List of political parties in New Zealand

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New Zealand national politics have featured a pervasive party system since the early-20th century. Usually, all members of Parliament's unicameral House of Representatives belong to a political party. Independent MPs do not occur often.

Contents

While two major parties continue to dominate the New Zealand national political landscape, the country now more closely resembles a multi-party state since the introduction of proportional representation in 1996 as smaller parties can now reasonably expect to play a role in government. As of 2019, five parties have representatives in Parliament.

History

Political parties in New Zealand evolved towards the end of the nineteenth century out of interest groups and personal cliques. Most historians regard the Liberal Party, which began its rule in 1891, as the first organised political party in New Zealand politics. During the long period of Liberal Party control the party's more conservative opponents founded the Reform Party, forming the original duopoly in the New Zealand parliament.

Gradually, Liberal and Reform found themselves working together more often, mostly in opposition to the growing Labour Party. After Labour eventually won office in 1935, the Liberals (then known as the United Party) and Reform came together in 1936 to form the National Party. Labour and National currently exist as the two main parties of New Zealand politics.

Over the years, a number of third parties or so-called minor parties developed, notably the Social Credit Party, the New Zealand Party, the Values Party, and the Alliance. However, the first past the post electoral system meant that regardless of how many votes a party gained nationwide, it could not win a seat without a plurality in a particular electorate (voting district). Under such conditions, these parties mostly performed poorly in terms of making an impact in Parliament.

With the introduction of the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system for the 1996 election, however, it became much easier for smaller parties to enter parliament; but more difficult to gain elected as a non-party independent. Since the change to MMP, about one third of the seats in Parliament have been held by MPs representing parties other than Labour and National. In the years before MMP, by contrast, there were sometimes no such MPs at all.

Registration of parties

Political parties in New Zealand can be either registered or unregistered. Registered parties must have five-hundred paying members, each eligible to vote in general elections.

If a party registers, it may submit a party list, enabling it to receive party votes in New Zealand's MMP electoral system. Unregistered parties can only nominate candidates for individual electorates.

Registered political parties are also able to spend up to $1 million during the campaign for the party vote. All political parties are able to spend $20,000 per electorate seat.[ needs update ][ citation needed ]

Current parties

Parties represented in Parliament

The default order in which political parties appear in this list corresponds to the number of MPs they currently have. [1]

PartyLeader(s)FoundedRepresentedPolitical positionDescriptionSeats
National Party Simon Bridges 19361936 Centre-right A liberal-conservative party. Founded in 1936 following the merging of the United and Reform parties, it has traditionally been Labour's main opponent. It supports a mixed economy market, and lower taxation particularly as a stimulus for private enterprise.55
Labour Party Jacinda Ardern 19161916 Centre-left A social-democratic party. Founded in 1916, it is the oldest extant party in New Zealand, and has traditionally been National's main opponent. It supports a mixed economy market, with taxation levied to fund particularly its social programmes.46
NZ First Winston Peters 19931993–2008
2011–
Centre A nationalist, populist party. It aims "To put New Zealand and New Zealanders First". It supports benefits for senior citizens, and advocates buying back former state-owned enterprises.9
Green Party James Shaw and Marama Davidson 19901997 Left-wing Like many green parties around the world it has four pillars: ecology, social responsibility, grassroots democracy, and nonviolence. The party has an environmentalist platform, and also promotes progressive social policies.8
ACT David Seymour 19941996 Right-wing A classical-liberal party. It promotes free market economics, low taxation, reduced government expenditure, and increased punishments for crime. It sees itself as promoting "accountability and transparency in government".1

Registered parties outside Parliament

Parties listed in alphabetical order:

