The New Zealand Labour Party was formed in 1916 by various socialist parties and trade unions. It is thus the country's oldest political party still in existence. With its historic rival, the New Zealand National Party, Labour has dominated New Zealand governments since the 1930s. To date, there have been six periods of Labour government under ten Labour prime ministers.
The party was first in power from 1935 to 1949, when it established New Zealand's welfare state. It governed from 1957 to 1960, and again from 1972 to 1975, but only stayed in for one term each. In government from 1984 to 1990, Labour privatised state assets and reduced the role of the state in the economy. Labour also led a coalition government from 1999 to 2008, in which it adopted a centrist position.
Since the 2008 general election, Labour has comprised the second-largest caucus represented in the New Zealand Parliament. In the 2017 general election, the party under Jacinda Ardern returned to prominence with its best showing since the 2005 general election, winning 36.9% of the party vote and 46 seats. On 19 October 2017, Labour formed a minority coalition government with New Zealand First, with confidence and supply from the Green Party. Jacinda Ardern currently serves as Labour Party Leader and Prime Minister, and Kelvin Davis is Deputy Leader.
The New Zealand Labour Party was established on 7 July 1916 in Wellington, bringing together socialist groups advocating proportional representation, the abolition of the country quota, the "recall" of Members of Parliament, as well as the nationalisation of production and of exchange. Despite its Wellington origins, the West Coast town of Blackball is often regarded as the birthplace of the party, as it was the location of the founding of one of the main political organisations which became part of the nascent Labour Party. The party was created by, and has always been influenced by, the trade unions, and in practice Labour Party politicians regard themselves as part of a broader labour movement and tradition.
The New Zealand Labour Party was an amalgamation of a number of early groups, the oldest of which was founded in 1901. The process of unifying these diverse groups into a single party was difficult, with tensions between different factions running strong.