From October 2020, Dr Elizabeth Kerekere took Parliament by storm entering as a Green Party MP and ending as an Independent. She was appointed Deputy Musterer (Whip) and Caucus Strategist. Her portfolios were Māori Development, Whānau Ora, Rainbow Communities, Health, Art, Culture and Heritage, Community and Volunteer Sector and Statistics.
With her signature purple style, Elizabeth exemplified ways in which the Greens “did things differently” in Parliament. The first was in supporting the Greens to live up to its stated commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Elizabeth was appointed Chair of Te Mātāwaka, the Māori and Pacific Caucus and led the Māori Strategy. She restructured the Parliamentary Office to establish a separate Te Mātāwaka Unit in her second year with three additional staff. The second was developing relationships across the House and gaining the confidence of 10 Ministers to work directly with their staff on Rainbow and Māori issues – something that has never happened before with even one Minister.
In February 2021, Elizabeth launched a record-breaking petition to ban conversion therapy – the Conversion Practices Prohibition law passed a year later. Trans, intersex and non-binary people can now easily self-identify their gender on the birth certificate (New Zealand-born so far) and Elizabeth helped to ensure that intersex people received dedicated funding from government. After decades advocating for takatāpui, it was a highlight for Elizabeth to put the term into law for the first time in the Pae Ora legislation in the reform of the health system. Elizabeth’s Member’s Bill to amend the Human Rights Act was pulled from the ballot and is on the Order paper for the 54th Government elected in 2023. It aims to prohibit discriminating against someone because of their gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics.