The Wānaka Sun has been interviewing the five Waitaki electoral candidates over the past few weeks. So far, we have interviewed Sean Beamish (ACT), Jacqui Dean (National), Liam Wairepo (Labour), and Dr Sampa Kiuru, who is standing for the Green Party.
This week, and as our last candidate, we interview Dunedinite Anthony Odering, who is standing for the New Zealand First Party.
Anthony Odering has lived in Dunedin for 20 years. He considers himself a "working-class man."
But we don't like that phrase because when my great-great-grandparents immigrated to New Zealand it was something they were trying to escape. It's a class thing, Odering says, but what else do you call a blue-collar worker?
But the working-class man thing resonates with me, he says. "It's a club, and this is because the same things resonate with all of us.
"It's the lifestyles we lead compared with what we see on the TV and those that seem to have the silver spoon. It's those people who know some of life's difficulties.
"I came from a family who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. Through the 1930s, my grandad and great-grandad started a business importing seed for people to grow their veggies. Then they started developing the seedlings and selling them in bundles, and that's where the family business (Oderings Nurseries) started.
"I grew up on a horticultural unit and got qualified at Massey University and then life happened and we had to diversify. I suffered those things that other ordinary New Zealanders suffered- the burst housing bubble etc. That sort of stuff doesn't leave you with much. I have an understanding of what ordinary New Zealanders have to do to get by."
So is this your first foray into politics?
Yes and no. My dad and I joined New Zealand First when it first came about in 1993. My dad ran as a candidate in Palmerston North in three election cycles, and I was always in hands and feet. In 2008 I joined the committee down here (in Dunedin) and have run the office ever since. I was campaign manager for our previous candidate
This is my first time as a candidate, but I have been a stalwart of New Zealand First for many years.
Why the New Zealand First Party?
The thing for me is the hidden stuff and the way in which policy is developed in New Zealand First.
Each year the party has a convention, and there are remits put forward that are discussed and either pass or fail.
And then these go to the policy committee, and it deems them to be a workable policy. Or not. Everybody can say how they think New Zealand should be shaped.
So the policy is not passed down from the hierarchy to the grassroots; it comes from the grassroots up.
And the 15 principles on which the party is founded are good common sense stuff – they shouldn't have to be written down as principles because they should be the things we all hold as tenets for ourselves.
It's that my voice can be heard that draws me to the New Zealand First Party.
What specific policies are you running with?
I put it in perspective as to what's happening in the world at the moment.
The world is in strife. Everyone paints a rosy picture because everyone wants to get votes. But the reality is that the world is in a dire position and we need to have a centric government and this is why New Zealand First is required by the country.
New Zealand First can take away the excesses of the left and the excesses of the right and take that substantial common-sense middle ground where ordinary New Zealanders reside.
Are we heading in the right direction with COVID 19?
We've been lucky in New Zealand in that we have been sheltered from the real shocks that COVID 19 has brought to the world. What I have noted is that our population has become quite complacent and there are pressures as well. People say it's stifling our economy.
But keeping our borders closed is our greatest hope for protecting our country.
That has a flow-on effect because it means our tourism is affected. Our international tourists aren't able to come unless they are prepared to have that first two weeks in isolation.
New Zealand First believes our borders need to be more securely monitored than they have been. The country has done a lot of good work, but the spike hasn't finished yet.
And so our tourism industry is going to take a hit- there are no two ways about it.
The upside of that is that at least the people who are here are seeing their own country. Our domestic tourism has increased, and that is keeping a lot of that tourism industry alive.
The other thing is that economically the world is going to have a recession, a downturn, and the recovery is going to come from people in the regions being able to expand their industries and diversify into the things the country used to rely on.
We need to develop whatever we can in our domestic production and our consumption. It's essential to be able to create that environment in which we all do business.
Read edition 991 of the Wānaka Sun here.