5 Sep 2017

Who's voting for The Opportunities Party?

9:06 am on 5 September 2017

One of the wild cards of this election is Gareth Morgan's Opportunities Party.

The Opportunities Party leader, Gareth Morgan.

Gareth Morgan is an economist and investment manager turned politician who made millions investing in his son's company, Trade Me. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

RNZ's latest poll of polls has the party about 2.1 percent, down from 2.5 percent during mid-August. That still suggests tens of thousands of people could be set to vote for the party known as TOP.

But who are those voters?

One of them is Wellington chef and mother of three Jacinta Saeki, who had her head turned when she saw a billboard with Mr Morgan and the words 'Care Think Vote'.

"There's a big billboard just down the road here and I'd seen it a couple of times and I thought, 'What's that about?'

"I care and I think and I want to vote in this election even though I have felt disenfranchised.

"I found out more about Gareth Morgan particularly. He's the centrepiece, he's pushing his ideas - so I did some research on him and I found myself to be quite impressed. A lot of his policies made sense."

And she liked that the party founder was a straight shooter.

"I would much prefer somebody in government that's actually going to say what they think and say what they mean irrespective of how that gets misconstrued by people rather than someone who's just going to say what people want to hear."

Mr Morgan had to defend his use of the term "lipstick on a pig" when referring to his frustration at the Labour Party's rise on the back of Jacinda Ardern's popularity.

But the controversy has not deterred some voters.

TOP leader Gareth Morgan and candidates at the party's campaign launch in Wellington.

TOP leader Gareth Morgan and candidates at the party's campaign launch in Wellington Photo: RNZ / Demelza Leslie

Christchurch woman Larissa Wilson said TOP's policy on taxing property was the best solution to rising house prices.

"Gareth Morgan says effectively he only pays 10 percent tax and that's because all his money's tied up in housing. He doesn't lose any money that way and he doesn't even need tenants - he just makes money off the housing price going up.

"That means young people who are renting, they're not going to be able to break into the market. Changing that and putting tax on housing is going to allow the housing prices to stop climbing."

She said she thought it was possible the party could enter Parliament.

Ms Wilson said the polls were underrating TOP - including one that had the party close to the 5 percent threshold.

"It was a leaked poll but they were at 4 percent and that was telephone only.

"A lot of young people will be interested in voting for TOP, and those are the kind of people who aren't doing these polls, so I think 4 percent on that poll means more than that in real life."

Another person voting for TOP this year is Harry Walsh.

Studying economics at Auckland University, he said he was keen to get into politics but found himself frustrated with the student parties on offer.

"So when TOP came along and I saw a couple of ads on Facebook and YouTube and that sort of thing I looked into them I got interested.

"I kept going to debates and heard them talk ... [I became] more and more interested and I just slowly grew that until I'm ... completely in support of them."

Mr Walsh said TOP's policies were gaining traction with others in his family including his dad, who was traditionally a conservative voter.

"One of my brothers is really apprehensive about the youth UBI [universal basic income] and the cannabis stuff ... a bit uncomfortable with the idea of giving people $200 a week, every week.

"My dad, who's been a traditional National supporter, thinks TOP's like a breath of fresh air that New Zealand politics really needs. My oldest brother is really keen and my youngest brother is really keen as well."

The party's stated aim is an ambitious 10 percent of the party vote and by 2020 it has said it hopes to reach 30 percent.

  • Gareth Morgan defends 'lipstick on a pig' comment
  • TOP launches campaign: 'We're the new kids'
  • Give up on home ownership, strengthen renters' rights - Morgan
  • Opportunities Party will 'fold the tent' if Labour uses its policies