United New Zealand

United New Zealand was a centrist political party in New Zealand founded in 1995. It merged with the Christian-based Future New Zealand party to form the United Future New Zealand party in 2000.

United New Zealand
FounderClive Matthewson
Founded28 June 1995
Dissolved2000; 20 years ago (2000)
Succeeded byUnited Future
Political positionCentre
International affiliationNone
Colours     Purple



United was founded on 28 June 1995, one of a number of new parties hoping to capitalise on the upcoming switch to the MMP electoral system. It was intended to be a liberal centrist party, encompassing moderate voters from both the centre-left and the centre-right. The party was established by four MPs from the National Party, two MPs from the Labour Party, and former Labour MP Peter Dunne, who had already established his own party, Future New Zealand (not to be confused with the Christian-based party of the same name which United later merged with).[1] The party was led by Clive Matthewson, a former Labour MP.

The MPs who established United were:[1]

Name Joined Left Prior affiliation
Margaret Austin 1995 1996 Labour
Bruce Cliffe 1995 1996 National
Peter Dunne 1995 2000 Future NZ
Clive Matthewson 1995 1996 Labour
Pauline Gardiner 1995 1996 National
Peter Hilt 1995 1996 National
John Robertson 1995 1996 National

1996 electionEdit

The party, while initially attracting interest, performed poorly in the 1996 election. The party's policies were centrist and liberal in nature but to many appeared too bland to attract media profile. In addition, Matthewson, while charismatic, was seen by many as an intellectual light-weight. Bruce Cliffe had indicated he would resign from Parliament in 1996. Peter Dunne was the only United MP to retain his seat, with all others being ejected from Parliament. Clive Matthewson, whose seat had been abolished in the change to MMP, placed fourth in his new electorate.

As the party's only surviving MP, Peter Dunne became leader of United. When United entered into a coalition with the governing National Party in 1996, securing a Cabinet post for Peter Dunne, many commentators claimed that the party had abandoned its centrist stance. United claimed that a deal with National would allow United to moderate National's more extreme right-wing tendencies and that such arrangements would become common practice under the new MMP system.

1997 saw the merging into United of the Advance NZ Party, Ethnic Minority Party and the Conservatives; all small centre-right parties established to contest the 1996 election.

1999 electionEdit

In the 1999 election, United's share of the vote declined even further, with swinging voters shifting to Labour to oust the Shipley government. However, Peter Dunne managed to retain his electorate seat thereby preserving United's parliamentary representation.

Later developmentsEdit

United merged with a social conservative, evangelical Christian-based party Future New Zealand (not to be confused with Peter Dunne's party before United was formed) in 2000. Future New Zealand, formerly the Christian Democrats, was not represented in parliament. The merged party adopted the name United Future New Zealand, and established a caucus that has extended from seven (47th New Zealand Parliament, 2002–2005) to three (48th New Zealand Parliament, 2005–2007) to two members (48th New Zealand Parliament, May 2007 – 2008) with the departure of Gordon Copeland, eventually returning to just one MP elected in 2008, 2011 and 2014. Of these caucuses, Dunne remained the only electorate MP, while his caucus was formed from United Future's MMP party list, and consisted of MPs who were progressive on social justice issues but conservative on some moral issues.

Electoral resultsEdit

Election seats won party votes popular vote
1 / 120
18,245 0.88%
1 / 120
11,065 0.54%


  1. ^ a b Curtin, Jennifer; Miller, Raymond (16 November 2012). "Political parties - Small parties under MMP". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 7 June 2015.