A mock fundraising campaign launched by Conservatives leader Colin Craig to cover his defamation case against Greens co-leader Russel Norman has collected $50,000 in less than a day.

Mr Craig began asking party members for donations today to mimic a campaign by Dr Norman, who was seeking up to $75,000 to cover his legal defence.

He said that it started as a joke among members, but it had "taken on a life of its own".

The account had already collected around $50,000 including a one-off donation of more than $25,000.


Mr Craig said: "It's not a case of needing the money. These were people who wanted to participate."

The party sought donations in the form of pledges which would be collected once the money was required. But many people had paid the money up-front.

Mr Craig said that if the defamation claim went ahead and he won costs, he would ask donors if they wanted their money back. If they did not, he would use the money to fund the party's election campaign.

The Conservatives leader and millionaire property manager is seeking a declaration under the Defamation Act from Dr Norman about comments made in a speech at the Big Gay Out.

Dr Norman described Mr Craig as someone who "thinks a woman's place is in the kitchen and a gay man's place is in the closet".

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman.
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman.

Mr Craig this week split the claim up into two parts, and the first defamation case would focus only on the comment about women.

Greens would not reveal how much Dr Norman's campaign had raised. It made $2000 on the first day of the campaign on Tuesday.

The Greens' website said that any money not spent on legal fees would be redistributed to the party.


"You should know that any funds not used in the court case will go towards the Green Party's work to create a smarter, cleaner, more compassionate New Zealand for all of us."