NZ political parties in 2016

Brief reviews of the mid term political year for New Zealand parties.

The main issues have been:

  • Continued shortages of new house building and an escalation of housing prices, especially in Auckland, and an increased focus on homelessness
  • Growing attention given to ‘poverty’ as it is in New Zealand, and the income gap  despite the first increase in benefits in forty years.
  • The Trans Pacific Partnership got a lot of attention early in the year but that fizzled as it became evident that the US was unlikely to ratify it.


The National Party would probably have thought they had survived the year quite well, chugging away without doing anything radical, and staying  extraordinarily high in the polls most of the time for  a third term government.

An improving economy along with improving dairy prices have helped.

But Key resigned in December. National selected the Key anointed Bill English to take over, but how a new look National will be seen by the public won’t be known until next year.


Andrew Little consolidated his leadership, kept the Labour caucus under control and appears he is safe until next year’s election, but he failed to lift his appeal to the public, and Labour must be worried to be stuck in the twenties in the polls.

Labour entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Green Party and they tried to rebrand as a two-party alternative government but that didn’t change the polls much and may have created as many problems as it solved.

Labour finished the year buoyant after successful local body and Mt Roskill by-election campaigns, and noticeably raised in confidence when John Key resigned, but they have failed to impress as a potential lead party in government.

They survived the year and hope to benefit from a Key-less National but haven’t done enough to make a positive impression.


New co-leader James Shaw settled in without standing out, but Greens have lost one of their most respected MPS, Kevin Hague.

Their big play was the Memorandum of Understanding with Labour but that doesn’t seem to have  been the game changer they hoped for.

Metiria Turei seems to be dominant, and that probably limits the Greens’ electability, but they have at least stayed in a 10-15% support band in the polls so have a base to work from next year.

NZ First

Following Winston Peters’ big win in Northland NZ First have benefited from unusually good poll support for most of the year (it tailed off towards the end).

But it looks like Winston is catching his breath before election year. The party has done little of note apart from Peters occasionally trying to appear as the anti-politician, even though he’s one of the longest serving members of Parliament. He tried to capitalise on the Trump success in the US but that doesn’t seem to have done much.

Maori Party

The Maori Party has been working towards more complementary campaigning with the Mana Party in an attempt to create a stronger Maori bloc in Parliament. They are targeting the Maori seats held by Labour.

Maori tend to do politics quite differently to the rest. The Maori party has been the best of the rest in the polls but will want to pick that up more next year as well as pick up some electorates.

ACT Party

David Seymour has done fairly well at getting attention for a one person party and has had some small successes but his party has struggled to get anywhere. It has been Seymour rather than ACT.

United Future

Peter Dunne has had a quiet year apart from bearing the brunt of medical cannabis and recreational drug criticism, even though he is severely limited by National who don’t want to change anything on drug laws. Dunne’s party remains pretty much anonymous.

Conservative Party

An awful year for Colin Craig in the courts and an awful year for his party. Neither are credible and neither look likely to make a comeback.

Mana Party

Hone Harawira and the Mana movement are trying to make a comeback by working together with the Maori Party, so have established some possibilities this year without proving they can get back into Parliament.

Internet Party

Kim Dotcom seems to see his political influence in other ways than expensive and ineffective parties, and ex leader Laila Harre has joined Labour and wants to stand for them, so the Internet party looks a short blip in political history.

Cannabis Party

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party has simplified it’s name and has tried to benefit from increasing changes on cannabis laws overseas but haven’t found the formula required to become a significant political force yet.

The Opportunities Party

Gareth Morgan launched his own party this year and gets media attention – money speaks – and has announced a couple of policies but so far it looks like him and no one else.

NZ Peoples Party

The Peoples’ Party launched as a representative of immigrants and stood a candidate in the Mt Roskill by-election but will have been disappointed by their result, despite a weak National campaign.

Media an extension of established power

There is an obvious and major current example of media and journalism working with and enabling established power, in the US election.

It’s nothing new that media both had close connections with the Hillary Clinton campaign, and tried to influence the outcome. Or that other media had close connections with the Donald Trump campaign and tried to influence the outcome.

