Hayley Holt doesn't want it to be about the alcohol, really she doesn't, but the trouble is, it is.
The snowboarder-turned-TV-presenter is more reticent than usual when talking about her drinking. Her desire for privacy is at odds with her natural openness. It's clear she would prefer not to be rehashing her days of hard partying, but she has to. Because there's a direct line between the drinking – or more accurately the giving up – and the exciting, slightly scary place she finds herself in today.
It's no exaggeration to say quitting alcohol has been life changing. Some of the people she used to socialise with barely recognise the Hayley of today.
"They say it's like meeting a new person. They've had to get to know me all over again."
Watch: Get the look from Hayley's NEXT photoshoot with makeup artist Lisa Matson
No longer able to drown a bad day in a few wines, Holt found she had to face up to her emotions and began to think deeply about what was really important. It turned out there was quite a lot of big stuff worrying her – climate change for one, the numbers living in poverty, and the fact that younger people seem alienated from a political system that has the power to change things for the better.
Without the escape of alcohol, Holt started feeling like she had to do something constructive about it all.
"I couldn't hide from these things I was learning about. And I couldn't stand back and hope other people would fight the fight for me."
That's why, in this September's general election, Holt will stand as the Green Party's candidate in the Helensville electorate. In April she was also elected female co-convenor of the Auckland Province, a key leadership role with responsibility for overseeing the party's branches and activities in the region.
The move isn't as left-field as it might seem for the long-time presenter of Prime TV's The Crowd Goes Wild, who is also known for her appearances on shows like Dancing With The Stars and Treasure Island: Pirates of the Pacific, as well as the political series Back Benches.
"I've always been interested in politics," she says. "I thought I might get into it a bit later in life but it's just happened that it's now."
To read the entire exclusive interview on Hayley's move to politics, and why you don't need to be the 'perfect Greenie' in order to change the world, pick up the June issue of NEXT.
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