New Zealand First

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New Zealand First

Aotearoa Tuatahi
AbbreviationNZ First
PresidentLester Gray [1]
Leader Winston Peters
Deputy Leader Fletcher Tabuteau
FounderWinston Peters
Founded18 July 1993;25 years ago (18 July 1993)
Youth wing Young NZ First
Ideology Nationalism [2]
Populism [3] [4] [5]
Protectionism [6] [7]
Social conservatism [8]
Political position Centre [9] [10] [11] [12]
Colours     Black
MPs in the House of Representatives
9 / 120

New Zealand First (Māori : Aotearoa Tuatahi), [13] commonly abbreviated to NZ First, [14] is a nationalist and populist political party in New Zealand. [2] [3] [4] [5] It was founded in July 1993, following the resignation on 19 March 1993 of its leader and founder, Winston Peters, from the then-governing National Party. It has formed governments with both major parties in New Zealand, first with the National Party from 1996 to 1998 and then with the Labour Party from 2005 to 2008 and from 2017 to present.

Māori language Polynesian language spoken by New Zealand Māori

Māori, also known as te reo, is an Eastern Polynesian language spoken by the Māori people, the indigenous population of New Zealand. Closely related to Cook Islands Māori, Tuamotuan, and Tahitian, it gained recognition as one of New Zealand's official languages in 1987. The number of speakers of the language has declined sharply since 1945, but a Māori language revitalisation effort slowed the decline, and the language has experienced a revival, particularly since about 2015.

Nationalism is an ideology and movement characterized by the promotion of the interests of a particular nation, especially with the aim of gaining and maintaining the nation's sovereignty (self-governance) over its homeland. Nationalism holds that each nation should govern itself, free from outside interference (self-determination), that a nation is a natural and ideal basis for a polity, and that the nation is the only rightful source of political power. It further aims to build and maintain a single national identity—based on shared social characteristics such as culture, language, religion, politics, and belief in a shared singular history—and to promote national unity or solidarity. Nationalism, therefore, seeks to preserve and foster a nation's traditional culture, and cultural revivals have been associated with nationalist movements. It also encourages pride in national achievements, and is closely linked to patriotism. Nationalism is often combined with other ideologies, such as conservatism or socialism for example.

Populism political orientation or standpoint

Populism refers to a range of political stances that emphasise the idea of "the people" and often juxtapose this group against "the elite". Within political science and other social sciences, various different definitions of populism have been used, although some scholars propose rejecting the term altogether. There is no single definition of the term, which developed in the 19th century and has been used to mean various things since that time. Few politicians or political groups describe themselves as "populist" and the term is often applied to others pejoratively.


New Zealand First takes a centrist position on economic issues and a social conservative position on social issues such as criminal justice. The party distinguishes itself from the mainstream political establishment through its use of populist rhetoric, and supports popular referenda. It has also advocated restrictive immigration policies.

Centrism describes a political outlook or specific position

In politics, centrism—the centre or the center —is a political outlook or specific position that involves acceptance or support of a balance of a degree of social equality and a degree of social hierarchy, while opposing political changes which would result in a significant shift of society strongly to either the left or the right.

Economic policy refers to the actions that governments take in the economic field

The economic policy of governments covers the systems for setting levels of taxation, government budgets, the money supply and interest rates as well as the labour market, national ownership, and many other areas of government interventions into the economy.

Referendums in New Zealand

Referendums are held only occasionally by the Government of New Zealand. Referendums may be government-initiated or held in accordance with the Electoral Act 1993 or the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993. Ten referendums have been held so far. Seven were government-led, and three were indicative citizen initiatives.

The party held seats in the New Zealand House of Representatives from its formation in 1993 until 2008, when it failed to gain enough party votes to retain representation. However, in the 2011 election, New Zealand First gained 6.59% of the total party vote, entitling it to eight members of parliament (MPs). The party increased its number of MPs to eleven at the 2014 election. During the 2017 election, the party's number of MPs dropped to nine members. [15] In the weeks following the 2017 election, New Zealand First formed a coalition government with the Labour Party. [16]

New Zealand House of Representatives Sole chamber of New Zealand Parliament

The New Zealand House of Representatives is a component of the New Zealand Parliament, along with the Sovereign. The House passes all laws, provides ministers to form a Cabinet, and supervises the work of the Government. It is also responsible for adopting the state's budgets and approving the state's accounts.

2011 New Zealand general election election in New Zealand

The 2011 New Zealand general election on Saturday 26 November 2011 determined the membership of the 50th New Zealand Parliament.

