The Communist Party of New Zealand was established in March 1921, and consisted of former members of the New Zealand Marxian Association (established in 1918). The members who established the Communist Party were supporters of the Russian Bolsheviks, and remained hostile to those who did not echo this support.
The new Communist Party attempted to establish itself as a force in the industrial sector, and gained some modest successes. In light of its failure to accomplish anything substantive, however, the party gradually declined in strength. In the late 1940s, however, it gained a measure of influence through the Auckland region's Trade Council. Throughout this period, the party remained resolutely Stalinist in policy.
In the 1960s, the party experienced internal problems due to the Sino-Soviet split. The party was divided between supporters of the Soviet Union under the "revisionist" Khrushchev and supporters of China under Mao Zedong. Eventually, the party chose to adopt Maoism. The supporters of Khrushchev's Soviet Union departed to form the Socialist Unity Party.
Later, when Mao died and Deng Xiaoping began to reform the Chinese system, the Communist Party of New Zealand began to follow the lead of Enver Hoxha's Albania, which they considered to be the last truly Communist country in the world.
After the final collapse of Communism in Albania, the Communist Party of New Zealand gradually changed its views, renouncing its former support of Stalinism, Maoism, and Enver Hoxha. Instead, it adopted Trotskyism. Opponents of this change departed, and established the Communist Party of Aotearoa (a Maoist group). The Communist Party of New Zealand eventually merged with the International Socialist Organization in 1994. The resultant party, known as the Socialist Workers Organization, still exists today, but a departure of most former International Socialist Organization members has weakened it.