New choice after Green candidate dumped
A 37-year-old single Scot who lost his heart to the region is the Green Party's last-minute candidate for the Nelson seat, and says he will campaign "very hard".
Colin Robertson has stepped up after the party dumped its first choice, Aaryn Barlow, over the way he left his job at the Nelson Environment Centre. His selection was confirmed on Monday night, two months after Barlow stood aside.
Robertson told the Nelson Mail his first choice to replace Barlow was someone else "but because of her young family she wasn't so keen, so I decided I'd be a good fit and could serve well".
He comes to the role with strong Green credentials including work with environmental and social justice organisations such as the permaculture movement, Forest and Bird, the Nelson-Tasman Marlborough Sustainability Forum and biodiversity forums.
He has also worked with environmental activism groups such as Greenpeace, GE Free NZ, the Coal Action Network, Clean Energy Future and 350.org, and is on the Nelson Environment Centre board. As well he designed and built a low-impact, off-grid home which produces all of its required power and recycles all its waste.
Robertson first came to New Zealand in 2001 and lived in Tauranga, teaching technology. After a short time back in Scotland he returned, moving to the Nelson region in 2006, having visited during his earlier stay. Here he has been a teacher at Motueka High School and had a vineyard in Upper Moutere before moving into the city four years ago.
Since March he has been commuting to Wellington for his "exceptionally interesting" job with Parliamentary Services, providing technology support in ministerial offices.
He's not in the top 40 on the party list and with no chance of entering Parliament, he's on leave until after the election.
Robertson said Nelson was his home - "it steals people's hearts" - and that because it attracted people who were "already green" it now exerted "a gravitational pull of progressive green-minded people". The party got 16 per cent of the Nelson party votes in 20011, well ahead of the national figure.
However, rather than "preaching to the choir" he intended to aim his campaign at winning fresh party votes. This would mean talking to voters about National's performance, showing that it wasn't as good a steward of the economy as many people thought, and comparing and contrasting policies.
"It's important to focus on things like our level of external debt going from $17 billion to $85b over the period of National's governance, economic and financial considerations, infrastructure and wider policy, to show that we have the ability to form a robust government, and to widen perceptions."
Robertson stood for the Nelson City Council last year, getting 4060 votes and coming seventh of 22 unsuccessful candidates.
Having gone through a council election he thought standing as a parliamentary candidate "was something where I could make a difference".
He said the Green Party in Nelson was a robust, active branch with very committed members.
"They were a solid unit before Aaryn arrived to be the candidate originally. That storm's been weathered."
The Nelson Mail