1946 New Zealand general election

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Flag of New Zealand.svg
  1943 26 November 1946 (Māori)
27 November 1946 (general)

All 80 seats in the New Zealand Parliament
41 seats were needed for a majority
Turnout1,047,205 (93.5%)
 First partySecond party
  Peter Fraser.jpg Sidney George Holland (1951).jpg
Leader Peter Fraser Sidney Holland
Party Labour National
Leader since 4 April 1940 26 November 1940
Leader's seat Brooklyn Christchurch North
Last election45 seats, 47.6%34 seats, 42.8%
Seats won4238
Seat changeDecrease2.svg 3Increase2.svg 4
Popular vote536,994507,139
SwingIncrease2.svg 3.7%Increase2.svg 5.6%

Prime Minister before election

Peter Fraser

Elected Prime Minister

Peter Fraser

The 1946 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the New Zealand Parliament's 28th term. It saw the governing Labour Party re-elected, but by a substantially narrower margin than in the three previous elections. The National Party continued its gradual rise.

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 her governor-general. Before 1951, there was an upper chamber, the New Zealand Legislative Council. The New Zealand Parliament was established in 1854 and is one of the oldest continuously functioning legislatures in the world. It has met in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, since 1865.

28th New Zealand Parliament

The 28th New Zealand Parliament was a term of the New Zealand Parliament. It was elected at the 1946 general election in November 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 been in government since winning the 1935 elections, and had been re-elected twice. However, the National Party had managed to overcome the internal problems which had once troubled it, and now presented a credible threat to Labour. National's leader, Sidney Holland, was proving more effective than his predecessor, while the Prime Minister, Peter Fraser, was weary and in poor health. The after-effects of World War II, including ongoing shortages, were affecting the government's popularity.

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.

New Zealand National Party Major New Zealand political party

The New Zealand National Party, shortened to National or the Nats, is a centre-right political party in New Zealand. It is one of two major parties that dominate contemporary New Zealand politics, alongside its traditional rival, the New Zealand Labour Party.

Sidney Holland 25th Prime Minister of New Zealand

Sir Sidney George Holland was a New Zealand politician who served as the 25th Prime Minister of New Zealand from 13 December 1949 to 20 September 1957. He was instrumental in the creation and consolidation of the New Zealand National Party, which was to dominate New Zealand politics for much of the second half of the 20th century.

The next New Zealand census was scheduled for 1946, but the government brought it forward to Tuesday 25 September 1945, so that the results could be used for the 1946 electoral redistribution prior to the planned 1946 election. [1] The 1946 electoral redistribution had to take ten years of population growth and movements into account. The North Island gained a further two electorates from the South Island due to faster population growth. The abolition of the country quota through the Electoral Amendment Act, 1945 reduced the number and increased the size of rural electorates. None of the existing electorates remained unchanged, 26 electorates were abolished, 19 electorates were created for the first time, and six former electorates were re-established. [2]

New Zealand census

The New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings is a national population and housing census conducted by government department Statistics New Zealand every five years. There have been thirty-three censuses since 1851. In addition to providing detailed information about national demographics, the results of the census play an important part in the calculation of resource allocation to local service providers.

North Island The northern of the two main islands of New Zealand

The North Island, also officially named Te Ika-a-Māui, is one of the two main islands of New Zealand, separated from the larger but much less populous South Island by Cook Strait. The island's area is 113,729 square kilometres (43,911 sq mi), making it the world's 14th-largest island. It has a population of 3,749,200.

South Island Southernmost of the two main islands in New Zealand

The South Island, also officially named Te Waipounamu, is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand in surface area; the other being the smaller but more populous North Island. It is bordered to the north by Cook Strait, to the west by the Tasman Sea, and to the south and east by the Pacific Ocean. The South Island covers 150,437 square kilometres (58,084 sq mi), making it the world's 12th-largest island. It has a temperate climate.

The election

The date for the main 1946 elections was 27 November, a Wednesday. Elections to the four Māori electorates were held the day before. 1,081,898 people were registered to vote, and there was a turnout of 93.5%. This turnout was the highest ever recorded at this point. The number of seats being contested was 80, a number which had been fixed since 1902. [3]

Māori electorates

In New Zealand politics, Māori electorates, colloquially known as the Māori seats, are a special category of electorate that gives reserved positions to representatives of Māori in the New Zealand Parliament. Every area in New Zealand is covered by both a general and a Māori electorate; there are currently seven Māori electorates. Since 1967 candidates in Māori electorates have not needed to be Māori themselves, but to register as a voter in the Māori electorates people need to declare they are of Māori descent.

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.

The outcome of the election was probably affected by the abolition of the country quota the previous year.[ citation needed ] This had required rural electorates to be smaller than urban electorates, thus increasing the importance of the rural vote. Since National was more popular than Labour in rural areas, the change may have cost National the election.