PartyLeader(s)FoundedRepresentedDescription
Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party Jeff Lye1996A party that promotes the legalisation of cannabis. It also comments on other issues that it considers related.
Mana Party Hone Harawira 20112011–14A party addressing the concerns of New Zealand's indigenous Māori minority. Its manifesto indicates a wish to "guarantee a measure of people power and accountability from its MPs". It supports left-wing social policies.
Māori Party Che Wilson [2] 20042004–17A party that addresses the concerns of New Zealand's indigenous Māori. It crystallised in 2004 around Tariana Turia, a former minister of the Labour Party. It promotes what it sees as "the rights and interests of Māori".
New Conservative Leighton Baker 2011A socially conservative party advocating stricter law and order policies, repeal of the Emissions Trading Scheme, and the use of binding referenda.
New Zealand Outdoors Party Alan Simmons and Sue Grey2015A party advocating protection of NZ's outdoor heritage.
Social Credit Party Chris Leitch19531966–69
1978–1987
A political party that advocates for social credit monetary reform and a universal income.
The Opportunities Party Geoff Simmons 2016A party supporting evidence-based policy, "a prosperous, fair and equitable society", and environmental sustainability.
Sustainable New Zealand Party Vernon Tava 2019Established by Vernon Tava, the party describes itself as centrist and environmentally focussed, and would be willing to work with both National and Labour. [3]
Vision NZ Hannah Tamaki2019A Christian political party. Originally named Coalition New Zealand, it was created by Hannah and Brian Tamaki, leaders of the Destiny Church. A new party which has yet to announce any policies. [4]

Unregistered parties

Parties listed in alphabetical order:

PartyLeader(s)FoundedRepresentedDescription
Better New Zealand Daniel McCaffrey2018A right-wing party advocating lower taxes and the legalisation of cannabis.
NZ Climate Party Peter Whitmore2014A party advocating greater action on climate change.
Communist League 1969A communist party aligned with the Pathfinder tendency. The party was originally called the Socialist Action League, but changed its name when it rejected Trotskyism and adopted a pro-Cuba stance. The party stands a small number of candidates in general elections.
GOdsownNZ Claire Holley2017A "non-PC" Christian conservative party.
Internet Party Suzie Dawson2014A party advocating for less surveillance, copyright reform and cheap internet.
Kiwi Party 2019Opposes gun control, the use of 1080, immigration, and the Family Court of New Zealand.
National Front 1968A far-right, ultranationalist and white nationalist party. [5]
New NZ Party Marc Alexander 2019The party is nationalist and socially conservative, opposing open borders, interference by the UN, Government excess, waste and interference, far left and right ideologies, unlawful religious beliefs and terrorism.
Not A Party 2015A party advocating voluntaryism.
Pirate Party of New Zealand Andrew Reitemeyer2009A copyright reform party based on the Swedish Pirate Party, with a focus on other technological issues, like net neutrality.
Socialist Aotearoa Anu Kaloti2008A revolutionary socialist party.

