James Shaw decides not to contest Wellington Central seat in election

Green Party co-leader James Shaw.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw has decided not to run in the Wellington Central electorate, despite six days earlier saying in an Instagram post that he would seek selection for the seat.

Shaw has instead nominated Wellington City councillor Tamatha Paul to be the Green Party's candidate. The party's local arm Te Aro Greens will meet on February 16 to officially select the party's next candidate.

When asked why Shaw changed his mind in six days, he said, "I weighed up what I could do best as party co-leader to grow the Green Party's support nationwide. When Tam confirmed she was interested in the electorate, I decided this was the right decision for both of us and the party as a whole."

On Friday, long-time Wellington Central Labour MP Grant Robertson said he would not contest the seat in the upcoming election and run only on the list.

On that day, Shaw paid tribute to Robertson and said on Instagram: "While I intend to put myself forward for selection as the Green Party's candidate for Wellington Central, our local branch has not yet held its candidate selection meeting nor made final plans about our campaign."

Announcing his decision on social media today, Shaw said: "To borrow a recent phrase, I am not standing aside because I think we can't win it, but because I think we can.

"I firmly believe Tamatha has what it takes to run a huge, energised campaign," Shaw said.

Paul said in a social media post today that Shaw reached out to her recently to consider standing in Wellington Central. "It was something else I was not expecting. I don't want to be an MP for the sake of being an MP. I want to amplify and advocate and represent our city to the fullest."

Wellington Central has historically been held by Labour with the exception of ACT's Richard Prebble in 1996-1999.

Last year, National's deputy leader Nicola Willis decided not to contest Wellington Central again, instead switching to Ohariu.