New Zealand Young Nationals

The New Zealand Young Nationals, more commonly called the Young Nats, is the youth wing of the National Party, a centre-right political party in New Zealand, and a member of the International Young Democrat Union.

New Zealand Young Nationals
Young Nats Logo 2017.png
PresidentStephanie-Anne Ross[1]
Vice PresidentJared Pullar[1]
Founded14 May 1936; 86 years ago (1936-05-14)
IdeologyLiberal conservatism[2]
Economic liberalism[3]
InternationalInternational Young Democrat Union[5]
Mother PartyNew Zealand National Party
Elected National Team[6]
SecretaryAlana Stilborn
TreasurerVivian Griffiths
Policy Chair<Vacant>
Membership OfficerNeve Williams
Creative DirectorTom Wyatt
Elected Regional Chairs[6]
NorthernDallas Kete
Central North IslandLaura Swears
Lower North IslandBen Teviotdale
Canterbury-WestlandJessica Allan
SouthernGabby Bird


The National Party has had a youth section since its inception in 1936, and are a constituted youth wing of the National Party.[7] The Young Nationals have been a strong lobby group inside the National Party, and often at the forefront of policy development being representative as a Core Group or a Policy Action Group of the party at varying times. For a short period during the party's earlier years there was a younger section of the National party for pre-teenage members but has since disappeared due to the changing environment of New Zealand politics and society.[citation needed]

Prior to the group being named the Young Nationals, the New Zealand National Party's Youth section was known as the Junior Nationals.[8] In the lead up to the 1949 election, the Wellington branch had 3,500 members and the Auckland branch consisted of 2,500 members.[9] The group hosted a number of community events such as dances, parties, debating or discussion, and lectures or addresses. In 1967 the group voted to change the name to the Young Nationals as Junior Nationals was seen to have potentially negative connotations.[8] This renamed group attracted members for political reasons rather than social activities like its predecessor.[8] In 1968 the National Party agreed to for two Young Nationals to sit on the party's Dominion Council.[8] 1971 brought upon Young Nationals creating political discussion groups called 'Pol Link's' which enabled the group to research and discuss political issues allowing the National Party to understand the contemporary issues of young generations.[10] In 2015 the Young Nationals claimed to have over 20,000 likes on their Facebook page and over 6,000 official members.[11]

In 2022, Young Nat member Jessee MacKenzie admitted creating social media accounts under fake names to harass and troll female politicians. One targeted politician, Sara Templeton, made an application to a district court under the Harmful Digital Communications Act, which revealed the IP address of the harassment to have come from a house owned by Bryce Beattie, also a Young Nats member, where MacKenzie lived. Both MacKenzie and Beattie resigned from the National Party.[12][13]


In 2009, under major changes led by the organisation's governing executive, the Young Nationals were re-organised to serve as a more effective tool for policy activism and campaign activity.

Regional TeamsEdit

As of 2011, The Young Nationals are divided into five regions nationwide:

  • Northern;
  • Central North Island;
  • Lower North Island;
  • Canterbury-Westland; and
  • Southern.

Each of these regions are headed by their own Chair and executive group and supervised by a National Executive, elected annually during the National Party Conference.

Some regions of the Young Nationals also may have branches. These include the Alfred Street Young Nationals,[14] which are based in Auckland and considered a counter group to the Princes Street Labour movement and VicNats[15] which is based around Victoria University. In 2011, the Young Nationals celebrated 75 years as New Zealand's oldest and largest political youth movement.[16]

National TeamEdit

The National Executive, are made up of elected members across New Zealand who, set the agenda and leadership for the Young Nationals during the year. There are currently 12 members. They are made of a:

  • President;
  • Vice-President;
  • Secretary;
  • Treasurer;
  • Policy Chair;
  • Membership Officer;
  • Creative Director; and
  • The Chairs of each of the Regional Executives[6]


Regional EventsEdit

Throughout the year each of the five Regions teams have a range of social events. These include, but are not limited to, coffee catch ups with MPs, Social drinks and pub quizzes. Events are usually centred around the academic timetables of the universities in the regions. Additionally, regions will often host Christmas parties and Policy-based events.[17][18][19][20][21][22]


From time to time the Young Nationals have organised balls. These balls are often held in Auckland and are open to members and non-members alike. The most recent ball was in 2021.[23][24]