Historical parties

Parties that held seats

PartyFoundedDisbandedIn ParliamentDescription
Liberal Party 189119271891–1927New Zealand's first political party. It provided the country with a number of prominent Prime Ministers, including John Ballance and Richard Seddon. With much of its traditional support undercut by the growing Labour Party, the remnants of the Liberals (known as the United Party) eventually merged with the Reform Party to form the modern National Party.
New Liberal Party 190519081905–1908A party formed by Liberal Party dissidents. Its members were opposed to Liberal leader, Richard Seddon, seeing him as an autocrat. The party proposed a more "progressive" policy seeing the current Liberal policy as too cautious and orthodox. The New Liberal's lost much support after the infamous "voucher incident", leaving them discredited.
Independent Political Labour League 190519101908–1910A small and short-lived left-wing party. It was the second organised party to win a seat in Parliament, with David McLaren winning the seat of Wellington East. In Parliament, the IPLL co-operated with the governing Liberal Party.
Reform Party 190919361909–1936New Zealand's second major political party, established as a more conservative opponent to the Liberal Party. Its founder, William Massey, became its most prominent leader. It eventually merged with its former rivals, United, to form the modern National Party.
Labour Party (original)191019121910–1912A short-lived successor to the Independent Political Labour League. It functioned as one of the more moderate workers' parties, opposing more radical groups like the Socialist Party. It should not be confused with the modern Labour Party, although a certain degree of continuity links the two.
United Labour Party 191219161912–1916A reformed continuation of the original Labour Party. The party existed only a short time before merging with the Socialist Party to form the Social Democratic Party, although a faction rejected the new SDP as too extreme and continued on under the United Labour Party banner eventually likewise merging in 1916.
Social Democratic Party 191319221913–1916An early left-wing party established at a "Unity Congress" in July 1913 as an attempt to bring together the various labour groups of the time. The party eventually amalgamated with the modern Labour Party.
Country Party 192219381928–1938A party established by members of the Farmers' Union to promote the interests of the rural sector. It reflected to an extent social credit monetary theory, and believed that farmers were not treated fairly by banks and the corporate world.
United Party 192719361927–1936A party formed from the remnants of the Liberal Party. United governed between 1928 and 1935, initially with Labour support and later in coalition with the Reform Party. It eventually merged with Reform to establish the modern National Party.
Democratic Labour Party 194019491940–1943A splinter from the Labour Party led by dissident MP John A. Lee. Lee, a socialist and social creditist, believed that the Labour Party had moved too far from its left-wing roots. The Labour Party hierarchy had expelled him after he repeatedly criticised its leadership.
NewLabour Party 198920001989–1991A left-wing party established by former Labour MP Jim Anderton. It contested one election before joining with several other parties to establish the Alliance.
Christian Heritage NZ 199020061999A party that advocates Christian conservative values. It supported policies to strengthen marriage and opposed abortion and same-sex unions.
Alliance 199120151991–2002A left-wing party supporting the welfare state, free education, environmental protection, and Māori interests. The Progressive Party formed as a splinter group from the Alliance when Jim Anderton, former Alliance leader, left.
Liberal Party 199219961992A short-lived splinter from the National Party, formed by Hamish McIntyre and Gilbert Myles, two dissident National MPs who disagreed with the economic policies of Ruth Richardson. The Liberal Party quickly joined the Alliance, which the two saw as the principal opponent of Richardson and her ideological allies.
Future New Zealand 199419951994–1995A short-lived party established by Peter Dunne after he left the Labour Party. It integrated into the United New Zealand party. Not to be confused with a later party of the same name.
Christian Democrats 199519981995–1996A Christian party established by sitting National MP Graeme Lee. After briefly establishing the Christian Coalition (see above) with the Christian Heritage Party, the Christian Democrats secularised themselves, adopting the name "Future New Zealand". Future New Zealand merged with United (see below) to form United Future New Zealand.
United New Zealand 199520001995–2000A centrist party established by moderate MPs from both National and Labour. The party did not achieve electoral success, with only one of the seven founding MPs managing to remain in parliament. United later merged with the Future New Zealand party to form the modern United Future New Zealand.
Mana Wahine Te Ira Tangata 199820011998–1999A short-lived Māori feminist party established by Alliance (Mana Motuhake) defector Alamein Kopu. The party contested only one general election before vanishing.
Mauri Pacific 199920011999A party established by several New Zealand First MPs shortly after a coalition between New Zealand First and the National Party broke down. Mauri Pacific remained allied to the National government, giving it crucial support, but none of the party's MPs gained re-election in the 1999 election.
United Future 200020172000–2017A centrist party, originally with a strong Christian background: it described its platform as "common sense". It had a particular focus on policies concerning the family and social issues.
Progressive Party 200220122002–2011A left-wing party with a focus on job creation and regional development, formed by Jim Anderton after his split from the Alliance.
Pacific Party 200820102008A small party established by Taito Phillip Field aimed at advancing Pacific Peoples, as well as Christian and family values and social justice.
NZ Independent Coalition 201420162012–2014A party emphasising local electorate representation, formed by MP Brendan Horan who became independent from New Zealand First in 2012.

