1938 New Zealand general election

Last updated
1938 New Zealand general election
Flag of New Zealand.svg
  1935 14 (Māori) & 15 October (general) 1938 1943  

All 80 seats in the New Zealand Parliament
41 seats were needed for a majority
 First partySecond party
  Michael Joseph Savage Portrait.jpg Adam Hamilton (1926).jpg
Leader Michael Joseph Savage Adam Hamilton
Party Labour National
Leader since 12 October 1933 31 October 1936
Leader's seat Auckland West Wallace
Last election53 seats, 45.7%19 seats, 32.9% (as United–Reform Coalition)
Seats won5325
Seat changeSteady2.svg 0Increase2.svg 6
Popular vote528,290381,081
SwingIncrease2.svg 10.1%Increase2.svg 7.4%

Prime Minister before election

Michael Joseph Savage

Subsequent Prime Minister

Michael Joseph Savage

The 1938 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the New Zealand Parliament's 26th term. It resulted in the governing Labour Party being re-elected, although the newly founded National Party gained a certain amount of ground.

New Zealand Parliament legislative body of New Zealand

The New Zealand Parliament is the legislature of New Zealand, consisting of the Queen of New Zealand (Queen-in-Parliament) and the New Zealand House of Representatives. The Queen is usually represented by a governor-general. Before 1951, there was an upper chamber, the New Zealand Legislative Council. The Parliament was established in 1854 and is one of the oldest continuously functioning legislatures in the world.

26th New Zealand Parliament

The 26th New Zealand Parliament was a term of the New Zealand Parliament. It was elected at the 1938 general election in October of that year.

The New Zealand Labour Party, or simply Labour, is a centre-left political party in New Zealand. The party's platform programme describes its founding principle as democratic socialism, while observers describe Labour as social-democratic and pragmatic in practice. It is a participant of the international Progressive Alliance.



The Labour Party had won a resounding victory in the 1935 elections, winning fifty-three seats. Shortly after the elections, the two Ratana-aligned MPs also merged into the Labour Party, giving Labour a total of fifty-five seats. The government, a coalition of the United Party and the Reform Party, had won only nineteen seats. Shortly after their defeat, United and Reform agreed to merge into the National Party, which positioned itself as the only alternative to the "socialist" Labour Party. However, Labour remained popular with the public, and the Prime Minister, Michael Joseph Savage, was widely praised for his welfare reform. The leadership of the National Party, by contrast, was closely associated by the public with the Great Depression, and struggled to gain traction.

1935 New Zealand general election

The 1935 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the New Zealand Parliament's 25th term. It resulted in the Labour Party's first electoral victory, with Michael Joseph Savage becoming the first Labour Prime Minister. The governing coalition, consisting of the United Party and the Reform Party, suffered a major defeat, attributed by many to their handling of the Great Depression. The year after the election, United and Reform took their coalition further, merging to form the modern National Party.

The United Party of New Zealand, a party formed out of the remnants of the Liberal Party, formed a government between 1928 and 1935, and in 1936 merged with the Reform Party to establish the National Party.

The Reform Party, formally the New Zealand Political Reform League, was New Zealand's second major political party, having been founded as a conservative response to the original Liberal Party. It was in government between 1912 and 1928, and later formed a coalition with the United Party, and then merged with United to form the modern National Party.

The election

The date for the main 1938 elections was 15 October, a Saturday. Elections to the four Maori electorates were held the day before. 995,173 people were registered to vote, and there was a turnout of 92.9%. This turnout was the highest ever recorded at that point, although it was later exceeded in the two elections after World War II and in the 1984 elections. The number of seats being contested was 80, a number which had been fixed since 1902. [1]

Voter turnout percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in an election

Voter turnout is the percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in an election. Eligibility varies by country, and the voting-eligible population should not be confused with the total adult population. Age and citizenship status are often among the criteria used to determine eligibility, but some countries further restrict eligibility based on sex, race, or religion.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

1984 New Zealand general election

The 1984 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the 41st New Zealand Parliament. It marked the beginning of the Fourth Labour Government, with David Lange's Labour Party defeating the long-serving Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, of the National Party. It was also the last election in which the Social Credit Party won seats as an independent entity. The election was also the only one in which the New Zealand Party, a protest party, played any substantial role.


The 1938 election saw a decisive win for the governing Labour Party, which won fifty-three seats. This was a drop of two from what it held prior to the election. While Labour gained the seats of Bay of Islands, Motueka (previously held by Keith Holyoake), New Plymouth, Wellington Suburbs, and Northern Maori, it lost Tauranga and the rural seats of Manawatu, Rangitikei, Waikato, Mid-Canterbury, and Waipawa.

