Otago Daily Times
NZPP breakaway now being called ‘restoring autonomy’
AUCKLAND: Billy Te Kahika is doing a Uturn on his comments that he was ‘‘severing’’ his ties with Advance NZ — instead saying he is restoring the autonomy of his New Zealand Public Party.
The former Advance NZ coleader emailed candidates on Sunday night and said now the election was over ‘‘I believe it is time that the New Zealand Public Party (NZPP) breaks away from the alliance with Advance NZ and, with Reset NZ, reform back to the party we are meant to be’’.
After numerous media reports that Mr Te Kahika had quit, Advance NZ sent a statement to newsrooms.
‘‘NZPP is clear that its leader is not stepping down, and it is not severing its relationship with Advance NZ,’’ said NZPP director Michael Stace.
‘‘It is simply restoring its autonomy.’’
Advance NZ would ‘‘always have our support’’ and Mr Te Kahika said he would ‘‘maintain strong respect and friendship’’ with Advance NZ leader JamiLee Ross.
He would continue to work with Mr Ross on ‘‘common goals where needed’’, he said.
‘‘Returning NZPP to its own path forward is not a new idea, and was discussed prior to and during the election campaign. We are getting back to doing what we do best,’’ Mr Stace said.
‘‘That means researching topics that the Government is not transparent about.’’
Mr Te Kahika, in his email to candidates, said he would take policies from the Advance NZ alliance and flesh them out.
‘‘I will also be supporting [Mr Ross] any way I can to deal with any issues over the coming months, including his court case — that is what friends are for.’’
Yesterday, Mr Ross told the Herald he had not spoken to Mr Te Kahika since the election, although he said the pair had exchanged emails.
Following Mr Te Kahika’s email, Mr Ross emailed party supporters to say Mr Te Kahika ‘‘has decided not to continue with the party’’.
‘‘Naturally this is sad for us all,’’ Mr Ross said.
He said Mr Te Kahika had inspired many people around New Zealand, saying this was not the end of the party.
‘‘Advance NZ will be continuing, and will be restructuring into the next phase of our journey.
‘‘The haste of the election campaign meant everything was done in a hurry. Our reconstituted party, with more time now, will be the democratic, transparent and professional party that members, supporters and candidates deserve.
‘‘In the coming months we will be completing the review that was started a few days ago.
‘‘The plan for the future will see a special general meeting held early next year, and a reconstituted party, with a new nationwide structure, continue in preparation for 2023,’’ Mr Ross said.
On election night, Advance NZ got 20,841 party votes, or 0.9% of the preliminary vote, well short of the 5% threshold for seats in Parliament.
Advance NZ grew a large social media following off the back of conspiracy theories and opposition to Covid19 lockdowns.
It had more impact online than at the polls, and will be remembered for antilockdown protests in the leadup to the election, and its outlandish claims and promotion of misinformation (a candidate claimed the Lake Ohau fires were caused by a direct energy weapon, for example). — The New Zealand Herald