2014 New Zealand general election

The 2014 New Zealand general election took place on Saturday 20 September 2014 to determine the membership of the 51st New Zealand Parliament.


At the core of New Zealand First's policies are its "Fifteen Fundamental Principles"; the first being "To put New Zealand and New Zealanders First". [17] They largely echo the policies that Winston Peters, the party's founder, has advocated during his career. [18] NZ First seeks to "promote and protect the customs, traditions and values of all New Zealanders". [19] Commentators have described the party, and Peters himself, as nationalist. [2] [20]

Winston Peters New Zealand politician

Winston Raymond Peters is a New Zealand politician who has served since 2017 as the Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand and Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was previously Deputy Prime Minister from 1996 to 1998. Peters has led the populist New Zealand First party since its foundation in 1993. He has been a Member of Parliament since 2011, having previously served from 1979 to 1981 and 1984 to 2008.

Rather than defining the party's precise position on the left–right political spectrum, political commentators simply label New Zealand First as populist. [3] [4] [5] The party has long advocated direct democracy in the form of "binding citizen initiated referenda", to create "a democracy that is of the people and for the people", while forcing government "to accept the will of the people". [21] Peters has also used anti-establishment and anti-elite rhetoric, [22] [23] such as criticising what he regards as the "intellectually arrogant elite in government and bureaucratic circles". [21]

The left–right political spectrum is a system of classifying political positions, ideologies and parties, from equality on the left to social hierarchy on the right. Left-wing politics and right-wing politics are often presented as opposed, although a particular individual or group may take a left-wing stance on one matter and a right-wing stance on another; and some stances may overlap and be considered either left- or right-wing depending on the ideology. In France, where the terms originated, the Left has been called "the party of movement" and the Right "the party of order". The intermediate stance is called centrism and a person with such a position is a moderate or centrist.

Direct democracy democracy in which all people make the decisions as a group, without intermediate representants

Direct democracy or pure democracy is a form of democracy in which people decide on policy initiatives directly. This differs from the majority of currently established democracies, which are representative democracies.

An anti-establishment view or belief is one which stands in opposition to the conventional social, political, and economic principles of a society. The term was first used in the modern sense in 1958, by the British magazine New Statesman to refer to its political and social agenda. Antiestablishmentarianism is an expression for such a political philosophy.

Social and economic policies

New Zealand First has been closely associated with its policies regarding the welfare of senior citizens [8] and its anti-immigration stance. [18] [24] The party has frequently criticised immigration on economic, social and cultural grounds. It proposes an annual immigration cap of between 7,000 and 15,000 "seriously qualified" migrants, who would be expected to assimilate into New Zealand culture. [25]

Opposition to immigration exists in most states with immigration, and has become a significant political issue in many countries. Immigration in the modern sense refers to movement of people from one state or territory to another state or territory where they are not citizens. Illegal immigration is immigration in contravention of a state's immigration laws.

Cultural assimilation is the process in which a minority group or culture comes to resemble a dominant group[1] or assume the values, behaviors, and beliefs of another group. A conceptualization describes cultural assimilation as similar to acculturation while another merely considers the former as one of the latter's phases. Assimilation could also involve the so-called additive acculturation wherein, instead of replacing the ancestral culture, an individual expands their existing cultural repertoire.

Winston Peters has on several occasions characterised the rate of Asian immigration into New Zealand as too high; in 2004, he stated: "We are being dragged into the status of an Asian colony and it is time that New Zealanders were placed first in their own country". [26] On 26 April 2005, he said: "Māori will be disturbed to know that in 17 years' time they will be outnumbered by Asians in New Zealand", an estimate disputed by Statistics New Zealand, the government's statistics bureau. Peters quickly rebutted that Statistics New Zealand has underestimated the growth rate of the Asian community in the past. [27] In April 2008, deputy leader Peter Brown drew widespread attention after voicing similar views and expressing concern at the growth of New Zealand's ethnic Asian population: "If we continue this open door policy there is real danger we will be inundated with people who have no intention of integrating into our society … They will form their own mini-societies to the detriment of integration and that will lead to division, friction and resentment". [28]

The party also espouses a mixture of economic policies. It opposes the privatisation of state assets (particularly to overseas buyers) and advocates buying back former state-owned enterprises. [29] This policy aligns it with views generally found on the left of New Zealand politics. [30] [31] On the other hand, it favours reducing taxation and reducing the size of government (policies typical of the New Zealand right) and espouses strongly conservative views on social issues. [8] New Zealand First provided for its strong support among elderly voters [10] by its repeal of the surtax on superannuation, institution of a superannuation level of 66% of the net average wage, [32] and introduction of the SuperGold Card (see below). [33] The party opposes any raising of the retirement age. [34]

