Greens' annual conference in media lockdown over 'caricature' fears

The Greens are defending the locked-down nature of their annual conference, being held in Dunedin this weekend.

The media isn't allowed in to hear most of the speeches, RNZ reports, while some events they're allowed to witness are strictly off the record, with cameras banned.

Co-leader Marama Davidson told Newshub Nation on Saturday morning it's a meeting for members, not the media.

"Our conferences are really important for us to engage with our members."

Her male counterpart James Shaw said it wasn't true they've decided to shut the media out just this time.

"There's been no change in the way we've managed our annual general meetings. This has been the case for a number of years now," he told host Simon Shepherd.

"We've had these kinds of stories before, but there does seem to be a renewal of those kinds of stories at this AGM."

Shaw told RNZ the reason was simple - the media turns them into a "bit of a caricature". In the party's early days, footage of members taking part in morris dancing was often used in news reports about the party.

The media still looks for "hooks and angles to reinforce that stereotype", Shaw told RNZ.

On Sunday the party is expected to release its new housing policy, which is rumoured to focus on a rent-to-own scheme, making it easier for tenants to stay in properties long-term or a rental warrant of fitness.

Shaw told Newshub Nation they want to shake off the image that of the three parties with Cabinet ministers, the Greens are getting the least out of it.

"The idea that we're not getting anything out of this Government is a complete misnomer," he said.

"What you've actually got here is an MMP Government with three partners, and we all bring something different and unique to the table. I think it's functioning really well - that might be a surprise to some people, but it's actually really working. So the idea we're in it to get something in it for themselves, people haven't understood what this is about. We're actually here as a Government for New Zealand."

Shaw said the only thing they're upset about is Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's ruling out of a capital gains tax. 

"There are a number of areas where we'd like to be going further and faster, but we're actually making progress right across the board. But we were disappointed that the capital gains tax was just a non-starter."