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'Eco-activist' selected for Rongotai

July 25, 1999

Rich Wernham, a strong local campaigner against genetically engineered foods, has been selected as the Green Party candidate for Rongotai.

Rich, 33, a builder and health product distributor, is an active member of RAGE (Revolt Against Genetic Engineering) and the Island Bay Organics food co-op. He is also a supporter of several environmental action groups including the Wellington Rainforest Action Group, Native forest Action and Sustainable Wellington.

Rich is standing for the Green Party because he believes it is time to take personal responsibility for the care of our world and our lives. His own food allergies and the experiences of illnesses to family members from nuclear testing in the 1960s and Agent Orange spraying during the Vietnam War has drawn him to the importance of safe foods, a key Green Party policy.

"I am very concerned that humanity is threatening its own existence through genetic tampering of our food supply," says Mr Wernham. "As candidate for Rongotai I will be urging residents to cast their Party Vote to the Green Party, to ensure we reach the 5% threshold and return Green MPs to Parliament."

Green Party Co Leader Rod Donald said he was excited by Mr Wernham's selection.

"It's good news for Rongotai and for politics because Rich has a passion for the GE issue and lots of innovative ideas which will be strong assets for us in our campaign for safe foods."

Mr Donald said Rich Wernham would appeal to the many polytech and university students who lived in the area.

"It's great to see a new generation getting involved in politics. We need more people who are prepared to get stuck in to the issues rather than standing on the sidelines, and to back up his commitment Rich brings a freshness and vitality that is lacking in too many of New Zealand's politicians."

Rich Wernham's candidacy would also appeal to Wellington's south coast residents concerned with issues such as water quality, sewerage treatment, and overharvesting of fisheries and shellfish, Mr Donald said.

"We are confident Rich will poll well. We have good support in the Rongotai area and the Greens polled well there in 1990, the last time they stood in their own right."

An analysis of Green voting results from the Rongotai electorate in 1990 shows a 13.7% Green Party vote in the Airport/Breaker Bay area, 13% in Houghton Bay, 11.1% in Hataitai, 12% in Owhiro Bay, 11% in Vogeltown and 17.4% in Melrose.

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