Green Party candidate Jack McDonald steps down over James Shaw's 'centrist drift'

A Green Party candidate has stepped down, saying James Shaw is moving the party too far toward the centre.

At the party's conference this weekend, everyone knew who the favourite is. The Greens love Marama Davidson - James Shaw, on the other hand, gets a mixed reaction.

Jack McDonald, the party's policy co-convenor and 2017 MP candidate, is so frustrated by Shaw, he says he won't stand again.

"His [Shaw's] approach to politics is, I think, different to what the Greens should be and I think the Greens were in terms of our roots," he says.

"I'm concerned about the centrist drift of the party, particularly under James Shaw's leadership."

Shaw says he "can't comment" on McDonald's motivations but says "clearly it is a distraction".

That's not the only "distraction" Shaw was afraid of. The Green Party conference was closed off this year, with only the leaders' speeches open amid fears a Green Party "caricature" could emerge.

"There was this kind of persistent caricature, shall we say, about the Green Party," Shaw told Newshub.

"A caricature about us was that we could be seen as unstable, not of the mainstream."

Perhaps due to non-mainstream things like that now-infamous Morris dancing at one conference.

"That image got played on television for about 20 years after the event and we got fairly sick of it," Shaw explains.

It's an image he's fought hard to shake, but calling Green Party members a "caricature" could be seen as offensive to the grassroots of the party - the grassroots who built the foundations for him to be sitting in Government.

And it's the role in Government that could create the next dilemma for the Greens.

On Saturday they ruled out working with National under Simon Bridges. On Sunday Shaw was asked about working with New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

"You'll have to see what happens in the next election," he replied.