Keith Holyoake Viceroy, Prime Minister of New Zealand, politician

Sir Keith Jacka Holyoake was the 26th Prime Minister of New Zealand, serving for a brief period in 1957 and then from 1960 to 1972, and also the 13th Governor-General of New Zealand, serving from 1977 to 1980. He is the only New Zealand politician to date to have held both positions.

The National Party won twenty-five seats, an increase of six from that the United/Reform coalition had previously won. Both Labour and National increased their share of the popular vote, with Labour winning 55.8% (up from 46.1%) and National winning 40.3% (up from 32.9%). This increase was at the expense of the Democrat Party (who had merged into National in 1936) [2] and the agrarian monetary reformist Country Party, which saw its votes collapse completely. The Country Party lost the two seats it held (Bay of Islands and Franklin) as, unlike 1935, Labour stood candidates in the seats held by the two Country Party members. Hence Harold Rushworth did not stand in the Bay of Islands seat, and Arthur Sexton came third in Franklin.

The Country Party of New Zealand was a political party which appealed to rural voters. It was represented in Parliament from 1928 to 1938. Its policies were a mixture of rural advocacy and social credit theory.

Bay of Islands is a former New Zealand parliamentary electorate. It existed during various periods between 1853 and 1993. It was thus one of the original 24 electoral districts, and New Zealand's first ever MP was elected, although unopposed, in the Bay of Islands; Hugh Carleton thus liked to be called the Father of the House.

Franklin was a rural New Zealand parliamentary electorate. It existed from 1861 to 1996 during four periods.

Independent candidates also lost ground, with only two being elected, Harry Atmore (Nelson) and Charles Wilkinson (Egmont). As in 1935, the independents were tactically supported by one of the major parties who did not stand a candidate against them, and they generally voted with that party; Wilkinson and Wright had supported National while Atmore had supported Labour. But Robert Wright was defeated for the new electorate of Wellington West by Labour despite National not running a candidate against him. [3]

Harry Atmore New Zealand politician

Harry Atmore was a New Zealand Independent Member of Parliament for Nelson in the South Island.

Nelson (New Zealand electorate) New Zealand Parliamentary electorate

Nelson is a New Zealand parliamentary electorate, returning one Member of Parliament to the House of Representatives of New Zealand. From 1853 to 1860, the electorate was called Town of Nelson. From 1860 to 1881, it was City of Nelson. The electorate is the only one that has continuously existed since the 1st Parliament in 1853.

Charles Wilkinson (politician) New Zealand politician

Charles Anderson Wilkinson was a New Zealand Reform Party, then Independent Member of Parliament for Egmont, in the North Island.

An analysis of men and women on the rolls against the votes recorded showed that in the 1938 election 92.85% of those on the European rolls voted; men 93.43% and women 92.27%. In the 1935 election the figures were 90.75% with men 92.02% and women 89.46%. As the Māori electorates did not have electoral rolls they could not be included. [4] [5]

Party standings

Map of electorates. New Zealand Electorates 1938.png
Map of electorates.
Election results
PartyCandidatesVotesPercentageSeats wonchange
Labour 78528,29055.8053-2*
National 77381,08140.3025+9
Country Party 52,1990.230-2
Independents 1634,8233.652-3

*includes two Ratana MPs (Toko Ratana, Eruera Tirikatene) who joined the Labour caucus after the 1935 election

