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David Clendon

Meet David Clendon

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Phone: 04 817 6755
Email: david [dot] clendon [at] parliament [dot] govt [dot] nz

Green Party spokesperson for:

Small Business, Corrections and Courts, Justice, Tertiary Education, Research & Technology, Police, Tourism

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David's bio

Of Ngapuhi/Te Roroa and Pakeha heritage, David has been with the Green Party since 1990 and an MP since 2009.

David has a BA in Education and Politics from the University of Auckland, an MSC (Hons) in Resource Management from Lincoln University, and a Certificate of Higher Education from Unitec.

Before entering Parliament, David worked at the coalface of eco-enterprise as a Sustainable Business Network business advisor.

Prior to that, he spent fifteen years as an academic, initially teaching in the Political Studies department at Auckland University and then teaching resource management at Unitec NZ.

David, who has a long history of involvement with environmental protection groups and community organisations, lives in Auckland with his partner, and has an adult daughter.

David's story

For a man whose father once drove Parliamentary limousines, entering the House of Representatives as a Green MP does in a way bring life full circle for David Clendon.

His story, like many other Green MPs, grew from the rootstock of working class New Zealand. "I'm one of seven kids, all of us brought up by mum who stayed at home while dad worked at the Public Service garage," he says.

Date of birth: 11 September 1955
Family: Partner Lindis, one daughter Kaya (29)
Hobbies: Motorcycling, anything in or around the water
Favourite NZ animal or bird: Tuatara
Favourite movie: Bladerunner
Favourite novel: Anything by Iain Banks or Ian Rankin
Music I play on Saturday mornings:The Great New Zealand Songbook - keep it Kiwi!
My never-fail recipe: Warm tofu and 'whatever's in the fridge' salad over couscous - fast, too!
Greatest sporting achievement:Does completing the Listener cryptic crossword in less than 30 minutes count?
Year entered Parliament: 2009
Green Spokesperson for: Small Business, Corrections and Courts, Tertiary Education, Research & Technology, Police, Commerce, Tourism
First political action: Turning up at school on mufti day wearing a 'ban the bomb' t-shirt
Most embarrassing political moment: Watch this space!
Proudest political moment: Entering Parliament to make my maiden speech
Hero: Dr Valentino Rossi

Much of Clendon's youth was spent in Ōtara where he says the family gave very little thought to the fact that the community was more than eighty percent Māori or Pacific Island.

"I can still remember having Pacific Island and Māori neighbours in Ōtara and the grandparents spoke their Reo while the kids and grandkids allowed their ethnic identity to slip away. I think back now and feel sadness for that loss."

David says he was the quintessential square peg at high school and left when he was fifteen, taking up a supermarket management cadetship ("It irks me now that companies don't seem willing to invest in people like they used to") before engaging in various jobs and a fair bit of international travel.

On his return to Auckland David 'settled into life', buying his own food business and introducing the concept of 'bulk-wholefoods' shopping to the Auckland marketplace. After several years of success the countryside beckoned. However, instead of finding peace and tranquillity on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, David discovered politics.

"By the early eighties I had a daughter, a job, a mortgage and a rural outlook which, while being enough for many people, actually sparked my interest in politics," he says.

Specifically, David saw the need to pursue a more measured approach to development of the Peninsula in order to mitigate massive environmental issues for the area. He helped found the Hibiscus Coast Environmental Protection Society and joined the Ratepayers' Association where environmental issues 'weren't really on the agenda'.

"In some ways my interest was self-interest," he says. "My lifestyle was great, the beach and community feel were what had drawn me to the area in the first place and when certain personalities began pushing for heavy development, of course I was opposed to it."

At the same time as his political views began to find a voice, David's academic appetite returned and he embarked on a steady journey of part time study at Auckland University. Soon the appetite turned into a hunger and he quit his job (managing an engineering supply firm) to complete a BA in politics and education.

"I am ready - and desperately keen - to do this job."

"It was a massive call and I still remember waking up in the middle of the night and thinking 'what have I done?'" he says.

Still, the self-doubt receded and after completing his MSc in Resource Management at Lincoln University David returned to the University of Auckland where he taught a range of topics as diverse as post-Soviet politics and media, as well as his own course on people, politics and the environment.

In 1990 he joined the Green Party, in part at the behest of the then-University Chaplain Ray Galvin who stood for the Rodney seat in that year's General Election.

Then in 1992 David stood for the Rodney District Council, 'greening up' the campaign so that environmental concerns had to be addressed by all the candidates. He says the experience of shifting the agenda helped him enormously.

Apart from the occasional academic break, David remained active in party politics and climbed to 10th on the party list.

While his political life was busy, David had also taken on a full time role at Auckland's Unitec. He was instrumental in establishing a Bachelor's degree in resource management, and he remained at Unitec until 2006 when, he says "I became disillusioned with the tertiary sector - people were being asked to do more with less, and specialisation and quality seemed to be victims of the competitive model instituted by various 90's governments."

Dave then worked with the Sustainable Business Network and says his positive interaction with the business sector, as well as a host of government and non-government organisations, heightened his desire to enter parliament.

"I am ready and desperately keen to do this," he says. "I have responsibilities for portfolios where I have a genuine interest, I am passionate about reform, and I am committed to this party.

"My only real fear is that I won't take sufficient advantage of this opportunity but ultimately there's such a lot to learn and I need to figure out the place before I can play the game."

For a man who seems to have made it a habit, somehow we don't think learning will be an issue.

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