The Green Party is set to announce one of its most ambitious policies, which it hopes will put New Zealand on the path ending poverty.

It is understood the policy, to be revealed at its AGM tomorrow, will go much further than simply increasing support for lower-income families. It will also aim to change a culture of "beneficiary-bashing" in New Zealand by reversing some of the most punitive changes introduced over successive governments.

Ahead of the conference in Auckland, Green co-leader Metiria Turei described it as one of the most important Green policies in her 15 years in Parliament.

It comes after National and Labour announced major policy packages to support families over the last two months. National's $2b package centred on tax cuts, while Labour promised to scrap those cuts and spend more on social services.


The Greens say their new policy goes beyond simple changes to Working for Families or other entitlements. A spokeswoman said it was a "transformational" policy which aims to lay out a path to ending hardship in New Zealand for good.

There are some limits to what Turei can promise. As part of the Greens' Memorandum of Understanding with Labour, it has promised to adhere to strict spending limits if in government, including successive budget surpluses and reducing debt to 20 per cent of GDP within five years.

During its nine years in charge, National has passed two rounds of welfare reforms which have placed stronger obligations on beneficiaries and made sole parents look for part-time work when their babies are a year old, or when older children turn five.

It is a deeply personal issue for Turei, who blames economic reforms and the absence of social support in the 1980s for her family's hardship, and in part, for her father Richard Turei's death at age 48.

"My dad was sacrificed to dead-end economic ideas," she said in a speech at Parliament in 2011.

Richard Turei was a labourer who died from a stroke in 1995, after years of poverty and unemployment which, at one point, led to the family sleeping in their car.

Turei went on the domestic purposes benefit after leaving school at 16 with no qualifications. She felt that her dad never had the same support.

Tomorrow, she will outline plans which she hopes will prevent others from a similar fate.



At the AGM today, the Green Party released some details about its election campaign and underlined the scale of its efforts to get into power.

Its election campaign posters will feature candidates' faces for the first time - a notable shift from the party's traditional strategy of targeting the party vote. The change is likely influenced by its stronger than usual batch of new, young candidates, including Auckland mayoral candidate Chloe Swarbrick and lawyer Golriz Gharahman.

Co-convenor Sarah Helm said the party realised early in its campaign that it would not grow its vote without doing everything "larger and more ambitious than ever before".

She listed a series of records for the party. It is standing candidates in 65 out of 71 seats, more than ever before. It has tens of thousands of volunteers, including 130 new ones in the last week. It has directly contacted more people - 46,000 - than its entire campaign in 2014. In all, the party's staff will knock on 100,000 doors - four times more than last time.

"We are talking to more voters than ever before. More calls, more door-knocking, more stalls, because to grow the Green vote we need to talk to more people to convince them to tick the box for the Green Party."


The Greens were taking cues from Bernie Sanders' US Presidential campaign, UK Labour leader
Jeremy Corbyn's election campaign, and the Dutch Greens' campaign.

One of the key themes from those campaigns was direct contact with voters, and carefully crafted social media messaging.