The Green Party will push forward its co-leader election process, with the position to be filled by April.
Currently, James Shaw is the only leader of the party following the resignation of Metiria Turei last year after she admitted to benefit fraud.
The party’s structure requires both a male and female co-leader and the position was due to be announced at the AGM later in the year.
Now in government, Shaw said it had been decided to move the timeline forward so the process did not distract from more important work for longer than necessary.
Nominations for the position will open on 2 February and close a week later on 9 February.
Campaigning will then begin and wrap-up on 26 March. Voting will close on 7 April and the winner announced the following day.
The Greens voting process is similar to the electoral college system in the United States. Each branch will have between one to four delegates depending on how many members it has. There will be roughly 150 votes in total.
Shaw told media that until nominations had closed members and potential candidates were gagged from talking about whether they were putting themselves forward or who they were supporting.
Most candidates will likely be current MPs, with Marama Davidson, Julie-Anne Genter, and Eugenie Sage all frontrunners.
Non-MP candidates could also put themselves forward, however, as anyone could run as long as they were a party member.
In 2006 Russel Norman was not an MP when he stood, while in 2015 Vernon Tava also put himself forward.
Shaw said there was a precedent for non-MPs standing, but it was obviously more difficult for someone outside of Parliament to do the job.
“I think it would be pretty unusual for someone and certainly there would be some big logistical challenges to overcome to make that work.”
If the successful candidate was not currently a Minister they would not become one immediately and would not displace any current Green MPs filling the roles, he said.
Debates would be held in the main centres and any member standing would be given financial support to attend.
Shaw said he expected positive campaigns to be run by those standing and the party would not stand for any misbehaviour.
Following ructions in the party following his own leadership victory in 2015 over Kevin Hague and more recently after Turei’s resignation, Shaw said the caucus was well-aware of the strain leadership campaigns could place people under.
“This is an emotional journey right, so I think anyone who runs and doesn’t win it’s entirely natural to fell a low period afterwards and we’ve had that conversation within our caucus of making sure people know they may feel that way.”