New Zealand First was formed in July 1993 to represent the views of New Zealanders concerned about the economic and social direction of their country, the sale of public assets to foreign control, and the decline in employment and social services. The party’s vision is to put people first through enlightened economic and social policies, by controlling resources and by restoring faith in the democratic process.

New Zealand First was started by founding members and Winston Peters, the MP for Tauranga and former Minister of Maori Affairs. He had left the National Party after disputes with its leadership over broken election promises about the economy and an extra tax on the elderly. Peters resigned from Parliament and Tauranga voters re-elected him in a special by-election as an independent.

New Zealand First fought the last FPP general election in 1993 and the party won Tauranga and also the Northern Maori seat.