Election results

Party standings

The 1946 election saw the governing Labour Party retain office by a four-seat margin, winning forty-two seats to the National Party's thirty-eight. In the popular vote — Labour won 51.3% and National won 48.4%. The election was a straight fight between the two main parties (unlike the 1943 election), and only 8 of the 76 European electorates had more than two candidates. The Democratic Labour Party did not take part, and National absorbed many of the miscellaneous candidates and splinter movements. The European electorates divided equally and the Maori seats decided the issue. [4]

1943 New Zealand general election

The 1943 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the New Zealand Parliament's 27th term. With the onset of World War II, elections were initially postponed, but it was eventually decided to hold a general election in September 1943, around two years after it would normally have occurred. The election saw the governing Labour Party re-elected by a comfortable margin, although the party nevertheless lost considerable ground to the expanding National Party.

The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) was a left-wing political party in New Zealand in the 1940s. It was a splinter from the larger Labour Party, and was led by the prominent socialist John A. Lee.

No other parties won any significant share of the vote, and no independents were elected — only 0.3% of voters did not support one of the two major parties. After Harry Atmore of Nelson died, no candidate who was not from the two main parties managed to enter Parliament until the 1966 elections, when the Social Credit Party won its first seat.

Election results
PartyCandidatesTotal votesPercentageSeats wonChange
Labour 80536,99451.2842-3
National 80507,14948.4338+4
Communist 31,1810.110±0
Independent 92,8860.180-1

Votes summary

Popular Vote
Parliament seats

Initial MPs

The table below shows the results of the 1946 general election:


  Labour     National     Independent   

Electorate results for the New Zealand general election, 1946 [5] [6]
ElectorateIncumbentWinnerMajorityRunner up
General electorates
Arch Hill New electorate Bill Parry [7] 6,585Edward James Clark
Ashburton New electorate Richard Geoffrey Gerard 1,453 Mabel Newlands
Auckland Central Bill Parry [7] Bill Anderton [8] 3,478 Leon Götz [9]
Avon Dan Sullivan 5,180Robert Alexander McDowell
Awarua George Richard Herron 2,588Gilbert Gregory Mitchell
Bay of Plenty Bill Sullivan [10] 1,634 Ray Boord [11] [5]
Brooklyn New electorate Peter Fraser [12] 3,935Stewart Hardy
Buller Paddy Webb Jerry Skinner 2,912Phil McDonald
Central Otago William Bodkin 2,909Claude Charles Capell
Christchurch Central New electorate Robert Macfarlane 4,420Alan J. Wills
Clutha James Roy 2,140John Patrick Thompson
Dunedin Central Peter Neilson Phil Connolly 2,000 Stuart Sidey [13] [5]
Dunedin North Robert Walls 1,630 Norman Jones [14]
Eden Bill Anderton [8] Wilfred Fortune [15] 1,281 Warren Freer [16] [5]
Egmont Ernest Corbett [17] 3,398Clarence Robert Parker
Fendalton New electorate Sidney Holland 3,004Alan Williams
Franklin Jack Massey 4,023Alex Gunn
Gisborne David William Coleman 2,015 Harry Barker [18]
Grey Lynn Fred Hackett 5,910Harold Stapleton Barry
Hamilton Hilda Ross 327John Granville
Hastings New electorate Ted Cullen 483Eric Pryor [19]
Hauraki Andrew Sutherland 2,891John William Neate
Hawke's Bay Ted Cullen Cyril Harker 2,014Henry Edward Beattie
Hobson New electorate Sidney Walter Smith 3,580Hubert Knox Hatrick
Hurunui William Gillespie 1,440 John Mathison
Hutt Walter Nash 2,587Jim Vogel
Invercargill William Denham Ralph Hanan 224William Denham
Island Bay New electorate Robert McKeen 3,958Herbert Edward Childs
Karori New electorate Charles Bowden 2,042Patrick Connolly McGavin
Lyttelton Terry McCombs 1,543 Ted Taylor [20]
Manawatu Matthew Oram 2,467 Phil Holloway
Marlborough Edwin Meachen Tom Shand 179Edwin Meachen
Marsden Alfred Murdoch 2,149 John Stewart
Miramar New electorate Bob Semple 2,482Leonard Theodor Jacobsen [21]
Mornington New electorate Wally Hudson 4,681Lewis Donald McIver
Mount Albert New electorate Arthur Shapton Richards 1,857Frederick Ashley Hosking
Mount Victoria New electorate Jack Marshall 911Eugene Casey
Napier Tommy Armstrong 1,845Alan John Price
Nelson vacant [nb 1] Edgar Neale 585Cyril Harold Goodman
New Plymouth Ernest Aderman 405George Nimmo
North Shore New electorate Martyn Finlay 249 Henry Thorne Morton [22]
Oamaru Arnold Nordmeyer 232Thomas Ross Beatty
Onehunga Arthur Osborne 3,424William Kenneth King
Onslow New electorate Harry Ernest Combs 1,578Philip Patrick Lynch
Otahuhu Charles Robert Petrie 220Albert Murdoch
Otaki Leonard Lowry James Joseph Maher 44 Jim Thorn
Pahiatua Keith Holyoake 3,697Otto Ernest Niederer
Palmerston North Joe Hodgens Ormond Wilson 928 Gus Mansford
Parnell New electorate Duncan Rae 206 Frederick Schramm
Patea William Sheat 870Richard John O'Dea
Petone New electorate Michael Moohan 4,019George London
Piako New electorate William Goosman 5,101 Ben Waters
Ponsonby New electorate Ritchie Macdonald 3,431Peter E Dempsey [23]
Raglan Hallyburton Johnstone Alan Baxter 13 Hallyburton Johnstone
Rangitikei Edward Gordon 2,307John Capstick
Remuera Ronald Algie 4,410James Freeman
Riccarton Jack Watts Angus McLagan 3,875Vic Wilson
Rodney New electorate Clifton Webb 2,850Alexander Boyd Dixon
Roskill Arthur Shapton Richards Frank Langstone 155 Roy McElroy [24]
St Albans New electorate Jack Watts 86 Morgan Williams [25]
St Kilda New electorate Fred Jones 1,248Leonard James Tobin Ireland
Selwyn New electorate John McAlpine 472Alan Sharp
Sydenham New electorate Mabel Howard 6,746Ruric Hunter
Tamaki New electorate Tom Skinner 231John George Concanon Wales
Tauranga Frederick Doidge 2,704Dudley Alexander Hill
Timaru Clyde Carr 520 Jack Acland [26]
Waikato William Goosman Geoffrey Sim 4,385John Dwyer
Waimarino Frank Langstone Paddy Kearins 681Norman Robert Hill
Waimate New electorate David Campbell Kidd 789William Roy Davison
Wairarapa Ben Roberts Garnet Hercules Mackley 235George Anders Hansen
Waitakere New electorate Rex Mason 2,797Archibald Morrison Laing
Waitomo Walter Broadfoot 3,951Alan George Goldsmith
Wallace Adam Hamilton Tom Macdonald 3,716David Johnston Munro
Wanganui Joseph Cotterill 1,934Eric Merewether
Wellington Central Peter Fraser Charles Henry Chapman 1,680 Agnes Louisa Weston [nb 2]
Westland James O'Brien 4,716E Frank Chivers [29] [30]
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Tiaki Omana 1,517 Āpirana Ngata
Northern Maori Tapihana Paraire Paikea 2,555 James Henare [31]
Southern Maori Eruera Tirikatene 581Vernon Ohaia Mason Thomas
Western Maori Matiu Ratana 6,491 Hoeroa Marumaru [32]

