Jeanette Fitzsimons

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Jeanette Fitzsimons

Jeanette Fitzsimons is a former leader of the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand.

She is married to Harry Parke. Her two sons Mark and Jeremy, are both musicians - their musical ability inherited from Jeanette Fitzsimons herself, who trained as an orchestral violinist and has sung with the Dorian Choir.


At 22 years old, she had left New Zealand with her husband for a year of traveling. One year grew into seven years, and Jeanette Fitzsimons had two sons while they lived in Geneva, Switzerland.

Although Fitzsimons became an activist "later in life", it's clear, the early influences which led her to political involvement.

As a child she had a "passion for justice" , particularly the vast contrast between the 'rich world' and the 'poor world'. She was born at the end of the Second World War, when 'peace' was not just a slogan for her generation; it represented a longed-for future. She protested against war in her teens and this carried through to interest in non violent protest action, passive resistance and alternatives to the military.

In her twenties Fitzsimons encountered the huge flowering of literature from the 60s and 70s - she mentions 'Silent Spring' by Rachel Carson, written in 1962, and 'The Closing Circle' by far leftist Barry Commoner, one of the "early important works on the growing environmental crisis". That text appeared just several months before the famous Club of Rome Report The Limits to Growth in 1972, which predicted that economic growth could not continue indefinitely, due to the limited availability of natural resources.

The birth of her two boys made her think with renewed focus about the kind of world they were going to grow up in, not least because Geneva where they were living at the time was just through a gap in the mountains from the Superphénix, the first nuclear breeder reactor. in Lyon, France.

In the middle of all this, a letter from her father in New Zealand arrived, telling her that 1972 was going to be 'a very interesting election year' in New Zealand. Not only did he mention the Values Party, he sent two press clippings. Jeanette Fitzsimons was intrigued: "Finally, here was someone in New Zealand politics who thought what I was thinking - that a materialistic way of life wasn't going to make us happy."

Very excited, she sent a letter addressed simply to 'Tony Brunt, Leader, NZ Values Party, Wellington, New Zealand.' The Post Office found him, he wrote back with the manifesto - and Jeanette Fitzsimons set off to read it on a Corsican beach.

New Zealand/Values Party

In 1974 the family returned to New Zealand. At that time a family could live off one person's earnings; Jeanette became a full-time activist in the environmental movement, and by 1977 was elected as Energy Spokesperson for the Values Party.

"Not many people realise now that New Zealand was, at the time, making the decision of where it should site its first nuclear power station, not if it should happen at all." From being an "incredibly shy" person who "had never even had the courage to put up her hand at school", she found herself suddenly on platforms debating nuclear power for Campaign for Non-Nuclear Futures, and boning up on the alternatives to nuclear energy - positive alternatives which would 'keep the lights on'.

The Campaign for Non-Nuclear Futures didn't identify overtly as a Values Party initiative - the idea was to amass as much broad-based support as possible. However, a huge amount of effort by Values Party members went into the successful campaign, and the fledgling party waned in strength as a result.

"I gained a valuable lesson from this about identification of issues with a Party,". Although, today, she sees the Green Party principally as a political party, it can also be a movement for social change, and a support network for members. "Some Greens concern themselves with local issues such as conservation of wetlands and recycling schemes, others become involved in protests and marches, others with making submissions on Bills before parliament. No one way is 'best'."

Fitzsimons stood as a candidate for Values in 1978 and 1981, the second highest polling candidate both times. In 1978 she helped produce the Values Party manifesto.

In 1982, not seeing any place for a Green Party in New Zealand until proportional representation, Jeanette resigned as Values Party Energy Spokesperson.

She focused instead on the job she had begun in 1980 - teaching environmental studies at Auckland University. She was eventually offered a tenured position. This coincided, however, with the formation of the Green Party.

Faced with a choice between an academic career and a political future, Jeanette chose the Greens.

Green Party/Alliance

1992 - a member of Green Party, on the Alliance Policy Group. Co-ordinator of Working Group 7, on Economics, for Green Party. [1]

1992 Nov., elected co-deputy leader of the Alliance at their conference.[2]

1992 Nov. 16, the NZ Herald reported that she has been a lecturer in environmental studies and energy at Auckland University since 1980. Stated that next year she would take the year off to concentrate on her Alliance role, commuting between Auckland and the Coromandel where she is developing a small organically run mixed farm.

