Former Green Party member and leadership hopeful Vernon Tava has taken a first step in establishing an alternative party to the Greens which he hopes could go with either National or Labour at the next election.
A landing page for the Sustainable New Zealand Party was launched on Sunday and Tava says he is heartened by the level of interest shown already.
The page says: "Our primary focus is on environmental matters such as clean water, sustainable oceans, protection of our native species, dealing with climate change; and these all have economic, social and cultural dimensions.
"Our focus on sustainability means that we would be able to work with political parties on the left or right of politics to ensure that the environment is always a top political priority regardless of who makes up the Government," it says.
It dismisses the Green Party's approach, saying: "The Greens have a historic tendency to be suspicious of scientific innovation - particularly in biotechnology - and hostile to business. New Zealand deserves a political party that will work together with the innovators in business and science who will lead the way through the complex and interconnected sustainability challenges of the coming century."
To get into Parliament, the Sustainable New Zealand Party would have to have 500 financial members and then achieve the 5 per cent threshold – or around 165,000 votes – at the 2020 election.
Tava said things had moved quickly since the Herald on Sunday broke the story on January 27 that discussions about a new party were under way.
"It started a lot of publicity and I saw the only sensible option really was to go with it."
The landing page was a fairly simple thing to get going while there was momentum and a useful way to gauge interest, he said.
"There's a lot of interest. I'm quite confident that the 500 financial member hurdle won't be a blockage, I wouldn't expect."
On whether he would lead the new party, Tava said he had put himself forward but there would be a process.
"I don't want to be too presumptuous on that front but I've been the guy on the spot, and I've been talking about this for years."
Tava said no one was funding the party bid at present, and he wouldn't reveal who might have given him encouragement.
Despite his Green Party origins, Tava has close links to National Party figures and was campaign chair for National MP Erica Stanford, who holds Murray McCully's old seat of East Coast Bays.
Former National Party president Michelle Boag has said Tava would be the perfect person to lead the party.
National leader Simon Bridges told the Herald on Sunday last month it was no secret National wanted to see new parties emerge this year.
Tava stood as the Green Party candidate in the Northcote electorate in 2011 but switched allegiances from the Greens to National after an unsuccessful tilt at the Greens co-leadership in 2015.
He argued at the time that the party should able to work across the political spectrum.
He missed out on selection to Dan Bidois as National's candidate for the Northcote seat left vacant when former National minister Jonathan Coleman retired from politics last year. Bidois went on to win the seat.
While negotiations were being carried out following the 2017 election, there were calls for a partnership between National and the Greens. The idea won the support of high-profile political figures, including former National prime minister Jim Bolger and former Green MP Nandor Tanczos.
A swing party that could partner with National is the best chance it has of forming a government at the next election. Without one, it would need to poll higher than Labour and the Greens combined and New Zealand First would have to fail to meet the 5 per cent threshold to get back into Parliament.