Is it a bad time to admit to being a politician, athough I guess there's no escaping that's what I am.

Does mud from Parliament reach all the way to provincial politics?

I haven't noticed any personal flak from the recent news, but then I'm not of that ilk. I've had more feedback on Horizons Regional Council chairman Bruce Gordon's choice of vehicle.

While the ratepayer contribution to his $97,000 vehicle choice isn't greater than if he drove a Cortina, it does reinforce the feeling of elitism and entitlement some associate with elected members.


However, the more serious horrible headlines that've come out in the past couple of weeks feed cynicism about politics and politicians, and that's not good for democracy.

I genuinely believe there are good people in politics at all levels ... well, I would say that, being one myself.

Last week I was in Wellington for the Aotearoa Social Enterprise Forum. It was a fantastic shot in the arm for my social enterprise endeavours — and there were good-hearted politicians present.

I caught up with my friend James Shaw, now minister for many things and co-leader of the Green Party, and original employee number two at the Ākina Foundation, the charity charged with growing social enterprise in New Zealand.

It was James who introduced me to Ākina and I worked there for 18 months before being elected to Horizons council more than two years ago now.

Shaw pulled out one of my favourite sayings – "The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment."

He's not the only one repeating it. I've seen the environment head of Pamu Farms (formerly Landcorp) Alison Dewes say that on Twitter, too.

We also had Wellington mayor Justin Lester at a forum event.

He spoke about Wellington's strong commitment to business with heart and paying a living wage. The Wellington City Council is currently New Zealand's largest accredited living wage employer, paying 450 of its staff $20.55 an hour.

Then we had the Minister for Community and the Voluntary Sector Peeni Henare opening the forum. He was genuinely warm and enthusiastic about social enterprise.

Henare shares my view that social enterprise is about building a more inclusive economy, where everyone gets a chance to flourish. It can create hope and opportunity, new energy and ideas, and contribute to a healthy, resilient and cohesive community.

Speaking of good ones, I even ran into our former Whanganui MP Chester Borrows on the streets of Wellington.

That said, I was surprised Simon Bridges didn't rate a mention in Chester's recent Chronicle piece about the contrast between former National MP Jami-Lee Ross and a true public servant, Paul Nixon. The role of Bridges in the recent controversies shouldn't be glossed over.

I don't want to get into detail around the recent National Party implosion, except to say that I'm glad these alleged behaviours are not hidden and are facing the sunlight treatment.

I also believe that while Ross may be "a difficult character" (perhaps an understatement), he could still be speaking truth around corruption in the taking of donations. Plus, like all people, he is entitled to privacy around his health.

For some decent and fair analysis of the whole saga, check out for a Dirty Politics 2018 piece by Nicky Hager.

The author of Dirty Politics, released in 2014, Hager describes his book as being about "a negative and destructive style of attack politics that has infected New Zealand from US politics. This is the idea that success in politics is achieved by attacking, smearing and mocking your opponents ("dirty" because the attacks are often untruthful, unscrupulous and covert)."

He notes the recent coverage reeks of dirty politics with some of the same players featuring.

Hager finishes with this comment, which I absolutely endorse: "Overall, it's vital that the last week of politics is not dismissed as a bit of political madness. Instead, it is a reminder that our politics are still at risk from the poison of dirty politics."

While it's important that we don't encourage mud to be thrown, we do need to doggedly follow up on the accusations of splitting donations to allow donors to be anonymous and claims of "cash for candidates".

Our democracy is too important to let corrosion grow unchallenged.

Nicola Patrick is a Horizons regional councillor, works for Te Kaahui o Rauru, and is part of a new social enterprise hub, Thrive Whanganui. A mother of two boys, she has a science degree and is a Green Party member