1931 New Zealand general election

Last updated
1931 New Zealand general election
Flag of New Zealand.svg
  1928 1 (Māori) & 2 December (general) 1931 1935  

All 80 seats in the New Zealand House of Representatives
41 seats were needed for a majority
Turnout714,511 (83.3%)
 First partySecond party
  Joseph Gordon Coates, 1931.jpg Harry Holland (1925).jpg
Leader Gordon Coates Harry Holland
Party Reform Labour
Alliance United–Reform Coalition
Leader since30 May 1925 27 August 1919
Leader's seat Kaipara Buller
Last election27 seats, 34.8%19 seats, 26.2%
Seats won2824
Seat changeSteady2.svg 0Increase2.svg 5
Popular vote190,170244,881
SwingDecrease2.svg 9.3%Increase2.svg 8.1%

 Third partyFourth party
  George William Forbes.jpg Harold Montague Rushworth (1940).jpg
Leader George Forbes Harold Rushworth
Party United Country Party
Alliance United–Reform Coalition
Leader since28 May 1930November 1928
Leader's seat Hurunui Bay of Islands
Last election27 seats, 29.8%1 seat, 1.6%
Seats won191
Seat changeDecrease2.svg 8Steady2.svg 0
Popular vote120,80116,710
SwingDecrease2.svg 13.3%Increase2.svg 0.7%

1931 New Zealand general election - Results.svg
Results of the election.

Prime Minister before election

George Forbes

Prime Minister-Designate

George Forbes

The 1931 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the New Zealand Parliament's 24th term. It resulted in the newly formed coalition between the United Party and the Reform Party remaining in office as the United–Reform Coalition Government, although the opposition Labour Party made some minor gains despite tallying more votes than any other single party.



In the 1928 election, the Reform Party won 28 seats to the United Party's 27 seats. Shortly after the election the Reform Party lost a vote of no-confidence and the United Party managed to form a government, the United Government, with the support of the Labour Party, with governing Reform Party going into the opposition. In 1931, however, the agreement between United and Labour collapsed due to differing opinions on how to counter the Great Depression. The Reform Party, fearing that the Depression would give Labour a substantial boost, reluctantly agreed to form a coalition with United to avert elections. By forming a coalition, United and Reform were able to blunt Labour's advantage, ending the possibility of the anti-Labour vote being split.

The election

The date for the main 1931 elections was 2 December, a Wednesday. Elections to the four Māori electorates were held the day before. 874,787 people were registered to vote, and there was a turnout of 83.3%. This turnout was below average for the time period.

The number of seats was 80, a number which had been fixed since 1902. [1] However, in four electorates (Bay of Plenty, Oroua, Pahiatua, Waitomo) there was only one candidate. [2] [3]


Crowd on intersection of Willis and Mercer Streets in Wellington, outside the offices of The Evening Post, awaiting the results of the 1931 general election. Crowd in Willis Street, Wellington, awaiting the results of the 1931 general election.jpg
Crowd on intersection of Willis and Mercer Streets in Wellington, outside the offices of The Evening Post , awaiting the results of the 1931 general election.

The 1931 election saw the recently formed governing coalition retain office as the United–Reform Coalition, winning fifty-one seats, including four independents. This was a drop of four seats from what the two parties had won in the previous elections, but was still considerably better than many had expected given the economic situation. The Labour Party won twenty-four seats, a gain of five. In the popular vote (including pro-coalition independents), the coalition won 54.0% of the vote, down from the 66.1% that the two parties had won previously. Labour won 34.3%. The only other party to gain a place in Parliament was the Country Party, which won a single seat. Four other independents were elected. Four candidates were elected unopposed: Walter Broadfoot in Waitomo, John Cobbe in Oroua, Alfred Ransom in Pahiatua, and Kenneth Williams in Bay of Plenty. [4]

Party totals

Winning party by electorate. 1931 New Zealand general election - Simple.svg
Winning party by electorate.
1931 nz parliament.svg
Election results
Reform Gordon Coates 190,17026.6054.0328±0
United George Forbes 120,80116.9019-8
Independents (in support of Coalition)75,06910.534+3
Labour Harry Holland 244,86734.2724+5
Country Party Harold Rushworth 16,7102.341±0
Ratana 7,1541.000±0
Independents 66,8948.364-1

Votes summary

Popular Vote
All Coalition Parties
Coalition Reform
Coalition United
Country Party
Coalition Independent
Parliament seats
All Coalition Parties
Coalition Reform
Coalition United
Country Party
Coalition Independent

The following table shows the detailed results: Key

  Reform     Labour     United     Country Party     Independent Liberal     Ratana     Independent   

