I am often guilty of trying to compare the NZ political spectrum to the US. If I compare the two, we're heavily left leaning overall. I suspect the only party in our current parliament makeup that would be considered clearly right in the US frame, would be the ACT party. Everyone listed here.
Even then, they're an interesting group. They would like to see less restrictive firearm regulation, but voted in favour of allowing same-sex marriage. They want to be tougher on crime, but don't want our ACC setup abolished (honestly any party that seriously campaigns on getting rid of ACC, wouldn't last long. It's 'death by a thousand cuts' like the NHS, or it's here to stay). Not that these are related items, but they have some left-leaning tendencies, and some right-leaning, but for our spectrum, they're pretty right-wing.
Education wise? I'm not particularly clued up on the system, but I am a little anti the current setup for secondary education. We use NCEA and from my own experience + conversations with current teachers I know, all it does is churn out students who can answer questions when the information has been drilled into them. I remember Year 13 Geography (12th grade for USA students?) we were all told "this will be one of the exam questions, if you memorise an essay to answer this, you will pass" and so we practiced writing a single essay and sure enough it was on the exam. I know the schools used the design of NCEA as a way to pump out high numbers of students passing, but it left us with a pretty shoddy education IMO. I work in the tertiary sector and see plenty of things that I like, but also things that confuse me.
Sorry I realised while writing this out you likely just meant in general.
It feels like we're swinging slowly from left to right, currently. But I hope it's more down to how vocal those on the right are these days. Everyone has an opinion, everyone has a chamber. I know the Labour party wanted to implement a lot, but personally I feel they tried to implement too many things at once, and have had to pull back and focus on the big tasks. Overall - we enjoy universal healthcare, ACC takes care of a lot of litigation when an accident occurs, our student loans don't incur interest ($2k to go on mine, huzzah). For the most part, nobody really wants to interfere with that, outside of a vocal minority wanting tax cuts alongside decreased government spending and oversight , but of course, a mysterious increase in quality. Somehow they can reconcile those in their minds.
There's a pretty clear split in how the country tends to vote - sorry, I've tried to imbed it as an image to save you having to bounce between it, but it's not quite working. Red = Left, Blue = Right-ish.
- You can see the red patches in the south island are the city centres, or low socio-economic spots who tend to vote Labour/left-leaning. Right down the bottom of the island, in the sea of blue, is the red patch of Dunedin - a University city, nestled amongst the rural sector.
- The blue in the south are the rural sectors where farmers are plentiful and they tend to vote National/right-leaning. They make good money until they don't, at which point they need help and National typically ask less of them regulations-wise.
- This is similar to the north island, there is the east coast which trends towards low socio-economic, and the centre of the north island is where the excellent farming land is, and thus the farmers. Wellington and Palmy North are heavily Labour, whereas Tauranga has been a stronghold for National for some time. A lot of wealthy retirees or up and coming business folks.
- Auckland is it's own special case - you can see in the top left image. South and west Auckland? Labour/left-leaning, and they're the poorer areas. North Auckland? National/right-leaning, where the richer and whiter folk live.
- There's a further special case in Auckland, where Chloe Swarbrick successfully campaigned for Greens (hard left) and won the electoral seat for Auckland Central, that tiny, bright green spot. She's great. I have a lot of time for her.
So that is how it's been for a while, with the occasional area flipping. But for the most part, we lean pretty left as a people as far as healthcare and welfare goes; in that most tend to agree we need it, and we'd like it to be funded better. City centres tend to vote left, rural tend to vote right. People are exhausted, increasingly stretched for money, housing is fucked and also crashing; so I expect National to waltz into power this upcoming election because people want some kind of change, but I don't think it will signify too great a political shift for NZ, and Labour will be back in contention next time.