1954 New Zealand general election

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1954 New Zealand general election

  1951 13 November 1954 (1954-11-13) 1957  

All 80 seats in the House of Representatives
41 seats were needed for a majority
Turnout1,096,877 (91.4%)
 First partySecond party
Leader Sidney Holland Walter Nash
Party National Labour
Leader since 26 November 1940 17 January 1951
Leader's seat Fendalton Hutt
Last election50 seats, 54.0%30 seats, 45.8%
Seats won4535
Seat changeDecrease 5Increase 5
Popular vote485,630484,028
SwingDecrease 9.7%Decrease1.7%

Prime Minister before election

Sidney Holland

Elected Prime Minister

Sidney Holland

The 1954 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the New Zealand Parliament's 31st term. It saw the governing National Party remain in office, but with a slightly reduced majority. It also saw the debut of the new Social Credit Party, which won more than eleven percent of the vote but failed to win a seat.



The National Party had formed its first administration after the 1949 elections. It had then been re-elected by a large margin amid the industrial disputes of the 1951 election. The Prime Minister, Sidney Holland, was popular in many sectors of society for his strong line against striking dockworkers and coalminers, while Labour's leader, Walter Nash, had been criticised for his failure to take a firm stand on the issue. Labour was troubled by internal disputes, with Nash subjected to an unsuccessful leadership challenge only a few months before the election. For the election, the National government adopted a "steady as she goes" approach, saying that the country was in good hands and did not need any major policy realignments.

The election

The date for the main 1954 elections was 13 November. 1,209,670 people were registered to vote, and turnout was 91.4%. The number of seats being contested was 80, a number which had been fixed since 1902.

The following new (or reconstituted) electorates were introduced in 1954: Heretaunga, Manukau, Rotorua, Stratford, Waipa and Waitemata. [1] Two candidates, both called John Stewart, came second; in Auckland Central for National and in Eden for Labour. [2]

Ten MPs retired at the election, see cartoon. [3]


The 1954 election saw the governing National Party re-elected with a ten-seat margin (and fewer votes than Labour), a drop from the twenty-seat margin it previously held. National won forty-five seats to the Labour Party's thirty-five. The popular vote was much closer, however, with the two parties separated by only 0.2%. No seats were won by minor party candidates or by independents, but the new Social Credit Party managed to win 11.2% of the vote, and it can be argued that Social Credit saved the National Government by providing an alternative to Labour and so minimising the two-party swing. [4]

Election results
PartyCandidatesTotal votesPercentageSeats wonchange
National 79485,63044.345−5
Labour 80484,02844.135+5
Social Credit 79122,57311.20±0
Communist 81,1340.100±0
Independents 93,4740.400±0

Votes summary

Popular vote
Social Credit
Parliament seats

The table below shows the results of the 1954 general election:


