New Zealanders generally have an expectation that the state will help them, and this is a key element in the country’s political culture. This was reflected in the policies of the Liberal government (1890–1912) led by John Ballance and Richard Seddon, and in the Depression-era policies of the country’s first Labour government (1935–49), led initially by Michael Joseph Savage and then by Peter Fraser. New Zealand’s first state house was opened in 1937, in Wellington, with Savage himself carrying a dining table into the house. The Labour government’s state-housing programme, providing government-owned housing for tenants, symbolised the state’s broader commitment to New Zealanders’ welfare, as expected by much of the public.
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