United New Zealand

Last updated
United New Zealand
Founder Clive Matthewson
Founded 28 June 1995
Dissolved 2000;18 years ago (2000)
Succeeded by United Future
Ideology Liberalism
Political position Centre
International affiliation None
Colours     Purple

United New Zealand was a centrist political party in New Zealand founded in 1995. It merged with the Christian-based Future New Zealand party to form the United Future New Zealand party in 2000.

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.

A political party is an organized group of people, often with common views, who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government. The party agrees on some proposed policies and programmes, with a view to promoting the collective good or furthering their supporters' interests.

United Future New Zealand political party

United Future New Zealand, usually known as United Future, was a centrist political party in New Zealand. The party was in government between 2005 and 2017, first alongside Labour (2005–2008) and then supporting National (2008–2017).




United was founded on 28 June 1995, one of a number of new parties hoping to capitalise on the upcoming switch to the MMP electoral system. It was intended to be a liberal centrist party, encompassing moderate voters from both the centre-left and the centre-right. The party was established by four MPs from the National Party, two MPs from the Labour Party, and former Labour MP Peter Dunne, who had already established his own party, Future New Zealand (not to be confused with the Christian-based party of the same name which United later merged with). [1] The party was led by Clive Matthewson, a former Labour MP.

Mixed-member proportional (MMP) representation is a mixed electoral system in which voters get two votes: one to decide the representative for their single-seat constituency, and one for a political party. Seats in the legislature are filled firstly by the successful constituency candidates, and secondly, by party candidates based on the percentage of nationwide or region-wide votes that each party received. The constituency representatives are elected using first-past-the-post voting (FPTP) or another plurality/majoritarian system. The nationwide or region-wide party representatives are, in most jurisdictions, drawn from published party lists, similar to party-list proportional representation. To gain a nationwide representative, parties may be required to achieve a minimum number of constituency candidates, a minimum percentage of the nationwide party vote, or both.

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.

The New Zealand Labour Party, or simply Labour, is a centre-left political party in New Zealand. The party's platform programme describes its founding principle as democratic socialism, while observers describe Labour as social-democratic and pragmatic in practice. It is a participant of the international Progressive Alliance.

Christian Politics NZ.svg

The MPs who established United were: [1]

NameJoinedLeftPrior affiliation
Margaret Austin 19951996 Labour
Bruce Cliffe 19951996 National
Peter Dunne 19952000 Future NZ
Clive Matthewson 19951996 Labour
Pauline Gardiner 19951996 National
Peter Hilt 19951996 National
John Robertson 19951996 National

1996 election

The party, while initially attracting interest, performed poorly in the 1996 election. The party's policies were centrist and liberal in nature but to many appeared too bland to attract media profile. In addition, Matthewson, while charismatic, was seen by many as an intellectual light-weight. Bruce Cliffe had indicated he would resign from Parliament in 1996. Peter Dunne was the only United MP to retain his seat, with all others being ejected from Parliament. Clive Matthewson, whose seat had been abolished in the change to MMP, placed fourth in his new electorate.

As the party's only surviving MP, Peter Dunne became leader of United. When United entered into a coalition with the governing National Party in 1996, securing a Cabinet post for Peter Dunne, many commentators claimed that the party had abandoned its centrist stance. United claimed that a deal with National would allow United to moderate National's more extreme right-wing tendencies and that such arrangements would become common practice under the new MMP system.

1997 saw the merging into United of the Advance NZ Party, Ethnic Minority Party and the Conservatives; all small centre-right parties established to contest the 1996 election.

The Ethnic Minority Party was a New Zealand political party which focused on Asian voters, particularly Chinese and Indians.

New Zealand Conservative Party short-lived party in New Zealand (1994–1996)

The New Zealand Conservative Party was a short-lived political party in New Zealand. It was founded by a dissident National Party MP, Ross Meurant.

1999 election

In the 1999 election, United's share of the vote declined even further, with swinging voters shifting to Labour to oust the Shipley government. However, Peter Dunne managed to retain his electorate seat thereby preserving United's parliamentary representation.

Jenny Shipley 36th Prime Minister of New Zealand

Dame Jennifer Mary Shipley is a former New Zealand politician who served as the 36th Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1997 to 1999. She was the first female Prime Minister of New Zealand, and is the only woman to have led the National Party.

Later developments

United merged with a social conservative, evangelical Christian-based party Future New Zealand (not to be confused with Peter Dunne's party before United was formed) in 2000. Future New Zealand, formerly the Christian Democrats, was not represented in parliament. The merged party adopted the name United Future New Zealand, and established a caucus that has extended from seven (47th New Zealand Parliament, 2002–2005) to three (48th New Zealand Parliament, 2005–2007) to two members (48th New Zealand Parliament, May 2007 – 2008) with the departure of Gordon Copeland, eventually returning to just one MP elected in 2008, 2011 and 2014. Of these caucuses, Dunne remained the only electorate MP, while his caucus was formed from United Future's MMP party list, and consisted of MPs who were progressive on social justice issues but conservative on some moral issues.

The Christian Democrat Party of New Zealand was a Christian socially conservative political party established in 1995. It contested the 1996 general election as part of the Christian Coalition with the Christian Heritage Party.

Gordon Copeland New Zealand politician

Gordon Frank Copeland was a New Zealand politician who served as a Member of Parliament from 2002 to 2008. He entered the House of Representatives as a list MP for the United Future New Zealand Party from 2002 but he resigned from the party in 2007. In March 2009, Copeland became Party President of The Kiwi Party, which he had co-founded with another former United Future list MP, Larry Baldock, in May 2007. Copeland stood for the Conservative Party in the 2011 New Zealand general election. Prior to entering Parliament he held a number of corporate positions before working as the financial administrator for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Wellington.

Electoral results

Election seats won party votes popular vote
1 / 120
18,245 0.88%
1 / 120
11,065 0.54%

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  1. 1 2 Curtin, Jennifer; Miller, Raymond (16 November 2012). "Political parties - Small parties under MMP". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand . Retrieved 7 June 2015.