The Conservative Party of Colin Craig spent the most money for the least gain in last year's election, party expense returns suggest.

New Zealand First arguably spent the least for the most gain.

The Conservatives contested 52 of the 70 electorate seats and spent $1,878,337, more than the second largest party in Parliament, Labour.

But it got no MPs. Its 59,237 party votes amounted to 2.65 per cent, below the 5 per cent threshold. It spent $31.71 per party vote. Mr Craig, a property developer who set up his party in August for the November election, funded much of his campaign from his personal wealth.


Of the parties that made it into Parliament, New Zealand First spent the least per party vote, $1.06, and it got enough party votes for eight MPs, after a term in the wilderness.

Among the parliamentary parties, Act spent the most per party vote at $25.83 and overall its spending was well down on its past spend-ups - $617,035, against $1.1 million in 2008.

National spent the most overall with $2,321,216 but that was under its statutory spending limit of $2.64 million (made up of $1,065,000 plus $25,000 per electorate candidate). It spent $2.2 million in 2008.

Labour spent $1.7 million, well down on 2008's $2.2 million. But Labour spent $2.91 per party vote against National's $2.19.

Big spenders
1. National $2.3 million
2. Conservatives $1.8 million
3. Labour $1.7 million
4. Act $617,035
5. Greens $779,618
6. NZ First $155,902
7. Maori Party $72,172
8. Mana $60,082
9. Social Credit $34,676
10. United Future $27,718.