A centre-right Christian party for New Zealand?

On Saturday National Party Member of Parliament Alfred Ngaro launched a scathing attack on the use of abortion in New Zealand. Mr Ngaro shared on his Facebook page a comment about abortion being “an unholy holocaust in this nation”.

Mr Ngaro’s attack on abortion came as he discussed with National Party leader Simon Bridges, the possibility of a right-leaning Christian party for New Zealand.

New Zealand has had a bit of a chequered history with right-leaning Christian parties. United Future entered Parliament as a centre-right leaning group which was the result of Future New Zealand (formed 1994) becoming United New Zealand (1995). When they took 8 seats at the 2002 General Election, United Future almost immediately ran into trouble with one Member of Parliament being forced to resign before even being sworn in because that Member was not a New Zealand citizen. It went on to support the fifth Labour Government of Prime Minister Helen Clark. In 2005 it was reduced to three Members of Parliament, during which time it shifted to the political centre, having shorn itself of its strongly Christian M.P.’s and then to just the Leader, Peter Dunne in 2008. He supported the fifth National-led Government until retiring in 2017 and United Future dissolved the following year.

Around the same time as United New Zealand came into existence, so did Christian Democrat Party (1995) which merged with the older Christian Heritage Party (1989) to become the Christian Coalition. This disintegrated with the Christian Democrats joining United N.Z. after two years as a revived Future N.Z. Christian Heritage went their own way and ran into public disgrace and ultimately disbanded after it was found that the Leader Graham Capill was a paedophile who had violated numerous young girls.

Further fringe parties continued to form outside of Parliament from 2003 to 2007 (Destiny New Zealand, The Kiwi Party and The Family Party). The parties were made up of disgruntled United Future members who had lost their seats in the 2005 General Election and the remnants of older failed parties. They all stood on socially conservative grounds with opposition to same sex marriage, abortion, promoting strong family policies and a hard line on justice. By 2012 all of them had disbanded or had merged with the Conservative Party of New Zealand under the now disgraced Colin Craig. The Conservative Party was the largest party outside of Parliament in the 2017 General Election.

Out of all of this, only Peter Dunne, who retired from politics in 2017 came out with a respectable record. Mr Dunne left Labour in the early 1990’s to help establish an independent party, and eventually became the Leader of United/Future (and United Future)New Zealand through its various forms including an 8 week period in 2013 where it was deregistered for lack of members. Mr Dunne held the Ministerial warrants of Inland Revenue and Associate Health until his retirement.

It is against this backdrop we now watch to see if Mr Ngaro will proceed to form a party. Coming so soon after the Christchurch terrorist attack, one might well wonder whether it is an appropriate time to be launching a Christian Party. But Mr Bridges would not be drawn on that, saying he simply told Mr Ngaro to contact with him when things have progressed.

Whilst Mr Bridges might be trying to cultivate support among Christians in New Zealand who may feel burnt by the huge support for the Muslim community, he needs to be careful. His support for President Donald Trump of the United States at a time when Mr Trump is aggressively pursuing policies that are biased against Muslims and openly endorsing the Christian right is at risk of directly clashing with post-Christchurch terrorist attack sentiment.


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