What is unusual and more complicated is that media, including those who promoted Clinton’s interests, also gifted  exposure to Trump, and enabled his rise and his momentum, and ultimately his success.

There was a clear conflict between what the media wanted – their choice of candidate as president, but they also wanted the headlines and clicks that Trump kept giving them.

A lot of the time it was difficult to separate Clinton’s and Trump’s campaigns from the media coverage.


The US presidential election was a big event, but on a smaller scale the New Zealand media also works hand in hand with established power, and actively excludes those who challenge established power.

I’ve experienced this myself, and it was a public broadcaster that was involved. In the 2013 Dunedin mayoral campaign Radio New Zealand profiled just four of the nine candidates – that is. gave exposure and publicity to less than half the candidates.

I complained to RNZ in Dunedin and was told they selected the candidates they thought had the most chance of success. Of course this favouritism reinforces the advantages of established power, and makes it virtually impossible for challengers of that power. Ironically I was campaigning for better democratic processes.

I also complained to RNZ in Wellington. They were very dismissive, when pushed said that more candidates “didn’t fit their format” and effectively told me to get stuffed, they weren’t interested in fair democracy.

Similar things happen in every general election, where big media give big exposure to big power, and exclude others. This is common with leaders’ debates.

And the same thing is happening in the Mt Roskill by-election right now. Fairfax has already run a candidate debate that only includes established power, the Labour and National candidates.

On Wednesday: People’s Party threatens legal action over exclusion from Mt Roskill debate

The newly formed People’s Party is considering taking legal action because it’s been excluded from a Mt Roskill by-election debate on Wednesday night.

It’s being hosted by the Central Leader, which has only invited the candidates from National and Labour. 

People’s Party leader Roshan Nauhria says he’s not being petty; he just wants a fair go.

“We were trying to talk to them and convince them that you need to give us equal opportunity,” he says.

Fairfax Media brand and communications manager Phillipa Cameron told Newshub that “Fairfax is comfortable that the Central Leader will provide appropriate coverage of parties involved in the Mt Roskill by-election”.

“This particular event is a one-off live stream involving the two major political parties, which is typical of a debate style event,” she said.

Typical of a debate style event where Fairfax are favouring established power. It is a corruption of fair democratic practice.

There was a follow up – Fairfax apologises for Mt Roskill debate snub

Fairfax has apologised to New Zealand People’s Party candidate Roshan Nauhria for excluding him from a by-election debate it is hosting in Mt Roskill on Wednesday.

But he’s still not invited.

Mr Nauhria says Fairfax told him it made the call to only include the candidates from Labour and National because both had polled above 10 percent at the last election.

A very hollow apology – effectively ‘we are sorry, we set the ten percent bar to favour established power and if you challenge that power and our power you can get stuffed’.

All candidates are equal, but some candidates are made far more equal than others.

Newshub points out:

The People’s Party held its official campaign launch on Saturday night drawing a crowd of around 300 people. In comparison, the National Party candidate’s campaign launch held on the same day, with the Prime Minister in attendance, attracted a crowd of just over 200.

That’s an impressive crowd for the People’s Party, but even that shouldn’t matter. What if a candidate does most of their campaigning online?

On a smaller scale than in the US, but this is exposure of New Zealand media being a corrupt extension of established power.

Parmjeet Parmar standing for National in Mt Roskill

In very unsurprising news it has been announced that current list MP Dr Parmjeet Parmar will stand for national in the Mt Roskill by-election. She stood in the same electorate in the 2014 general election.

She has joined Michael Wood standing for Labour to replace Phil Goff, and the People’s Party which was launched recently has confirmed Rohan Nauhria will stand as their candidate.

Greens won’t stand a candidate to try and help Labour, and ACT won’t stand a candidate to try and help National.

Over 40% of voters in Mt Roskill were born overseas. Immigration, law and order and housing are expected to be high profile issues.

The official announcement:

National selects Mt Roskill candidate

Parmjeet Parmar has been selected by the National Party to contest the Mt Roskill by-election.

Dr Parmar entered Parliament following the 2014 election. Since then she has worked as National’s List MP based in Mt Roskill.

