Vernon Tava's Sustainable New Zealand close to being official political party

Vernon Tava's Sustainable New Zealand is about to hit the 500 member mark necessary to register as a political party.

In February, Tava revealed his business-friendly but environmentally-focussed party, promising he was open to working with either National or Labour.

He has now revealed to The AM Show that the party is close to having 500 members - which is required to officially become a political party.

"We are so close, so close I can taste it," he said.

Tava - who founded the party and is the unofficial leader - says many "exciting people" are involved and it has substantial financial backing.

"You have got to have supporters, you have got to have money. There are a lot of people who are supportive of the party. The support is out there in terms of people, in terms of expertise. 

"The thing I hear more than anything else is 'Finally. We have been waiting for this to happen'."

He says while the party is focussed on the list vote - with 5 percent necessary to enter Parliament without holding a seat - it's likely candidates will also be stood in electorates. 

"The list vote is what it is all about, but I do think that you do have to stand candidates in electorates as well because the electorates where you stand candidates is where you tend to get stronger party votes."

Vernon Tava.
Vernon Tava. Photo credit: The AM Show.

Sustainable New Zealand has been billed as a "blue-green" party, a possible alternative to the Greens, who he says are focussing too much on social justice and not enough on the environment. He also says the Greens essentially just follow Labour.

"We have a Green Party who I think made the very basic mistake in MMP of pre-committing themselves to one party. You can be taken for granted by that side and ignored by the other," Tava told The AM Show.

Greens co-leader James Shaw has previously defended his party's stance of not working with National.

"What they are saying is they want to be a party that works alongside the National Party," he told Newstalk ZB.

"People who vote for the Green Party have shown time and time again that their vast preference is for us to support Labour-led Governments."

Tava says he wants to be able to work with either major party - whoever offers the best deal for the environment.

"I have been very clear from the get-go. This needs to be a party that is able to work with either Labour or National.

"What we are concerned about is not changing the Government, bringing in a new Government or keeping the current Government, but getting the best deal for the environment."

Jacinda Ardern.
Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: The AM Show.

Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was questioned on what she thought of the possibility of the Sustainable New Zealand party entering Parliament. 

She said they were "positioning themselves as conservatives that are environmentally minded", but believed they would likely just take votes away from the National Party.

But Tava believes there is a voter base in the middle of the left/right spectrum wanting a party that is focussed on the environment - voters which he says his party could attract.

"There is a massive detachable vote that can move from National one election to Labour the next... I think there is 10 percent out there for a party like this."

One of his party's priorities is ensuring there are clean waterways across the country and he has some big ideas on how to achieve that.

"Water management and governance in New Zealand is an absolute mess," he said.

"What we need is a Minister of Water. This would not be creating a whole new ministry with all the expense that comes with it, it would be like a coordinating ministry."

Simon Bridges.
Simon Bridges. Photo credit: Newshub Nation.

At the time the party was announced, the National Party's leader Simon Bridges said he wasn't involved in setting it up, but the party could be a good idea.

"I think in truth what you've got in the Green Party that's in Parliament is a party that's very much to the left of Labour - so that's not for everyone," he said.

"I think the idea of a party in the middle that wasn't about all the left-wing stuff, if you like, but was about the environment and doing something with that, could be quite powerful."

Tava has previously stood for the Greens' leadership and tried to be a candidate for the National Party.