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Green Party's 'brat pack' candidate

The Green Party's youngest candidate Sonata McLeod, 21, who has been campaigning on environmental issues since she was 15, says it is vital youth play a role in environmental politics.

Ms McLeod was confirmed last week as the Green Party's candidate for Dunedin South.

Visits to large cities overseas and seeing first-hand the problems they had with pollution started Ms McLeod's environmental activism.

"I thought, 'far out, how can they live like that'. It was such a shock - being forced to smell the air and taste the water - after growing up around the pristine rivers, lakes and mountains around my home-town Wanaka."

She said it was important that young people were influenced and encouraged to educate themselves about the problems the world faced.

"The younger generation will soon be the leaders of the world and all the responsibilities for it will be ours, so it is vital we know how to face up to them."

Youth had nothing in common with middle-aged politicians who pushed aside the concerns of the young, she said.

"It is important people of my age are seen to be taking a role in making decisions about New Zealand's future."

Green Party Co-Leader Rod Donald welcomed Ms McLeod's candidacy.

"As someone who joined the party when I was 16, I am delighted to welcome a new generation of Green politicians into the party. Sonata is part of our party's brat-pack, along with our tertiary education spokesperson Michael Tritt (23)," he said.

"Young people are extremely concerned about issues such as global environmental conditions and genetic engineering, and are attracted to the Greens because of our international reputation as guardians of the planet.

"Sonata's challenge is to fire up young people, get them out voting and get the message through to them that they need to engage in the political process - get active or be screwed, that's their choice.

"Sonata is outgoing and has a strong understanding of the key environmental issues. She will be invaluable for the Greens in campaigning in the lead-up to the election."

Sonata McLeod is a former Smokefree South Island winner of the best female musician award and one of the main organisers of the annual RIPPON NZ music festival in Wanaka. She performs original material tomorrow at the Green Party's national campaign launch in Auckland.

Rod Donald: 025 507 183 Sonata McLeod: 03 487 6722


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