Capill blamed as Christian Heritage closes down

The Christian Heritage Party is closing down, citing the conviction of its former leader Graham Capill as a main reason.

Mr Capill is serving a nine-year jail sentence for the sexual violation of three young girls.

Party leader Ewen McQueen said today it was time for a new Christian movement in New Zealand politics, and admitted Christian Heritage had never been able to attract broad support.

"For any Christian political party to succeed, it needs to be a vehicle that will unite the Christian vote," he said.

"We do not believe that Christian Heritage simply carrying on under its current banner - or even under a different name - will achieve this."

He said Mr Capill's conviction last year had created "a legacy of negative perceptions" around the party that would have been very difficult to overcome.

Mr McQueen said there had been a postal ballot of party members and 97 per cent agreed to end the party.

It was formed 17 years ago and has contested MMP elections since 1996 either in coalition with other Christian parties or by itself.

In last year's election it gained only 2821 votes, 0.12 per cent of the total.

"It is time for something completely new," Mr McQueen said. "There is no reason why a broad-based Christian political party cannot succeed in New Zealand.

"The voting base is there, and I am sure that there would be support for a fresh, new and unified political vehicle."

Mr McQueen said Christian Heritage's leadership team planned to work with others to achieve this.

- NZPA

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