106 years of supporting Kiwis

It’s our birthday this week! For more than a century, we’ve remained committed to supporting New Zealanders and securing a better future for all.

As we mark 106 years of the New Zealand Labour Party, here’s a look at how our work has made a difference for New Zealanders and their families, from 1916 to today.

1936: We signed the 40 hour working week into law for most workers, improving working conditions for many Kiwis.

1937:  Labour Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage opened the first state home, part of New Zealand’s first major public housing scheme.

1938:  We brought in free maternity care for all women, helping more children get a great start in life and ensuring all women could get the important healthcare they need.

1944:  We introduced two weeks’ annual leave minimum, ensuring all workers could take a break and spend more time with their families.

1986:  We decriminalised homosexuality through the Homosexual Law Reform Act.

1987:  We took a lead on the world stage by declaring New Zealand nuclear free with the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act.

2002:  The Labour Government introduced paid parental leave, making it easier for working parents to spend time with their newborn.

2004:  We introduced Working for Families, to help with the cost of raising children.

2006:  Labour made all student loans interest free, reducing the cost of tertiary education. This was also the year we introduced KiwiSaver, which has helped millions of New Zealanders save for retirement.

2007:  We took another step for New Zealand workers by extending minimum annual leave to four weeks.


Since we came into Government in 2017, we’ve worked hard to build on this legacy and continue to create a fairer New Zealand for everyone. Here are just some of the ways we’ve done this over the past five years.

2017:  We announced our milestone Families Package, providing the biggest boost to household income in a decade for thousands of families.

2018: As part of our work to make New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child, we passed our Child Poverty Reduction Act. Four years on, we’ve lifted 66,500 children out of poverty, and the latest figures show all nine child poverty measures continue to trend downwards.

We launched our Best Start payment, which now provides $65 per week to families in the first year of a child’s life.

We also started the Winter Energy Payment, supporting more than one million New Zealanders through the colder months.

2019:  We passed the landmark Zero Carbon Act, as part of our work hit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

We also launched our new frontline mental health service to help more people get support earlier. So far, this programme has delivered more than 380,000 sessions, and it’s still expanding.

2020:  We delivered on our promise to extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks.

We made a record investment in shovel-ready infrastructure, helping to boost our economy while making sure we have the schools, hospitals and transport networks we need for the future.

To ensure businesses have the skilled workers they need to get the job done, we introduced free apprenticeships and targeted trades training. More than 190,000 people have now taken up this training.

2021:  We launched a major reform of New Zealand’s health system, so everyone can get quality care, no matter where they live.

We took the next steps in our plan to tackle the housing crisis and get more Kiwi families into homes. This included our Housing Acceleration Fund to get more houses built, faster. We’ve now delivered more than 13,000 new public and transitional homes, and we’re on track to meet our goal of 18,000 extra homes by 2024.

2022:  We celebrated the first public holiday for Matariki, giving Kiwi workers a much-needed mid-winter break.

We’ve taken action on supermarkets to ensure people are paying a fair price at the checkout, as part of our cost of living package.

We boosted the minimum wage to $21.20 an hour. Thanks to our minimum wage increases since 2017, fulltime workers now earn an extra $218 a week.


These are just a few of the ways we’ve supported New Zealanders over the past five years. It will take time to turn around long term challenges like child poverty, housing affordability and climate change, but we’re incredibly proud of the progress we’ve made so far – and what we’ve achieved for people across Aotearoa New Zealand since 1916.

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