A history of supporting New Zealanders

Labour has always been forward-thinking – consistently focusing on reducing inequality, protecting the rights of workers, and tackling long-term problems to ensure a better future.

Right now, we’re busy keeping Kiwis safe from COVID-19, locking in our economic recovery, and supporting vulnerable sectors. But we’re also working on persistent challenges like housing, climate change, and child poverty.

As we prepare to announce this year’s Budget, on Thursday 20 May, here’s a quick look at how, throughout history, Labour has invested in public services to support the wellbeing of people and communities while strengthening our economy.

We’re proud to continue this legacy with Budget 2021.



The first Labour Government launches a major state housing scheme. The McGregor family moves into the first state house in Wellington. (It's still standing in Miramar!)


Having a baby or being treated for a serious illness becomes a lot more affordable when the Labour Government introduces free maternity and hospital care.


The Government introduces free prescription medicine, making it easier for Kiwis to get well and stay healthy.


Free textbooks for primary schools are introduced, ensuring more Kiwi kids have the resources to learn.


It becomes easier for more young Kiwis to visit the dentist when the Government extends free dental care to include adolescents.


The Labour Government introduces the Capitalisation of the Family Benefit scheme, which makes it easier for families to buy their own home.


Labour creates the Accident Compensation Commission (now known as ACC) to provide free treatment for all accidental injuries to employees and motor vehicle injuries.


The Guaranteed Minimum Family Income tax credit is introduced, helping working families afford the essentials.


Labour ensures more Kiwis can access tertiary education by introducing the Student Allowance Scheme.


Getting a degree becomes more affordable when the Labour Government removes interest on student loans while studying.

The Government also removes market rents for state houses, replacing them with income-related rents.


Helen Clark’s Labour Government introduces Working for Families, providing extra support for low- to middle- income families with children.


Labour’s interest-free student loans come into effect, removing all interest for borrowers living in New Zealand.


Jacinda Ardern’s Government announces the Families Package, which goes on to boost the incomes of 384,000 whānau, make life easier for parents, and lift thousands of children out of poverty.  


The Child Poverty Reduction Act passes into law, ensuring that reducing child poverty and improving child wellbeing remain ongoing priorities for successive New Zealand governments.

In December, visiting the GP becomes cheaper for hundreds of thousands of Kiwis.


The Government’s first Wellbeing Budget provides much-needed – and historic – investments in mental health, child wellbeing, and family violence prevention, while working to address inequality.


The Government responds decisively to COVID-19, going hard and early to keep New Zealanders safe, while providing support to businesses and employees affected by lockdown. This approach protects jobs and sets up New Zealand’s economy to recover faster.

The declaration of a climate emergency, accompanied by commitments to make the Government carbon neutral, address the seriousness of this global threat.


Already this year, we’ve announced major reforms that will ensure our public health service delivers for all New Zealanders. We’re putting in place policies to combat the housing crisis and reduce inequality, and we’re taking world-leading steps to open up safely to other countries as the pandemic continues.

To read more about our Budget 2021 priorities, read this post by Finance Minister Grant Robertson. Not really sure what the Budget is? Find out here.

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