Rotorua's newest political candidate is realistic about his chances in September's election, saying his Green Party needs a strong profile both locally and nationwide.
Richard Gillies' head is not in the clouds when it comes to his passions and principles and he said politics was not what he thought he'd be getting seriously involved with when he moved to Rotorua from Remuera, Auckland in 2005.
He was selected last week to become the Green Party electorate candidate for Rotorua and will contest the seat against incumbent National Party MP Todd McClay, New Zealand First list MP Fletcher Tabuteau and Labour's Ben Sandford.
The last time the Greens stood a candidate in Rotorua was when Raewyn Saville challenged for the seat in 2008.
"I'm the first to admit I'm not the first one to step up on stage and be the centre of attention, but some things are too important to let slip," he said.
"We've got huge challenges as a society in terms of climate change and housing and those things are coming apart at the seams, so it was time for me to step up, as have many people on the Green Party list."
He said he'd be out and about in the electorate and would be meeting people the old-fashioned way - by knocking on doors.
"I'll be out there campaigning hard with my team.
"First of all it's about listening to the people and taking a diverse range of views on board.
"You do have to be flexible and be able to compromise, but at the same time we are a party with high principles and have high ambitions wanting to do great things for our country."
But, in terms of getting into Parliament, "in reality I know that's a long shot, but I'm really focused on growing the Green Party vote in Rotorua".
He co-owns Lux Organics, a small start-up company based in Ngongotaha, with his wife Jenny Lux where they are developing a small farm and supplying the Brown Owl co-operative, local cafes and the Rotorua Farmers Market, and are in the process of becoming organically certified.
"There's a real demand for locally produced food ... and for organic ... we don't have big tractors churning up the ground, it's spray-free, does not involve bucket-loads of synthetic fertiliser, is easy on the earth, plus we have a pretty small ecological footprint, which is exactly what we want.
"Even back in 2005 in Auckland we could see it was going to be hard to make a viable life there and Rotorua was a much better alternative."
He is also involved with local sustainability initiatives Green Drinks Rotorua and Rotorua Cycle Action.
He said he did not see any reason for personal attacks in politics but would "certainly be holding the National Party to account".
"They need to get real about the urgency of climate change ... and Paula Bennett can take some fundamental steps, now that would make a difference, including the detrimental changes they made to the emissions trading scheme, and they need to start having serious dialogue with agriculture and how they can bring that into the conversation.
"The other big issue is fresh water quality, where they are dancing around the margins and have to take meaningful action."
- Rotorua's first Green Party candidate since Raewyn Saville in 2008
- Moved to Rotorua from Auckland in 2005
- Is 43, married to Jenny Lux and has two young children
- Is co-owner/operator of Lux Organics in Ngongotaha
- Keen on climate change issues, clean waterways, agriculture and green technology