'Law and order' issues feature heavily in the party's policy platform. [31] [35] New Zealand First advocates a stricter criminal code, longer judicial sentences, and the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility. [36] In 2011, at its annual convention, New Zealand First vowed to repeal the controversial Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007 (which it characterised as the "anti-smacking law"), which a vast majority of voters rejected in a 2009 citizen-initiated referendum. [37] In the 2017 general election campaign, the party again vowed to repeal the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act; it also ruled out a confidence and supply arrangement or coalition with any party which opposed the policy. [38]

In 2013, all seven NZ First MPs voted against the third reading of the Marriage Amendment Bill, which permitted same sex marriage in New Zealand. [39] [40] Peters had called for a referendum on the issue. [41] [40]

SuperGold Card

SuperGold Card, a flagship policy SuperGold Card image.png
SuperGold Card, a flagship policy

The SuperGold Card, a discounts and concessions card for senior citizens and veterans, [42] has been a major initiative of the party. [43]

New Zealand First established a research team to design the SuperGold Card, [44] which included public transport benefits like free off-peak travel (funded by the government) and discounts from businesses and companies across thousands of outlets. [45] [46] Winston Peters negotiated with then-Prime Minister Helen Clark, despite widespread opposition to the card on the grounds of high cost. [47] As a condition of the 2005 confidence and supply agreement [48] between New Zealand First and the Labour Government, Peters launched the SuperGold Card in August 2007. [49]

The card is available to all eligible New Zealanders over the age of 65. The card provides over 600,000 [50] New Zealanders with access to a wide range of government and local authority services, business discounts, entitlements and concessions, such as hearing aid subsidies. [51] A Veterans' SuperGold Card, also exists for those who have served in the New Zealand Defence Force in a recognised war or emergency. [52]

SuperGold Card came under threat in 2010 [53] when National Minister Steven Joyce tried to terminate free SuperGold transport on some more expensive public transport services, including the Waiheke Island ferry and the Wairarapa Connection train. [54] The Minister retreated when he came under fire from senior citizens.

Relations with Māori

Winston Peters is part-Māori; the party once held all Māori electorates (see Tight Five), and it continues to receive significant support from voters registered in Māori electorates. However, New Zealand First no longer supports the retention of the Māori electorates and has declared that it will not stand candidates in the Māori electorates in the future. It did not stand candidates in the Māori electorates in the 2002, 2005, or 2008 general elections. [55]

New Zealand First is further characterised by its strong stance on the Treaty of Waitangi. [31] The party refers to the Treaty as a "source of national pride" but does not support it becoming a part of constitutional law. [56] Peters has criticised what he refers to as a Treaty "Grievance Industry"—which profits from making frivolous claims of violations of the Treaty—and the cost of Treaty negotiations and settlement payments. [57] [58] The party has called for an end to "special treatment" of Māori. [59]

On 19 July 2017, Peters promised that a New Zealand First government would hold two binding referendums on whether Maori electorates should be abolished and whether the number of MPs should be reduced to 100. [60] Following the 2017 general election, Peters indicated that he would be willing to consider dropping his call for a referendum on abolishing the Māori seats during coalition-forming negotiations with Labour leader Jacinda Ardern. [61]



Winston Peters founded the party in 1993 WinstonPetersEuropa.jpg
Winston Peters founded the party in 1993

In June 1992, National Party Member of Parliament for Tauranga, Winston Peters, was told that he would not be allowed to run under National's banner in the 1993 election. [62] [63] A former Minister of Māori Affairs, Peters had previously been dismissed from the Cabinet in 1991, after he publicly criticised National Party policy. [62]

On 19 March 1993, shortly before the writs were issued for the general election, Peters resigned from the then governing National Party. [62] [64] He resigned from Parliament, triggering a by-election in his electorate on 17 April 1993 in which he stood as an independent, winning with 90.8% of votes. [65] On 18 July 1993, shortly before that year's general election, Peters formed New Zealand First as a political grouping. [31] [66] At the time of its formation, New Zealand First's policy platform was broadly conservative—Peters claimed to be reviving National policies from which the Bolger government had departed. [31]

1993 general election

Original party logo (1993-2017) New Zealand First logo.png
Original party logo (1993–2017)

In the April 1993 special by-election, Tauranga voters re-elected Peters as an independent. At the general election six months later, New Zealand First received 8.4% of the total vote. [67] Peters easily retained Tauranga, and Tau Henare, another New Zealand First candidate, won the Northern Māori seat, giving the party a total of two MPs. This did much to counter the perception of New Zealand First as merely a personality-driven vehicle for Peters.

