Kiwi as

National Party MPs outside the General Assembly Library in 1937

It was 83 years’ ago this weekend that the National Party was formed from the remains of the United and Reform parties. This followed the crushing defeat of the United–Reform coalition government by the Labour Party in the 1935 general election. So, licking their wounds, the remnants of the United–Reform coalition government met in Wellington on 13–14 May 1936 to establish a new ‘anti-socialist’ party. Quote.

The conference in the Dominion Farmers’ Institute Building was attended by 11 members of the Dominion Executive of the National Political Federation (the body that had run United–Reform’s 1935 campaign), 232 delegates from around the country, representatives of women’s and youth organisations, and most of the re-elected anti-Labour MPs.

The party was named the New Zealand National Party to signal a clean break with United and Reform, which had been discredited by their handling of the Depression. Adam Hamilton was elected as its first leader in October 1936.

The National Party grew quickly and by the time of its third annual conference in August 1938 it boasted more than 100,000 members. Even so, it would take a further 11 years for the party to win office for the first time. End quote.

NZ History


The founding principles of this new ‘anti-socialist’ party were:

  • To promote good citizenship and self-reliance;
  • to combat communism and socialism;
  • to maintain freedom of contract;
  • to encourage private enterprise;
  • to safeguard individual rights and the privilege of ownership;
  • to oppose interference by the State in business, and State control of industry.

How do these compare with the current National Party ‘values’?

  • Loyalty to our country, its democratic principles, and our Sovereign as Head of State
  • National and personal security
  • Equal citizenship and equal opportunity
  • Individual freedom and choice
  • Personal Responsibility
  • Competitive enterprise and reward for achievement
  • Limited government
  • Strong families and caring communities
  • Sustainable development of our environment

Over to our wonderful commenters to compare and contrast. Will they still be here in another 83 years?

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