Raf Manji takes over as leader of TOP

Raf Manji. Photo: Supplied
Raf Manji. Photo: Supplied
The Opportunities Party, or TOP, has appointed Raf Manji as its new leader with a goal of getting into Parliament at the next election.

Manji is a former two-time Christchurch city councillor, who ran as an independent candidate for the seat of Ilam. He gained national attention in the aftermath of the March 15 terror attack when he acted as an independent advisor to the Christchurch Foundation, dealing with the distribution of donated funds and providing advocacy and support for whanau and survivors. Prior to that, he worked in finance in London.

Manji said New Zealand needs to become a more equitable place to live or we are "absolutely stuffed".

"We need to become a more sustainable society – socially, environmentally, and economically. By many indicators we are at breaking point, we need deep structural change, and fast, if we are to prosper over the coming decades.

"I'm focused on rebalancing the current system to support all our communities, not just those with easy access to capital. We need to build a sustainable economy that serves all of us and move away from this relentless focus on housing and its monthly price movements".

Manji called for a "new social contract".

He said his immediate goal is to get TOP into Parliament at the 2023 election.

TOP - like most new parties in New Zealand - has had a difficult run trying to get into Parliament.

Manji said he would try to do this by crossing the 5 per cent threshold - and did not mention using the other route to Parliament: an electorate seat.

"If we manage that, we will be the first new party in Parliament in 20 years. It's achievable, people want solutions to the big problems and recognise that neither the Left nor the Right has all the answers," he said.

Under the leadership of Gareth Morgan, TOP tried to get into Parliament in 2017, getting 2.44 per cent of the vote (almost five times as much as Act).

Morgan later stepped away from the party, which contested the 2020 election under the leadership of Geoff Simmons. It polled 1.51 per cent.

He was replaced briefly by Shai Navot, who is stepping aside for Manji.

Navot said it was the right time to step aside.

"It's been an honour to lead an incredible group of people during this transition period, and to represent a party that cares so much about improving the lives for everyone.

Comments

Mr Manji is something of an unknown outside of Christchurch and I imagine totally unknown over the ditch. He also has the hurdle of overcoming the negative impact of Gareth Morgan's influence on the TOP political philosophy which seemed to be "Let's just be tolerant of each other". He'll have an uphill job.

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