Green Party members were out around Auckland this morning smoothing things over with their political rivals by removing stickers from National Party campaign billboards which were defaced over the weekend.
About 700 National Party billboards around the country had stickers bearing slogans such as "The Rich Deserve More" and "Drill it! Mine It! Sell it!" attached to them over the weekend in a well organised attack led by former Green Party member Jolyon White.
Mr White was identified as the organiser of the action after giving an anonymous interview on National Radio. His voice was recognised by Green Party members and staff.
In an embarrassment to Greens co-leader Russel Norman, Mr White's partner Anne Heins is Dr Norman's executive assistant and she was aware of the plan for weeks but said nothing to her boss until questioned yesterday.
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The action has further embarrassed Dr Norman and the Greens, coming as the party's work to position itself as a moderate responsible alternative to the two major parties appeared to bear fruit in the form of historically high polling.
The Greens yesterday offered to assist in repairing the billboards and Jo de Joux of National's campaign team this afternoon confirmed Greens members removed the stickers from about ten billboards around St Heliers, St Johns and Orakei this morning.
Greens campaign manager Megan Salole told the Herald Online the Greens had removed stickers from billboards as directed by National's campaign team.
She said her team stood ready to remove stickers from billboards elsewhere if requested by National.
"I have a great deal of compassion for their team because on just a human level the fact is we're all doing tour best to get our message across and we have a right to that freedom of speech in this country we want that right to be unaffected'' Ms Salole said.
Mr White quit the Greens yesterday after a complaint was laid with the party over his actions. Ms Heins has been stood down while Parliamentary Service investigates the incident.
The Greens have been working with National over the last three years to advance green policies via a "memorandum of understanding" which they hope to renew if the John Key-led Government is returned next weekend.