Electorate results for the 1931 New Zealand general election [5] [6]
ElectorateIncumbentWinnerMajorityRunner up
General electorates
Auckland Central Bill Parry 3,793 [7] Harold Penfound Congdon
Auckland East James Donald Bill Schramm 2,256 [8] Harold Percy Burton
Auckland Suburbs Rex Mason 1,223Richard Herbert Marryatt [9]
Auckland West Michael Joseph Savage 4,517Hugh Ross Mackenzie [9]
Avon Dan Sullivan 3,039Harben Robert Young
Awarua Philip De La Perrelle 2,148Norman McIntyre [10]
Bay of Islands Harold Rushworth 1,209 Allen Bell
Bay of Plenty Kenneth Williams Uncontested
Buller Harry Holland 3,631 John Menzies [11]
Central Otago William Bodkin 2,516 Charles Todd
Chalmers Alfred Ansell 172Norman Hartley Campbell
Christchurch East Tim Armstrong 3,206George Frederick Allen
Christchurch North Henry Holland 2,077 Elizabeth McCombs
Christchurch South Ted Howard 2,798 [12] Charlie McCully [13]
Clutha Fred Waite Peter McSkimming 1,530Fred Waite
Dunedin Central Charles Statham 262 Peter Neilson
Dunedin North Jim Munro 524John McCrae [14] [15]
Dunedin South William Taverner Fred Jones 3,644William Taverner
Dunedin West William Downie Stewart Jr 924 John Gilchrist
Eden Arthur Stallworthy 1,270 [12] Bill Anderton
Egmont Charles Wilkinson 1,308F. Gawith
Franklin Jack Massey 2,457Harry Oswald Mellsop [16]
Gisborne Douglas Lysnar David Coleman 317 [12] Douglas Lysnar
Grey Lynn John Fletcher John A. Lee 3,242 [7] John Fletcher
Hamilton Alexander Young 3,072 [17] Hubert Beebe
Hauraki Walter William Massey 2,750 [7] Charles Robert Petrie
Hawke's Bay Hugh Campbell 2,259 Ted Cullen [18]
Hurunui George Forbes 3,953R. J. Logan [19]
Hutt Walter Nash 2,823James Kerr [nb 1]
Invercargill Vincent Ward James Hargest 508William McChesney
Kaiapoi Richard Hawke 1,414 John Archer [20]
Kaipara Gordon Coates 2,084Albert Edward Robinson [21]
Lyttelton James McCombs 32Frederick Willie Freeman [22]
Manawatu Joseph Linklater 2,246 Lorrie Hunter
Manukau Bill Jordan 3,394 [12] Stanley Rickards [9]
Marsden Alfred Murdoch 2,942 Jim Barclay
Masterton George Sykes 1,951 Peter Butler
Mataura David McDougall 943Thomas Golden [23]
Mid-Canterbury David Jones Jeremiah Connolly 136 [24] David Jones
Motueka George Black 517 Keith Holyoake
Napier Bill Barnard 1,456John Butler
Nelson Harry Atmore 100Herbert Everett [25]
New Plymouth Sydney George Smith 3,472 William Sheat
Oamaru John Andrew MacPherson 1,046 [12] John Kirkness
Oroua John Cobbe Uncontested
Otaki William Hughes Field 1,321 Jim Thorn
Pahiatua Alfred Ransom Uncontested
Palmerston Jimmy Nash 1,245 Joe Hodgens
Parnell Bill Endean 4,821 [7] John William Yarnall
Patea Harold Dickie 3,495W. G. Simpson
Raglan Lee Martin Stewart Reid 806 Lee Martin
Rangitikei James Thomas Hogan Alexander Stuart 15 James Thomas Hogan
Riccarton Bert Kyle 589Archibald Albany McLachlan [nb 2]
Roskill George Munns Arthur Shapton Richards 171 [7] William John Holdsworth [26]
Rotorua Cecil Clinkard 57 Alexander Moncur
Stratford William Polson 1,518J W McMillan [nb 3]
Tauranga Charles MacMillan 658 Bill Sullivan [nb 4]
Temuka Thomas Burnett 1,237Thomas Herbert Langford
Thames Albert Samuel 464John Sommerville Montgomerie [28]
Timaru Clyde Carr 820Herbert N. Armstrong [29] [nb 5]
Waikato Frederick Lye 981Solomon Netheim Ziman [nb 6]
Waimarino Frank Langstone 591William Henry Wackrow
Waipawa Albert Jull [nb 7] 386John Davies Ormond, Jr. [nb 8]
Wairarapa Thomas McDonald Alexander McLeod 616Thomas McDonald
Wairau Edward Healy 1,424 William Girling
Waitaki John Bitchener 885Alexander McLean Paterson [31]
Waitemata Alexander Harris 2,378 [7] Arthur Osborne [32]
Waitomo Walter Broadfoot Uncontested
Wallace Adam Hamilton 2,842Peter Gilfedder [33]
Wanganui Bill Veitch 590 Bill Rogers
Wellington Central Peter Fraser 2,471 [34] Robert Darroch
Wellington East Bob Semple 593 [34] Thomas Forsyth
Wellington North Charles Henry Chapman 1,061 [34] George Troup
Wellington South Robert McKeen 2,659 Will Appleton [35]
Wellington Suburbs Robert Alexander Wright 2,570 [34] Tom Brindle
Westland James O'Brien 1,121 John Greenslade
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Āpirana Ngata 3,211 Pita Moko
Northern Maori Taurekareka Henare 1,188 Paraire Karaka Paikea
Southern Maori Tuiti Makitanara 19 Eruera Tirikatene
Western Maori Taite Te Tomo 1,436 Toko Ratana