In the 1993 election, Fitzsimons came a strong second in the Hauraki electorate under the Alliance banner. In 1995, she became Co-leader of the Green Party, which remained within the Alliance. In the 1996 election, the first to be conducted under the new MMP electoral system, she was placed third on the Alliance Party list. She also stood as the party's candidate in the Coromandel. She was unsuccessful in the Coromandel electorate, coming second, but entered Parliament on the Alliance list.

In December 1994, Jeanette Fitzsimons was voted in at Alliance conference as Deputy Leader of the party with Matt Robson.

In 1995 she was the Alliance Party Coromandel candidate, ranking first on the Green Party electoral list.

DSP connections

In the mid 1990s, Jeanette Fitzsimons was close to Australia's Democratic Socialist Party.

International Green Left Conference

Easter 1994, Jeanette Fitzsimons spoke at the Democratic Socialist Party organized International Green Left Conference in Sydney on women in New Zealand politics.

Three women shared her panel. Dulce Maria Pereira (PT, Brazil) Christabel Chamarette, (Greens Senator, Western Australia) and Luciana Castellina(Euro MP and directorate member, Party of Communist Refoundation, Italy).[3]

Well-known environmental author Ted Trainer and Peter Camejo, a leader in the US environmental and socialist movements, discussed different paths towards sustainable development and environmental justice.

The panel at which they both spoke, "How can we build a sustainable society", was one of the best attended and included Jeanette Fitzsimons, Graham Mathews from the Democratic Socialist Party, and Dr Nguyen Khac Kinh, deputy director of Vietnam's National Environment Agency.

The broad and open views discussed highlighted the importance of linking green and left perspectives in reaching common strategies and goals.

Another highlight was the launching at the conference dinner of LINKS magazine, a new international journal of socialist renewal and discussion.

This project involves a range of activists from left parties and organisations including the Democratic Socialist Party, the Committees of Correspondence (USA), Brazilian Workers Party, South African Communist Party, the New Zealand Alliance Party and the Leninist opposition in the Communist Party of the Philippines.

It is aimed at promoting discussion and greater understanding between the forces for socialism that are actively involved in building parties and organisations.[4]

"If socialism is to survive..."

June 1994 - quoted in Green Left Weekly No 147;

If socialism is to survive as a relevant political movement in the 21st century, it must develop a response to the ecological crisis and a socialist strategy to build a sustainable future. Green Left Weekly provides the tools of information and analysis to make that possible...

On sticking with the Alliance

The question whether the New Zealand Greens should go it alone or remain within the five-party Alliance was the key focus of debate at the Greens' annual conference, held on the weekend of May 14-15, 1994.

After extensive discussion, the conference voted 81 to 5 to remain with the Alliance.

Green Party member and co-deputy leader of the Alliance Jeanette Fitzsimons spoke to Green Left Weekly immediately after the decision.

"I'm delighted that the vote is so clear. I think that the only thing that would have been worse than a decision to leave, would have been an indeterminate outcome where it was so close that it was going to be constantly relitigated ...

"I'm also glad that we took the time to listen to everybody's point of view, and that those who are against the Alliance have been heard. I will certainly be working within the Alliance to take their concerns on board, to make sure that the Alliance is the sort of green organism that they're afraid that it mightn't be."[5]

Anti - "globalisation"

In 1997 Jeanette Fitzsimons was listed as a speaker on "globalisation" at a Victoria Uni Conference "Education, Employment and Globalisation". [6]

Sept. 1999- speaker at "Reclaiming APEC Conference", at Auckland University.[7]

Greens go it alone

In 1999 the Greens contested the 1999 election as an independent party, with Jeanette Fitzsimons and Rod Donald serving as Co-leaders. Fitzsimons was placed first on the party's list, and once again contested the Coromandel seat. When normal votes had been counted, it appeared that she had just failed to win Coromandel by a tiny margin, but when special votes were tallied, she gained a narrow victory. This guaranteed the Green Party proportional representation regardless of whether it crossed the five percent threshold - which it did when the final results were announced.

In the 2002 election, Fitzsimons focused more on the nationwide campaign and did not hold on to Coromandel.

