Nelson artist Mike Ward starts new political party - The Creative Alliance
Mike Ward thought he was out of politics forever - but then he started a political party with former Nelson mayor Aldo Miccio.
The Creative Alliance is Ward's latest venture, one he hopes will encourage the population into thinking differently about New Zealand's place in the world.
"I thought about it for a very long time - there is a lack of urgency, a lack of optimism and dearth of collaboration," Ward said.
The 74-year-old artist turned former Green MP turned former Nelson City councillor said every political party thought they had the answer but they were unwilling to listen to each other.
"What is needed is a concerted effort to not just survive but survive with flair and be as good as we can be."
Ward said he and Miccio, who is based in Sydney, had talked about forming a political party soon after the former mayor left office in 2013.
Miccio was helping to support the party financially and with advice, Ward said.
"He doesn't have political ambitions but he cares about this country."
The newly created party needs 500 official members within the next month to be eligible to stand in September's general election. It then needed to get five per cent of the vote to gain a seat in Parliament.
The Creative Alliance's major policies were based around starting a conversation about what people want the country to look like well into the future.
To this end, Ward said he wanted to set a binding limit on carbon emissions and offsetting those emissions by placing an effective tax on all goods and services. These could be shared across the whole population.
"I don't know if anyone has come up with anything like this. It's extraordinarily bold but the world is looking for a role model."
He also advocated for an "urban village" which would make it easier for existing homeowners to make use of space and rooms which were under utilised.
"We don't have a shortage of houses just a shortage of housing … if we can reconfigure them it would make a dent in the housing crisis."
He said this might include turning one dwelling into two which would make sense for homeowners who were overcapitalised.
"Rather than building more houses how to we get value out of the houses we have got?"
The party also advocated a "sustainability role model initiative" or effective tourist tax, which tried to encourage visitors to buy into a responsibility to look after the country.
It also wanted to include "lifestyle, creativity and sustainability" components to all levels of school curricula.
Ward said it would be tough to garner the support he needed within a month but was optimistic.
"Political fortunes change very quickly … it's doable if you can capture the imagination."
He said his artistic work would take a back seat while he focussed on growing the party and had a dedicated group of friends helping him. Ward said that he had always thrown himself into projects he was passionate about and this was no different.
"Life is much to short to fritter it away and not think about the consequences for yourself, your planet and your family."
He said if the party did not capture New Zealand's imagination he would be content with that.
"Not doing it, not attempting it, is dramatically worse than failing - and I don't plan on failing."
More information on the party can be found at creativealliance.org.nz