Laila Harré

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Laila Harré
Laila Harré, 2018.jpg
Harré in 2018
1st Internet Party Leader
In office
29 May 2014 – December 2014
Preceded byPosition created
Succeeded bySuzie Dawson
3rd Leader of the Alliance
In office
20 April 2002 – 30 November 2003
DeputyWillie Jackson
Preceded byJim Anderton
Succeeded byMatt McCarten
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Alliance list
In office
1996 – 2002
Personal details
Born (1966-01-08) 8 January 1966 (age 53)
CitizenshipNew Zealander
Political partyLabour (1982-1989; 2016-)
Other political
Independent (2003-2012), (2014-2016)
NewLabour Party (1989-1991)
Alliance (1991-2003)
Green Party (2012-2014)
Internet Party (2014)
Spouse(s)Barry Gribben
Alma materUniversity of Auckland

Laila Jane Harré (born 8 January 1966) is a New Zealand politician and trade unionist. She was the first leader of the Internet Party,[1] and stood for Parliament in the 2014 general election through the Helensville electorate. From 1996 to 2002, she was a Member of Parliament for the Alliance party, briefly leading that party after the group experienced a schism in 2002.

Early life[edit]

Harré's father was a social anthropologist, and the family spent a part of her childhood (including some years of primary school)[2] living in Fiji while he studied urbanisation there.[3] Her mother was an actress.[3] After returning to New Zealand, she attended secondary school in Auckland at Auckland Girls' Grammar, before gaining Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degrees at the University of Auckland.

Professional life[edit]

After leaving university, she worked for some time as a lawyer specialising in industrial relations and employment law, and developing close links to the trade-union movement.[4][better source needed]

1982-1996 - Labour, NewLabour, and the Alliance[edit]

Harré joined the Labour Party in 1982, representing the youth wing on the party's New Zealand Council. Throughout her seven-year membership of the party she was a critic of the policies advanced by Roger Douglas, who became Minister of Finance when Labour won the 1984 election. Douglas, an advocate of free-market economics, introduced a programme of radical reforms (Rogernomics) which alienated many of Labour's traditional supporters, including Harré.[5]

In 1989, Harré resigned from the Labour Party. She became a founding member of the NewLabour Party, an organisation started by dissident Labour MP Jim Anderton. NewLabour later joined with several other parties to form the Alliance. Harré stood as the Alliance candidate for the Te Atatu electorate in the 1993 election, but was unsuccessful, coming runner-up to Labour's Chris Carter.[6]

1996-2002 - Member of Parliament[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
1996–99 45th List 8 Alliance
1999–2002 46th List 6 Alliance

In the 1996 election, which took place under the new MMP electoral system, the Alliance ranked Harré in eighth place on its party list. The Alliance gained a sufficient number of votes for Harré to enter parliament.[7]

After the 1999 election, the Alliance formed a coalition government with Labour (which had by then backed away from many of the policies introduced by Douglas). Harré became Minister of Women's Affairs and Minister of Youth Affairs and Associate Minister of Labour and Commerce. She later gained additional responsibilities as Minister of Statistics.[7]

She led the parliamentary campaign for the introduction of paid parental leave from Opposition and as a Minister sponsored the legislation to introduce 12 weeks paid parental leave in 2002. Other causes championed by Harré included legislation protecting the interests of building industry sub-contractors, significant minimum-wage increases and the removal of age discrimination in the minimum wage. She re-launched the pay-equity debate as Minister of Women's Affairs, and a campaign to increase annual leave from three weeks to four weeks.[citation needed]

In late 2001, however, the Alliance began to show signs of internal strain.[8] In particular, some members of the party felt that it was losing its independent political identity and failing to differentiate itself from the Labour Party on issues such as free trade, tertiary-education funding and other core areas. The decision of Jim Anderton and a majority of Alliance MPs to back New Zealand's involvement in the US-led invasion of Afghanistan brought these tensions to a head, dividing the caucus and separating the parliamentary leadership from the majority in the non-parliamentary party organisation (led by Matt McCarten). Harré, however, aligned herself with the grass-roots party view, and became its de facto leader in parliament.[9][10]

The collapse of the Alliance soon became inevitable,[11] with Anderton and his supporters deciding to contest the 2002 election as a new party (the Progressives). Harré, considered to be the foremost of the MPs who remained behind, was chosen to lead what remained of the Alliance into its election campaign, aiming to at least retain a presence in parliament.[12][13] Harré herself was seen as the party's best chance of keeping a parliamentary seat, having a relatively strong chance of winning the seat of Waitakere.[citation needed] In the election itself, however, Harré placed second, being defeated by Labour's Lynne Pillay.[14]

The following year, Harré stepped down as leader of the Alliance, being replaced by Matt McCarten.[15] Harré was still active in the Alliance afterwards and was elected to the party executive at its annual conference in 2003. At the 2004 party conference she chose not to re-contest a position within the Alliance stating that from then on the most pragmatic approach for the Alliance would be to instead support the Greens and Maori Party.[16] She was not aligned to any other political party from 2004-2011, but in 2012 accepted a role as issues director of the Green Party.[17]

2002-2014 - Intermission from parliamentary politics[edit]

Harré speaking outside parliament buildings in 2006

From 2002 to 2005, Harré led the industrial work of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation, including its successful pay-equity campaign for public-sector nurses. She served as General Secretary of the National Distribution Union from 2005 to 2009,[18] after which she joined the Auckland Transition Agency.[19]

Harré speaking at the New Zealand Council of Trade Union's biennial women's conference in 2009

