Forty years since first green party

  • 01/06/2012

By Tova O’Brien

The green party is about to hold its first post-election party conference and it's never been more powerful.

The party now has 14 MPs, representing a significant bloc in parliament.

But it took four decades to get there.

Forty years ago, activists came to together to found the world’s first green party – the Values Party.

Values Party co-founder Tony Brunt says that the foundation of the party was a response to the political culture in New Zealand in 1972.

“We were idealistic extremists some people called us, yes, we were, but it was a response to the barren and miniaturist political culture that existed in NZ at that time,” he says.

Archive footage shows Mr Brunt speaking passionately of the party’s founding principles.

“The mediocre and shallow goals of Labour and National have just about killed the faculty of imagination of the average New Zealander,” he says in the footage.

Watch the original TV ad for the Values Party

Despite never winning any seats in parliament, Greens co-leader Russell Norman says the Values Party forced New Zealand's other political parties to take a more sustainable approach to policy.

“The policies of the other parties changed to try and cut off the values party's burgeoning vote,” says Mr Norman.

But after its peak in 1975 people stopped voting for Values, and the party's progress stalled.

Original member Jeanette Fitzsimons was one of the people who carried the values into a new "green party" in 1990.

Mr Norman says he believes that the Green Party are still reflecting those values, 40 years on.

“I think that the original founder of Values would feel that we're doing a pretty good job representing them 40 years later,” he says.

So the ideas are still alive, although some of the party's more radical policies - like getting rid of New Zealand's defence force - didn't survive.

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source: newshub archive