1996 general election

With the switch to the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system for the 1996 election, smaller parties could gain a share of seats proportional to their share of the vote. This enabled New Zealand First to win 13% of the vote and 17 seats, including all five Māori seats. New Zealand First's five Māori MPs—Henare (the party's deputy leader), Tuku Morgan, Rana Waitai, Tu Wyllie and Tuariki Delamere—became known as the "Tight Five".

The election result put New Zealand First in a powerful position just three years after its formation. Neither of the two traditional major parties (National and Labour) had enough seats to govern alone, and only New Zealand First had enough seats to become a realistic coalition partner for either. This placed the relatively new party in a position where it could effectively choose the next prime minister.

New Zealand First entered into negotiations with both major parties. Before the election, most people (including many New Zealand First voters) had expected Peters to enter into coalition with Labour. In fact, he harshly attacked his former National colleagues during the campaign, and appeared to promise that he would not even consider going into coalition with them.

Coalition with National, 1996–1998

However, to the surprise of the electorate, which had apparently voted for New Zealand First to get rid of National, Peters decided to enter a coalition with National, enabling and becoming part of the third term of the fourth National government. The most common explanation for this decision involved National's willingness to accept New Zealand First's demands (and/or Labour's refusal to do so). However, Michael Laws (a former National Party MP who served as a New Zealand First campaign manager) claims that Peters had secretly decided to go with National significantly before this time, and that he merely used negotiations with Labour to encourage more concessions from National.

Whatever the case, New Zealand First exacted a high price from incumbent Prime Minister Jim Bolger in return for allowing him to stay in power. Under the terms of a detailed coalition agreement, Peters would serve as Deputy Prime Minister, and would also hold the specially created office of Treasurer (senior to the Minister of Finance). The National Party also made considerable concessions on policy.

New Zealand First had a relatively smooth coalition relationship with National at first. Despite early concerns about the ability of Peters to work with Bolger, who had sacked Peters from a former National cabinet, the two did not have major problems.

New Zealand First had graver concerns about the behaviour of some of its MPs, whom opponents accused of incompetence and extravagant spending. Many people came to the conclusion that the party's minor MPs had come into parliament merely to provide votes for Peters, and would not make any real contributions themselves. A particularly damaging scandal involved Tuku Morgan.

Gradually, however, the coalition tensions became more significant than problems of party discipline. This became increasingly the case after Transport Minister Jenny Shipley gained enough support within the National caucus to force Bolger's resignation and become Prime Minister (8 December 1997). The tensions between the two parties also rose as New Zealand First adopted a more aggressive approach to promoting its policies (including those that National would not implement). This new attitude probably fed off New Zealand First's poor performance in opinion polls, which (to Peters) indicated that the party's success rested on its confrontational style. Many commentators believe that Peters performs better in opposition than in Government.

Return to opposition

On 14 August 1998, Shipley sacked Peters from Cabinet. This occurred after an ongoing dispute about the sale of the government's stake in Wellington International Airport. [68]

Peters immediately broke off the coalition with National. However, several other MPs, unwilling to follow Peters out of government, tried to replace Peters with Henare. This caucus-room coup failed, and most of these MPs joined Henare in forming a new party, Mauri Pacific, while others established themselves as independents. Many of these MPs had come under public scrutiny for their behaviour. Until 1999, however, they provided National with enough support to continue without New Zealand First.

1999 general election

In the 1999 election New Zealand First lost much of its support, receiving only 4% of the party vote. [69] Some voters had apparently not forgiven Peters for forming a coalition with National after being led to believe that a vote for him would help get rid of National. Under New Zealand's MMP rules, a party must either win an electorate seat or 5% of the vote to have seats in parliament. Peters held his Tauranga seat by a mere 63 votes, and New Zealand First received five seats in total. [70]

2002 general election

By the election of 2002, however, the party had rebuilt much of its support. This occurred largely because of Peters' three-point campaign for sensible immigration, scrutinising Treaty costs, and reducing crime.[ citation needed ] The party won 10.38% of the vote, which was a considerable improvement on its previous performance (although not as good as its performance in 1996), and New Zealand First won thirteen seats in parliament. [71] Winston Peters' campaign phrase "can we fix it? yes we can" gained much media attention, as the same line appears in theme music for the children's television programme Bob the Builder .

