The Country Party was formed by the Auckland Provincial Executive of the Farmers' Union in 1922, and contested elections from 1925 to 1935 with the support of that body. The party was led by Captain H. M. Rushworth, a prominent figure in the Farmers' Union and a member of Parliament from 1928 to 1938. The Country Party appealed exclusively to small farmers, claiming to represent their interests against the influence of urban elements in the Reform Party. The Country Party stood for free trade and against the protection of secondary industry. It advocated a vigorous land-settlement policy and cheap credit for farmers, to be financed through an agricultural bank.
The party reflected a certain discontent among farmers with the economic policies of the Reform Government, but its influence never spread outside Auckland Province. Its performance in elections from 1925 to 1935 is shown in the following table:
|Election||No. of Candidates||Total Votes||Average per Candidate|
Two Country Party members sat in Parliament: Captain H. M. Rushworth, who represented Bay of Islands from 1928 to 1938, and A. C. A. Sexton, Franklin, from 1935 to 1938. Otherwise the party made little impression on Reform strength in rural areas, although it did loosen the party's hold in several seats in south Auckland and the Waikato.
by John Richard Sinclair Daniels, M.A., Local Government Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.
- Farming First (1926–38) (Periodical).