|Founded||30 May 1972|
|Succeeded by||Green Party|
The Values Party was a New Zealand political party. It is considered the world's first national-level environmentalist party,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.
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. The party is widely regarded[ by whom? ] as the first national political party promoting social renewal that incorporated restoring a respectful relationship to nature. From its beginning, the Values Party emphasised proposing alternative policies, rather than taking only an oppositionist stance to the ruling parties.
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 to formulate their own environmental policies.[ citation needed ]
The Values Party contested five elections (1972, 1975, 1978, 1981 and 1984). 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.The following year party leader Tony Brunt was elected as a Wellington City Councillor and was re-elected in 1977. Mike Ward was a Nelson City Councillor from 1983 to 1989 under a Values banner.
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, Rob Muldoon's National Party of New Zealand, 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.<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1978_New_Zealand_general_election>
Subsequent to 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 resigned as party leader following the 1978 election to pursue a career as a banker. 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.
In May 1990, however, remnants of the Values Party merged with a number of other environmentalist organisations to form the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, which eventually did gain parliamentary seats. Many former members of the Values Party became active in the Green Party – notably Jeanette Fitzsimons, Rod Donald and Mike Ward.
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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.
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