Going for Green: why older citizens also vote Green
Nicky Chapman was privileged to speak to some of the Greens’ older supporters recently, and shares some of their insights.
Elizabeth Thompson was born and grew up in New Zealand. “Both my parents had strong beliefs in honesty. My father was a public servant and we were not allowed to take public service pencils to school! My mother was Unitarian, and he was a pacifist, and we spent a lot of time tramping so the environment was important to me, and linked with my spirituality.” Like her partner, Elizabeth Duke, she is now a Quaker, and for her Green and Quaker values align. “Both respect equality and value the environment. My pacifism comes from recognising God in everyone – you can’t shoot anyone if God’s there.”
Elizabeth worked all around world in hospital dietetics but became disillusioned in the early 80s “by power games being put ahead of patient care”. She did women’s studies at university, linking her interests in feminism and Quakers – “the first wave of feminists in US were Quakers”.
From her studies she moved onto counselling and working at the Wellington Women’s Health Collective. The political became personal when she developed chronic fatigue syndrome, and herself experienced the difficulties of being a beneficiary. “The benefit system is disempowering and getting worse.”
In the early 80s she considered joining Labour, but “I was grateful that I hadn’t when I saw what they did. This made me apprehensive about joining the Greens, but I was very impressed with Jeanette Fitzsimons with her high intelligence and graciousness, and seeing this filter through the Green Party being true to its principles.”
What particularly upsets her is social inequality. “It is wicked that NZ kids are dying at 3rd world rates –I grew up with this idea of expectation of equality. It is to the detriment to all of our society when blessed with so much good climate, a small population and a beautiful country. We are giving it away to overseas money at the cost of our kids.”
Climate change is another huge issue. “So much of what is happening is avoidable, and the Greens can see that. They are trying to limit it, and to increase our awareness of climate change issues.”
Authorised by Jon Field, 2/17 Garrett Street, Wellington