It appears that New Zealand First had hoped to play in 2002 a similar role to the one it had in 1996, where it found itself able to give power to either Labour or National depending on which offered the best deal. However, National's vote had collapsed to the extent that it could not form a government even with New Zealand First's support, depriving the party of its negotiating advantage. In the end, however, this proved irrelevant, as Labour refused to consider an alliance with New Zealand First in any case. Instead, Labour relied on support from the newly significant United Future Party.

After the 2002 election, in light of National's decreased strength, New Zealand First attempted to gain more prominence in Opposition, frequently attacking the Labour Coalition government on a wide range of issues. Speculation has occurred on efforts to create a more united front linking New Zealand First, National, and ACT, but Peters has rejected this scenario, saying that the New Zealand voters will decide what alliances are necessary (even though New Zealand never votes directly on preferred coalitions). Unlike ACT, which portrays itself as a natural coalition partner for National, New Zealand First welcomes coalition with any major party, regardless of the political spectrum.

For a period in early 2004 New Zealand First experienced a brief decline in the polls after Don Brash became leader of the National Party, a change which hugely revived National's fortunes. The votes that had apparently switched to New Zealand First from National seemed to return to support Brash, and many commentators predicted that New Zealand First would lose a number of its seats in the next election. By 2005, however, the proportions had changed again, and as the campaign for the September 2005 election got under way, New Zealand First had again reached the 10% mark in political polling.

Pre-election polls put New Zealand First ahead of the other minor parties. Some thought it likely that in the event of a National minority, unless ACT's fortunes dramatically improved, Brash would have to form a second coalition or seek a support agreement with New Zealand First to be able to form a government. Peters promised to support the party that won the most seats, or at least abstain in no-confidence motions against it. However, he also said he would not support any government that included the Greens within the Cabinet.

Confidence and supply with Labour: 2005–2008

In the 2005 election, however, the smaller political parties (including New Zealand First) suffered a severe mauling. Though it remained the third-largest party in the House, New Zealand First took only 5.72% of the vote, a considerable loss from 2002, and just enough to cross the MMP proportionality quota of 5%. In addition, Peters narrowly lost his safe constituency seat of Tauranga by 730 votes to National's Bob Clarkson, and became a list MP.

New Zealand First had seven MPs, all elected on the party list: Peters, Peter Brown, Dail Jones, Ron Mark, Doug Woolerton, Barbara Stewart and Pita Paraone.

Following the 2005 election, New Zealand First agreed to a supply-and-confidence agreement with the Labour Party (along with United Future) in return for policy concessions and the post of Foreign Minister (outside Cabinet) for Peters. Some reaction [72] to Peters' becoming Minister of Foreign Affairs detected a change in his attitude since Peters' "Rotorua speech" on 7 September 2005 at a public address at the Rotorua Convention Centre, which had spoken of sitting on the cross-benches (and thus staying out of government) and eschewing "the baubles of office".

Soon after the 2005 election Peters launched a legal challenge against Bob Clarkson. The case alleged that Clarkson had spent more than the legal limit allowed for campaign budgets during elections in New Zealand. This legal bid failed, with a majority of the judges in the case declaring that Clarkson had not overspent.

In the 2005 election funding controversy, the Auditor-General found that all the parties in parliament except the Progressive Party had misspent parliamentary funding. New Zealand First was the only party that did not repay the misspent funding. [73]

2008 general election

In the months before the 2008 general election, New Zealand First became embroiled in a dispute over donations to the party from Owen Glenn, the Vela family and Bob Jones. This resulted in an investigation into party finances by the Serious Fraud Office on 28 August 2008 and an investigation into Peters by the Privileges Committee. [74] On 29 August 2008 Peters stood down from his ministerial roles while the investigations were ongoing. [75] Although the Serious Fraud Office and the police found that Peters was not guilty of any wrongdoing, the episode harmed Peters and the party in the lead-up to the election. [76]

On election night it was clear that Peters had not regained Tauranga and that the party had not met the 5% threshold needed for parties to be elected without an electorate seat. In what some journalists described as a 'gracious' concession speech, Peters said that 'it's not over yet. We'll reorganise ourselves in the next few months. And we'll see what 2011 might hold for all us.' [77]

At a post-election meeting held to discuss the party's future in February 2009, Deputy Leader Peter Brown stepped down. [78]

2011 general election

At the beginning of the election campaign New Zealand First was polling at around 2% in most major polls and was effectively written off by most political commentators. Prime Minister John Key had ruled out working with Peters and New Zealand First, however Opposition Leader Phil Goff had stated he was open to working with New Zealand First post-election provided they made it back into Parliament.

