Leader of the Internet Party

Laila Harré — the woman who put through New Zealand’s first paid parental leave law — will lead the Internet Party into the General Election.

Harré, a cabinet minister for the Alliance-Labour government from 1999 to 2002, brings with her a wealth of political experience as a former Minister of Women’s Affairs, Youth Affairs and Statistics, and Associate Minister of Labour and of Commerce.

More recently, she has been issues director for the Green Party in Auckland, running a 13-person national team improving public engagement and participation, and preparing the Greens for government.


Managing New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Get Out and Vote campaign.

A campaign to encourage workers, their families and communities to vote in September.

Issues Director, Green Party (Parliamentary Services), Auckland:

Establishment and management of 13-person national team responsible for development and delivery of initiatives to increase public engagement and participation in the promotion of priority political issues for the Green Party.


From 1996, a list opposition MP and Alliance Spokesperson on Employment Relations, Accident Compensation and Commerce; subsequently Government Cabinet Minister in Labour-Alliance coalition Government in 1999 to 2002 — Minister of Women’s Affairs; Minister of Youth Affairs, Minister of Statistics, Associate Minister of Labour; Associate Minister of Commerce.

Key achievements as an Opposition MP (1996-1999) included a leading role in successful public campaigns against reduced holiday entitlements for workers, privatisation of Ports of Auckland Ltd, and through a private member’s bill launched the parliamentary bid for Paid Parental Leave. Developed Alliance policy on labour relations, Accident Compensation and Telecommunications reform, all of which had a significant influence on later Government policy.

Represented the Alliance on Parliament’s Commerce Select Committee; Special Select Committee relating to legislation reforming Auckland regional government; Special Select Committee relating to Accident Compensation reform — while opposing the policy direction of government on these matters, demonstrated a willingness to work within the process to improve the drafting of complex legislation on both the special select committees of which was a member.

As a Minister of the Crown from 1999 to 2002, key achievements included introducing legislation for paid parental leave and leading it through the parliamentary process; initiating and introducing legislation protecting sub-contractors in the building industry in the event of head contractor failures.

Also an effective advocate for significant minimum wage increases, including and especially for young workers, and took a role in all other areas of labour relations policy and legislation, including policy, drafting and parliamentary process relating the Employment Relations Act. Had a role in the development of legislation relating to the re-regulation of telecommunications and the reform of insolvency law.

As the Alliance consultation Minister on Social Policy, successfully negotiated a number of policy issues relating to social welfare and children with the Labour counterpart Minister.

Through the relevant Ministries, oversaw the development of Strategies for Youth and Women’s Development. These strategies still guide government agencies; as Minister of Women’s Affairs led development and release of discussion paper on Pay Equity for public submissions (re-introducing pay equity to the public policy agenda).

In the role as Minister of Statistics successfully negotiated with Minister of Finance for free public access to key statistical information including all census data; responsible for Government five-yearly reports to UN Committees on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) and the Status of Women (CEDAW).


September 2012-December 2012: UN Women, Suva — Partners Improving Markets Project. This was a short-term assignment to provide advice to UN Women on options for the strengthening of the women vendor participation in produce market governance and operational decision-making through the strengthening of vendor association.

September 2010–May 2012: Strategies for Decent Work Specialist, International Labour Office, Suva, Fiji — two-year fixed-term employment contract — This is a UN Agency with mandate for issues related to labour standards, employment, social protection and social dialogue. Based in Country Office for Pacific Island Countries, working with tripartite constituents and other stakeholders in eight Pacific Island member countries.

Laila was Officer in Charge for first seven months (reporting to Regional Director), with all responsibilities related to leading the ILO’s work in the Pacific, including general management and oversight of technical work. From April 2011, role was programme and project management and technical work in a number of countries and regionally; periodic responsibility as Officer in Charge and duties delegated by Director.

August 2009–September 2010: Adviser, Auckland Transition Agency — Single purpose Crown agency with a limited life (until October 31, 2010) whose role was to plan and manage the reorganisation of Auckland’s eight local and regional authorities into a single Auckland Council ahead of local body elections in October 2010. Laila’s role was planning and managing the implementation of workforce/human resource elements of the transition process; strategy, design and establishment of HR function in the Auckland Council.

2005-2009: National Secretary, National Distribution Union (NDU), Auckland — This is one of New Zealand’s largest private sector unions — with coverage of workers in retail, transport, energy, distribution; wood processing; and clothing and textiles sectors.

Laila’s position was an elected one carrying all functions of Chief Executive for an organisation with an annual budget of ABOUT $5.5 million with 55 staff.

2002-2005: Organising Services Manager, New Zealand Nurses Organisation, Auckland — This is the largest health sector union in New Zealand representing 90% of public sector nurses, midwives and caregivers and a high percentage of nurses and caregivers in the private and not for profit sectors. Laila was responsible for the trade union functions of NZNO — leading a team of about 30 staff in the organising, advocacy and collective bargaining work of NZNO.

1990-1995: Solicitor, National Distribution Union, Auckland — The union is one of New Zealand’s largest private sector unions with coverage at that time in retail, transport, energy and distribution sectors. Laila was responsible for undertaking litigation and alternative dispute resolution on behalf of the union and its members at all levels of the New Zealand Court system; analysing and making submissions on legislation (e.g. the Employment Contracts Bill 1991).


1989: Executive Assistant, Office of Minister for Disarmament, Wellington.

1989: Mediation Officer, Human Rights Commission, Auckland.

1988: Internship at United Nations specialising in disarmament issues, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Geneva/New York.

1992-1995: Board member Watercare Services Ltd — Auckland local government-owned bulk water and wastewater service provider.

2006-2009: Weekly political commentator on Radio New Zealand Nine to Noon programme.


1979-1982: Auckland Girls Grammar School

1986: Awarded Senior Prize in Political Studies (Auckland University)

1988: Graduated Bachelor of Arts (Political Studies)/Bachelor of Laws (BA/LLB) Auckland University

1988: Awarded Senior Prize in Law (Auckland University)

1990: Admitted as Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of NZ.


Member of the Auckland YMCA Marathon Club — regular runner and other outdoor recreation. Organic home garden, founding partner/and now sometimes helper on organic (uncertified) vineyard/olive grove at Waiheke Island (Awaroa label) — husband still an active partner. Cooking, learning French (again).


Laila on Twitter

Laila on Facebook