About Julie Anne
Green Minister for Women, Assoc. Minister of Transport and Health
When I was a kid we moved around quite a lot as a family - from Minnesota where I was born, to Illinois to Southern California and back again to Minnesota for Mum and Dad’s work (dietitian and cardiologist) and to be around extended family. I got used to moving schools and change early on.
My parents weren’t overtly political - they were incredibly hard working and focussed on raising three kids but there was no shortage of opinions and boisterous conversations about all kinds of topics over the dinner table.
I’m pretty sure my skills in debating were honed from hours and hours of endless ‘conversations’ with Dad; on world affairs, the environment, economic and social justice issues.
I wanted to understand why we had to put up with the status quo when there was so much injustice.
Looking back now, I think my two younger brothers and I shaped my parents’ views over time. As we were exposed to new ideas we brought them home and debated them and now they are proud supporters of progressive politics. Mum and Dad even came on the campaign trail with me in Mt Roskill in 2011, delivering mail door to door. (Dad and I were meant to walk the Milford Track together immediately after the election, but after being elected, I had to go straight into meetings; something I hadn’t considered, so poor Dad had to tackle the Milford Track solo - he said it was pretty challenging!)
My whole family loves New Zealand and my brother Sean who came out on a working holiday visa four years ago, ended up falling in love and now lives in Wellington with his Kiwi wife which is awesome. She is also awesome.
My Mum is hooked on New Zealand current affairs via a couple of the NZ news sites, so she’s always up to speed with the latest political gossip.
At 18 I was ready for adventure.
I moved to California, worked at a few different jobs, lived with some interesting people and did a bit of growing up before deciding to study at the University of California, Berkeley, and then moved to France to improve my French and ended up staying much longer than I anticipated.
Partly, I was really enjoying France (Metro, history, cheese!), but honestly, quite a big part of me simply didn’t want to return to the US as I saw the Iraq war unfold with George W Bush at the helm. Luckily, I was offered a scholarship to study economics and politics at the Sciences Po Paris before being lured to New Zealand in 2006.
Many of the friends I had made overseas were Kiwis and I was curious.
New Zealand seemed a small, progressive, democracy where there was a woman as Prime Minister and so much was possible.
The pull of the hills and beaches and rivers and bush was strong for me too; I’ve always loved swimming in lakes and rivers, hiking, tramping and love being out in the bush. I had no intention of entering politics when I came to New Zealand and after completing my Masters of Planning Practice at the University of Auckland, I worked as a consultant in transport economics and urban design.
So why politics?
It was there, working directly with district and regional councils, Government agencies, and private developers that I got to see and understand some of housing and transport’s biggest issues at the coal face.
It slowly began to dawn on me that the single biggest impediment holding us back from creating truly great sustainable towns and cities was political in nature, rather than economic or technical. That was really the major catalyst for me wanting to join The Green Party and contribute to the issues I was passionate about in a more concrete way.
Why the Green Party?
The Green Party values compassion, inclusion, tolerance, equality and justice. They were also the party with practical long term solutions to our challenges.
For me, the Green Party is the future - there is absolutely no doubt in my mind.
I’m genuinely excited about the opportunities we have to do politics differently than before; there are many MPs like me, across all political parties, who are seeking a more collaborative, democratic and consensus-based approach to discussing, listening and solving the biggest issues we face as a society, together. We can be great together.
MMP has given New Zealand a head start in having a more diverse representation in Parliament.
The more of us, (including all the people who live and work outside of politics), that participate, respectfully and collaboratively – the healthier our communities and democracy will be.
Because of this, despite facing very challenging issues, such as climate change, inequality, the marginalisation of vulnerable communities and economic stagnation - I feel more optimism, hope and energy than I could in any other role right now.