Parties that never held seats

Parties listed by date of founding:

PartyExistedDescription
Socialist Party 1901–1913One of the more prominent Marxist parties in early New Zealand, strongly associated with the Federation of Labour (the "Red Fed"). It eventually merged with the more moderate United Labour Party to form the Social Democratic Party.
Communist Party 1929–1994Probably New Zealand's most prominent and long-lived communist organisation. The party generally pursued hard-line doctrines, successively following Stalin's Soviet Union, Mao Zedong's China, and Enver Hoxha's Albania. In 1993, the party moderated its stance, adopting Trotskyism. It later merged with another party to form the group now known as Socialist Worker.
New Zealand Legion 1930–1934?A short-lived crypto-fascist political movement advocating conservative political reform and opposition to party politics and state bureaucracy. It was associated with John Ormond and later Robert Campbell Begg and did not see itself as a political party.
World Socialist Party 1930–1996A party established by former members of the New Zealand Marxian Association, a Marxist group. Its founders created it as an alternative to the mainstream labour movement, claiming that the Labour Party had moved too far from its left-wing roots. The World Socialist Party was rebranded from its founding name; the Socialist Party.
Democrat Party 1934–1936A party established to promote the interests of the commercial sector and to oppose "socialist" legislation. The party contested the 1935 election, but failed to win any seats. Ironically, the votes which the Democrats took from the governing coalition may have assisted the victory of the left-wing Labour Party that year. The Democrat Party should not be confused with the modern Democratic Party.
People's Movement 1940–?A right-wing organisation which supported reductions in the size of government and a reform of the party system. It was a strong supporter of individualism, saying that the government of the time was advocating the subordination of the individual to the state.
Real Democracy Movement 1942–?A Social Credit theory based party which advocated economic security combined with individual liberty. It also advocated that all returned servicemen should be paid the average wage until they were re-integrated into civil employment.
Co-operative Party 1942–1943?A short-lived party established by Albert Davy, a prominent anti-socialist political organiser. It was primarily a breakaway from the larger People's Movement, and Davy rejoined the Movement the year after the Co-operative Party was established.
Phoenix Party 1960s–1970sA small Dunedin-based grouping, founded by Gerald Williams, who saw the then Labour Party as moribund and in need of a phoenix-like resurrection. Williams became an effective propagandist, penning campaign literature disguised as parodies of well-known songs. He later transferred his efforts to the Values Party.
Liberal Party 1962–?A party which campaigned in the 1963 election on a platform of reducing the size of the government, introducing a written constitution, and restoring the upper house of Parliament.
Socialist Unity Party 1966–?A splinter group of the Communist Party (see above). It was formed by Communist Party members who rejected their party's decision to take China's side in the Sino-Soviet split. The Socialist Unity Party became one of the more prominent communist parties in New Zealand.
Republican Party 1967–1974A party established to promote the creation of a New Zealand Republic. It was founded by left-wing activist Bruce Jesson, and was the product of the Republican Association, an anti-royal protest group founded by Jesson in 1966.
Country Party 1969-1972?A revival of the earlier Country Party from the 1920s and 1930s established by Clifford Stanley Emeny to contest the 1969 election advocating for rural interests. The party was rebranded the Liberal Reform Party in 1970 and contested the 1972 election under this name.
National Socialist Party 1969–?A party founded by prominent far-right activist Colin King-Ansell. It is sometimes considered the first noteworthy far-right party in New Zealand.
Values Party 1972–1990Sometimes called the world's first national-level green party. Elements of the Values Party eventually contributed to the formation of the modern Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand.
New Democratic Party 1972–1973A short-lived splinter group of the Social Credit Party, founded by ousted Social Credit leader John O'Brien. It placed fifth in the 1972 election, but failed to win any seats.
Imperial British Conservative Party 1974–?A joke party founded by Ian Brackenbury Channell, better known as "The Wizard of New Zealand". True to its name, it claimed to support imperialism, British people, and conservatism.
Mana Motuhake 1979–2005The most prominent Māori-based party until the creation of the modern Māori Party. Mana Motuhake held a number of seats as part of the Alliance (see above), but most of its support has now been incorporated into the Māori Party.
McGillicuddy Serious Party 1983–1999A joke party intended to satirise politics in general. Among other deliberately absurd policies it advocated the "Great Leap Backwards", a project to reverse the industrial revolution and to re-establish a medieval way of life.
New Zealand Party 1983–1987A party established by property tycoon Bob Jones to promote free market economic policies and liberal social policies. It gained twelve percent of the vote in its first election, but then vanished almost completely. Some regard the modern ACT party as the New Zealand Party's ideological successor, but not everyone accepts this view.
Mana Māori Movement 1993–2005?A party that addresses the concerns of New Zealand's indigenous Māori inhabitants, founded by Eva Rickard, a prominent Māori activist and a former Mana Motuhake candidate.
Natural Law Party 1993–2001?A party which based its principles on the concept of natural law as promoted by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in his theory of Transcendental Meditation. It drew most of its support from the New Age movement.
Libertarianz 1995–2014A libertarian party dedicated to laissez-faire capitalism and keeping government as small as possible.
Republican Party 1995–2002A party established to promote the creation of a New Zealand Republic. The party contested the 1999 election, but only won 250 votes. Should not be confused with The Republic of New Zealand Party or the Republican Movement of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Progressive Green Party 1995–?An environmentalist party established in opposition to the generally left-wing policies of the larger Green Party. It contested only one election before vanishing, although many of its members became active in the National Party.
