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The Outdoor Recreation Party has split from United Future -- citing the latter's Christian evangelism as the reason.

The two parties joined after the 2002 election, in which Outdoor Recreation claimed 1.4 per cent of the vote and United Future close to 7 per cent.

At last year's election the two parties combined as United Future captured just 2.7 per cent of the vote.

Outdoor Recreation New Zealand (ORNZ) acting chairman Phil Hoare said today the party's board had terminated its agreement of affiliation with United Future.

The party had had a "very warm and constructive personal working relationship" with United Future Leader Peter Dunne, but had experienced difficulties with the evangelism of Christian members, brought on board in an earlier merger between United and the Christian Future New Zealand party.

"They have at times derailed our commitment to work for the mutual benefit of ORNZ and United members' interests," Mr Hoare said.

"We strongly believe in the traditional bedrock values of our nation's heritage but we also affirm the separation of church and state."

He said some United Future members appeared to be in politics to try and convert people to Christianity.

"Despite repeated attempts to portray themselves in a secular vein, they have time and again sought to advantage themselves in a religious manner at our cost."

ORNZ would now focus on rebuilding its membership and strengthening its principles and focus on sound, consistent and coherent environmental policies.


Mr Dunne said ORNZ's announcement was no surprise as the agreement was only intended to last up to the election.


"Comments about United Future's religious overtones are misplaced and inaccurate," Mr Dunne said.


"United Future has no religious affiliations nor evangelistic agenda to push. That is the role of the church, and it is not for a political party to do the church's work for it. We seek the support of people on the basis of our policies, not their religious affiliation or commitment."


- NZPA