New Zealand Young Nationals

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New Zealand Young Nationals
PresidentSam Stead
Vice PresidentPereen Dhaliwal
SecretaryStephanie-Anne Ross
Policy ChairKathleen Williams
TreasurerEthan Hill
Founded13–14 May 1936
Political positionCentre-right
International affiliationInternational Youth Democrat Union
Mother partyNew Zealand National Party

The New Zealand Young Nationals, more commonly called the Young Nats, is the youth wing of the New Zealand National Party, a centre-right meritocratic political party in New Zealand, and a member of the International Young Democrat Union.


The National Party has had a youth section since its inception in 1936. The Young Nationals have been a strong lobby group inside the National Party, and often at the forefront of policy development being representative as a Core Group or a Policy Action Group of the party at varying times. For a short period during the party's earlier years there was a younger section of the National party for pre-teenage members but has since disappeared due to the changing environment of New Zealand politics and society.[citation needed]

Prior to the group being named the Young Nations, the New Zealand National Party's Youth section was known as the Junior Nationals.[1] In the lead up to the 1949 election, the Wellington branch had 3,500 members and the Auckland branch consisted of 2,500 members.[2] The group hosted a number of community events such as dances, parties, debating/discussion, and Lectures/addresses.[3] Barry Gustafson stated in the book the First 50 Years that as late as the 1960s the New Zealand Junior Nationals were sex-stereotyping jobs so that only males could stand for public and authoritative offices, and females were confined to roles such as secretaries.[4] In 1967 the group voted to change the name to the Young Nationals as Junior Nationals was seen to have potentially negative connotations.[5] This renamed group attracted members for political reasons rather than social activities like its predecessor.[6] In 1968 the National Party agreed to for two Young Nationals to sit on the party's Dominion Council.[7] 1971 brought upon Young Nationals creating political discussion groups called 'Pol Link's' which enabled the group to research and discuss political issues allowing the National Party to understand the contemporary issues of young generations.[8] In 2015 the Young Nats claimed to have over 20,000 likes on their Facebook page and over 6,000 official members.[9]


In 2009, under major changes led by the organisation's governing executive, the Young Nationals were re-organised to serve as a more effective tool for policy activism and campaign activity. As of 2011, The Young Nationals are divided into five regions nationwide, Northern, Central North Island, Lower North Island, Canterbury/Westland and Southern. Each of these regions are headed by their own Chair and executive group and supervised by a National Executive, elected annually during the National Party Conference. The National Executive set the agenda and leadership for the Young Nationals during the year. Some regions of the Young Nationals also may have branches. These include the Alfred Street Young Nationals,[10] which are based in Auckland and considered a counter group to the Princes Street Labour movement and VicNats[11] which is based around Victoria University. In 2011, the Young Nationals celebrated 75 years as New Zealand's oldest and largest political youth movement.[12]


Often the more liberal views of the Young Nationals have been at odds with those of the wider party. The shift in party opinion in areas such as the nuclear ships debate, economic reform, liquor law reform, and anti-discrimination laws has often been influenced by the Young Nationals.[citation needed]

Voluntary student membership[edit]

Recently the Young Nationals have been at the forefront of lobbying the New Zealand Government to adopt and pass legislation that would move tertiary Students’ Associations to a system of voluntary membership.[13] Currently, Student Union membership is compulsory in New Zealand for most university students. They believe that students deserve the same choices as all other New Zealanders as students are the only group who are forced to join a union. As a result of this policy, the Young Nationals, in conjunction with ACT on Campus, Free Me and other New Zealanders, were successful in winning select committee[14] and subsequently government support to pass a private member's Bill by ACT MP Heather Roy to introduce voluntary membership to student associations in tertiary institutions.[15] The Bill, Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment, was passed into law in September 2011, and took effect in 2012.

