He is the Green’s musterer (whip), and he wants to make a difference on issues such as clean energy, healthy oceans, and a free and open internet.
His path to becoming a politician stemmed from his passion for social issues, which is not necessarily something that can be taught at uni.
“I studied religious studies and history at Victoria University and then went on to do a post-grad course in politics. I didn’t study these thinking of a political career in the future but because they were interesting and taught useful skills. The best training to become an MP is to get active with issues you care about,” Gareth said.
Although a career in politics wasn’t his initial destination, Gareth said he always wanted to contribute to New Zealand and his community.
“At university I became passionate about the environment and was fortunate to make a career working for Greenpeace where my highlights were sailing on the Rainbow Warrior, being arrested dressed as Ronald McDonald as part of a successful campaign, and coordinating the biggest climate change campaign in New Zealand. After years of campaigning trying to influence politicians, I thought I could make good green change from inside as an MP for the Green Party.”
While now a respected and outspoken MP, Gareth hasn’t been afraid to be vocal about his passions during his career as an activist. He freely admits he dressed as a shark (while protesting bottom trawling), a chicken (protesting GE), Electro Man (Auckland rail electrification), a snail (mining), an orang-utan (rainforest destruction), and of course, his most infamous dress-up as Ronald McDonald (where he was notoriously photographed after his arrest sitting in the back of a police car).
“I love making a difference and trying to make a better world. I want my kids to grow up in a world with a stable climate, healthy oceans, and a prosperous economy, and it is awesome that I get to work towards these every day.”
- A Member of Parliament’s salary starts from $142k a year and rises according to their level of responsibility.
- Cabinet ministers are paid $260k a year.
- The Prime Minister’s salary is $410k.
(Source: Careers New Zealand)