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Jordan Walker, local Greens Candidate

An iceberg or an onion. Those are the two analogies that come to mind when I interview Jordan Walker. On the surface they present as youthful and artsy, with a relaxed and easy-going manner that immediately puts me at ease. But as we get further into the interview it becomes clear that there is more to Jordan than meets the eye. Like an iceberg.

Jordan (Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairoa, Ngāti Porou and Ngāi Te Rangi) lives with their partner who has recently had successful IVF treatment and the happy couple are expecting their first baby this year. They’ve adopted a few chooks too, and they were pleased to announce they collected three eggs this morning.

Jordan is the new local candidate for the Greens party, so one would assume they care for community and the environment, and they do, but there is more to them than that. Jordan is multi-layered (that’s where I slide in the onion analogy) They work in the arts sector and have a background in anthropology. Jordan has undertaken research into the value of artists and art for community well-being, culture, and connection, which is partly why Jordan has an affiliation with the Greens and their policy to reinstate an income support scheme for the arts and cultural employment.. Jordan tells me that the median income for artists in Aotearoa is $19,500 per annum.

Creativity and ideas can only come to life when people have everything they need to survive, says Jordan. We need to place more value on artists.

However, that’s not really what drew them into politics. Jordan was raised by a single mum who escaped an abusive relationship with four children in tow. It was tough going financially. Jordan’s whānau were touched by tragedy when at the age of 13, their brother died of suicide. Grief impacted their whānau in different ways, but it forced Jordan to grow up, Jordan says, pushing their own grief to the side to support their whānau. But as with any trauma, Jordan acknowledges it can take a lifetime to unpack.

And that’s what led them down this political path. Jordan has experienced life scenarios where they felt vulnerable, or needed advocacy, and as a result they’ve naturally gravitated to becoming an advocate for other people.

They put their hand up to run for council last year, and found it exhausting. It was a big learning curve and although cradled within the Māori candidate caucus, Jordan found it an isolating experience for a newbie, whereas being a Greens candidate has been less of a gauntlet. It’s nice to feel part of a big team, says Jordan, with plenty of resources and support provided.

First things first, just party vote Green at election time. After that, thinking long term, there is a pathway to parliament and eventually Jordan would like to be there. They’ve taken on this role, not as a one off candidate but as a long term potential, which is good news for us.

The local Green Party branches main campaign points are around the climate crisis and a Just Transition, focusing on regenerative agriculture and better forestry practice. With Jordan particularly keen in redistributing wealth by introducing a capital gains tax and placing people and whenua over profit. “We have 50% Māori here on the East Coast, and 80% of our people are living in poverty. We need to redistribute wealth so that people don’t have to struggle” - Te Tiriti o Waitangi is at the centre of the Greens charter and that’s something Jordan always comes back to.

Jordan is also a proponent of resilient infrastructure and bringing rail back to life. Rather than pouring money into fixing the roads destroyed by logging trucks, investing in rail makes more sense.

As a final question I think it’s important to ask if the Greens have been affected by online misinformation. Jordan says yes, at a recent meeting they heard a rumour that the Greens did not support burning slash and that it was illegal. Not true, says Jordan, the Greens are an evidence based party, and it pays to fact check in the age of misinformation.

A vote for Greens means no more band aid approaches. Jordan wants to see real, sustainable improvement in our community as we head into unprecedented times. Kotahitanga. Everyone should have what they need to survive, and maybe then, we can allow ourselves a little creativity, for our own, and everyone’s well-being.

Story by Aimee Milne

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