Matthew Pottinger knows that renting sucks. He also knows that he isn’t your typical politician.
As an engineer turned entrepreneur, he grew the company he founded in university into a premier developer of technology.
One Giant Leap embeds sensors into paddles that allows world-class kayakers to monitor their performance through the water.
“I’m a bit of a get s*** done kind of guy,” he says. “I’m solutions focused.”
But when he and his young family, including two young girls, were kicked out of their Nelson rental 18 months ago, something changed.
“I thought ‘I can’t just sit here and look at all the charts of rising inequality’.”
So, at the last election, he voted for The Opportunities Party, which was founded by Gareth Morgan on the back of sensible policy.
While they only received 2.5 per cent of the vote, Matthew is confident the message resonates with Nelsonians.
“I’m an anti-politician. I’ve never done anything like this before but I’m big on evidence, and what works and on delivering. It’s all I do and all I know.”
He points to fixing the country’s ever-increasing house prices as the key to solving much of its problems.
“It permeates all aspects of the economy. It is the main driver for poverty and, because the more expensive our houses become, the more money we have tied up in them. So, our productivity is woefully low. We are spending all our money putting a roof over our heads.”
The solution to this, Matthew says, is by fixing the tax system which favors those who own many properties.
His party suggests a tax that acts almost as a rate on any major non-financial asset which could offset income taxes and make them lower.
Matthew says that 80 per cent of Kiwis would be paying less tax under this system, as 40 per cent don’t own property and 40 per cent only own the home they live in.
It would be the 20 per cent who are the wealthiest that would be affected the most.
“This is a lever we can bring in.”
The idea would be to stabilise house prices for 10-15 years.
“In Nelson people are paying huge irrational prices to get the benefits of owning your home or to escape renting because, I can tell you from personal experience, it sucks.” .
He says by shifting our money into developing businesses rather than sinking it into homes we could lift our standard of living.
“We can ease ourselves out of this mess. We squeezed the juice out of this orange. It was fun but we have come to the point where it is a social and economic disaster.”
Matthew says he is prepared for the campaign because he is just communicating “how it is”.
“I want the party to have representation because I believe we are not hearing that side of the story. Whether the Nelson electorate resonates with the story is something that remains to be seen.”