Golriz Ghahraman, a New Zealand Green party MP and its justice spokesperson, has resigned with immediate effect, saying she takes “full responsibility” for her actions, following accusations of shoplifting from two high-end clothing stores.
In her first public comments since the allegations surfaced, Ghahraman said: “It is clear to me that my mental health is being badly affected by the stresses relating to my work. This has led me to act in ways that are completely out of character. I am not trying to excuse my actions, but I do want to explain them.
“People should, rightly, expect the highest standards of behaviour from their elected representatives. I fell short. I’m sorry.”
Ghahraman said she would now be focusing on her recovery and “find other ways to work for positive change in the world”.
The allegations were first published on 10 January by Newstalk ZB Plus, which reported that Ghahraman had been accused of shoplifting during the festive season from Scotties Boutique, a store specialising in luxury brands in the Auckland suburb of Ponsonby. The police confirmed they were investigating an allegation but were unable to confirm any individual identities.
Ghahraman said in her statement on Tuesday that she understands she is not well, following a medical evaluation and discussions with a mental health professional.
“My recent behaviour is consistent with recent events giving rise to extreme stress response, and relating to previously unrecognised trauma,” she said. “With that in mind, I don’t want to hide behind my mental health problems, and I take full responsibility for my actions which I deeply regret.”
Ghahraman thanked Scotties Boutique “for the kindness and empathy” it had shown her during this time.
She added she was proud of what she had achieved in parliament, including her advocacy work on human rights and foreign affairs, and on campaigns around electoral laws governing donations and overseas voting.
On Tuesday, the Green party co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw said Ghahraman had been the leading voice in parliament for human rights, independent foreign policy, and electoral reform.
“Her political achievements are significant,” they said. “Ms Ghahraman has worked tirelessly on behalf of her communities. Nothing detracts from that work and we know she will continue to support those communities in the future.”
Shaw noted that from the moment Ghahraman entered parliament, she had been subjected to abuse from the public, including threats of sexual and physical violence and death threats – more so than many other MPs would experience.
In 2019, Ghahraman was assigned a security escort following a series of death threats. “If you’re living with that level of threat, in what is already quite a stressful situation, then there are going to be consequences,” Shaw said.