“This election is about ensuring people in the Mt Roskill electorate have a dedicated local MP to stand up for their interests. I’m really excited to be running,” Dr Parmar says.

“Despite no Government ever winning a by-election off the Opposition, and the deal done by Labour and Greens for the seat, I will run a strong campaign to offer a clear choice to Mt Roskill voters.

“Mt Roskill is an area I’m passionate about because it truly reflects the best about Auckland and New Zealand. It’s full of diverse families who care about one another and work hard. There are a huge range of businesses, large and small, providing job opportunities for people from right across the city.

“Like any part of Auckland, it also has challenges. Local residents need an electorate MP who understands their concerns and advocates tirelessly for them to   ensure both central and local government is delivering results.

Dr Parmar says the National-led Government has worked hard to deliver more for Mt Roskill and her campaign would give a strong account of that work.

“From National’s strong economic management, to the comprehensive plan that is increasing the housing supply, to record investment in vital infrastructure like transport and health.  

“I’ve been working hard in Parliament for the people of Mt Roskill for the last two years, so this by-election is a fantastic opportunity to talk about the issues that I know people care about.”

Biographical Notes – Dr Parmjeet Parmar

Dr Parmjeet Parmar is a scientist, businesswoman, broadcaster and community advocate.

She was born in India and migrated to New Zealand in 1995. A proud mother of two sons, she lives in Auckland with her husband Ravinder.

Dr Parmar holds a PhD in Biological Sciences from the University of Auckland, as well as Bachelor and Masters degrees in Biochemistry from the University of Pune in India.

Prior to entering Parliament, Dr Parmar was the Operations Director of her family’s Auckland-based Kiwi Empire Confectionery, a confectionery and natural health product manufacturing enterprise. She knows first-hand the challenges of running a small business.

Naturally community-minded, Dr Parmar has also served as a Families Commissioner, a Community Representative on the Film and Video Labelling Body, and as Chair of the NZ Sikh Women’s Association.


Attention turns to Mt Roskill

Now that Phil Goff has cruised into the Auckland mayoralty and will resign from his Mt Roskill electorate political attention has already turned to the by-election.

This has already anticipated by parties:

  • Labour have already selected Michael Wood to stand for them.
  • Greens have already announced they won’t stand a candidate, due to their Memorandum of Understanding, to give Wood a better chance of retaining the seat for Labour.
  • National list MP Parmjeet Parmar has been positioning herself to stand (but hasn’t been selected yet).
  • The People’s Party was launched recently and Rohan Nauhria has now confirmed he will stand as their candidate.

NZ Herald covers this and more in Another contender in fight for Mt Roskill.

The new People’s Party will stand in the upcoming Mt Roskill byelection caused by Phil Goff’s mayoral victory – targeting the 40 per cent of residents who are Asian.

Rohan Nauhria confirmed to the Herald that he will be running as a candidate for the People’s Party, which he also leads.

The businessman was one of the founders of the party that launched earlier this year, with the aim of attracting votes from the Indian and other Asian communities.

Nauhria said he would campaign in Mt Roskill on two or three issues, the first being law and order, with concerns among ethnic communities that they were increasingly a target for burglaries and other crime.

There have been claims (from the left) that the People’s Party has been set up to help National but competing for the large ethnic Indian vote may reduce rather than increase National’s chances.

Despite Goff winning Mt Roskill by clear margins National got 41.87% party vote to Labour’s 35.35% in 2014 so it isn’t a foregone conclusion for Wood and Labour.

In 2014 Goff won with an 8000-vote majority over Parmar but National got 14,275 party votes – about 2000 more than Labour.

Whatever the outcome it’s hard to know whether any indicators will come out of the by-election of what might happen in next year’s general election.

Andrew Little and Metiria Turei have applauded their parties successes in the local body elections, but similar successes in 2013 didn’t translate into success for either party in the 2014 general election.

Of course by-elections can do funny things, as happened in the last by-election, when Winston Peters won Northland. But that was under extraordinary circumstances with National’s incumbent MP Mike Sabin resigning just after the election under a cloud. And Peters is far from an ordinary candidate.

