Story: National Party

National Party membership, 1938–2002

National Party membership, 1938–2002

There is no official data on political party membership. This graph, pulled together from many sources and therefore not exact, does provide a good sense of the fluctuations in membership of the National Party since its founding in 1936.  In the first 20 years of the party's life there was much energy put into building up membership and creating a genuinely national party. Fees were low and there was good representation both geographically and in terms of occupations. The Holyoake years of the 1960s saw falling numbers, but with the election of a new Labour government in 1972 enthusiasm for National revived, with new members initially attracted by Robert Muldoon's energetic campaigning. However, since 1981 National has suffered a steady decline in membership – as has the Labour Party. 

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Source: Bryce Edwards, 'Political parties in New Zealand: a study of ideological and organisational transformation.' PhD thesis, University of Canterbury, 2003.

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How to cite this page:

Colin James, 'National Party - Party composition and organisation', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/graph/33893/national-party-membership-1938-2002 (accessed 14 December 2019)

Story by Colin James, published 20 Jun 2012, updated 1 Dec 2016