Country Party (New Zealand)

Last updated

New Zealand Country Party
Leader Harold Rushworth
Founded 1922
Dissolved 1938;80 years ago (1938)
Split from Reform Party
Succeeded by Social Credit Party [1]
Ideology Agrarianism
Social Credit
Political position Centrist
International affiliation None
Colours     Green

The Country Party of New Zealand was a political party which appealed to rural voters. It was represented in Parliament from 1928 to 1938. Its policies were a mixture of rural advocacy and social credit theory.

New Zealand Constitutional monarchy in Oceania

New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.

Social credit is an interdisciplinary and distributive philosophy developed by C. H. Douglas (1879–1952), a British engineer who published a book by that name in 1924. It encompasses economics, political science, history, and accounting. Its policies are designed, according to Douglas, to disperse economic and political power to individuals. Douglas wrote, "Systems were made for men, and not men for systems, and the interest of man which is self-development, is above all systems, whether theological, political or economic." Douglas said that Social Crediters want to build a new civilization based upon "absolute economic security" for the individual, where "they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid." In his words, "what we really demand of existence is not that we shall be put into somebody else's Utopia, but we shall be put in a position to construct a Utopia of our own."



The Country Party had its origins in the Auckland Farmers' Union, a branch of the New Zealand Farmers' Union which covered most of the upper North Island. In the 1920s, members of this branch increasingly came to believe that the Reform Party, which traditionally enjoyed much support in rural areas, was now putting the interests of farmers behind those of businesses in the city. The Auckland branch was also strongly influenced by the social credit theory of monetary reform, promoted by C. H. Douglas. Many farmers believed that the country's financial system did not treat them fairly, and that they were being exploited by big-city bankers and moneylenders.

North Island The northern of the two main islands of New Zealand

The North Island, also officially named Te Ika-a-Māui, is one of the two main islands of New Zealand, separated from the larger but much less populous South Island by Cook Strait. The island's area is 113,729 square kilometres (43,911 sq mi), making it the world's 14th-largest island. It has a population of 3,749,200.

Monetary reform

Monetary reform is any movement or theory that proposes a system of supplying money and financing the economy that is different from the current system.

C. H. Douglas British engineer

Major Clifford Hugh "C. H." Douglas MIMechE, MIEE, was a British engineer and pioneer of the Social Credit economic reform movement.

The Auckland branch grew increasingly frustrated with the Farmers' Union leadership, which did not support having an independent rural party. Eventually members of the Auckland branch established the Country Party without the Union's backing. [2] In 1928, the branch broke away from the Union altogether, giving its full backing to the Country Party. Because of this geographical basis, the Country Party was largely confined to the upper North Island.

In the 1925 elections, the Country Party fielded five candidates, but only won 0.3% of the vote. In the 1928 elections, however, the party won 1.6% of the vote, and Harold Rushworth, its candidate in the Bay of Islands seat, was narrowly elected. In Parliament, the Country Party tended to align itself with the growing Labour Party, primarily because both parties were distrustful of the financial and banking industries.

Harold Rushworth New Zealand politician

Harold Montague Rushworth was a New Zealand politician of the Country Party.

In the 1931 elections, the Country Party increased its share of the vote to 2.3%, and Rushworth kept his seat. In the 1935 elections, the party's share of the vote dropped slightly, but it won two seats – Rushworth, aided by the Labour Party's decision not to stand a candidate against him, was re-elected, while Arthur Sexton was elected in the Franklin electorate.

Arthur Sexton New Zealand politician

Arthur Clifton Axford Sexton (1892–1970) was a New Zealand politician of the Country Party.

In the 1938 elections, the Country Party lost both its seats as Labour decided to contest them. Rushworth had retired (partly because of Labour's intervention) and Sexton was defeated by the National Party. The party won only 0.23% of the vote, and disappeared soon afterwards. Most rural voters who had supported it turned to the National Party, which incorporated the Reform Party. Later, however, the Social Credit Party would gain a certain amount of success in rural areas using much the same formula – some see the Country Party as a forerunner to the more long-lived Social Credit. [3]

New Zealand National Party Major New Zealand political party

The New Zealand National Party, shortened to National or the Nats, is a centre-right political party in New Zealand. It is one of two major parties that dominate contemporary New Zealand politics, alongside its traditional rival, the New Zealand Labour Party.

Social Credit Party (New Zealand)

The New Zealand Social Credit Party was a political party which served as the country's "third party" from the 1950s through into the 1980s. The party held a number of seats in the Parliament of New Zealand, although never more than two at a time. It has since renamed itself the New Zealand Democratic Party, and was for a time part of the Alliance.

Country Party, 1969

The Country Party was revived for the 1969 election by Clifford Stanley Emeny of New Plymouth (1920–2000), a World War II air force veteran. The party put forward candidates in 15 seats, and they attracted 6,715 votes. Emeny stood in Stratford where he got 1130 votes, the largest vote for the party; and in Egmont, New Plymouth, Tauranga and Waimarino. The other seats contested were Ashburton, Hamilton West, Otago, Pahiatua, Raglan, Rangitikei, Rodney, Waikato, Waitomo and Wallace.

The Country Party had changed its name to the Liberal Reform Party in 1970. In the 1972 election, Emeny stood as a Liberal Reform candidate. [4]

Electoral results

Harold Rushworth, party leader and MP, 1928-38. Harold Montague Rushworth (1920).jpg
Harold Rushworth, party leader and MP, 1928-38.
ElectionCandidates# of seats wonTotal votes% of popular vote
0 / 80
1 / 80
1 / 80
2 / 80
0 / 80
0 / 84

List of candidates

Bay of Islands Eden Franklin Hauraki Kaipara Raglan Rotorua Tauranga Thames Waikato
1925 Hugh SweenyRobert DuxfieldFrank ColbeckAlexander RossFCS Lawson
1928 Harold Rushworth Harry MellsopSH JuddFrank ColbeckP Keegan
1931 Alexander RossAlbert RobinsonDRF CampbellSolomon Ziman
1935 Arthur Sexton Albert Robinson
1938 Albert RobinsonJames Scott-DavidsonAlbert James GallichanHC Barker

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  1. Gully, John Sidney. "Social Credit Political League". In McLintock, A. H. An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand . Ministry for Culture and Heritage / Te Manatū Taonga. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  2. "Farmer Party Evangelist Ross Leads Secession". NZ Truth. 11 October 1924. Retrieved 1 June 2010.
  3. Gully 1966.
  4. Norton, Clifford (1988). New Zealand Parliamentary Election Results 1946–1987: Occasional Publications No 1, Department of Political Science. Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington. ISBN   0-475-11200-8.