Events In History
12 January 1954QEII opens NZ Parliament
A crowd of 50,000 greeted Queen Elizabeth II as she arrived at Parliament. This was the first time New Zealand's Parliament was opened by a reigning monarch. Read more...
1 January 1951Legislative Council abolished
The Legislative Council was New Zealand's Upper House, to which members were appointed, not elected. It was abolished in 1950 by government legislation. Read more...
26 September 1907Joseph Ward proclaims Dominion status
From the steps of the General Assembly Library in Wellington, the Prime Minister read the proclamation to the gathered crowd. This first Dominion Day was a full public holiday. Read more...
14 August 1891Women's vote petitions presented to Parliament
These petitions, signed by 9000 women, contributed to the introduction of a Female Suffrage Bill in Parliament. But while this received majority support in the House of Representatives, it was defeated in the Legislative Council. Read more...
26 July 1865Parliament moves to Wellington
The capital moved from Auckland to the more central Wellington on the recommendation of an Australian commission. The former Wellington Provincial Council chamber became the new home for Parliament. Read more...
24 May 1854Parliament's first sitting in Auckland
A 21-gun salute from Fort Britomart marked the opening of New Zealand's first Parliament. The 37 elected members made their oaths of allegiance to the Crown via the acting governor, Colonel R.H. Wynyard. Read more...
19 August 1853Wakefield elected to Parliament
The brains behind the New Zealand Company was elected to the House of Representatives as the member for Hutt. Having only arrived in February, he was quick to lobby for the introduction of responsible government. Read more...
17 January 1853NZ Constitution Act comes into force
The New Zealand Constitution Act (UK) of 1852, which established a system of representative government for New Zealand, was declared operative by Governor Sir George Grey. Read more...
\Today there are 120 MPs in New Zealand's Parliament, which is a far cry from the 37 who met for the first time in Auckland in 1854.
Page 2 – Women MPs
For much of its first century, Parliament was a bastion of male culture. Nowadays women make up 30% of MPs.
Page 4 – Pay and travel
One of the early issues parliamentarians discussed was pay for MPs, and one of the biggest difficulties MPs faced in the early years was travelling to Parliament.
Page 5 – Social life
In the early years, Parliament was a little like a superior gentlemen's club.
Page 6 – Staff
New Zealand's early politicians encouraged Parliament to adopt the traditions of the British Parliament so that New Zealand's Parliament would be invested with great
Page 7 – Spectators
Aside from its constitutional functions, Parliament has also provided a spectacle for members of the public.
Page 8 – Reporting and broadcasting
The reporting of Parliament has always been an important part of the parliamentary story.
Page 9 – Biographies
Some of the key figures in New Zealand parliamentary history
Page 10 – Further information
This web feature was written by John E. Martin and produced by the NZHistory.net.nz team.LinksParliament (Te Ara)BooksMartin, John E.
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 history
New Zealand's Parliament has been making laws, scrutinising the government and representing New Zealanders for over 150 years.
Page 3 – Parliament
Today there are two parts to Parliament – the House of Representatives (or the Lower House) and the Governor-General, but between 1854 and 1951 there was a third part,
Page 4 – Doing business
The operation of Parliament has changed over time as its workload has grown and new systems such as MMP have been implemented.
Page 6 – First sitting, 1854
It started with a bang – 21 in fact, fired from the guns at Auckland's Fort Britomart. As soon as the smoke had cleared, New Zealand's first Parliament was under way.
Page 5 – The Opposition
The Opposition uses a variety of tactics to hold the government to account.
Page 7 – The Speaker
The Speaker, who is elected by MPs, has a key role in representing the House to the Crown and in presiding over the House.
Page 8 – Useful terms
Glossary of terms used in Parliament
Page 9 – Milestones
Timeline of key events in New Zealand's parliamentary history
Page 10 – Further information
This web feature was written by John E. Martin and produced by the NZHistory.net.nz team.LinksParliamentary elections and parties (Te Ara)BooksMartin, John E.
Explore Parliament's rich history and its colourful culture and traditions.
Page 2 – Parliament in cartoons
For centuries, politics and Parliament have been the subject of public comment, satire and humour. Almost since the beginning, New Zealand's Parliament has been portrayed
Page 3 – Parliament in postcards
Painters and photographers loved to capture the beauty of Parliament's buildings in postcards, and New Zealanders and visitors sent these to friends and family in new Zealand
Page 4 – Westminster traditions
Many parliaments take a lead from Britain's ancient House of Commons, and New Zealand, too, followed the traditions in the home country.
Page 5 – Bad language
In the cut and thrust of Parliament's Debating Chamber, there are rules about what can and cannot be said.
Page 6 – Parliament in te reo
Te reo (the Māori language) came into Parliament with the first Māori MPs, elected in 1868.
Page 8 – Further information
This web feature was written by John E.
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 1 - Māori and the voteBetween 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
Pivotal political and constitutional events with links to further information
- Page 1 - Political and constitutional timelinePivotal political and constitutional events with links to further
New Zealand has had a governor or (from 1917) a Governor-General since 1840. The work of these men and women has reflected the constitutional and political history of New Zealand in many ways.
- Page 2 - Modern dutiesThe Governor-General's duties are divided into three functions: ceremonial, community and
- edward gibbon wakefield
- new zealand company
- joseph ward
- dominion day
- public holidays
- dominion of new zealand
- auckland city
- fort britomart
- queen elizabeth
- legislative council
- women in politics
- suffrage campaign
- wellington city
- cold war
- international relations
- maori land
- parliament buildings
- george grey
- the speaker
- edward jerningham wakefield
- radio broadcasts
- Maori MPs
- maori language
- te reo
- apirana ngata
- british empire
- liberal party
- royal tours
- henry sewell
- charles fergusson
- michael joseph savage
- wellington cenotaph
- sidney holland
- keith holyoake
- walter nash
- richard seddon
- robert muldoon
- david lange
- royal navy
- HMS Achilles
- paul reeves
- national party
- jim bolger
- lord plunket
- treaty of waitangi
- treaty claims
- waitangi tribunal
- ngai tahu
- mechanics bay
- vietnam war
- nga tamatoa
- elizabeth mccombs
- whina cooper