Nándor Tánczos with his trademark dreadlocks
|Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Green Party list
27 November 1999 – 26 June 2008
29 May 1966 |
|Political party||Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand|
Nándor Steven Tánczos (born 29 May 1966), a member of the New Zealand Parliament from 1999 to 2008, represented the Green Party as a list MP. He briefly lost his seat in the 2005 General Election, but returned to Parliament following the sudden death of Rod Donald just prior to the first sitting of Parliament, as he was next ranked on the party list. In 2006, he contested the male co-leadership of the Green Party, but was beaten by non-MP Russel Norman in a STV vote by delegates from electorates around the country at the 2006 AGM. In 2008, he resigned from Parliament, though he intended to remain a political activist.
He was the NZ Green Party spokesperson for the Environment and Sustainable Land Management, Justice, Information and Communication Technology, Constitutional issues and Commerce.
Tánczos, one of the more "colourful" of New Zealand's politicians, attracted both strong criticism and enthusiastic support as an MP.
The New Zealand media portrayed Tánczos primarily as the voice advocating the liberalisation of the cannabis law in New Zealand, although he also actively campaigns against genetic engineering and in favour of restorative justice. He also has a reputation as New Zealand's first and only Rastafarian MP. His most significant legislative achievement, the Clean Slate Act, conceals non-violent criminal offences if the offender does not re-offend after 7 years. His Misuse of Drugs (Hemp) amendment bill led the way for regulation changes to allow hemp growing in New Zealand. He introduced the Waste Minimisation Bill to parliament with a narrow majority but succeeded in building near unanimous support across parliament. He negotiated the establishment of an Independent Prison Ombudsman, and has advocated for a Criminal Cases Review Office to look at miscarriages of justice, and against unsustainable dairy farming. In addition to his political policies, Tánczos also supports open source software, and uses Ubuntu Linux on his laptop.
Opinions of Tánczos vary greatly. Political opponents[who?] have tended to categorise him as a dangerous radical, often citing his role as a spokesperson for the Wild Greens, a direct-action group that claimed responsibility for uprooting a trial crop of genetically-engineered potatoes in 1999. Some regard him as a comic icon, not as an earnest, sensible politician. His supporters, however, reject both images of Tánczos, instead presenting him as intelligent, lucid, and constructive, a view backed up by more recent comments by conservative New Zealand politicians. Younger voters generally found "Nandor" more popular than older voters did.
|Parliament of New Zealand|
Tánczos first gained election to Parliament in the 1999 elections, having held the fifth place on the Green Party's list. His previous involvement with parliamentary politics had involved the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party. In the 2002 elections, Tánczos occupied the fourth Green list place, and remained in Parliament. In the 1999, 2002 and 2005 elections, Tánczos also contested the Auckland Central electorate, winning 9.2%, 20.0% and 14.4% of the vote respectively.
In April 2005 the Green Party announced their list for the 2005 elections. Tánczos ranked 7th, moving down 3 places from 2002.
As of election night (17 September) the Green Party polled 5.07% of the vote, qualifying them for 6 seats, which meant that Tánczos stood to lose his parliamentary seat. In both the 1999 and 2002 elections, the number of special votes for the Green party had sufficed to earn them an extra seat once the official count finished. The final total in 2005 (announced on 1 October) fell just short of the number required for a seventh seat, leaving Tánczos out of parliament.
Return to grassroots politics
Following the death of Rod Donald, Tánczos stood for leadership of the Green Party but was defeated by Russel Norman. On 17 January 2008 Tánczos announced he would not be standing in the 2008 elections. It was initially not clear when he would resign his seat as he intended to see his member's bill, the Waste Minimisation Bill, through Parliament. The bill was due back in the house in March 2008, after passing its first reading with Government support in 2006. He also wanted Russel Norman the Greens co-leader to enter Parliament in his place (because of the advantages in having the co-leader in Parliament in an election year); ex-MP Mike Ward, who was above Norman on the party list, initially declined to stand aside but changed his mind.
Tánczos left Parliament on 26 June 2008, giving a last speech, in which he remarked that he "was going away to cleanse his soul". He commented that his opinions of parliamentarians had changed during his time as an MP, from initially seeing them as a bunch of 'bastards' to recognising that "there are many good people here. The very notion that all politicians are dishonest is misconceived." Expecting politicians to be dishonest and venal is letting them off the hook. He said that he believed most MPs came to Parliament with honest intentions, but not many left with their honesty intact because of how the system itself compromises people.
His main point was that in almost every country, governments of whatever flavour are so compromised by corporate agendas that they cannot do what is needed in the face of our environmental crisis. It will be up to people working in community to take control: "When the people lead, the leaders will follow."
He ended by noting that he had bought a watch for the first time when he entered Parliament and had since been chained to time as a prison rather than an ally. He then took it off and smashed it, saying, "When I look at the state of our rivers, our atmosphere and our communities, I don't need a watch to know what time it is". In 2010, two years after he left politics, Tanczos cut off his dreadlocks as a part of a purification process following his departure from Parliament.
Tánczos's Hungarian-born father fled the Hungarian Communist regime in 1957; his South African-born mother has Khoi, Dutch, and German ancestry. Tánczos completed a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree at the University of Waikato, and a diploma in sustainable land management at Unitec. He is the only parliamentarian in the world with a qualification in permaculture design. He co-founded Hempstore Aotearoa, a business that produces hemp-related products such as cosmetics and clothing.
Tánczos has had disputes with the New Zealand Police over his refusal to wear a bike safety-helmet. He now has an official exemption, giving him the legal right to ride without a helmet.
- Berry, Ruth (26 January 2007). "Up the ranks: Out, damned spot of Shakespeare bother". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
- Berry, Ruth (29 January 2007). "Up the ranks: Move to the left is 'not about selling your soul'". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
- "Greens co-leader dies". New Zealand Herald. 6 November 2006. Retrieved 28 June 2008.
- "New list MP for Green Party". New Zealand Electoral Commission. 14 November 2005. Retrieved 28 June 2008.
- Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand (17 January 2008). "Nandor not standing in 2008 election". Scoop.co.nz. Retrieved 17 January 2008.
- "Nandor shatters shackles of time". The New Zealand Herald. NZPA. 27 June 2008. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
- "Nandor Tanczos chops off locks". One News. TVNZ. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
- Mathew Dearnaley (2 June 2004). "Cycling advocate ends his helmet headache". New Zealand Herald.
- NORML New Zealand – NORML activist Nandor Tanczos elected as New Zealand's first Rasta MP
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