New Zealand’s longest running openly gay MP Kevin Hague is set to step down from his parliamentary role to pursue a new position as the head of an environmental agency. He talks with Amy Jane Bedwell about this change and promises that his advocacy for the queer community which has helped to define his political career will not waiver.
Green Party member Kevin Hague has long since been a staunch advocate for the rainbow community. He is a former Executive Director of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation and huge force behind the passing of the Marriage Equality bill. Kevin moved into the political realm when he became Chief Executive of the West Coast District Health Board. He was elected in 2008 to represent the West Coast electorate and has since been a significant member of the Green Party.
Now, Kevin is stepping down from politics to pursue the head role at the Forest and Bird organisation which works to protect our beautiful countries natural environment.
“For me the really big thing is Forest and Bird. I have been an admirer for decades; it has been around since 1923. So it really is a NZ icon and the leading conservation organisation in the country”
He says that his commitment to conservation meant he couldn’t say no to “an opportunity to work at Forest and Bird in a situation where habitat is decreasing, native species are under threat from introduced pests, and climate change. The sitatuon for our native plants and animals under extraordinary threat. It’s urgent.”
In the same way that Hague sought to be a voice in the rainbow community during his role as a Green Party MP, he says “Forest and Bird sets out to be a voice for nature.”
However, Hague says that this change of role will not stop him from being an advocate in the rainbow community and will continue to fight for queer rights in New Zealand.
“I wont stop being a gay man” he says “and Yes, I am still going to be involved with [queer rights]. If you look at my track record, whatever my job as been, I was fighting for our rights.”
He says that one piece of work he will have to pass on in parliament is his push for the reversal of historic homosexuality convictions, however he says that he will still actively advocate for it from outside the governmental spectrum. He says he will “be around in the community and find other ways to represent.”
Kevin says that he can not give an exact date that he will be stepping down from Parliament but says that “this sitting period of three weeks starting today is going to be my last one”
Barry Coates, former Director of Oxfam and expert in international trade and international aid, as well as a former employee of the World Wildlife Fund will step into Hague’s shoes in the next sitting period five weeks from now.