One of the leaders of the Parliament protest is standing in the Tauranga by-election.

Outdoors Party co-leader Sue Grey will stand in the by-election, and the Nelson-based lawyer is already in Tauranga campaigning.

Tauranga has always been a happy hunting ground for fringe political parties and Grey is likely to be joined by other fringe candidates including one from a new far right party with an anti-Treaty, anti United Nations agenda.

But the Outdoors-Freedom party is taking a pro-Treaty tack and yesterday said that two prominent former Maori Party leaders had now joined it.

Most notably, Pem Bird, a Muruparra school principal, has joined.

He is a former president of the Maori Party from 2010 – to 2013, refused to get vaccinated and defended local  GP Bernard Conlon, who wouldn’t offer Covid vaccines..

 “My body is my body. It belongs to me. It does not belong to the state. I will make the decisions for myself. I have my own mind. I am te mana motuhake,” he said last year.

But in a note to Outdoor Party members yesterday, Grey said Donna Poker-Phillips, a Hamilton lawyer, who has previously stood for Parliament for the Alliance and the Opportunities Party, was most recently the unsuccessful Maori Party candidate for Hauraki-Waikato has now joined the Outdoors Party.

Grey said Pokere-Phillips and Bird had been appointed to the party board.

She also said Darrin Cassidy had been appointed to the board.

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“Darrin is a lawyer specialising in Children’s Rights, and has practised environmental law and Treaty Law,” she said.

“All three are deeply concerned about corruption in politics and have made the Outdoors and Freedom Party the new political hub for Tangata Whenua. 

“All three look forward to working within the Outdoors & Freedom Party for the betterment of all, through the combined knowledge, skills, and commitment of tangata Tiriti and tangata whenua.”

Not only is Grey already campaigning in Tauranga, but she also said the Outdoors Party was planning to hold a two-day AGM in the city from May 7 – 8.

This is likely to coincide with the opening of the by-election campaign, with the writ for the election expected to be issued on May 6.

But the Outdoors Party will not be the only party competing in the campaign.

A new, right-wing party, the New Nation Party, based in Wellington, is said to be going to stand a candidate.

Former National MP Matt King, who has founded his own centre-right party, Democracy NZ, told POLITIK last night the party would not be standing a candidate, but he understood New Nation would.

One of the key members of the party is former Tauranga City Councillor Andrew Hollis,  

Andrew Hollis said the Treaty of Waitangi should be burned and has consistently made disparaging comments about the actions of Māori.

He claimed the Treaty was “past its use-by date” and told a Tauranga Rotary Club that the sun, not carbon dioxide, was the main driver of climate change.

The New Nation Party also wants to pull New Zealand out of the United Nations, hold a referendum on MMP and restrict Parliament to 99 members.

Tauranga has historically been ready to support fringe political parties.

In 1978, the Social Credit candidate, Paul Hills, came second with 29% of the vote and 34% in 1981.

The extremist anti-semitic Social Credit purists, The League of Rights, were based in the city during the 1970s and early 80s.

And from 1984 until 2005, New Zealand First leader, Winston Peters, held the seat.

However, the Outdoors Party is a fringe party with some differences.

Though it opposes Covid vaccinations, 1080 and 5G, it has now acquired a strong Maori influence.

The party email to members yesterday said Donna Poker-Phillips’ “deep political roots, and guiding hand on Tikanga,  brings a wealth of knowledge, skills and energy to the party that we wholeheartedly embrace. “

“Donna is totally on side with all our current policies regarding freedom and democracy, holistic health, and environmental concerns.

“Donna brings her own set of well-developed policies that we will enjoy working through to incorporate the ones that fit with our position on social, environmental, and economic betterment for all here in Aotearoa, New Zealand.”

The email quoted Cassidy: “Te Tiriti is the tip of the taiaha/spear; Maori form the head of the taiaha, and all non-Maori are the shaft of the taiaha, adding weight to the spearhead to drive the tip of the taiaha through each and every Government veil.”

But Grey is up against it in Tauranga. Even in her home Nelson electorate, she came only sixth at the last election with 679 votes and the party’s Tauranga candidate, Tracy Livingstone-Pooley, came 9th with only 188 votes.

Grey is promising to campaign on a grab bag of fringe issues.

The party email says she would be working for “all the different movements whether it’s ‘Ban 1080’, fishing, medicinal cannabis, vaccine injury, democracy and rights, farming, outdoors, and those concerned about Agenda 2030.”

Perhaps the real test during the by-election campaign will be how far the mainstream candidates from National and Labour engage with the fringe candidates and debate their issues.