Young Nats Leadership ConferenceEdit

In 2018, The Young Nationals re-commenced the Young Nats Conference. This conference is an opportunity for members from across the country to network, discuss policy issues and learn to campaign. In 2018, the Conference was held in Nelson, and was followed by a conference in Wellington in 2019, Queenstown in 2020 and Auckland in 2021.[25][26][27][28]


Often the more liberal views of the Young Nationals have been at odds with those of the wider party. The shift in party opinion in areas such as the nuclear ships debate, economic reform, liquor law reform, and anti-discrimination laws has often been influenced by the Young Nationals.[29]

Drug PolicyEdit


The Young Nationals, in conjunction with other New Zealand political party youth wings,[30] support the current purchase age for alcohol of 18 years. The Young Nationals lobbied the government in 2012 to keep the drinking age at 18 when the Sale and Supply of Liquor Act Amendment Bill was put by parliament. The Bill successfully passed. This position was reaffirmed in 2018.[31]

Pill TestingEdit

In late 2019, the Young Nationals moved to support pill testing at festivals and concerts. The Young Nationals noted that the position was in support of harm reduction, not a motion in support of drug use.[32] In 2020, the Young Nats obtained some media attention as their position on this stance as the National Party decided to vote against legislation to allow for pill testing, making them the only party in parliament to do so.[33][34][35] In 2021, the Young Nationals reaffirmed their position on pill testing with the President of the Young Nationals, Stephanie-Anne Ross, and then Policy Chair, Andrew Mahoney, presenting both in writing and in person their positions on the Drug and Substance Checking Legislation Bill (No 2) to the Health Select Committee[36][37] despite the National Party reaffirming their position to vote against the bill.[38]


Polytechnic AutonomyEdit

The National Party opposes the merging of Regional Polytechnics as legislated by the Sixth Labour Government of New Zealand. The Young Nationals have also supported this position publicly on the basis that polytechnics maintain regional autonomy and polytechnics maintain their assets.[39][40]

Voluntary Student UnionismEdit

The Young Nationals have lobbied the New Zealand Government to adopt and pass legislation that would move tertiary Students’ Associations to a system of voluntary membership.[41] Currently, Student Union membership is compulsory in New Zealand for most university students. The Young Nationals, in conjunction with ACT on Campus, Free Me and other New Zealanders, were successful in winning select committee[42] and subsequently government support to pass a private member's Bill by ACT MP Heather Roy to introduce voluntary membership to student associations in tertiary institutions.[43] The Bill, Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment, was passed into law in September 2011, and took effect in 2012.


The Young Nationals support the creation of an income tax free threshold to assist individuals with the rising cost of living and the re-implementation of 90-day trial periods to increase youth employment.[44]


The Young Nationals have supported the Zero Carbon Act since 2017[45] and have lobbied the National Party to support it since then. The Young Nationals have also supported the continuation of a green investment fund and the Implementation of a nationwide riparian management scheme.[46]

Health CareEdit

Mental HealthEdit

The Young Nationals, as part of their 2020 Policy Platform,[47] support the creation of a contestable mental health first aid training fund to assist those seeking to undertake mental health first aid training programmes in New Zealand and the establishment of a Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission.[48] The Young Nationals were credited by the National Party for their idea on mental health first aid and assistance in early intervention measures.[49] In 2019, then President of the Young Nationals, Sam Stead, and Policy Chair, Andrew Mahoney, presented both in writing and in person their positions on the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission to the Health Select Committee.[50][51]

Sanitary Products in SchoolsEdit

The Young Nationals support free provision of sanitary items in New Zealand schools.[52]

LGBT RightsEdit

The Young Nationals supported the legalisation of same-sex marriage in New Zealand, with members lobbying MPs for this change.[53]

The Young Nationals support the banning of gay conversion therapy following membership consultation on the issue after Young Labour and the Young Greens petitioned for a ban.[54][55] Despite, The National Party highlighting conversations with the Young Nationals were one of the leading reasons the Party would support the ban on gay conversion therapy[56] the party determined to vote against a bill that would ban gay conversion therapy at first reading.[57] The Young Nationals highlighted their disappointment publicly at this stance[58] and in a speech at the National Party's 2021 annual conference the Young National President further highlighted their disappointment with the decision in front of the party's membership.[59]


List of presidents of the Young Nationals:

  • 1969–1970: Chris Whitta
  • 1970–1971: Eric Bowell
  • 1971–1972: Lachlan Ross
  • 1972–1973: Paul Matheson
  • 1973–1976: Murray McCully
  • 1976–1978: S Pearson
  • 1978–1980: Martin Gummer
  • 1980–1981: Simon Upton
  • 1981–1982: Peter Kiely
  • 1982–1983: Stuart Boag
  • 1983–1984: Alastair Bell
  • 1984–1985: Mark Lowndes
  • 1985–1986: Phil O'Reilly
  • 1986–1987: Craig Allan
  • 1987–1989: Andrew Harvey
  • 1989–1990: Wayne P Marriott
  • 1990-1990: Bruce Alabaster
  • 1990–1991: Elaine Enright
  • 1991–1995: Shane Frith
  • 1995–1996: Sarah Borrell
  • 1996–1997: Mel Davis
  • 1997–1999: Tim Hurdle
  • 1999–2001: Daniel Gordon
  • 2001–2003: Grant Tyrrell
  • 2003–2005: Jamie Simpson
  • 2005–2006: Michael Mabbett
  • 2006–2008: Matthew Patterson
  • 2008–2009: Alex Mitchell
  • 2009–2012: Daniel Fielding
  • 2012–2015: Sean Topham
  • 2015–2016: Joel Rowan
  • 2016–2018: Stefan Sunde[60]
  • 2018–2021: Sam Stead
  • 2021–present: Stephanie-Anne Ross

Political alumniEdit

Former membersEdit

Life membersEdit

A number of other former members have taken up prominent roles across a number of sectors, such as Phil O'Reilly[66] as CEO of Business New Zealand, John Marshall QC as President of the New Zealand Law Society[67] and Paul Matheson as Mayor of Nelson.

Sexual harassmentEdit

In 2018, after a Young National's Christmas drinks party at the Brew on Quay bar in Auckland, a woman, aged 17, and some friends went to a young man's apartment near the bar. The woman was allegedly groped, kissed, and continued to be followed after she left the apartment. The man was suspended from the party and police began investigating the incident.

The then National leader Simon Bridges said "I learned about it late [last] week. I sought assurances that everything had been handled and dealt with appropriately. It seems clear to me that it has: that they followed very strongly a health and safety plan and did all of the right things, both at the Young Nats event and post."[68]

Judith Collins praised the response and said "If it's gone to police, that's a good place for it, and that's what the Labour Party should have done in the first place: taken it to police," in reference to Labour's response to Young Labour's sexual assault allegations.[69]