Peters received a significant amount of media attention towards the end of the campaign at the height of the Tea Tape scandal which arose during the campaign. Peters had criticised the arrangement in the seat of Epsom between National and ACT in which National encouraged its supporters to vote for the ACT candidate for their electorate MP and railed against National for alleged remarks made about the then ACT leader Don Brash and New Zealand First's elderly supporters.

Peters appeared on a TVNZ minor parties leaders debate and won the debate convincingly in the subsequent text poll, with 36% of the respondents saying Peters had won.

New Zealand First won 6.6% of the party vote on election night. [79] Many political experts credit the Tea Tape Scandal for the re-entry of New Zealand First into Parliament; however, Peters himself credits the return to Parliament to the hard work undertaken by the Party over the three years it was not represented in Parliament.

In 2012 the party sacked MP Brendan Horan after allegations he stole money from his dying mother to gamble. [80]

2014 general election

In 2012, New Zealand First stated their intent to work in coalition with parties that would buy the privatised state assets back after the 2014 general election. [29]

New Zealand First entered the 2014 general election campaign without providing a clear indication as to their coalition preferences. However, Peters did raise late in the campaign the prospect of a Labour-New Zealand First coalition or confidence and supply arrangement, and express some respect for the National Party, in particular the Finance Minister Bill English. [81]

New Zealand First increased its party vote to 8.66% at the election, which took the party's representation in Parliament to 11 seats. Peters was highly critical of the conduct of the Labour and Green parties, who he blamed for the Opposition's loss. [82]

In 2015 Peters contested the Northland by-election, which was held as a result of the resignation of the incumbent Mike Sabin on 30 January 2015 amid allegations of assault. Peters won the traditionally safe National seat with a majority of 4,441 over the National candidate Mark Osborne. It was the first time a New Zealand First MP held an electorate seat since Peters lost Tauranga in 2005. The win also resulted in New Zealand First acquiring a new List MP, Ria Bond, which increased the party's parliamentary representation to 12 seats.

On 3 July 2015 Ron Mark was elected Deputy Leader of New Zealand First, replacing Tracey Martin who had held the post since 2013. [83]

2017 general election

A Fresh Face, logo introduced in 2017 NZ First logo 2017.png
A Fresh Face, logo introduced in 2017

Winston Peters has said that he will continue on as the Leader of New Zealand First. New Zealand First launched its campaign in Palmerston North on 25 June 2017. Policies include ring-fencing GST to the regions it is collected from and writing off student loans of people willing to work outside major centres, and recruiting 1,800 extra police officers. [84] New Zealand First is also campaigning on increasing the minimum wage to $17. [85] They would later increase it to $20. [86] On 28 June 2017, New Zealand First changed their logo that they have used since its formation in 1993, giving the new design the name "A Fresh Face". [87]

In early July 2017, the Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei criticised New Zealand First for its alleged racist attitude towards immigration. [88] Her criticism was echoed by fellow Green MP Barry Coates, who claimed that the Greens would call for a snap in election in response to a Labour–New Zealand First coalition government. [89] In response, Peters and Deputy Leader Tracey Martin warned that Turei and Coates' comments could affect post-election negotiations between the two parties. Though Turei did not apologise for her remarks, Greens co-leader James Shaw later clarified that Coates' statement did not represent official Green Party policy. [88] [90]

During the party's convention in South Auckland on 16 July, Peters vowed that a New Zealand First government would hold two binding referendums on whether Maori electorates should be abolished and whether the number of MPs should be reduced to 100. Other New Zealand First policies included reducing immigration to 10,000 a year (from 72,300 in the June 2017 year), [91] and nationalising the country's banks, making Kiwibank the New Zealand government's official trading bank. [60] [92]

During the 2017 general election, New Zealand First's share of the vote dropped to 7.2% with the party's representation in Parliament being reduced to 9 MPs. [15] Under Peters' leadership, New Zealand First entered into talks to form coalitions with the National Party and the Labour Party. National Party leader and caretaker Prime Minister Bill English signalled an interest in forming a coalition with New Zealand First, while Labour leader Jacinda Ardern considered a three-way coalition with New Zealand First and the Greens. Peters stated that he would not make his final decision until the special votes results were released on 7 October 2017. [93] [94] During negotiations with Ardern, Peters indicated that he would be willing to consider dropping his call for a referendum on abolishing the Māori seats in return for forming a coalition with Labour; a bone of contention in New Zealand race relations. [61]

