Values Party

Last updated

Values Party
Founder Tony Brunt
Founded30 May 1972 [1]
Succeeded by Green Party
Ideology Environmentalism
Colours  Green
Another Values Party logo Values Party logo.png
Another Values Party logo

The Values Party was a New Zealand political party. It is considered the world's first national-level environmentalist party, [1] [2] pre-dating the use of "Green" as a political label. It was established in May 1972 at Victoria University of Wellington. Its first leader was Tony Brunt, and Geoff Neill, the party's candidate in the Dunedin North electorate, became the Deputy Leader. [3]


Policies and beliefs

Several party manifestos sketched a progressive, semi-utopian blueprint for New Zealand's future as an egalitarian, ecologically sustainable society. The party appealed especially to those elements of the New Left who felt alienated by the small Marxist-Leninist parties of the day, and by the centre-left politics of the New Zealand Labour Party. From its beginning, the Values Party emphasised proposing alternative policies, rather than taking only an oppositionist stance to the ruling parties. [4]

Values Party policies included campaigns against nuclear power and armaments, advocating zero-population and -economic growth, abortion, drug and homosexual law-reform. Although the Values Party never sat in parliament, it drew considerable attention to these topics. Many political scientists[ which? ] credit the Values Party with making the environment a political issue, and with prompting other parties - even the German Greens - to formulate their own environmental policies. [5]

Values Party at the 1979 and 1981 Nambassa alternatives festival. Values Party canvassing at Nambassa 1979 & 1981, New Zealand.jpg
Values Party at the 1979 and 1981 Nambassa alternatives festival.

Origins and organisation

The initial idea for a new New Zealand political party came in 1972 when Tony Brunt, then a political student at Victoria University, was reflecting on his own research into the Club of Rome's The Limits to Growth and Charles Reich's The Greening of America (among other publications). Brunt saw the potential for a new constituency driven by a new set of social and environmental values. [6] Brunt met with his ex New Zealand Herald colleague Norman Smith who immediately became the party's "1st hand man" and organiser. [5] "The media experience of Brunt and Smith stood them in good stead when it came to publicising the new party, and a former colleague on the New Zealand Herald, Alison Webber founded the Auckland branch." [6]

Values Party contestation of elections

The Values Party contested six elections in 1972, 1975, 1978, 1981, 1984 and 1987. Despite strong showings in 1975 and 1978 it did not gain seats under the first-past-the-post electoral system in use at that time. It did however manage to get some candidates elected to local government. The first, Helen Smith of Titahi Bay, joined the Porirua City Council in 1973. [7] The following year party leader Tony Brunt was elected as a Wellington City Councillor and was re-elected in 1977. [8] Mike Ward was a Nelson City Councillor from 1983 to 1989 under a Values banner. [9] Jon Mayson, a party co-leader in the 1980s, was elected a member of the Bay of Plenty Harbour Board on a Values Party ticket. [10]

Under the leadership of polytechnic economics lecturer Tony Kunowski and deputy leader Margaret Crozier, the Values Party contested the 1978 general election with a considerable following, but again failed to win seats in parliament. Most probably this was mainly because voters at that time were more concerned about rapidly rising unemployment than anything else. The idea of an ecological "zero growth" society envisaged by Values Party members had met with the economic reality of near-zero GDP growth, high price-inflation, and an investment strike by business. Although gaining fewer votes than the New Zealand Labour Party, Robert Muldoon's National Party, which promised to create many more jobs by borrowing foreign funds to build large infrastructural projects (the so-called "Think Big" strategy, developing oil, gas, coal and electricity resources), was returned to government at the 1978 election.

