Reform Party, New Zealand

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Charles Vincent Massey (1887—1967) diplomatist and patron of the arts

Richard John Seddon (1845—1906) prime minister of New Zealand

Liberal Party

Joseph Gordon Coates (1878—1943) prime minister of New Zealand


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A conservative political grouping formed in 1909 from various political reform leagues organized at local level from 1905 onwards, under the leadership of Massey. It retained its loose organization, being principally opposed to the professionalization of politics which had emerged under Seddon's Liberal Party government, and which continued to develop with the Labour Party in 1916. As a result, the party was little more than a vehicle to keep Massey in power. This became particularly problematic after his death, when the party could point to few distinctive policies of its own, except for its hostility to concessions to the labour movement, and its strong rural individualism. Coates managed to revive the organization of the ailing party with some skill, but ultimately he was forced to concede a union with the United Party to form the National Party in 1936.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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