Age no barrier, says 81-year-old candiate
Standing for Parliament at 81 isn't everyone's cup of tea but Conservative Party Nelson candidate John Green says age doesn't come into it.
He's one of the oldest candidates on record, although the Electoral Commission has confirmed that an 87-year-old stood in 2011, and an 84-year-old in 2008, without being able to give further details "for privacy reasons".
Introduced at a public meeting on Thursday night, former British Army junior officer and "actively retired" Waimea Plains orchardist Green said he came to New Zealand because it was "a country punching way above its weight".
"It still does, but we have lost the plot in so many ways. We are sliding inexorably down that slippery slope - we're going to join the rest of the crowd, and have done."
He told the 100-strong mainly grey-haired crowd at the meeting he had no illusions that he could unseat long-serving National member for Nelson, Nick Smith, "in fact I think that as a constituency MP he does a pretty good job".
But Conservative voters could get "a good number" of people into Parliament by "playing the MMP system" and force attention to be paid to the party's centrist policies.
After spending yesterday morning in a meeting with party leader Colin Craig, Green told the Nelson Mail he had got involved because he saw the Conservative Party as a means to influence the Government to do its utmost to get values back that he welcomed when he came to New Zealand 35 years ago - "old-fashioned values".
He wanted a return to the idea that New Zealand was "a haven in a crazy world - and thank goodness we're way down in the South Pacific".
He'd joined the party about 18 months ago and was chosen as Nelson candidate six months ago. However he was not interested in becoming an MP and had made that very clear. His goal was to help contribute to the party vote. He thought it was highly likely that the Conservatives could pass the 5 per cent threshold nationally, and was confident they would do so in the Nelson electorate.
He and "my little team around me" would concentrate on a door-knocking campaign, Green said.
"I will be putting in the hard yards, on a selected basis. I'm human and I cannot get round and knock on everybody's door."
An active member of Probus and the Anglican Church, he said he was well-known in Richmond, where he lives, and would be aiming to meet people in other parts of Nelson.
He would love them to ask why he was standing at his age.
"According to how the wind blows, I can make that into a story, and I think a lot of the population of Nelson would be sympathetic to that story.
"I'm an optimist, and a barrier of how many years old you are is no barrier to me. I keep fit and I'm going to go on with life. Retirement is not on my radar."
Having seen more of his party leader in the past few days, he said Craig was well-read, practical, "a man of humanity and above all, he wants the best for New Zealand".
He said it was a shame that Craig had been lampooned by some in the media.
"I think he's a great guy and I'm happy to serve under him."
The Nelson Mail