A billboard for the Christian Heritage Party features leader Graham Capill and his wife Judith. The party, formed in 1989, had a strongly conservative moral base, and membership was restricted to avowed Christians. The Christian Coalition, formed in 1995 to contest the first MMP election in 1996, was a sometimes uneasy alliance between the Christian Heritage and Christian Democrat parties. The Christian Democrat Party, formed by Graeme Lee (a former National Party MP) in 1995, was intended to have broader appeal than the Christian Heritage Party and was open to those who might not be avowed Christians but shared Christian values.
The Christian Coalition was dominated by the Christian Heritage Party and Capill, its leader. The coalition only survived until 1997, and the Christian Democrats, renamed Future New Zealand, became part of the UnitedFuture Party in 2000. Capill's conviction in 2005 for child sexual abuse damaged the Christian Heritage Party, and in 2006, 97% of its members voted to end the party. Leader Ewen McQueen said Capill’s conviction had created ‘a legacy of negative perceptions,’ and the party could not unite the Christian vote 'under its own banner – or even under a different name'. (Quoted in 'Capill blamed as Christian Heritage closes down', New Zealand Herald, http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10404090 (last accessed 16 September 2011))
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Photographs by Nigel Roberts
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