Votes summary

Popular Vote
Country Party
Parliament seats

Electorate results

The following table shows the detailed results: Key

  Labour     National     Country Party     Independent     Independent Liberal   

Electorate results for the New Zealand general election, 1938 [6] [7]
ElectorateIncumbentWinnerMajorityRunner up
General electorates
Auckland Central Bill Parry 6,181Clifford Reid Dodd [8]
Auckland East Frederick Schramm 2,626Harry Tom Merritt [9] [10]
Auckland Suburbs Rex Mason 4,862Maxwell Stuart Walker [11]
Auckland West Michael Joseph Savage 8,007 John W. Kealy [12]
Avon Dan Sullivan 6,179 Hiram Hunter
Awarua James Hargest 660J A Beck
Bay of Islands Harold Rushworth Charles Boswell 163Harold Fisher Guy [13]
Bay of Plenty Gordon Hultquist 169 Bill Sullivan
Buller Paddy Webb 6,144T O Maddison
Central Otago William Bodkin 1,231James McIndoe Mackay [14]
Christchurch East Tim Armstrong 7,179Ken Armour
Christchurch North Sidney Holland 492 Robert Macfarlane
Christchurch South Ted Howard 5,995Gladstone Ward [15]
Clutha James Roy 714 John Edie
Dunedin Central Peter Neilson 3,814William John Meade
Dunedin North James Wright Munro 3,557 Alexander Smith Falconer [16] [17] [18] [19]
Dunedin South Fred Jones 4,314Rev. Ernest Aderman
Dunedin West Dr Gervan McMillan 2,639 Stuart Sidey [20]
Eden Bill Anderton 2,333Donald Pool [21]
Egmont Charles Wilkinson 1,402T E Trask
Franklin Arthur Sexton Jack Massey 2,057Ernest Piggott [13]
Gisborne David William Coleman 3,640K F Jones
Grey Lynn John A. Lee 8,607Joseph Alexander Govan [9]
Hamilton Charles Barrell 1,860Albert William Grant [22] [13]
Hauraki Charles Robert Petrie John Manchester Allen 1,188 Robert Coulter
Hawkes Bay Edward Luttrell Cullen 2,658 George Maddison [23] [24]
Hurunui George Forbes 535H E Denton
Hutt Walter Nash 6,814 John William Andrews [25]
Invercargill William Denham 2,156 Fred Hall-Jones [20]
Kaiapoi Morgan Williams 1,535George Warren
Kaipara Gordon Coates 1,689Percy MacGregor Stewart [13]
Lyttelton Terry McCombs 2,984I J Wilson
Manawatu Clifford Hunter John Cobbe 1,644Clifford Hunter
Marlborough New electorate Edwin Meachen 1,525 Edward Healy
Marsden James Gillespie Barclay 557 Alfred Murdoch
Masterton John Robertson 190J H Irving
Mataura David McDougall Tom Macdonald 1,515David McDougall
Mid-Canterbury Horace Herring Arthur Grigg 74 Horace Herring
Motueka Keith Holyoake Jerry Skinner 870 Keith Holyoake
Napier Bill Barnard 3,937 John Ormond [26]
Nelson Harry Atmore 886J R Kerr
New Plymouth Sydney George Smith Frederick Frost 869Sydney George Smith
Oamaru Arnold Nordmeyer 758Michael Francis Edward Cooney [27]
Onehunga New electorate Arthur Osborne 4,314John Park [28] [29]
Otahuhu New electorate Charles Robert Petrie 2,267Kenneth Boor Tennent [30]
Otaki Leonard Lowry 1,367George Alexander Monk [31]
Pahiatua Alfred Ransom 931George Anders Hansen [32]
Palmerston North Joe Hodgens 2,118 Jimmy Nash [33]
Patea Harold Dickie 809Charles Joseph Duggan [34] [35]
Raglan Lee Martin 604 Andrew Sutherland [36]
Rangitikei Ormond Wilson Edward Gordon 311Ormond Wilson
Remuera New electorate Bill Endean 2,861 Mary Dreaver [37]
Riccarton Herbert Kyle 87Thomas Herbert Langford [38]
Roskill Arthur Shapton Richards 2,141Arthur Sagar Bailey [11]
Rotorua Alexander Moncur 1,648H W Nixon [39]
Stratford William Polson 1,101J W McMillan
Tauranga Charles Harris Burnett Frederick Doidge 1,138Charles Harris Burnett
Temuka Thomas Burnett 1,249James Arnold Kearton
Thames Jim Thorn 2,295William Alexander Clark
Timaru Clyde Carr 2,196W H Hall
Waikato Robert Coulter William Goosman 2,928J W Neate
Waimarino Frank Langstone 2,940C A Boles
Waipawa Hubert Christie Albert Jull 446Hubert Christie
Wairarapa Ben Roberts 777J F Thompson [40]
Waitaki David Barnes David Campbell Kidd 14David Barnes
Waitemata Jack Lyon 2,261John Ernest Close [11]
Waitomo Walter Broadfoot 329Jack Jones [41]
Wallace Adam Hamilton 844John James Lynch
Wanganui Joseph Cotterill 3,920 Bill Veitch
Wellington Central Peter Fraser 3,837 Will Appleton [42]
Wellington East Bob Semple 4,736William Long Barker [43]
Wellington North Charles Henry Chapman 3,278 Elizabeth Gilmer [44]
Wellington South Robert McKeen 6,415David Howlett [45]
Wellington Suburbs Robert Alexander Wright Harry Ernest Combs 3,163 Ossie Mazengarb
Wellington West New electorate Catherine Stewart 956 Robert Alexander Wright
Westland James O'Brien 3,729 Ted Taylor
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Āpirana Ngata 1,064 Reweti Tuhorouta Kohere
Northern Maori Taurekareka Henare Paraire Karaka Paikea 2,011Taurekareka Henare
Southern Maori Eruera Tirikatene 485Thomas Kaiporohu Bragg
Western Maori Toko Ratana 4,267 Pei Te Hurinui Jones


