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Longest-serving Greens MP Gareth Hughes plans to 'reconnect with activist roots' after retirement

Depite the Green Party being a partner in the coalition Government, it has not been as transformational as Green MP Gareth Hughes had hoped. So he's decided to take a new approach, he told TVNZ1's Breakfast today: bang on the doors of Parliament from the outside. 

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The party’s longest-serving MP announced his retirement on Facebook yesterday. Source: Breakfast

After 10 years in politics, and being the longest serving Green MP, Mr Hughes announced yesterday on Facebook that he plans to retire. He said he wants to focus on family.

During his tenure, he improved the regulation and scrutiny in the oil and gas sector, put a total ban on shark finning and pushed for international legal action to stop whaling.

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Green MP Gareth Hughes to retire from parliament at next election

He started out in politics at 28 years old and told Breakfast this morning it was time to put family first.

"I really want to put my kids first," he said. "My kids have both grown up in Parliament not knowing anything else - that Dad's constantly on his phone, constantly travelling.

"It’s going to be great. We've had an absolute blast as a family these last 10 years and I'm really proud, you know, of what I've been able to do. But if I do another term my son is going to be 16 by the time that term finishes and he won't want to hang out with me anyway at that point.

"For me, I’m putting my family first and I don’t think you’d ever regret spending time with your kids."

However, he also added that the Government had not been as transformational as he'd hoped.

"It's not transformational on scale of the 1930s or the 1980s. I don't think historians are going to look back and say, 'This was a huge tipping point in New Zealand's history.'"

But Mr Hughes said that was why he got into politics - to make social change and "upload a new operating system for New Zealand".

"The programmes we're trying to run to reduce homelessness or reduce pollution just aren't working as affectively as we need them to, so I'm going to keep advocating and articulating for that outside Parliament.

"I've spent 10 years with Greenpeace banging on outside Parliament and I've spent 10 years banging on the inside doors of Parliament," he said, adding that social change happened because of there being a wide movement.

"That's my job now - to bang on the outside doors of Parliament.

"I'm going to reconnect with my activist roots. I've worked with some amazing people, researchers, campaigners across Aoteroa and around the world so I'm just going to play small part in a wider movement."

Mr Hughes credited his amazing team in the Green Party, and said they would "not only survive, we're going to thrive".