New Zealand First recognizes that employment is paramount for shifting from dependence to independence and that our welfare system should not be seen as a hand out but a hand up in time of real need. The employment of New Zealanders remains a priority.   

New Zealand First is committed to ensuring that social policy closes unfair loopholes, provides more social good than harm and is accountable and transparent.  

Fairness, justice, timeliness and consistency are the universal principles of state welfare payments.

New Zealand First will:

  • Promote initiatives and schemes that up-skill and train New Zealanders for greater independence from the State.
  • Continue fighting to protect our social fabric and traditional family values which underpin our society. This includes opposing the liberalization of laws relating to issues such as prostitution, cannabis and other drug use. Any changes to these laws must only occur following a comprehensive public debate and a referendum on the relevant issue. These issues should no longer be decided by a so called ‘conscience vote’ of politicians but by the people upon whom they impact.  
  • Direct government resources to where they are of the greatest benefit while ensuring they are based on need, not race.  
  • Ensure greater scrutiny of the benefit system for those moving from the unemployment system on to the sickness benefit. This will include random cross-checking of doctors' recommendations and greater monitoring of Work and Income staff who may recommend such a shift.
  • Ensure that benefits (and abatement levels) are inflation adjusted.
  • Legislate to require greater parental responsibility from those receiving benefits and to ensure that social agencies provide the services that help achieve this.
  • Combine all parent-caregiver support programmes under the umbrella of a single agency.
  • Ensure the needs of retired New Zealanders are met through a sustainable superannuation scheme. In giving people certainty (and thus security) such a scheme also gives New Zealand a desperately needed expanded savings base.
  • Increase funding to Women's Refuge.
  • Improve and lift living standards for vulnerable families and at-risk children by implementing policies that emphasis equality.
  • Maximize employment prospects so that fewer New Zealanders travel abroad in search of work.
  • Provide real opportunities for young people to gain quality education and skills that will enable greater involvement in the economy.
  • Remove barriers that prevent New Zealanders from accessing social service providers and ensure that these providers are effective.
  • Remove secondary tax and protect New Zealanders having to work more than one job to make ends meet.


The path our future takes is often decided in our formative years between the ages of 15-24. Successful transitions from school to tertiary study, further training and employment are an important part of that process. Ensuring the labour force has the right mix of skills and knowledge is linked with the country's prosperity. Young people who are able to fulfil their educational potential have positive social and cultural outcomes.

New Zealand First believes that improving youth participation strengthens community capacity. Giving young people a place in decision-making builds a broader base of citizen involvement and creates stronger, more inclusive communities. Youth participation helps to develop active citizenship because it encourages balancing young people's social rights with their responsibilities.

New Zealand First will:

  • Work to remove barriers for internships inside willing businesses that provide opportunities for young people to gain industry standard qualifications without incurring debt and with no cost to business.
  • Remove charges to sit on-line computerised Driver’s License theory tests until a pass is achieved.
  • Look to increase resourcing of driving simulators to assist in removing cost barriers for learner drivers as they work towards completing the recommended 120 hours of practical driving.
  • Alter the culture of the Driving Test providers to one of assisting to create safe young drivers as opposed to a policy of failing young drivers to keep them off the roads. This is having unintended consequences especially in rural and semi-rural areas.
  • Minimize the opportunity costs (administration and compliance) and financial barriers for small and medium enterprises to employ apprentices and provide flexibility for provincial and rural New Zealand youth.
  • Increase funding defence services to expand the provision of Voluntary Cadet Corps as an extra-curricular activity at secondary school.
  • Increase funding to Careers New Zealand and work to implement the JK McKenzie trust community link successful trial in more communities.
  • Remove the so-called ‘Starting out Wage’ that permits young people to be paid below the minimum wage.
  • Increase the number of Teenage Parents Units to extend opportunities for young mothers to remain in education and gain qualifications within a supportive school and community environment.
  • Immediately introduce a dollar-for-dollar debt write-off scheme so that graduates in identified areas of workforce demand may trade a year’s worth of debt for each year of paid full-time work in New Zealand in that area.
  • Review student support systems to ensure that they are adequate to support life-long learning and that they are fit for the purpose of encouraging students to devote themselves to their study free from financial pressures.
  • Introduce a one year repayment holiday for New Zealand based borrowers upon meeting certain application criteria to give equity with overseas based borrowers.
  • Review the Student Loan Scheme with a goal of reducing its burden on former students, in particular those on low incomes within the first years of leaving study.
  • Develop specific enterprise investment programmes to support entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 24.
  • Provide additional resourcing for youth mental health services with a particular focus on those regions currently without appropriate access to these services.
  • Promote apprenticeships and internships as a concrete means of addressing youth unemployment, with particular focus in industries where there is a skills shortage.
  • Introduce greater funding support to organizations such as Family Planning to increase their area of coverage providing advice and assistance at no or minimal cost for youth health issues, including public campaign strategies aimed at youth.
  • Work alongside youth to better support and resource the current school based civics programme aimed at enhancing national pride and addressing the responsibilities of a New Zealand citizen..
  • Ensure adequacy and evaluate funding a nationwide Anti-Bullying Campaign and Restorative Justice programme in schools
  • Introduce a universal living allowance, which is not subject to parental means testing, as a priority for all full time students.
  • Immediately review the application of the $62 million announced in the 2013 budget to address Youth Suicide and ensure this money is being spent on face to face solutions and interventions in all geographical areas of New Zealand.
  • Revise the legal minimum age of marriage to 18 years by removing any exceptions including with parental consent.
  • Encourage the use of temporary special measures, such as targeted scholarships, to encourage young women and young men into non-traditional industries.

Darroch Ball on this policy

"New Zealand First recognizes that employment is paramount for shifting from dependence to independence and that our welfare system should not be seen as a hand out but a hand up in time of real need. The employment of New Zealanders remains a priority."