Electoral results

Electioncandidatesseats wonvotespercentage
1972 42027,4671.96
1975 87083,2415.19
1978 92041,2202.41
1981 170 3,4600.19
1984 290 3,8260.20
1987 90 1,6240.08

Decline of the party

After the demoralising election result, the Values Party faced internal conflict between the "red" greens and the "fundamentalist" greens, and it fragmented amidst quarrels about organisational principles. Kunowski was ousted as party leader following the 1978 election leading him to pursue a career as a banker. He later joined the Labour Party and was elected to the Canterbury Regional Council on the Labour ticket. [11] In 1979 Margaret Crozier became the leader with Cathy Wilson as deputy leader; it was the first time women had led a political party in New Zealand. [12] [3] [13] "In the late seventies the German Greens wrote to us [they] said 'we like your manifesto, can we use your policy?' " Jeanette Fitzsimons [5]

In July 1989 the ruling council of the party agreed in principle to wind up the party and balloted its 200 remaining members for approval. [14] However in May 1990, remnants of the Values Party merged with several other environmentalist organisations to form the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, [15] which entered parliament in 1996 [16] and formed part of the Government in 2017. [17] Many former members of the Values Party became active in the Green Party – notably Jeanette Fitzsimons, Rod Donald and Mike Ward.

Related Research Articles

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. The party participates in the international Progressive Alliance. It is one of two major political parties in New Zealand, alongside its traditional rival, the National Party.

The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, commonly known as the Greens, is a green and left-wing political party in New Zealand. Like many green parties around the world, it has four organisational pillars. The party's ideology combines environmentalism with left-wing and social-democratic economic policies, including well-funded and locally controlled public services within the confines of a steady-state economy. Internationally, it is affiliated with the Global Greens.

The Alliance was a left-wing political party in New Zealand. It was formed at the end of 1991 by the linking of four smaller parties. The Alliance positioned itself as a democratic socialist alternative to the centre-left New Zealand Labour Party. It was influential throughout the 1990s, but suffered a major setback after its founder and leader, Jim Anderton, left the party in 2002, taking with him several of its members of parliament (MPs). After the remaining MPs lost their seats in the 2002 general election, some commentators predicted the demise of the party.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1999 New Zealand general election</span> General election in New Zealand

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 the Fourth National Government, and the beginning of the Fifth Labour Government which would govern for nine years in turn, until its loss to the National Party in the 2008 general election. It was the first New Zealand election where both major parties had female leaders.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Richard Prebble</span> New Zealand politician

Richard William Prebble is a former member of the New Zealand Parliament. Initially a member of the Labour Party, he joined the newly formed ACT New Zealand party under Roger Douglas in 1996, becoming its leader from 1996 to 2004.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jeanette Fitzsimons</span> New Zealand politician and environmentalist (1945–2020)

Jeanette Mary Fitzsimons was a New Zealand politician and environmentalist. She was the co-leader of the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand from 1995 to 2009, and was a Member of Parliament from 1996 to 2010.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1990 New Zealand general election</span> General election in New Zealand

The 1990 New Zealand general election was held on 27 October to determine the composition of the 43rd New Zealand parliament. The governing Labour Party was defeated, ending its two terms in office. The National Party, led by Jim Bolger, won a landslide victory and formed the new government.

The Northern Maori by-election of 1980 was a by-election for the Northern Maori electorate during the 39th New Zealand Parliament. It was prompted by the resignation of Matiu Rata, a former member of the Labour Party who was establishing a new group, Mana Motuhake. Rata believed that contesting a by-election would give him a mandate for his change of allegiance. In the end, however, his plan backfired when the seat was won by Bruce Gregory, his replacement as the Labour Party candidate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coromandel (New Zealand electorate)</span> Electoral district in Waikato, New Zealand

Coromandel is a New Zealand electoral division returning one member to the House of Representatives. It is currently represented by Scott Simpson, a member of the National Party.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gareth Hughes (politician)</span> New Zealand politician

Gareth Thomas Llewelyn Hughes is a New Zealand politician and member of the Green Party. He was a member of the New Zealand Parliament for eleven years, from 2010 to 2020. He first took a seat part way through the 49th Parliament as the next person on the Green party list following the retirement of Jeanette Fitzsimons in February 2010. He did not stand for re-election in the 2020 general election.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2017 New Zealand general election</span> 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James Shaw (New Zealand politician)</span> New Zealand politician, born 1973

James Peter Edward Shaw is a New Zealand politician and a leader of the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand. Voters elected Shaw to the New Zealand parliament at the 2014 general election as a list representative of the Green Party. The party selected Shaw as its male co-leader in May 2015. Following Metiria Turei's resignation in August 2017, Shaw became the party's sole leader for the duration of the 2017 general election.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1977 Mangere by-election</span> New Zealand by-election

