A career in diplomacy does not mean Ken will politely agree to what you say (unless you’re one of his grandchildren).
Ken’s professional approach has usually been to test the prevailing orthodoxy and associated rules of engagement.
His decision to turn a decades‑long diplomatic career into a political one was not taken lightly. But sitting in UN headquarters in New York in January 2005, Ken officially joined the Green Party of Aotearoa and took his step onto the political stage. “I was prepared to climb the building from the outside” he says of his desire to make a difference.
Growing up, Ken was dedicated to rugby, somewhat to the detriment of school work. When he went to university, however, that dedication turned to education; and from there, his attention shifted to the world stage.
He spent the eighties and nineties standing up for peace and human rights, whether he was working at the UN, with a non-governmental organization (NGO), or as an academic.
His extraordinary range of experience allows Ken to advance causes of peace and disarmament, sustainability and human rights. It is these values underpinning the vision of a just global legal order that moved him to enter national politics.
This took practical effect early in his parliamentary tenure, when his Member’s Bill making armed aggression by NZ an individual leadership crime (for the PM and cabinet colleagues). This far-reaching Bill came close to success – losing only by 64 to 58 votes. And four years later, he got a notice of motion to the same effect unanimously through the House.
But Ken is equally at home on the beach, where he is putty in the hands of his five grandchildren.
“Only the Green Party can properly deliver on the imperatives of sustainability and quality of life.”