New Zealand Labour Party

Our history of supporting families

Labour has always supported Kiwi families.

Health, housing, and education have been at the heart of the Labour Party since our founding just over a hundred years ago. That’s because we know these are the essential public services Kiwis rely on.

In 1937, Michael Joseph Savage and the First Labour Government opened the first state home in Miramar, and helped its first family move in – that house is still standing to this day! This paved the way for a system of widespread, affordable housing across the country.

In 1938, the same Government led the world by giving its citizens economic certainty through a social security system. It's one of many times New Zealand has led the world in positive, progressive change. This Social Security Act introduced a pension, a superannuation scheme, and a universal healthcare system – also a world first.

1939 saw the roll-out of free maternity care, which ensured mothers and babies were healthy and well looked after. Free hospital care was also implemented.

General doctors’ visits were made cheaper in 1941 and helped families to access quality healthcare more easily.

In 1943, we launched free textbooks for primary school students (we did the same for secondary students in 1959!) A year later, in 1944, we introduced free and universal secondary education.

1974 saw the introduction of free treatment for all accidental injuries and workplace disease.

Labour pushed through homosexual law reform in 1986, which saw the decriminalisation of same-sex relationships and was the first of many steps towards full marriage equality.

We continued to stand up for the rights of same-sex couples, and pushed through marriage equality with Louisa Wall's Member's Bill while in Opposition in 2013.

In 1989, we introduced student allowances. Carrying on this work, this year we boosted student allowances and loans by $50 a week.

Helen Clark's Fifth Labour Government was elected in 1999. Two years later they established the NZ Super Fund to safeguard the economic future of Kiwis for generations. In 2007, we introduced KiwiSaver – an innovative scheme designed to ensure every Kiwi has a safe and secure retirement.

We created Working for Families in 2004, which has supported hundreds of thousands of Kiwi families who feel the pressure week to week. In 2007 we introduced '20 hours free' early childhood education.

A lot of this good news will sound familiar. That’s because this Government, and the Labour Party, continues our legacy of supporting all our families, all around New Zealand.

We’re expanding Working for Families to help families who have been missing out for the last nine years, and boosting support to those already receiving it.

We've extended paid parental leave, which will be fully rolled out to 26 weeks by 2020. We want families to have as much time as possible to bond with their new baby, without being rushed to return to work before they're ready.

That’s also why we're rolling out the Best Start Payment, which will give extra support to all families for the first year of their baby’s life, for every baby born after July 1. That first year is so important, and we want to make it a little easier for new parents. And for some families, Best Start will continue until that baby is 3.

Our Winter Energy Payment will help those in need with their heating costs, allowing them to get through the colder months with their wallet intact.

All of this is possible by managing the books properly – binning the previous Government's tax cuts for the wealthy, and focusing on what matters to Kiwis and their families – homes, hospitals, and schools.

Our strong and balanced economy means no Kiwi should be missing out.

Our Families Package is making sure New Zealand is a great place to live, work, and raise a family for every Kiwi.