Coalition with Labour: 2017–present

On 19 October, Labour and New Zealand First decided to form a coalition government and a confidence and supply agreement with the Green Party. [16] [95] On 26 October, Peters was appointed Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister for State-owned enterprises, and Minister for Racing. Deputy Leader Ron Mark was given the Minister of Defence and Veterans portfolios. Tracey Martin was given the Children, Internal Affairs, and Senior Citizens portfolios as well as being made Associate Minister of Education. Shane Jones was made Minister of Forestry, Infrastructure, Regional Economic Development, and Associate Minister of Finance and Transport. [96]

During the post-election negotiations, New Zealand First managed to secure several policies and concessions including a Regional Development Fund, the re-establishment of the New Zealand Forest Service, increasing the minimum wage to $20 per hour by 2020, a comprehensive register of foreign-owned land and housing, free doctors' visits for all under 14-year olds, free driver training for all secondary students, a new generation SuperGold smartcard containing entitlements and concessions, a royalty on the exports of bottled water, a commitment to re-entry of the Pike River Mine, and Members of Parliament being allowed to vote in a potential referendum on euthanasia. [97] In return, New Zealand First agreed to drop its demand for referenda on overturning New Zealand's anti-smacking ban and abolishing the Māori electorates. [98] [99]

Electoral history


Election# of candidates nominated
# of seats won# of party votes% of popular vote (PR)Government or opposition
1993 84/0
2 / 99
1996 65/62
17 / 120
276,60313.35%Coalition with National
1999 67/40
5 / 120
2002 [71] 24/22
13 / 120
2005 40/40
7 / 121
130,1155.72%Confidence and supply with Labour
2008 22/22
0 / 122
2011 32/33
8 / 121
2014 31/31
11 / 121
2017 56/57
9 / 120
186,7067.20%Coalition with Labour



Office HolderAssumed OfficeLeft OfficePortfolio(s)
1. Winston Peters 18 July 1993Present Deputy Prime Minister (Fourth National and Sixth Labour)
Treasurer (Fourth National)
Minister of Foreign Affairs (Fifth and Sixth Labour)
Minister of Racing (Fifth and Sixth Labour)
Minister of State Owned Enterprises (Sixth Labour)

Deputy Leader

Office HolderAssumed OfficeLeft OfficePortfolio(s)
1. Tau Henare 18 July 199319 December 1998 Minister of Maori Affairs (Fourth National)
2. Peter Brown 19 December 199814 February 2009
3. Tracey Martin 14 February 20093 July 2015 Minister for Internal Affairs (Sixth Labour)
4. Ron Mark 3 July 201527 February 2018 Minister of Defence (Sixth Labour)
5. Fletcher Tabuteau 27 February 2018Present

Party President

Office HolderAssumed OfficeLeft Office
1. Doug Woolerton 19932005
2. Dail Jones 20052006
3. George Groombridge 20082010
4. Kevin Gardener 20102013
5.Anne Martin20132015
6. Brent Catchpole 20152018
7.Lester Gray2018Present

See also

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1999 New Zealand general election

The 1999 New Zealand general election was held on 27 November 1999 to determine the composition of the 46th New Zealand Parliament. The governing National Party, led by Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, was defeated, being replaced by a coalition of Helen Clark's Labour Party and the smaller Alliance. This marked an end to nine years of National Party government, and the beginning of the Fifth Labour Government of New Zealand which would govern for 9 years, until its loss to the National Party in the 2008 general election.

Mauri Pacific political party in New Zealand

Mauri Pacific was a short-lived political party in New Zealand. It was formed in 1998 by five former members of the New Zealand First party. It has often been described as a Māori party. Officially, Mauri Pacific was a multiculturalist party, welcoming anyone who supported racial and cultural harmony. Three of its five MPs were Māori, and two were Pākehā.

Māori electorates

In New Zealand politics, Māori electorates, colloquially known as the Māori seats, are a special category of electorate that gives reserved positions to representatives of Māori in the New Zealand Parliament. Every area in New Zealand is covered by both a general and a Māori electorate; there are currently seven Māori electorates. Since 1967 candidates in Māori electorates have not needed to be Māori themselves, but to register as a voter in the Māori electorates people need to declare they are of Māori descent.

