Green was the scene at the Green Party’s Mt Albert by-election campaign launch. Many of those present wore this most natural of colours, myself included.
Party Co-Leader Russel Norman was a notable exception, choosing a blue tie that matched his eyes, but core green issues dominated his campaign speech.
Russel spoke of the grey future for Mt Albert decimated by Labour’s dumb underground tunnel and National’s dumber aboveground motorway, contrasting the drab old party scenarios of communities getting sliced and diced by busy roads with a Green vision of the future.
In the Green future we move towards modern high speed rail and bus networks. We protect our remaining greenspace like along Oakley Creek where I’ve just come from, we clean up our creeks and harbours. We make our streets safe for kids to ride a bike and walk to school.
People from all our many cultures meet and chat on the street or at the farmers market and isolated individuals become part of a community. It is a future where no-one lives in poverty and where no child is consigned from birth to a life without opportunity.
That future resonated with the supportive family audience who packed out the meeting room of Oakridge house in the grounds of Unitec in Mt Albert.
The young stars of the Green Party’s latest billboard campaign were welcomed into the limelight by a paternal looking Russel, who warmly thanked them for their modelling efforts. Some of the youngsters even asked him to autograph copies of their campaign posters.
‘Vote for an Aussie, get a Maori’ is one of the light hearted campaign lines. One appreciated by Dave Clendon, who is number 10 on the Green Party list, and will join Dr Norman in Parliament if he wins the Mt Albert seat.
Dave (Ngapuhi), a business consultant for the Sustainable Business Network, started the proceedings off in appropriate fashion with a mihi in te reo Maori, and introduced both Russel and fellow Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.
Jeanette spoke about the campaigning workshop she had held that morning with Green Party members before going out doorknocking. Other party members had campaigned at the Avondale market that morning.
Russel had also been busy on the morning of the campaign launch. He was given a guided tour of the Oakley Creek by Wendy John of Friends of Oakley Creek. Russel was clearly impressed with Wendy’s expert local knowledge, her many years of dedicated guardianship of the creek and the extent with which she has mobilised countless other volunteers to help plant the creek banks, remove rubbish and nurture the Oakley Creek ecosystem.
Russel was horrified at the damage to local greenspace and well-used community facilities such as the Metro soccer club’s playing fields at Phyllis St Reserve that the motorway project could herald.
He was rapt to discover the Oakley waterfall, a stunning local attraction that most motorists on the Waterview Straight would never even know about.
Russel was also interested to hear about the early history of the area and dismayed to hear that the archeaological site of an early local mill, off Cowley St at the bottom of the Waterview Straight, is under threat from motorway connections.
Mt Albert residents can listen to Russel and the other party candidates debate transport issues for the electorate in a forum hosted by Eden Albert Community Board chair Christopher Dempsey this Wednesday May 13 from 7.30pm at the Faumuina Gold Theatre in the foyer of Unitec’s building 180 (the main campus building where the café is). Entrance is via Unitec Gate 4, off Carrington Rd and near Gladstone Primary.