Mt Roskill gives voters a chance to express themselves however they like, whether on national issues or on local issues. It’s impossible to know what they will end up deciding their vote on.

Unlike their Northland embarrassment a loss for National would be little more than nothing gained for them in Mt Roskill, although picking up an extra seat in Parliament would be significant, as it would give them their majority (with ACT or with Peter Dunne) again. So they will be keen to do well, but by-elections tend to go against parties in Government.

More pressure will be on Labour. The loss of an electorate would be seriously embarrassing for them. This will be a test for Matt McCarten in his new position as Labour’s Auckland campaign guru – he has had very mixed successes in the past.

It will be interesting to see how much Andrew Little injects himself into the campaign. He has to be actively involved, because a lot will be riding on the result for him.

Little also needs campaign experience. He has lost both his electorate campaigns in New Plymouth, so as far as Labour is concerned his by-election performance will be closely watched.

The People’s Party are unlikely to come close to competing with National and Labour but they could cause serious problems for both, depending on which of the big parties they suck votes off.

However the People’s Party will a have good opportunity to put the spotlight on issues of concern to the large number of Indian voters, so may get some wins via Government promises.

NZ First MP Mahesh Bindra stood in Mt Roskill in 2014 but didn’t do well, getting only 717 votes (2.15%). NZ First also got a relatively low 5.29%, and their anti-immigration rhetoric may not appeal to an electorate with many immigrants.

There will be a lot of interest in the by-election, amongst political junkies at least. Whatever the result is it will be interesting, possibly even fascinating, but it may ask more questions than answers about what may happen next year.

New party welcome to try

Two editorials on the rights of New Zealanders to start up political parties versus the rants of people who oppose new parties.

NZ Herald: An Asian political party would be welcome if migrants feel they need it

A new political party aiming to represent Indian and other Asian immigrants ought to be welcomed by all New Zealanders. Our electoral system has been designed to give a voice to minorities. Oddly, the “People’s Party” has not been welcomed by Winston Peters, an enthusiast for MMP who exploits its fragmented politics at every opportunity. “No country is going to progress if we have political parties accentuating their differences,” he said, probably with a straight face.

It is a daring move to form a distinct political party. Newcomers to a country are naturally unsure of their right to assert themselves in its decisions. They know there will be many like Peters, who calls it “an extraordinary demand”. If they elect their own party it might confine itself to issues of particular concern to migrants. That would be a pity.

It is a strength of this country that it has a place in its politics for minorities and it is not for others to tell them how they are represented.

A key aspect of a health democracy is participation, something that New Zealand has a growing lack of.

So more parties and more options for representation should be welcomed by those who value democracy rather than their own narrow self interest.

Dominion Post (Stuff): New party welcome to try for Parliament, but the task will be difficult

The New Zealand People’s Party aims to have its first candidate ready for a by-election in Auckland’s Mt Roskill, if current MP Phil Goff leaves to become the city’s mayor.

Not surprisingly, NZ First leader Winston Peters is agitated. “A whole [lot] of New Zealand people are getting sick and tired of people who think they can walk into our country and now demand to have a say in the political system,” he says.

This is typically gutter-level stuff – “our country” and the fight to protect it from uppity outsiders who “demand a say”. No need for the dog-whistle here.

It’s nonsense. Those who live in New Zealand as residents or citizens are New Zealanders. This is their country and they don’t need to demand a say: they have it as of right.

Yes, it is everyone’s right, including the 25% of New Zealand residents or citizens who were not born in this country but have chosen to live here. And a lot more are children of immigrants – the population of our country is built on immigrants.

Political representation is part of the deal. If a party wants to pitch its tent as a voice for minority communities that it believes are often ignored, then that is fine and no-one should be troubled by it.

An entirely different question is whether it will be successful.

Success will be very difficult to achieve if their aim is to get seats in Parliament, but publicity given them by Winston Peters’ dog whistling may help.


Another NZ First donation controversy

Last week Winston Peters blasted the announcement of New Zealand People’s Party being set up by immigrants. He claimed they were a front for the National Party. But Peters has been busted by NewsHub.