Christian Coalition 1996–1997A brief alliance of the Christian Democrats and the Christian Heritage Party. It narrowly missed entering parliament in the 1996 election, and disbanded shortly afterwards.
Nga Iwi Morehu Movement 1996–2011A small Maori-based party which has been active in a number of elections
Ethnic Minority Party 1996–1997A party that addresses the concerns of New Zealand's immigrant community, particularly Chinese and Indians. The popularity of New Zealand First, a party which opposed immigration, was a significant factor in its creation. It merged into United New Zealand, but little trace of it remains today.
Asia Pacific United Party 1996–1999A party which attempted to gain support from Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants. It contested the 1996 election, but has since dissolved.
Green Society 1996–2001A small environmentalist party. The Green Society believed that a true green party needed to be focused solely on the environment, and believed that the Green Party (then part of the Alliance) and the Progressive Green Party were both mistaken to take sides in economic and social debates.
Future New Zealand 1998–2002A reconfiguration of the former Christian Democrat Party. Future New Zealand retained the same family values principles as the Christian Democrats, but abandoned the explicit religious basis. Future New Zealand merged with United New Zealand to form the modern United Future New Zealand.
South Island Party ?–2002A regionalist party which called for more autonomy for the South Island, the less populous of New Zealand's two main islands. It drew support predominantly from Otago and Southland.
Aotearoa NZ Youth Party 1998–2011A platform for campaigner Robert Terry, who stood for electorate seats four times under this banner.
Te Tawharau 1999–2007A Māori party which split off from the Mana Māori Movement. It lapsed with the formation of the Māori Party.
One New Zealand Party 1999–2006A small party modelled on Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party in Australia. It opposes all special policies towards Māori.
People's Choice Party 1999–2002A small party which was registered for the 1999 election, but which is currently unregistered. It campaigned against MMP and in favour of reducing the size of Parliament.
Outdoor Recreation NZ 2001–2007A party dedicated to promoting the interests of the hunting, fishing, and shooting communities. Outdoor Recreation New Zealand contested the 2005 election under the banner of the United Future party, although the parties did not actually merge. This working arrangement met with disappointing results.
Workers Party 2002–2011Formerly known as the Anti-Capitalist Alliance. A coalition of socialists and anti-globalisation activists.
Destiny New Zealand 2003–2007A party based in the Destiny Church, a Christian religious organisation. The party mostly campaigned on a family values platform, and strongly opposed legislative changes such as the creation of same-sex civil unions and the legalisation of prostitution.
Residents Action Movement 2003–2010A left-wing party aiming to bring together social liberals, community activists, social democrats and left-wing radicals.
WIN Party 2004–2006A single-issue party devoted to overturning the recently introduced smoking ban in bars and restaurants.
Patriot Party ?–2005A small Auckland-based party established by Sid Wilson, a senior member of the National Front. The party later merged back into the Front.
99 MP Party 2005–2006A party primarily focused on reducing the total number of MPs from 120 to 99. It also believed that all constitutional changes should be put to a referendum.
Direct Democracy Party 2005–2009A party which seeks to increase the participation of ordinary citizens in the political process. It advocates a system of referendums similar to that used by Switzerland.
Family Rights Protection Party 2005–2007A party established by a group of Pacific Islanders who claim that larger parties are taking the support of Pacific Islanders for granted, and do not do enough to help them.
The Republic of New Zealand Party 2005–2009A party focused on establishing a Republic in New Zealand. It also supports the adoption of a written constitution, the holding of referendums on major issues, and the abolition of race-specific government institutions.
Freedom Party 2005–2005A party established by two former members of ACT New Zealand. Its policies were intended to be similar to those of ACT, but the party's founders said that the Freedom Party will be more democratic and accountable to its members.
Equal Values Party 2005–2008A left-wing party active during the 2005 election. It supported free education and healthcare, an increase to social welfare benefits, and the establishment of compulsory superannuation schemes.
Family Party 2007–2010A small Christian party established by the former Destiny New Zealand.
Kiwi Party 2007–2012A revival of the Christian Democrats / Future New Zealand brand. The party advocates
more representative direct democracy through referendums and a return to the "Judeo-Christian ethic in democracy".
Hapu Party 2008–2008A Māori-based party established to challenge the Māori Party.
Bill and Ben Party 2008–2010A joke party run by Bill and Ben, hosts of the TV show Pulp Sport.
New World Order Party 2008–2011A party promoting global peace through a unified World Government
Representative Party 2008–2010The New Zealand Representative Party was led by Reg Turner, a former candidate for the ACT Party. The party claimed to have no policies, favouring seeking the opinions of voters on issues, and opposed traditional left-right politics. [6] However, it also promoted populist referenda, deregulation, compulsory military service, "stopping the culture for young unmarried women to have babies", and restricting the welfare state. [7] The party ran only a single candidate, Turner, in the 2008 election. By 2010, its website was defunct and it did not run any candidates in the 2011 election.
No Commercial Airport at Whenuapai Airbase Party 2008–2008A local party which grew out of the movement opposing a commercial airport at Auckland's Whenuapai airbase.
New Zealand Liberals 2008–?A small party modelled on the old New Zealand Liberal Party and the UK Liberal Democrats. It advocates constitutional reform, republicanism, and civil rights.
New Citizen Party 2010–2012A short-lived party formed to represent Chinese New Zealanders. It came third in the 2011 Botany by-election, but dissolved before contesting a general election.
Join Australia Movement Party 2011A party advocating union with Australia.
Sovereignty Party 2011-?A nationalist party which contest the 2011 election
Reform New Zealand 2011A right-wing party advocating free market economics, low taxation, and reduced government.

