February 3, 2014 by Doug Coutts
a special feature by Shelly Maker-Tawlup, editor of our sister publication Women’s Weakly.
Metiria Turei sounds a bit tired or it could be the cheap security phone. “I’d forgotten you were coming,” she says, even though I’d tweeted the day before to remind her of my visit. “Just take a couple of steps back – the drawbridge tends to come down with a wallop.”
She meets me at the portcullis and ushers me into the large reception hall. She’s wearing standard Green Party-issue dungarees and jacket, offset with pearl earrings and a simple gold necklace. She notices I’ve noticed. “The gold has been sustainably extracted,” she says. “All the mercury is recycled.”
We set off for the conservatory. All the other reception rooms are closed for refurbishing. “The west wing chakras need to be realigned,” Ms Turei explains.
Over a cup of kopi luwak latte – I’m assured that the beans have passed through free-range civets – and biscotti with an oddly musky flavour, Ms Turei brings up the subject of power dressing. That’s a pity because I really wanted to discuss the Greens’ reluctance to push for rail over juggernaut road transport, but beggars can’t be choosers.
“The thing is,” she says. “The thing is Aotearoa is losing its industry. We’re being flooded with imports from overseas. The clothing industry especially is in tatters.”
I try to point out that tatting is a form of lace-making but Ms Turei pushes on. “One of the Greens’ central platforms has always been ‘Think global, buy local’,” she says. “And that’s why I support the local clothing industry. I’m not going to buy knock-off garments made by poor people in sweatshops in Asia – that’s not fair to them, and it’s not fair to local couturiers.”
Ms Turei is distracted momentarily by an incoming text. “We’ll have to continue at another time,” she says, standing. “World is having a three-for-two sale and Judy and the Tolster have scored a limo. They’ll be here in five and I have to change. Finish the biscotti and Kunowski will show you out.”
The aged retainer bows as Ms Turei sweeps out. I drain my latte and scoop a handful of biscotti into my bag, in case I get hungry. “The helicopter will take you to the carpark,” Kunowski says, pointing towards the ballroom. I can hear the roof being rolled back.