Between 2010 and 2012 Harré worked for the International Labour Organization in Fiji. Subsequently, in 2012 she started work as the inaugural issues director of the Green Party,[20] a position she resigned from in 2013. Harré quit the Green Party in protest to the way that the Greens had handled a rebuffed proposition by the Labour Party for conducting a joint electoral campaign.[21]

Harré co-owns an Auckland restaurant, Ika, which pays a living wage to its staff.[22][23]

2014 - Return to parliamentary politics[edit]

On 29 May 2014, Harré was named as the first leader of New Zealand's Internet Party.[1] The party allied with the Mana Party to contest the 2014 election as the Internet MANA Party. Harré had second place on the combined party's list.[24] Vikram Kumar (secretary of the Internet Party) initially approached her about becoming a candidate; she declined, but later reconsidered after a meeting with Kim Dotcom. She stated at the time that she got involved again in politics because she wanted to encourage young people to vote, and to re-connect disenfranchised people with the political system.[25]

Following the failure of Internet MANA to enter Parliament, Harré stood back from media view for several weeks before formally announcing she was stepping down as leader of the Internet Party, effective December 2014.[26][27]

Since the election, Harré has been occasionally writing on New Zealand left-wing blog site The Daily Blog, and undertook a "pilgrimage" across New Zealand called Rethinking the System.[27] In December 2016, Harré announced she had rejoined the Labour Party 27 years after she left to join NewLabour.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Harré lives in Te Atatu,[29] after five years of living in Mount Eden,[30] and is married to Barry Gribben. They met through the Labour Party and share an interest in an organic vineyard, a restaurant, and several properties.[31][32][33] She also has two children.[34]

Harré was diagnosed with breast cancer, and, because she has a family history of the disease, opted for a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction. She made a full recovery.[30]

Harré has run several marathons, including the 2013 Boston Marathon, where she was only a few hundred metres away from the terrorist bombing that occurred near the finish line.[33][35][36]


  1. ^ a b "Laila Harre confirmed as Internet Party leader". New Zealand Herald. 29 May 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  2. ^ Cumming, Geoff (14 August 2010). "Steely leftie sitting at the bosses' table". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  3. ^ a b Calder, Peter (7 July 2001). "Laila Harre - A leftie who treads warily". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  4. ^ Internet Party (29 May 2014). "INTRODUCING: Laila Harré Leader of the Internet Party". Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  5. ^ Myers, Douglas (23 Feb 1998). "Labour and the Alliance: Time for scrutiny" (PDF). The New Zealand Initiative. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  6. ^ Part 1: Votes recorded at each polling place (Technical report). New Zealand Chief Electoral Office. 1993.
  7. ^ a b "Hon Laila Harré". Wellington: New Zealand Government. Retrieved 28 February 2010.
  8. ^ Small, Vernon (21 November 2001). "Alliance party digs in for trench war". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  9. ^ Young, Audrey (20 March 2002). "Anderton's party coming undone". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  10. ^ Small, Vernon (23 March 2002). "Political review: Factions start to focus on how to sell the break-up". Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  11. ^ "Editorial: Alliance wounds too deep to heal". New Zealand Herald. 27 November 2001.
  12. ^ "Party list: Alliance". New Zealand Herald.
  13. ^ "Harre ready for party's top job". The Evening Post. 20 April 2002. p. 2.
  14. ^ "Official Count Results -- Waitakere (2002)". New Zealand Electoral Commission. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  15. ^ Watkins, Tracey (1 December 2003). "McCarten takes the helm". The Dominion Post. p. 7.
  16. ^ Bain, Helen (28 November 2004). "Alliance party nearing end". Sunday Star Times. p. A9.
  17. ^ "Laila Harre signs up with the Greens". Retrieved 10 March 2013.
  18. ^ National Distribution Union (7 July 2009). "Changes at the Helm of National Distribution Union (press release)". Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  19. ^ "Laila Harré joins the ATA (press release)". Auckland Transition Agency. 7 July 2009. Retrieved 8 April 2010.
  20. ^ "Laila Harre joins the Green Party". New Zealand Herald. 30 March 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
  21. ^ "Green MP Julie Ann Genter apologises for criticising Laila Harre, regrets slighting her integrity". The New Zealand Herald. 27 January 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  22. ^ "Restaurant serves up living wage". New Zealand Herald. 18 February 2014. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  23. ^ "Auckland has its first Living Wage restaurant". 1 March 2016.
  24. ^ "Mana cites youth vote for link-up with Internet Party". 28 May 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  25. ^ Wilson, Mary (29 May 2014). "Laila Harre new Internet Party leader". Checkpoint. Radio New Zealand National. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  26. ^ "Laila Harre Quits as Internet Leader". Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  27. ^ a b "Harre Resigns as Internet Leader". 3 News. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  28. ^ "Long-time activist Laila Harre returns to the Labour Party". The New Zealand Herald. 14 December 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  29. ^ Manhire, Toby (26 January 2017). "'I was the captain of the Titanic and I had to stay with the ship': Laila Harré on the Internet-Mana debacle and rejoining Labour". The Spinoff.
  30. ^ a b "Harre repels cancer threat". The New Zealand Herald. 2 June 2012.
  31. ^ Harré, Lalia. ""29 years" tweet". Twitter. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  32. ^ Walters, Laura; Watkins, Tracy (30 May 2014). "Dotcom pumps 3m into party". Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  33. ^ a b Nichols, Lane (12 August 2014). "Leaders Unplugged: Laila Harre: Recharged, reinvented and in the running". Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  34. ^ Blackstock, Russell (1 June 2014). "Internet Party's focus on young people". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  35. ^ "Kiwi in Boston feeling the 'aroha'". 3 News NZ. 17 April 2013.
  36. ^ "Kiwi runners at the heart of Boston blast chaos". 16 May 2012. Retrieved 16 May 2012.

External links[edit]