Key Points:

Karuna Muthu 's first daughter was born in India with a disability.

In no small way that is why he ended up in New Zealand - which has led to him standing in Rongotai for United Future.

He told the party conference in Onehunga today that he left India with his wife in 1995 to "escape the prejudice of thousands of years".

Not only had he and his wife earned the opprobrium of their respective familes for marrying - they were from different castes - but when their daughter was born with a disability, his family believed that that was his punishment for the marriage.

Muthu, a lawyer, was part of an ethnic panel, a segment of New Zealand that Dunne has long targeted.

While he called New Zealand a "paradise" he did not suggest New Zealand was free from prejudice. He was sad to have to express the hope that his children - he and his wife have had two more daughters in New Zealand - would be judged by their character and not their skin colour.

Muthu is not a stranger to politics.

He sought selection in Rongotai in 2005 for National but missed out to Nicola Young (no relation) who did not stand a chance against Annette King.

I came across Muthu at Parliament in 2002 when he was leading an anti-racism protest on the steps against New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

Some of the most memorable protests among the hundreds I've seen have been small ones. This was one of them, memorable for its intensity of passion.

Peters was mentioned indirectly at the conference this morning by president Denise Krum. She is the United Future president and Maungakiekie candidate, a first-time candidate, but the daughter of former National MP and former Christian Democrat leader Graeme Lee.

Krum alluded to the "the politics of fear" that would become evident in election year and implored the 80 or so delegates to ignore them.

Her husband, Brian Krum, is the conference MC. He brings to it a certain evangelical style which is not surprise given that he is a lecturer at a theological college.

Party leader Peter Dunne also adopted what appeared to be an evangelical style in his conference speech this morning.

He spoke from the centre of U-shaped audience, cordless mike in hand, and no notes.

He said later it was not meant to be evangelical but was, in fact, modelled on a speech he saw Tony Blair give in Britain when he was there.