was established by dissatisfied members of ACT New Zealand, and advocates similar policies of low taxation, privatisation, and reduced government. it never attempted to register with the New Zealand Electoral Commission and did not stand any candidates.

OurNZ Party 2011–2011?A party advocating a new currency, binding referenda, and a written constitution.
Thrive New Zealand 2012–2013Party logo registered in August 2013. Advocated Direct Democracy via an online tool called RealVoice
Focus NZ 2012–2016A party aimed at representing rural New Zealand.
1Law4All Party 2013–2015A party aimed at overturning the Treaty of Waitangi
Civilian Party 2013–2015A joke party which arose from a popular New Zealand satirical website.
Expatriate Party 2014–2014?A party related to issues facing New Zealanders outside New Zealand
New Zealand People's Party 2015–2019A party with a focus on representing Chinese and Indian voters and a law and order platform.
Seniors Party2016–2018A party which aimed to represent older New Zealanders. However, it never registered nor contested any elections.

See also

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Taupō (New Zealand electorate) New Zealand electorate

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2014 New Zealand general election

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References

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  2. Trevett, Claire (10 October 2019). "Che Wilson, the man trying to save the Māori Party". New Zealand Herald . Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  3. "Vernon Tava's centrist 'Sustainable New Zealand' Party gets a website". Newshub. 2 November 2019. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  4. Melanie Earley (23 May 2019). "Destiny Church launches political party, promising 'politics with teeth'". Stuff. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
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  6. "Logo no go, Nelson no go, and same goes for 1080". Stuff. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
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