Revealed: Winston Peters in $3k Indian donation controversy

The headline is inaccurate, it wasn’t an ‘Indian donation’, it was made in New Zealand presumably by a new Zealand citizen.

Winston Peters is caught up in a donations controversy after his New Zealand First party took $3000 from the founder of the new immigrant-focused People’s Party.

Newshub can reveal the money was taken after Mr Peters met with Indian businessman Roshan Nauhria over dinner at Auckland’s India Gate restaurant in the days before the 2014 election

On Saturday, Mr Peters told TV3’s The Nation that the People’s Party was “a National Party front”.

“The person that was the spokesperson and the temporary leader for that party just at a recent raffle for fundraising for the National Party offered $20,000 in a bid for the Prime Minister to have breakfast at his place. He got beaten by a bid of $27,000. This is a National Party front,” Mr Peters said.

But Mr Nauria subsequently said he had given a donation to NZ First, accusing Mr Peters of hypocrisy.

Busted. But Peters is denying being involved in receiving the cheque (but hasn’t denied NZ First receiving it).

Asked about Mr Nauhria’s donation, Mr Peters initial response was to say: “Okay well, if that’s the case he’ll show you a receipt won’t he? Has he shown you the receipt?

The number one thing you need to do is show me the evidence not just come along and repeat an allegation and think you are going to slide past it like that – that won’t do.”

It’s worth repeating “The number one thing you need to do is show me the evidence not just come along and repeat an allegation and think you are going to slide past it like that” – that’s the sort of thing that Peters has often done. Except that he often fails to produce evidence, while Newshub have a copy of the cheque.

However, Mr Peters did not deny a donation was given, saying: “he may have given it to somebody else at the meeting and I have been to the restaurant, that’s true, and a group of Indian people wanted to talk to me, that’s a fact, but as for anything else – that would be in the knowledge of someone else but not me.”

Even if Nauhria is not correct in saying he gave the cheque personally to Peters (Peters has been found out in the past on fibbing about a donation from own Glenn) this is a bit awkward for Peters and for NZ First.


He wasn’t a happy looking chap.

Q&A: immigration, People’s party, global water

This morning on NZ Q&A:


Is it time for an immigration debate?

Political Editor Corin Dann talks through the numbers with Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse – has the Government got our immigration settings right?

People’s Party

A new party for immigrants, the New Zealand People’s Party will launch next month. Greg Boyed asks its leader, Roshan Nauhria, whether his party can succeed.

They might get a chance to respond to attacks from Winston Peters – see People’s Party none of Peters’ business.

Global water issues

Plus, KPMG Global Head of Corporate Citizenship, Lord Michael Hastings, has been visiting New Zealand to talk about global water issues. Corin Dann finds out what he thought of New Zealand’s water problems.


We also have an update on the situation of the young Mangere mother of three with a high-risk sex offender living over her back fence.

Joining our host Greg Boyed on the panel is political scientist Dr Raymond Miller, Islamic Women’s Council’s Anjum Rahmun and CE of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce Michael Barnett.


People’s Party none of Peters’ business

On The Nation this morning Winston Peters did some more grumbling about the recently announced New Zealand People’s Party, saying he is utterly opposed to it.

So what? It’s none of his business whether anyone else wants to start up a new party or not.

Peters seems to be utterly opposed to existing parties too, like the Maori Party, United Future, the Green Party, the Mana Party. He seems to be utterly opposed to immigration. He seems to be opposed to anything that’s not him.

Newshub: New Zealand People’s Party is a ‘National Party front’ – Winston Peters

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has lashed out again at the new Indian-led New Zealand People’s Party, accusing it of being a front for the National Party.

Speaking to TV3’s The Nation, Mr Peters accused the New Zealand People’s Party of trying to split the Labour vote in the Mt Roskill electorate, thus enabling National to win the seat.

Peters played parties, especially National and Labour, in the Northland by-election, enabling him to win. That’s called politics. Peters just doesn’t seem to like it when anyone else does it.

“It splits other party’s votes… They’re setting up a movement based on race and my party is utterly opposed to it.”

Any party can split other parties votes, that’s sort of a fundamental of politics and elections.

I don’t know if the New Zealand People’s Party is based on race. I haven’t seem them say anything about limiting membership to Indians or to immigrants. But they can try whatever they like.