Table footnotes:

  1. For some biographical details of James Kerr refer to his father's article
  2. For some biographical details of McLachlan refer to his grandfather's article
  3. McMillan claimed to stand for the Reform Party, but he was not the official candidate, as the United–Reform Coalition endorsed William Polson, who ran as an Independent [27]
  4. Bill Sullivan was a member of the United Party, but Charles MacMillan was the official candidate of the United–Reform Coalition, hence Sullivan stood as an Independent
  5. The Reform and United parties could not agree on an official coalition candidate for the Timaru electorate, so neither Armstrong (Reform) nor Herbert Hall (United) were official candidates, and many sources show them as Independents
  6. Ziman was the father of John Ziman [30]
  7. Jull was the official candidate of the United–Reform Coalition
  8. Ormond was the son of John Davies Ormond and the father of John Ormond


  1. "General elections 1853–2005 - dates & turnout". Elections New Zealand. Archived from the original on 14 November 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
  2. Bassett 1982, p. 67.
  3. Wilson 1985, p. 286.
  4. "Nominations Close". Evening Post . CXII (123). 20 November 1931. p. 11. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  5. McRobie 1989, pp. 87f.
  6. Skinner 1932, pp. 1–10.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Election Counts". Auckland Star . LXII (291). 9 December 1931. p. 9. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
  8. "Recount of Votes". Auckland Star . LXII (289). 7 December 1931. p. 9. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  9. 1 2 3 "Parliamentary Elections". Auckland Star . LXII (275). 20 November 1931. p. 5. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  10. "Page 4 Advertisements Column 4". Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser. LV (5636). 1 December 1931. p. 4. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  11. "Buller Electorate". The Evening Post . CXII (127). 25 November 1931. p. 10. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 "Election Results". Auckland Star . LXII (290). 8 December 1931. p. 3. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  13. "Straight Grained". New Zealand Truth (1197). 8 November 1928. p. 6. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  14. "John McCrae". Auckland War Memorial Museum . Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  15. "Dunedin North". Auckland Star . LXII (264). 7 November 1931. p. 11. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  16. "Electoral". The New Zealand Herald . LXVIII (21053). 11 December 1931. p. 22. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  17. "Electors' Choice". Auckland Star . LXII (286). 3 December 1931. p. 8. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  18. "A Coalition Certainty". The Evening Post . CXII (120). 17 November 1931. p. 10. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  19. "In Canterbury". Auckland Star . LXII (281). 27 November 1931. p. 8. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  20. Gustafson, Barry. "Archer, John Kendrick". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 8 April 2011.
  21. "Notice of Nominations received and Polling Places appointed". Rodney and Otamatea Times, Waitemata and Kaipara Gazette. 25 November 1931. p. 7. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  22. "Notice of Nominations Received and Polling Places Appointed". Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser. LV (5634). 24 November 1931. p. 2. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
  23. "Mr McDougall Opposed". The Evening Post . CXII (120). 17 November 1931. p. 10. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  24. "Public Notices". Ellesmere Guardian. LII (99). 11 December 1931. p. 1. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  25. "Opposing Mr Atmore". The Evening Post . CXII (110). 5 November 1931. p. 10. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  26. "Electoral". The New Zealand Herald . LXVIII (21051). 9 December 1931. p. 18. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  27. "Stratford Electorate". The New Zealand Herald . LXVIII (21029). 13 November 1931. p. 11. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  28. "Reform Triumph". The Northern Advocate . 18 June 1925. p. 5. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
  29. Kerr, Stephen (2003). "Good Old Clyde": Clyde Carr M.P., Timaru and the Art of Incumbency, 1928–1962 (PDF) (Thesis). University of Canterbury. p. 66. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  30. "Ziman, John Michael" (PDF). Oxford University Press. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  31. Facer, Wayne Arthur Pickard (2012). "In New Zealand: Timaru 1923–1925". William Jellie: Unitarian, Scholar and Educator (PDF) (M.Phil.). Massey University . Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  32. "Parliamentary Elections". Auckland Star . LXII (275). 20 November 1931. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  33. "Declaration of Result of Poll for the Electoral District of Wallace". Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle. XXVII (1349). 15 December 1931. p. 2. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  34. 1 2 3 4 "Declaration of Result of Poll for the Electoral District of Wellington Suburbs". The Evening Post . CXII (140). 10 December 1931. p. 2. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  35. "Coalition Selection". The Evening Post . CXII (117). 13 November 1931. p. 8. Retrieved 17 March 2015.

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