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  2. Gustafson 1986, p. 7.
  3. Milne, Robert Stephen (1966). Political Parties in New Zealand. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press. p. 76.
  4. New Zealand Official Year-book, 1942 p778
  5. "The New Zealand Official Year-Book, 1942". Government Printer. 28 June 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-01-21. Retrieved 2015-06-27.
  6. "The General Election, 1938". National Library. 1939. pp. 1–6. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  7. "Candidates for tomorrow's election". Evening Post . CXXVI (91). 14 October 1938. p. 18. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  8. "Notice of Nominations Received and Polling Places Appointed". Auckland Star . LXVI (268). 12 November 1935. p. 9. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
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  10. Gustafson 1986, pp. 26, 28.
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  12. Gustafson 1986, p. 370.
  13. 1 2 3 4 "Electoral". The New Zealand Herald . LXXV (23181). 29 October 1938. p. 25. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  14. "Declaration of Result of Poll for the Electoral District of Central Otago". Alexandra Herald and Central Otago Gazette. 13 October 1943. p. 4. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  15. "The By-Election". Evening Post . CXXVII (128). 2 June 1939. p. 8. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  16. Ammentorp, Steen. "Falconer". generals.dk. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  17. "Cenotaph Record". Auckland War Memorial Museum . Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  18. "Brigadier A. S. Falconer". New Zealand Electronic Text Centre . Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  19. Gustafson 1986, p. 362.
  20. 1 2 "The Mantle of Seddon". Evening Post . CXXVI (90). 13 October 1938. p. 24. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  21. "Election Review". Evening Post . CXXVI (83). 5 October 1938. p. 15. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  22. Gustafson 1986, p. 366.
  23. Webb, Brendan (20 September 2010). "No Sign of Mayors". BayBuzz. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  24. "Hawke's Bay Seats". Evening Post . CXXVI (90). 13 October 1938. p. 11. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  25. "Public Notices". The Evening Post . CXXVI (82). 4 October 1938. p. 4. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  26. Bremer, Robert James. "Ormond, John Davies Wilder". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 9 January 2010.
  27. "Otago Contests". Evening Post . CXXVI (73). 23 September 1938. p. 10. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  28. "The Onehunga Seat". Evening Post . CXXVI (59). 7 September 1938. p. 5. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  29. "Discover Onehunga's Rich History". Onehunga Business Association. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  30. "Parliamentary Elections". Auckland Star . LXIX (233). 3 October 1938. p. 11. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  31. "Public Notices". Evening Post . CXXVI (82). 4 October 1938. p. 4. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  32. "Labour Candidates". Evening Post . CXXV (82). 7 April 1938. p. 17. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  33. "J. A. Nash". Evening Post . CXXVI (89). 12 October 1938. p. 18. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  34. "The Labour Party". Auckland Star . LXIX (192). 16 August 1938. p. 5. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  35. "Labour Candidates". Evening Post . CX (61). 9 September 1925. p. 6. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  36. Gustafson 1986, p. 345.
  37. Laracy, Hugh. "Dreaver, Mary Manson". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  38. "Tammany Hall". Evening Post . CXL (52). 30 August 1945. p. 9. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  39. "General Election". Auckland Star . LXIX (116). 19 May 1938. p. 10. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
  40. "Wairarapa Electorate". Upper Hutt Weekly Review. III (43). 14 October 1938. p. 3. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  41. "Mrs. R. Bleasel". Auckland Star . LXIX (277). 23 November 1938. p. 4. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  42. Buchan, Allison. "Appleton, William". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  43. "Public Notices". Evening Post . CXXVI (98). 22 October 1938. p. 5. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  44. Labrum, Bronwyn. "Gilmer, Elizabeth May". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  45. "General Election". Evening Post . CXXVI (45). 22 August 1938. p. 10. Retrieved 10 November 2013.

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