The Winston movement is based on age (sort of, one of his key demographics is the Grey vote).

When the New Zealand Seniors Party was announced in June Peters also slagged them off – see Peters unimpressed with new ‘disgruntled pensioners’ party.

Peters seems to think he owns the grumpy old man vote.

What he may really be grumpy about regarding the expected Roskill by-election is that he is unlikely to have much influence there, especially if he bitches about immigrants daring to propose new parties.

But Winston being Winston anything that gives him a chance to stir up anti-immigration sentiment he will play as much as he can, even if there’s no short term gain for him.

Peters seems to have an arrogance that shows as petulance against any peasants if they threaten his role as king (maker).

Whoever is behind the People’s Party, and whoever they try to attract as members and voters, is none of Winston’s business.

New ethnic party unnecessary?

Of course leaders of existing parties think that new competing parties are unnecessary – they want everyone to vote for them and not get distracted by some political interloper.

NZ Herald: Political party for Indian & Asian migrants angers Winston Peters

NZ First leader Winston Peters says a move to set up a new ethnicity-based political party for Asian and Indian immigrants is a “an extraordinary demand” which will harm New Zealand.

The People’s Party has been set up and acting leader Rohan Nauhria told RNZ it would campaign on issues such as crime and was aiming to get into Parliament by focusing on the Indian and other Asian communities.

The announcement of the People’s Party got a frosty reception from NZ First leader Winston Peters who said race-based parties were bad news.

“No country is going to progress if we have political parties spending time accentuating their differences. For people to come into New Zealand and say we’re going to start an ethnic-based party is an extraordinary demand to make.”

I don’t know how angry Peters actually is but this is pathetic.

One of the key aspects of political campaigning is accentuating differences. Peters does it all the time, that’s a reason why he has generally been successful for so long.

Peters seems to have a problem with immigrants becoming politically active. Does he want to limit voters and party starters to New Zealand born pensioners?

I haven’t seen the People’s Party making any demands. Like other aspiring parties they are offer themselves and people decide whether to support and vote for them or not.

It’s Peters who is virtually demanding immigrants butt out of competing with him.

John Key had a much less abrasive reaction.

Prime Minister John Key said he was not surprised the party had emerged given the recent focus on migration.

“It’s not just Winston Peters with an anti-migrant message, it’s also been people like Labour. So you’re always going to get people wanting to make sure their voice is heard the other way.”

In an open democracy like ours starting a political party is one way of being heard. And Peters has already listened.

Key doubted it would get into Parliament, based on the history of similar one-issue parties and its lack of a well-known leader.

That’s a reality of our system of MMP. Key’s National has ensured that a ridiculously high 5% threshold remains in place to make it very difficult for new parties to succeed.

He said it was important for ethnic communities to be represented, but they were better served by the major parties selecting candidates from those communities rather than forming their own party. “I think that’s a far more effective and likely to be successful.”

A small party that doesn’t get elected may potentially have more impact than an ethnic National MP virtually anonymous in a large back bench.

When Dr Parmjeet Parmar was announced as a National list candidate I don’t recall the media giving Winston publicity so he can have a rant. The People’s Party has already had an impact.

Peters said ethnic groups were already well represented in Parliament and there was no need for a separate party.

It’s not about need as perceived by a crusty old campaigner. Our democracy gives us all the right to have a go and participate in any way we see fit.

Perhaps a fresh new party will be a good thing for a significant number of voters who have no interest in a cantankerous old anti-immigration crank.


And Rohan Nauhria is hardly a ‘lack of a well-known leader” (as Key put it).

NZ Asian leaders: Roshan Nauhria

Roshan Nauhria commenced self employment in New Zealand in 1976 invigorating the hardware supply industry through the import of wire nails to the building industry.

2009 Appointed member of the New Zealand order of Merit.

Through continued research and development…

Nauhria – Westpac Auckland Business Awards 2015; Supreme Winner – Business Excellence Award – South

Sounds like an excellent sort of immigrant to me.  he has been successful in business in new Zealand a very long time – since before Peters first became an MP way back in last century.