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Former ‘green’ mayor stands for Wairarapa

Wairarapa Green Party candidate Celia Wade-Brown, left, with Wairarapa campaign manager Christine Kernohan. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

Wade-Brown hunting party vote, not seat

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After hiking more than 3000km to “politically detox” from her local government career, Celia Wade-Brown felt grounded enough to be the Wairarapa Green Party candidate for the general election now 115 days off.

During the covid-19 lockdown Wade-Brown says she firmed up the possibility, knowing she wanted to help the Green Party retain a voice in Parliament this election.

She and her husband Alastair Nicholson bought Ductuli Farm in Mangatarere Valley, in 1987. They used the property as a country retreat for the 14 years she was a Wellington City councillor, and when she was Wellington mayor from 2010 until 2016.

As mayor she made the council a Living Wage employer and started Predator Free Wellington.

The couple have lived in Wairarapa permanently since 2017 and are regenerating the land that borders Tararua National Park with native trees.

The political party made public its candidate list on Monday and Wairarapa campaign manager Chrissy Kernohan launched her candidate.

Wade-Brown, 63, has been involved in electioneering since 1992. Labour’s Kieran McAnulty called her Monday lunchtime.

“I don’t think the campaign will be nasty, I know Kieran McAnulty and Ron Mark,” Wade-Brown said. “It’s about solutions to environmental problems and raising the issues.

“Environmental issues, like climate change reach across party lines. James Shaw [Green co-leader] has worked with Todd Muller and of course Jacinda Ardern.”

Wairarapa has been National since 2005. The Green Party candidate has traditionally come in a long way behind other candidates. But Wade-Brown is a high-profile candidate with significant political leadership experience. But she is not out to become the MP. She is not in the top 24 on the Green candidate list.

“I think this time those that usually vote Labour won’t be as concerned that if they give their party vote to Green they might be risking the possibility of a Labour-led government. So, if Labour stay well ahead, then the Green vote should go up.

“And likewise, if National rises somewhat the Greens, I believe, will do well because the blue-green vote is strong too.”

In terms of differentiating between Labour and Green she says it’s clear that Labour goes “further and faster” on green issues with the Green Party policies in the mix than Labour does without them.

Wade-Brown assesses that many big issues will come up locally this election, like homelessness and unemployment, but also wider questions about how the region goes forward economically after covid-19.

“I think we will see more flexible working with more people working from their Wairarapa base. This will mean less people driving and this will reduce carbon emissions.

“It will also mean people would be in the environment more often and likely to appreciate the value of the environment more.”

She said now is an opportunity for Wairarapa to look at the entire equation, both economic and social. She believed farming practices such as care of the environment and animal welfare are increasingly important matters.

“There are more and more farmers that are keen to not harm the environment and better care for their animals than some do now. It is possible to do well in business and in the environment.

“How we train the next generation of agriculture, viticulture and horticulture students for green jobs is crucial to how well we do as a country in the future.”

When the election campaign is over Wade-Brown intends to finish the final 1000km stretch of her mission to cycle the length of New Zealand – the Tour Aotearoa, Cape Reinga to Bluff.

  • On World Environment Day, June 5, Wade-Brown is holding a planting day on her land. Details can be found on the Wairarapa Green Party Facebook page.

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