Events In History
14 June 1984Muldoon calls snap election
Prime Minister Robert Muldoon surprisingly announced a snap election for 14 July, hoping to catch the opposition Labour Party under-prepared. The gamble backfired and National suffered a heavy defeat. Read more...
30 November 1949Election of first National government
After 14 years of Labour government, voters were tired of continuing shortages and regulations. The National Party would be in power for 29 of the next 35 years. Read more...
6 December 1935First Labour government takes office
The first Labour government assumed office following the party's landslide victory in November's general election. Led initially by the charismatic Michael Joseph Savage, this government is best remembered for its significant social welfare reforms. Read more...
5 December 1890First 'one man one vote' election
From the 1890 election no Pākehā could vote in more than one district, ending the long-standing practice of 'plural voting' by those who owned property in more than one electorate. Read more...
19 December 1879Universal male suffrage introduced
The Qualification of Electors Act extended the right to vote (or electoral franchise) to all European men aged over 21, regardless of whether they owned or rented property. Read more...
14 July 1853NZ's first general election begins
The first member of New Zealand's inaugural Parliament was elected unopposed at Russell in the Bay of Islands. It would take another two and a half months to elect the remaining 36 members of the House of Representatives. Read more...
On 19 September 1893 the governor, Lord Glasgow, signed a new Electoral Act into law. As a result of this landmark legislation, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections.
Page 2 – Brief history
A history of the movement that won New Zealand women the vote in 1893
Page 3 – Women's suffrage milestones
Women's suffrage milestones from 1869 to 1999
Page 4 – The National Council of Women
Three years after the vote was won in 1893, a convention of representatives of 11 women's groups from throughout New Zealand resolved itself into the National Council of Women
In 1993 New Zealanders voted to replace their traditional first past the post (FPP) voting system with mixed member proportional representation (MMP). Eighteen years on, as Kiwis voted in a new electoral referendum, we explore how and why that dramatic reform came about.
Page 2 – First past the post
From 1853 until 1993 (apart from 1908–13) New Zealand elections were held under the first past the post (FPP) or plurality system.
Page 3 – The Royal Commission
During the 1981 and 1984 campaigns, Labour promised to set up a Royal Commission to look into a wide range of issues relating to the electoral system.
Page 4 – Putting it to the vote
Although only 55% of electors took part in a referendum, an overwhelming 85% voted to change their electoral system. In the second part of the poll, 70% favoured mixed member
Page 5 – 1996 and beyond - the road to MMP
The three years following the 1993 referendum, before the first MMP election in 1996, were ones of transition and uncertainty.
When New Zealanders go to the polls on 26 November 2011, they will continue a 158-year-old tradition of parliamentary democracy in this country. Politics may have changed beyond recognition since 1853, but the cut and thrust of the campaign trail, the power of advertising, and the drama of polling day remain as relevant as ever.
Page 2 – Early elections
Even though New Zealand's electoral franchise (right to vote) was more generous than Britain's, the colony's early elections were in many ways small-scale replicas of those in
Page 3 – Cleaning up elections
The New Zealand Parliament was alarmed by reports of electoral abuses in Auckland in the 1850s. It decided that electoral laws needed to be tightened, and in 1858 passed a
Page 4 – Nights on the town
After the colour and controversy of the 1850s, election days in New Zealand have generally been orderly affairs. Even so, election nights could still be lively occasions.
Page 5 – Peddling politicians
Given the printing technology of the time, early election posters and hoardings were inevitably simple.
Page 6 – Radio and TV
Electoral advertising was transformed first by radio, and later by television.
Page 7 – General Elections 1853-2011
Dates and turnout statistics for all New Zealand general elections
Page 8 – Further information
Find out more about election days in New Zealand.
New Zealand's Parliament dates back to 1854, just 14 years after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and the beginning of the European settlement of the country. For most of its history as a nation state, New Zealand has had some form of elected government.
- Page 2 - Quick historyNew Zealand's Parliament has been making laws, scrutinising the government and representing New Zealanders for over 150 years.
Between April and June 1868 the first four Māori MPs were elected to New Zealand's Parliament. Despite ongoing debate, the Māori seats remain a distinctive feature of this country's electoral landscape 140 years later.
Page 3 – Change in the 20th century
The fall and rise of Māori seats in the 20th century.
New Zealand’s first non-experimental television transmission went to air on 1 June 1960. To mark five decades of TV, in 2010 we presented five snapshots of Kiwi TV history. Explore pre-1960 experiments, TV news, music shows and modern election coverage - and discover how our own history has been showcased on the small screen.
- Page 5 - Elections on TVIt took a while for television to make its mark on New Zealand elections, but since the 1980s the small screen has become the decisive election
- national party
- bay of islands
- labour party
- michael joseph savage
- robert muldoon
- whanganui city
- reform party
- women in politics
- radio broadcasts
- parliament buildings
- suffrage campaign
- Maori MPs
- sidney holland
- walter nash
- wilfrid owen
- hilda ross
- liberal party
- john a lee
- david lange
- the speaker
- prime ministers
- wellington city
- gordon coates
- norman kirk
- national council of women
- keith holyoake
- auckland city
- famous firsts