Table footnotes:

  1. Harry Atmore, the previous holder of the Nelson electorate, died on 20 August 1946
  2. Claude Weston died suddenly on 10 November 1946 and was replaced by his wife [27] [28]


  1. "Politics brought the 1946 Census forward to 1945". Statistics New Zealand . Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  2. McRobie 1989, pp. 91–96.
  3. "General elections 1853–2005 – dates & turnout". Elections New Zealand. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
  4. Lipson 2011, p. 220-21.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "The General Election, 1946". National Library. 1947. pp. 1–11, 14. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  6. "The Lists Close" (25951). Evening Star. 16 November 1946. p. 9.
  7. 1 2 Wilson 1985, p. 225.
  8. 1 2 Wilson 1985, p. 180.
  9. Gustafson 1986, p. 315.
  10. Wilson 1985, p. 237.
  11. Norton 1988, p. 200.
  12. Wilson 1985, p. 198.
  13. Norton 1988, p. 212.
  14. Gustafson 1986, pp. 323f.
  15. Wilson 1985, p. 197.
  16. Norton 1988, p. 220.
  17. Wilson 1985, p. 190.
  18. Milton-Tee, Ann. "Harry Heaton Barker". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  19. Gustafson 1986, p. 382.
  20. Gustafson 1986, p. 387.
  21. "Public Notices". The Evening Post . CXXXVI (136). 6 December 1943. p. 4. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  22. Gustafson 1986, p. 334.
  23. Gustafson 1986, pp. 360f.
  24. Gustafson 1986, p. 375.
  25. Wilson 1985, p. 245.
  26. Wilson 1985, p. 179.
  27. Gustafson 1986, p. 389.
  28. "Claude Horace Weston". Auckland War Memorial Museum . Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  29. "General Election". Auckland Star . LXXIV (203). 27 August 1943. p. 4. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  30. "Chivers, E Frank, DSM, MID". Torpedo Bay Navy Museum . Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  31. Gustafson 1986, p. 367.
  32. Gustafson 1986, p. 377.

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