Seventeen parties are registered for the election this month. Besides the six parties whose policies feature in this guide, a number of small parties have made waves during the campaign.
Three of them — The Opportunities Party, New Conservative and Advance New Zealand — got enough support to squeeze on to a 1 News Colmar Brunton survey in September. With support in that poll at 1 to 2 per cent, it is unlikely candidates from the small parties will be heading to Parliament after October 17.
But the fact voters are noticing the parties and a few are telling pollsters they support the newcomers indicates that these political minnows, some of them just a few months old, are making a bit of a splash. What's more, their activities are mostly going on outside mainstream media. Social media is their platform of choice and for some at least, it is achieving cut-through.
The parties have shown a willingness to push back when necessary. Nowhere was this more apparent than when TVNZ backtracked and agreed that Advance NZ would be part of a minor parties debate on the basis that it was jointly led by sitting MP Jami-Lee Ross. Election rules require that to contest the election, parties need 500 paying members who can enrol to vote, a set of party rules and an auditor to ensure everything is above board. This suggests the small parties have tapped into networks to pass the Electoral Commission threshold, which has allocated them more than $550,000 for advertising.
Of all the small parties, Advance NZ — a vehicle for Ross and New Zealand Public Party leader Billy Te Kahika jnr, who polled at 0.7 per cent in TVNZ's preferred prime minister stakes — has managed to achieve a profile despite restrictions on Covid-19 gatherings. Te Kahika has tapped into a strain of sentiment which rejects the science around Covid-19, sees big brother conspiracies in lockdown regulations and cautions followers to be alert to socialist agendas. The formula drew hundreds last month to an Aotea Square rally and has opened a vein of curiosity elsewhere, alerted by Te Kahika's Facebook broadcasts which have been viewed thousands of times.
The Opportunities Party has a thorough policy platform and an energetic presence in Wellington, where leader and Rongotai candidate Geoff Simmons is based. It has been extended a hand of friendship by Māori Party co-leader John Tamihere, but the power of two will struggle to help even one TOP candidate break the lock of the bigger parties in Parliament.
The New Conservative Party is missing one familiar name this election — its founder and bankroller Colin Craig. This is likely to make it a tough task for the party, which promotes family values and wants to repeal "race-based co-governance arrangements", to close on the 4 per cent party vote it got in 2014.
Hannah Tamaki, wife of Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki, gives her party Vision New Zealand name recognition. But there is no sign in the polls that she has shifted the church's following to her political vehicle.
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Former Green candidate Vernon Tava set up Sustainable New Zealand as a business-friendly alternative to the party he once represented. But after generating a flurry of interest last year, the party was rocked by infighting and high-level departures.
The other registered small parties are Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, Heartland NZ, NZ Outdoors Party, ONE Party, Social Credit and TEA Party.