I Want To Help, But Lockdown - Now What?

I'm a "get in amongst it" sort of fella. When I have a passion for something there's little that stops me rolling up my sleeves and trying my damnedest to make it happen.

I wanted New Zealand to benefit from the "cloud" back in 2007, so I started a company, WaveAdept, to do just that.

I wanted to help share Kiwi tech, media, and startup stories so together with Raj Khushal I started a podcast, Access Granted.

I wanted* Wellington's tech community to get out of its false silos so I started the #WellyTech annual celebration events.

I want an open society where the truth isn't opinion, reckons, or lies so I've been a long time active member of the open government, usually focused upon ‘open data’.

I want everyone to have a say in how events are run, and products are created and so started Hack Miramar, brought GovHack over from Australia, and facilitated many unconferences.

A friend of mine once 'warned' someone, as they thought of me as a mentor and director, "Be careful, once Mike is engaged it will be full on."

I get things done.

Earlier this year I was pondering what it was I wanted for this year. Personally I wanted to bring 'live performances' back into my life, booked a stack of gigs, shows, and comedians. Sweet, but that's for me.
Over the years I have watched the Green Party punch way above its weight. Last election I voted Green for the party vote, and Labour for my electorate… I'm likely to do that again as Paul Eagle is both a person I respect and someone who I see getting things done.

For my party vote, it'll be Green. But that's just one tiny tick and I want them to have more weight in Parliament and that means a few more MPs.

As with my examples above, starting a podcast, running a hackathon, creating a company, hosting 1,000+ attendee event with no ticket price, I need to step out of what I know and start doing things I've never attempted before.

How does one person directly ensure the Green Party has more MPs? I was thinking 10 would be a good number, just one more... turns out they currently only have eight, so it's two more. Ok, in for a penny in for a pound.
So, I asked.

I asked James Shaw, co-leader of the Greens as someone I sort of knew but not massively. He's a nice man and I was confident he wouldn't ignore me or simply fob me off.

He didn't. We had a lovely coffee, chatted about everything but politics, and then I asked, "So what's the one thing I can do to get one two more MPs?"

He didn't answer me.

He asked me, "Why do you want to do that Mike?"

Why is my favourite question, it gets to the heart of everything, especially if you ask "5 Whys".

Ultimately of course I agree with both the principles of the Greens and their policies (healthy nature, equality and tackle climate change), and how they are going about both expressing them and working to have them enacted within the current Government.

I also like, respect, and have a great affinity for the current set of MPs. Their courage in the face of NZ and personal adversity. How they stand their ground whilst listening to and working with as many as possible. That they unilaterally act to make concrete their actions through their behaviour is one I also try to do. Ultimately though I totally and utterly love their drive for transparency in both politics and the governmental machine.

I didn't say all that, I got some of it across to James, but I hope he now reads it and smiles.

James was open about what the Greens and, tbh, all parties need to run a successful election campaign:

  • People to put leaflets into mailboxes
  • People to make phone calls
  • Money

I would struggle with having to do the first two. Especially the first one, they annoy me intensely (even if they do work).

I am challenged by that reaction, do I really want to do this but not put in the hard yards? No, the last one, getting money, is FUCKING HARD WORK. But I sort of know I could, probably, do something somehow.

So I set myself a target of getting $30,000 to the Green Party. It was my own goal based on some figures James threw at me. It's not in any way scientific, but I have confidence it will have a direct effect and allow me to feel that I have my answer to the question, "What is the one thing I can do to ensure a successful @NZGreens election this year?"

Into action, coz that's the sort of fella I am. I'm a "get amongst it and make it happen" guy - who remembers my old tagline, "I explain stuff, connect people, and get things done", exactly.

I made plans, I met some people, I talked tactics, I thought about potential partners, I even started a trial with Givahoy**. I was going to be versed in the election donation rules, at the time this was too of a lot of people's minds, especially if you were a political journalist.

Then, lockdown.

Life changed for everyone. We weren't allowed to break bubbles, people had far more pressing things on their minds, no less on my own as it navigated the big rocks being thrown into the mental health river.

I've pondered if the election will still go ahead on Saturday 19th September. Most people believe it absolutely will but I'm being a little more cautious as scientists like Siouxsie Wiles start to discuss the concepts of "waves" with this virus.

But let's assume the New Zealand Aotearoa General Election will happen.

I still have my goal of giving $30,000 to the Green Party. A goal I had chopped down into:
  • 5 months / ~150 days
  • ~$200 / day
  • Cup of coffee is $5
  • ~40 donated coffees / day
  • Pint is $10
  • ~20 donated pints / day

And that's where I am at.

Sitting on my sofa, stuck far away from anywhere, pondering how to make this happen.

As I see it I must:
  • Why: answer this
  • What: clear instructions
  • When: any time
  • Where: anywhere BUT focus on actual venues
  • Who: anyone
  • How: remove all hurdles, Givahoy seems to do this

I'm gonna approach cool cafes, bars, and other places to see if they are willing to help their patrons donate as they buy a coffee, a beer, a shoe, a whatever. And then make it "a thing".


* I still want this, it will return

** Many thanks to Jim (@newzedland) for his enthusiasm and support, “Givahoy is a Social Enterprise using modern technology to streamline charitable contributions and providing charities and supporters with a seamless experience.”


  1. This from RNZ
    "in New Zealand the elections remain pencilled in for September 19, and the electoral committee is drawing up contingency plans to make the process both safe and workable.

    An extension of New Zealand's three-year parliamentary term is only possible if 75 percent of all MPs vote for it, and that is unlikely. This is especially so since there is no serious proposal for a war-time type of national unity government, in which power could be shared between the leading parties."

    source: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/414473/five-ways-new-zealanders-lives-and-liberties-will-be-heavily-controlled-even-after-lockdown-eases


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