Further readingEdit

Finding a second family in the Young Nats – a short documentary following the group's then Northern Chair prior to the 2020 election.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Our team". Young Nats.
  2. ^ Cheyne, Christine (2009) [2005]. Social Policy in Aotearoa New Zealand. Oxford University Press. p. 70. The ideological underpinnings of policy directions in the National Party under the leadership of John Key appear to reflect a liberal conservatism
  3. ^ Johnson, Norman (2014). Mixed Economies Welfare (revised ed.). Routledge. p. 62. ISBN 9781317903802. The conservative National Party that formed the government in New Zealand after 1990, went even further than its Labour predecessor in implementing neo-liberal economic and social policies.
  4. ^ "Voters' preexisting opinions shift to align with political party positions". Association for Psychological Science. 2 November 2018. Retrieved 8 August 2020 – via Science Daily. In 2015, New Zealand held a referendum on changing the national flag, an issue that quickly became polarized along party lines. John Key, then-New Zealand Prime Minister and leader of the centre-right National Party, advocated for changing the flag design, while, Andrew Little, then-leader of the centre-left Labour Party, opposed the change.
  5. ^ "Members". 8 July 2021.
  6. ^ a b c "Your Team – NZ Young Nats". 6 January 2018. Archived from the original on 6 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Constitution and Rules : MyNational". Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d Gustafson 1986, p. 262.
  9. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 256.
  10. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 263.
  11. ^ James, Colin (2017). National at 80 Years: The Story of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Bateman. p. 283.
  12. ^ Law, Tina (30 March 2022). "Online bullying of female politicians linked to Young Nat's house". Stuff. Retrieved 1 April 2022.
  13. ^ Law, Tina (31 March 2022). "'I am Eggstein': Young Nat Jessee MacKenzie admits trolling female politicians, resigns from National Party". Stuff. Retrieved 1 April 2022.
  14. ^ "Log In or Sign Up to View".
  15. ^ "Log In or Sign Up to View".
  16. ^ "Young Nats celebrate milestone & raise $10,000".
  17. ^ "NZ Young Nats". Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  18. ^ "Northern Young Nats". Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  19. ^ "Southern Young Nats". Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  20. ^ "CNI Young Nats". Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  21. ^ "CW Young Nats". Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  22. ^ "Lower North Island Young Nats". Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  23. ^ Young Nats Ball, retrieved 13 April 2020
  24. ^ "The Young Nats Ball – 2014". Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  25. ^ "2018 Annual Conference". NZ National Party. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
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  27. ^ "Turning up the hype, down south". Young Nats. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  28. ^ "NZ Young Nats on Facebook". Facebook. Archived from the original on 30 April 2022.[user-generated source]
  29. ^ "Our Story". Young Nats. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  30. ^ "Home | Keep It 18". 3 May 2010. Archived from the original on 3 May 2010.
  31. ^ "NZ Young Nats stand by Keep it 18". Young Nats. 6 December 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
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  34. ^ "National's youth wing side with Labour by supporting legal pill-testing – 'It should not be their death sentence'" – via TVNZ.
  35. ^ "Pill-testing law passes in time for summer festivals with only the National Party opposed". NZ Herald.
  36. ^ "New Zealand Young Nationals Submission on the Drug and Substance Checking Legislation Bill (No 2)". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  37. ^ "Drug and Substance Checking Legislation Bill (No 2) – hearing of evidence". Facebook. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  38. ^ "Second Drug Testing Bill Passes First Reading". Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  39. ^ "NZ Young Nats". Archived from the original on 26 February 2022.
  40. ^ "NZ Young Nats". Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  41. ^ "Our Policies". Kim for Utah.
  42. ^ "Freedom of Association Amendment Bill Submission" (PDF).
  43. ^ Hartevelt, John (20 October 2010). "Compulsory student union membership to end". Stuff New Zealand. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  44. ^ "Employment". Young Nats. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  45. ^ "NZ Young Nats – Zero Carbon Act". Facebook. 14 December 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  46. ^ "Environment". Young Nats. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  47. ^ "Young Nats Policy Platform". Young Nats. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  48. ^ "Mental Health". Young Nats. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  49. ^ "Health – Discussion Document". Issuu. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  50. ^ "New Zealand Young Nationals – New Zealand Parliament". Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  51. ^ Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill hearings of evidence, retrieved 12 April 2020
  52. ^ "NZ Young Nats – Today we're proud to announce our support..." Facebook. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  53. ^ Davison, Isaac (27 August 2012). "Young MPs join to support marriage equality". NZ Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  54. ^ "NZ Young Nats – The Young Nats are proud to add our voice..." Facebook. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  55. ^ Sarah Robson (19 July 2018). "Young Labour, Young Greens launch petition to ban gay conversion therapy | RNZ News". Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  56. ^ "National to support ban on gay conversion therapy after Judith Collins talks to Young Nats and Googles it". Stuff. 9 February 2021.
  57. ^ "National MPs Defend Vote Against Conversion Therapy Bill Despite Saying They Support A Ban". Newshub. 6 August 2021.
  58. ^ "Deeply Disappointed Young Nats Call For National party To Support Conversion Therapy Bill". Stuff. 5 August 2021.
  59. ^ "Young Nats Take Fight To Judith Collins Over Gay Conversion Therapy At Party Conference". New Zealand Herald. 7 August 2021.
  60. ^ "Your Team | Young Nats". Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  61. ^ @audreyNZH, Audrey Young Audrey Young is political editor for the New Zealand Herald (22 May 2020). "Winston Peters says refreshing NZ First policy under Todd Muller would be 'intelligent'" – via {{cite web}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  62. ^ "National Party Board Candidates". 5 August 2021.
  63. ^ "Goodfellow Re-elected As President, National Welcomes New Board Members".
  64. ^ "Young Nats not immune to 'boozy over-indulgence', says long-time party member". 16 March 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  65. ^ "Our Team". Taxpayers' Union.
  66. ^ "Business NZ profile: Phil O'Reilly".
  67. ^ "NZLS membership and representative services". Law Talk (725). 16 March 2009.
  68. ^ "Nats suspended man only after story broke". Newsroom. 28 November 2018. Retrieved 22 March 2021.
  69. ^ Small, Zane (27 November 2018). "Judith Collins praises response to sexual advance on teen at Young Nats event". Newshub. Retrieved 22 March 2021.


External linksEdit