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Elizabeth Ward

Doctor of Philosophy, (History)
Study Completed: 2019
College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Citation

Thesis Title
'For Light and Liberty' The Origins and Early Development of the Reform Party, 1887-1915

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The Reform Party was one of the main political parties in New Zealand prior to World War II and governed between 1912 and 1928. Despite this, there has been very little research about the origins and development of the party. Mrs Ward traced the origins of the Reform Party back to the 1880s. She found that the parliamentary Opposition in the 1890s was more organised than previously recognised but failed to find a political message that resonated with voters. At the beginning of the twentieth century, William Massey, leader of the Opposition from 1903, led the transformation of its organisation. The Party had a highly effective national organisation, coordinated candidate selection and campaign strategies. Moreover, Reform actively and effectively reached out to women and Maori voters through branch networks. Arguably, by 1914, the Reform Party exhibited the characteristics of a mass party, the first of its kind in New Zealand.

Supervisors
Associate Professor Geoff Watson
Dr David Littlewood
Professor Michael Belgrave

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