2005 New Zealand general election general election

The 2005 New Zealand general election on Saturday 17 September 2005 determined the membership of the 48th New Zealand Parliament. One hundred and twenty-one MPs were elected to the New Zealand House of Representatives: 69 from single-member electorates, including one overhang seat, and 52 from party lists.

45th New Zealand Parliament

The 45th New Zealand Parliament was a term of the Parliament of New Zealand. Its composition was determined by the 1996 election, and it sat until the 1999 election.

Raymond Tau Henare is a former New Zealand Māori parliamentarian. In representing three different political parties in parliament—New Zealand First, Mauri Pacific and the National Party—Henare served as a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1993 to 1999 and from 2005 to 2014.

44th New Zealand Parliament

The 44th New Zealand Parliament was a term of the Parliament of New Zealand. Its composition was determined by the 1993 elections, and it sat until the 1996 elections.

Māori politics

Māori politics is the politics of the Māori people, who were the original inhabitants of New Zealand and who are now the country's largest minority. Modern Māori politics can be seen as a subset of New Zealand politics in general, but has a number of distinguishing features.

The Tight Five was a nickname given to the five Māori MPs elected to the New Zealand Parliament in 1996 from the centrist/populist New Zealand First party.

2008 New Zealand general election election

The 2008 New Zealand general election was held on 8 November 2008 to determine the composition of the 49th New Zealand parliament. The conservative National Party, headed by its parliamentary leader John Key, won the largest share of votes and seats, ending nine years of government by the social-democratic Labour Party, led by Helen Clark. Key announced a week later that he would lead a National minority government with confidence-and-supply support from the ACT, United Future and Māori parties. The Governor-General swore Key in as New Zealand's 38th Prime Minister on 19 November 2008. This marked an end to nine years of Labour Party government, and the beginning of the Fifth National Government of New Zealand which would govern for 9 years, until its loss to the Labour Party in the 2017 general election.

Te Tai Tokerau Current New Zealand Māori electorate

Te Tai Tokerau is a New Zealand parliamentary Māori electorate that was created out of the Northern Maori electorate ahead of the first Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) election in 1996. It was first held by Tau Henare representing New Zealand First for one term, and then Dover Samuels of the Labour Party for two terms. From 2005 to 2014, it was held by MP Hone Harawira. Initially a member of the Māori Party, Harawira resigned from both the party and then Parliament, causing the 2011 by-election. He was returned under the Mana Party banner in July 2011 and confirmed at the November 2011 general election. In the 2014 election, he was beaten by Labour's Kelvin Davis, ending the representation of the Mana Party in Parliament.

Kelvin Davis (politician) New Zealand politician

Kelvin Glen Davis is a New Zealand politician and a member of the House of Representatives who has served as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party since 1 August 2017.

51st New Zealand Parliament

The 51st New Zealand Parliament was elected at the 2014 general election. This Parliament consists of 121 members and was in place from September 2014 until August 2017, followed by the 2017 New Zealand general election. Following the final vote count John Key was able to continue to lead the Fifth National Government.

2017 New Zealand general election Election on 23 September 2017

The 2017 New Zealand general election took place on Saturday 23 September 2017 to determine the membership of the 52nd New Zealand Parliament. The previous parliament was elected on 20 September 2014 and was officially dissolved on 22 August 2017. Voters elected 120 members to the House of Representatives under New Zealand's mixed-member proportional (MMP) voting system, a proportional representation system in which 71 members were elected from single-member electorates and 49 members were elected from closed party lists. Around 3.57 million people were registered to vote in the election, with 2.63 million (79.8%) turning out. Advance voting proved popular, with 1.24 million votes cast before election day, more than the previous two elections combined.

Next New Zealand general election

The next New Zealand general election will be held after the currently elected 52nd New Zealand Parliament is dissolved or expires. The current Parliament was elected on Saturday, 23 September 2017. The last possible date for the next general election to be held is Saturday, 21 November 2020.

52nd New Zealand Parliament

The 52nd New Zealand Parliament is the current meeting of the legislative branch of New Zealand's Parliament. It was elected at the 2017 general election. The 52nd Parliament consists of 120 members, and is serving from its opening on 7 November 2017 until the next general election. Under section 17 of the Constitution Act 1986, Parliament expires three years "from the day fixed for the return of the writs issued for the last preceding general election of members of the House of Representatives, and no longer." With the date for the return of writs for the general election set at 12 October 2017, the 52nd Parliament must be dissolved on or before 12 October 2020.


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