Mood of the Nation: Greens preferred - but not in charge

By Yvonne Tahana, Jarrod Booker, Simon Collins

Jonathan Norton, like many in his 30s age group, likes the Greens' environment policies. Photo / Richard Robinson
Jonathan Norton, like many in his 30s age group, likes the Greens' environment policies. Photo / Richard Robinson

Devonport sales manager Jonathan Norton is joining a nationwide surge of support for the Green Party - but, like many, he is tentative about it.

"I like the Greens' environmental stances but I'm not so sure they'd be good for running the country."

Mr Norton, 33, is in the age group giving the strongest support to the Greens. In our sample of 522, they won 13 per cent in the youngest age group of 18 to 24, 15 per cent in the broader 18-to-29 group, 17 per cent of people in their 30s, 14 per cent in their 40s, 13 per cent of those aged 50 to 64 and 10 per cent of those 65 and older.

The party has almost doubled its support in Herald-DigiPoll surveys from under 6 per cent in May to 10.1 per cent last week, its highest rating since a similar point before the 2002 election.

But in 2002 its supporters deserted it even faster than they had flocked to it, and it gathered 7 per cent of the election vote.

Mr Norton's reasoning suggests the party may be vulnerable again.

"I'm tossing up between Labour and the Greens. I like the idea of a capital gains tax but I don't like some of Labour's other policies," he says. "They [Labour] are talking about repealing the 90-day trial period [for new employees]. I want that to stay. That will probably put me off voting for them, to be honest."

But the Greens would also scrap the 90-day trial period, as would the Maori and Mana parties.

Others are equally uncertain. Mathew Pou, an 18-year-old IT student at Unitec, is also tossing up between the Greens and Labour but leans "more towards the Green Party".

Wellington osteopath Karen Rodgers, 46, says her choice "might be the Greens".

"We're just fed up with both Labour and National."

Takapuna radio producer Benjamin Paul, 21, says: "I usually go for Labour but I don't think they're up to it, they're not very ballsy.

"They're trying to be a little bit too opposite to National but they are not really. So I'm voting Green but it's a bit of a protest vote."

Even some of the Greens' core supporters who have backed them through each recent election, such as Christchurch builder and ski patroller Michael Ward, 46, echo Mr Norton's thinking.

"They are the conscience of the country," Mr Ward says. "I wouldn't want them running the country but I think it's important they put the handbrakes on the big parties, get them thinking about the environment."

On a rough count, about 44 of the 65 Green voters in our sample are passionate about core Green issues of environmental and social sustainability.

Brenny Dye, a 42-year-old Mt Maunganui mother of two, says: "The biggest contribution this country can give to the world is its green environment, and Key wants to just drill for oil."

Jackie Scott, 63, a Christchurch counsellor, votes Green because "I have grandchildren and want them to have a world".

- NZ Herald

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