The Mangere by-election of 1977 was a by-election for the electorate of Mangere on 26 March 1977 during the 38th New Zealand Parliament. The by-election resulted from the resignation of the previous member Colin Moyle after accusations against him in parliament, and he was replaced by David Lange, also of the Labour Party. Apart from Lange, there were seven other candidates in the by-election.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paul Eagle</span> New Zealand politician

Tahere Paul Eagle is a New Zealand politician and member of the New Zealand House of Representatives for the Rongotai electorate. He was previously a Wellington City Councillor and the first person of Māori descent to be Deputy Mayor of Wellington, but was defeated in a landslide when he sought the mayoralty as an independent candidate in 2022.

Anthony John Brunt is a New Zealand journalist, activist and politician. He was the founder and leader of the environmentalist Values Party in the 1970s.

Stephen Laurence Rainbow is a former New Zealand politician. He is manager of Auckland Transport's key relationships unit.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nicola Willis (politician)</span> New Zealand politician

Nicola Valentine Willis MP is Deputy Leader of the National Party and its finance spokesperson in the New Zealand Parliament. Willis inherited Steven Joyce's seat in Parliament as the next on the party list after his retirement from politics in March 2018.

Antony Hubert Kunowski is a New Zealand politician. He was the leader of the Values Party in the 1970s and was later an elected local-body representative in Canterbury.

Christopher John Leitch is a New Zealand politician and the current leader of the Social Credit Party.

The 2022 Wellington local elections were held on 8 October 2022 as part of the wider 2022 New Zealand local elections to elect members to sub-national councils and boards. The Wellington elections cover one regional council, eight territorial authorities, and various community boards and licensing trusts.


  1. 1 2 Barry, John; Frankland, E. Gene (2014). International Encyclopedia of Environmental Politics. Routledge. p. 461. ISBN   978-1-13555-396-8.
  2. "History | Green Party of Canada". The first national green party in the world, the Values Party, was started in the early 1970s in New Zealand.
  3. 1 2 Dann, Christine (1999). "From Earth's last islands: The development of the first two Green parties in Tasmania and New Zealand". Global Greens. Lincoln University. Retrieved 23 February 2014. In June 1972 Geoff Neill, a PhD student and an assistant lecturer in economics and industrial relations, wrote to introduce himself. He had read an article about Values in the Otago University student paper, critic, and thought he could get support for Values in Dunedin from disillusioned Labourites and younger people. Before too long he had been made Deputy Leader and was writing to advise on the content of the manifesto.
  4. Rosalie Steward. Politics in New Zealand from Beginning to Breakthrough, Synthesis/Regeneration 13 (Spring 1997).
  5. 1 2 3 Values Party Founding 40th Anniversary, Wellington 1 June 2012 , retrieved 16 September 2022
  6. 1 2 "The development of the first two Green parties New Zealand and Tasmania - Sotto le querce". Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  7. New Zealand election results
  8. "New Councillor". The Evening Post . 16 October 1974.
  9. Neal, Tracy (9 September 2010). "Because they asked: a fourth bid to be mayor". The Nelson Mail . Retrieved 11 September 2010.
  10. "The Management Interview: Jon Mayson - Leading with heart and soul". New Zealand Management. 31 October 2002. Retrieved 19 August 2022.
  11. "Canterbury Regional Council". The Press . 12 October 1992. p. 4.
  12. Collins, Simon (12 May 1979). "Values' Top Man Ousted". The Evening Post . p. 1.
  13. Carlyon, Jenny; Morrow, Diana (2013). Changing times : New Zealand since 1945. Auckland: Auckland University Press. p. 221. ISBN   978-1-86940-782-7.
  14. Stone, Andrew (24 July 1989). "Ruling council of Values Party agrees to call it a day". The New Zealand Herald . p. 3.
  15. "Greens merge". Auckland Star . 28 May 1990. p. A3.
  16. White, Mike (30 May 2017). "Are the Greens still scary? A political power comes of age". North & South . Retrieved 10 August 2020.
  17. Phipps, Claire (19 October 2017). "Jacinda Ardern is next prime minister of New Zealand, Winston Peters confirms – as it happened". The Guardian . Archived from the original on 1 September 2020. Retrieved 1 September 2020.

Further reading