Alcohol reform[edit]

The Young Nationals, in conjunction with other New Zealand political party youth wings,[16] support the current purchase age for alcohol of 18 years. They argue that the two biggest problems with the current law are the lack of emphasis on individual responsibility, and the ineffective attempts to enforce moderate drinking, and that raising the age, both at off-licences and at bars, will not solve the problem that New Zealand society faces around the issue of binge drinking. At the National Party Conference 2010 the Young Nationals passed a remit, led by 2010 National Policy Chair Edward Greig, for the continuation of a drinking age of 18.

Driving age[edit]

The Young Nationals do not support increasing the driving age and believe that it unjustly impacts on young people, without dealing with the real causes of poor driver skill levels. They believe that increasing driver training requirements as well as tougher testing will raise the levels of driver competence across all age brackets, and that raising the driving age does nothing to reduce the lack of driver skills.[citation needed]


Name Term
Chris Whitta 1969–1970
Eric Bowell 1970–1971
Lachlan Ross 1971–1972
Paul Matheson 1972–1973
Murray McCully 1973–1976
S Pearson 1976–1978
Martin Gummer 1978–1980
Simon Upton 1980–1981
Peter Kiely 1981–1982
Stuart Boag 1982–1983
Alastair Bell 1983–1984
Mark Lowndes 1984–1985
Phil O'Reilly 1985–1986
Craig Allan 1986–1987
Andrew Harvey 1987–1989
Wayne P Marriott 1989–1990
Bruce Alabaster 1990-1990
Elaine Enright 1990–1991
Shane Frith 1991–1995
Sarah Borrell 1995–1996
Mel Davis 1996–1997
Tim Hurdle 1997–1999
Daniel Gordon 1999–2001
Grant Tyrrell 2001–2003
Jamie Simpson 2003–2005
Michael Mabbett 2005–2006
Matthew Patterson 2006–2008
Alex Mitchell 2008–2009
Daniel Fielding 2009–2012
Sean Topham 2012–2015
Joel Rowan 2015–2016
Stefan Sunde[17] 2016–2018
Sam Stead 2018–present

Political alumni[edit]

Former members[edit]

Life members[edit]

A number of other former members have taken up prominent roles across a number of sectors, such as Phil O'Reilly[18] as CEO of Business New Zealand, John Marshall QC as President of the New Zealand Law Society[19] and Paul Matheson as Mayor of Nelson.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gustafson, Barry (1986). The First 50 Years: A History of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Reed Methuen. p. 262.
  2. ^ Gustafson, Barry (1986). The First 50 Years: A History of the New Zealand National Party. Reed Methuen. p. 256.
  3. ^ Gustafason, Barry (1986). The First 50 Years: A History of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Reed Methuen. p. 256.
  4. ^ Gustafson, Barry (1986). The first 50 years: A history of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Methuen Publishers LTD. p. 260.
  5. ^ Gustafson, Barry (1986). The First 50 Years: A History of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Reed Methuen. p. 262.
  6. ^ Gustafson, Barry (1986). The First 50 Years: A History of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Reed Methuen. p. 262.
  7. ^ Gustafson, Barry (1986). The First 50 Years: A History of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Reed Methuen. p. 262.
  8. ^ Gustafson, Barry (1986). The First 50 Years: A History of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Reed Methuen. pp. 262, 263.
  9. ^ James, Colin (2017). National at 80 Years: The Story of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Bateman. p. 283.
  10. ^ "Alfred Street Young Nationals".
  11. ^ "VicNats".
  12. ^ Young Nats celebrate milestone & raise $10,000
  13. ^ Young Nats policy
  14. ^ Freedom of Association Amendment Bill Submission
  15. ^ Hartevelt, John (20 October 2010). "Compulsory student union membership to end". Stuff New Zealand. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  16. ^ Keep it 18
  17. ^ "Your Team | Young Nats". Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  18. ^ Business NZ profile: Phil O'Reilly
  19. ^ "NZLS membership and representative services". Law Talk (725). 16 March 2009.

External links[edit]