that she heads back to her home and not attend Parliament on Thursday.
In her valedictory speech on Wednesday evening, former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said someone can be a “crier” and still be in Parliament leading.
Davidson said: “The Greens have always valued bringing full human emotion and authenticity into this place”.
Ardern also said the Greens’ internal party processes looked “something akin to the Squid Games”, the Netflix series in which individuals compete in deadly games to win a cash prize.
Dr Kerekere is probably best known for considering – and then deciding against – running for the party co-leadership after Shaw was briefly ousted last year. She was also stripped of her COVID-19 spokesperson role after breaching the pandemic rules.
On Monday, it was announced that Dr Kerekere had been ranked fourth on an initial list rankings of Green MPs. That is a big jump from her current position of ninth, and is one place behind Swarbrick at third.