Save Happy Valley connections

Jeanette Fitzsimons was close to the anarchist led Save Happy Valley Coalition.

"Future without coal"

Save Happy Valley Christchurch, in conjunction with Coal Action Network, hosted a public forum 14th Aug. 2007, featuring Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, renowned Antarctic and climate change scientist ProfessorPeter Barrett and a speaker on the local impacts of coal mining. The forum was held in the William Sutton Room, Arts Centre, Christchurch.[8]

Welcoming anarchists to Parliament

On February 14th 2006 Save Happy Valley Coalition was welcomed to Parliament by Green Party Conservation Spokesperson Metiria Turei, Nandor Tanczos and co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.

The Save Happy Valley Coalition was at Parliament, complete with Great Spotted Kiwi, to talk with MPs about the destruction of the kiwi habitat in Happy Valley. State-owned Solid Energy plans to create a vast open cast coal mine in Waimangaroa Valley, one of the few stable habitats of the endangered Great Spotted Kiwi…

Fitzsimons was photographed holding an SHVC banner, with anarchist Val Morse (on left)-also later arrested in the October 2007 raids.

"To Save Happy Valley Coalition, From Jeanette"


From Frogblog, Published: April 26, 2009;

To Save Happy Valley Coalition, From Jeanette
I was absolutely gutted yesterday to hear that Solid Energy has moved into our beautiful valley to begin its destruction. I wish I could be here [in Christchurch] with you today. I want to celebrate all the people who have kept vigil at the camp, walked five hours to get there in hard weather, given up time and comfort, and who are still going. Congratulations all of you.When I visited the valley several years ago with Solid Energy and DOC I couldn’t believe it was still such an untouched place. The red tussock, the streams, the beech-clad valley sides, and the knowledge that ancient snails and roroa had lived here forever and were still here. It is a magic place, and turning it all into greenhouse gases turns my stomach sick.
The fight is not over. We have to publicly shame them. We will do what we can to publicise this in the House.
Please take strength and courage from the fact that so many of us are with you in spirit and from time-to-time will be with you in person.
Kia kaha,
Thursday 23 April

CAFCA connection

CAFCA has had a productive working relationship with the Greens for the best part of 20 years, going back to the days of Jeanette Fitzsimons and the late Rod Donald. In 2011, the Greens worked alongside CAFCA in campaigning against the proposed TPPA; helped to distribute Roger Award nomination forms in their Party newsletter; and played a big role in Murray Horton's April-June New Zealand Is Not For Sale national speaking tour, by organising my public meetings in various centres and Green activists (including one MP) hosting Horton in several cases. CAFCA’s opinions and expertise are solicited by the Green leadership – when Russel Norman visited Christchurch in early 2012 he asked to meet Horton to discuss the issues of asset sales and land sales to foreigners, among other things.[9]

Waihopai protester

In 2011, the Anti-Bases Campaign congratulated Steffan Browning on his election as one of the Green Party’s new MPs.

For the past decade Steffan has been ABC’s key contact in Blenheim during our marathon campaign to have the Waihopai spybase closed down. He has always represented the local Greens at our regular protests in Blenheim and at the base.

Now we’re delighted that he will be speaking at our Waihopai spybase protest on Saturday January 21st in his new capacity as a Green MP.

This continues a long tradition of active Green Party support for our campaign, dating back to when the late Rod Donald started out as an Alliance MP in the 1990s. "Rod unfailingly spoke at every Waihopai protest for the rest of his life and the just retired Keith Locke never missed speaking at one either, most recently in January 2011. The past Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons and present one, Russel Norman, have also spoken at Waihopai protests. And it is particularly appropriate that Steffan, as a Blenheim person, speaks at the January 21st protest."[10]

Coal Action Network Aotearoa


The campaign to get investors to divest from fossil fuels, takes another step next week with the launch of a series of “Let’s Talk Divestment!” forums around the country, organized by 350 Aotearoa. The first forum is in Auckland:

When: Tuesday 15 October, 2013, 6-8pm

Where: Lecture Theatre 401, Building 401, 20 Symonds St, Faculty of Engineering, The University of Auckland


  • Matheson Russell – Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Auckland (involved in the divestment campaign within the Anglican Church)