by Catherine Delahunty
Yesterday just before the Mixed Ownership Membership Bill was passed, I spent 5 hours on the streets of three communities on the Kapiti Coast with Green volunteers. I ran out of sheets on my clipboard as people asked to take petitions away and get family and neighbours to consider the issue.
Waikanae was chilly but steady, Ōtaki was good but when I went to the shops at Ōtaki Beach it was outstanding. The diversity of people choosing to sign the petition was remarkable, from elderly men and women who recalled past asset sales disasters to young guys rebuilding the street.
Two young Māori trainee carpenters just thought it was a very stupid idea, two young Pākehā mothers agreed. The lady on the bicycle who used to know my Dad was delighted to sign and so were the mother and daughter who were browsing the shops. An elderly lady who had moved to Ōtaki from Samoa wanted to take a sheet for her neighbours. Others had been wondering where they could find the petition. Not everyone is Google-savvy and they were pleased to meet a politician who wanted to talk with them about the petition and give them the opportunity to sign it.
So although Otaki Beach winds were chilly, the warmth on the street was inspiring. Even the dude who said he was going to Aus for better wages and what was the point? changed his mind and signed, because one day he would be coming home.
Levin is a larger town and much colder. At one point we saw sleet and there was a bitter whip to the wind down the long street. Fortified by hot soup I went back out on the street and met with local Green volunteers who had given their time to build the petition numbers in their home town. I had to thank them as it makes the debacle in Parliament less painfully bizarre when our members and friends are so committed to the cause.
I stood outside the Levin Mall entrance and met people who had some fairly harsh words for the Government. Unlike the one man I met in Tauranga I didn’t meet anyone who said they were planning to buy shares. One shop keeper rushed out of the Mall as she was so keen to sign and another businessman said he had been a National Party voter but this was a “terrible strategy”.
By this time my hands were frozen and it was time to go back to Parliament. I got to stand up and say “No” on behalf of the Green Party. I said it loudly for all those volunteers and all those great Kāpiti people I met one winter’s day. They deserve better.