  National     Labour     Independent     Social Credit   

Electorate results for the 1954 New Zealand general election [5]
ElectorateIncumbentWinnerMajorityRunner up
General electorates
Ashburton Richard Gerard 2,292G Glassey
Auckland Central Bill Anderton 4,093John Weir Stewart
Avon John Mathison 4,955A N Stone
Awarua George Herron 3,172J P Wyatt
Bay of Plenty Bill Sullivan 3,062Thomas Godfrey Santon
Buller Jerry Skinner 3,348D M Carson
Central Otago William Bodkin John George 2,074P J Scott
Christchurch Central Robert Macfarlane 3,395Oliver G. Moody
Clutha James Roy 1,490T A Rodgers
Dunedin Central Philip Connolly 330Marcus Anderson
Dunedin North Ethel McMillan 2,791 Helen Black [6]
Eden Wilfred Fortune Duncan Rae 8 John Stewart [nb 1]
Egmont Ernest Corbett 2,977Roy Evans [7]
Fendalton Sidney Holland 3,004R H McDonald
Franklin Jack Massey 4,587Percival Peacock
Gisborne Harry Dudfield Reginald Keeling 521Harry Dudfield
Grey Lynn Fred Hackett 4,807Thomas McGowan
Hamilton Hilda Ross 1,430 Ben Waters
Hastings Sydney Jones Edwin Keating 252Sydney Jones
Hauraki Andrew Sutherland Arthur Kinsella 2,659Brevat William Dynes
Hawkes Bay Cyril Harker 3,109A Stafford
Heretaunga New electorate Phil Holloway 5,058 Allan McCready
Hobson Sidney Smith 2,584Cecil William Elvidge
Hurunui William Gillespie 2,395 Norman Kirk
Hutt Walter Nash 3,681Clevedon Costello
Invercargill Ralph Hanan 943 William Denham
Island Bay Robert McKeen Arnold Nordmeyer 3,824John Maurice Whitta
Karori Charles Bowden Jack Marshall 1,811 Jim Bateman
Lyttelton Harry Lake 24 Tom McGuigan
Manawatu Matthew Oram 2,228Patrick Kelliher
Manukau New electorate Leon Götz 3,072Cyril Stamp
Marlborough Tom Shand 1,635G A Turner
Marsden Alfred Murdoch Donald McKay 872Mervyn Allan Hosking
Miramar Bob Semple Bill Fox 1,527Robert John McConnell
Mornington Walter Hudson 3,886Walter MacDougall
Mt Albert Warren Freer 3,226 Robert Muldoon
Napier Peter Tait Jim Edwards 720 Peter Tait
Nelson Edgar Neale 717 Stanley Whitehead
New Plymouth Ernest Aderman 1,178C R Parkes
North Shore Dean Eyre 1,395 Arthur Faulkner
Oamaru Thomas Hayman 1,358J H Rapson
Onehunga Hugh Watt 4,389 Alfred E. Allen
Onslow Henry May 519 Wilfred Fortune
Otahuhu Leon Götz James Deas 1,806Leonard George Bradley
Otaki James Maher 963Ernest Langford
Pahiatua Keith Holyoake 3,519R Bell
Palmerston North Blair Tennent Philip Skoglund 346Blair Tennant
Patea William Sheat Roy Jack 662Benjamin R. Winchcombe
Petone Michael Moohan 4,211Fanny Elizabeth Soward
Ponsonby Ritchie Macdonald 3,948Harold Barry
Raglan Hallyburton Johnstone 857James Harrison Wilson
Rangitikei Edward Gordon Norman Shelton 2,679Stephen Malcolm Roberton
Remuera Ronald Algie 3,544 Bob Tizard
Riccarton Angus McLagan 4,343Balfour Grieve Dingwall
Rodney Clifton Webb Jack Scott 3,270Arthur Hellyn
Roskill John Rae 1,652Elizabeth Morris
Rotorua New electorate Ray Boord 822 Percy Allen
St Albans Jack Watts 608 Mick Connelly
St Kilda Jim Barnes 114 Fred Jones
Selwyn John McAlpine 2,521D Clinton
Stratford New electorate Thomas Murray 2,966Brian Edgar Richmond
Sydenham Mabel Howard 5,560Mrs A Schumacher
Tamaki Eric Halstead 1,986 Pat Curran
Tauranga George Walsh 3,448Oliver Liddell
Timaru Clyde Carr 1,423V W Wilson
Waikato Geoffrey Sim 4,698Albert Clifford Tucker
Waimate (vacant) [nb 2] Alfred Davey 1,438 Neville Pickering
Waipa New electorate William Goosman 4,435Harold Francis Gallagher
Wairarapa Bert Cooksley 1,691Bob Wilkie [9]
Waitakere Rex Mason 3,424Jim McAllister
Waitemata New electorate Norman King 387Hubert Morrison
Waitomo Walter Broadfoot David Seath 1,480Vic Haines
Wallace Tom Macdonald 4,466J W Cleary
Wanganui Joseph Cotterill 305J S Rumbold
Wellington Central Charles Chapman Frank Kitts 627 Allan Highet
Westland James Kent 3,605 Mark Wallace
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Tiaki Omana 3,094Claude Anaru [10]
Northern Maori Tapihana Paikea 4,435H. T. Waetford
Southern Maori Eruera Tirikatene 2,864 Turi Carroll
Western Maori Iriaka Matiu Ratana 6,637William Rakeipoho Bennett [11]
Table footnotes
  1. John Stewart was first on election night, but lost when special votes were included
  2. David Campbell Kidd, the National Party MP for Waimate, died less than two months before the election, leaving his seat vacant. [8]


  1. Norton 1988, pp. 7–9.
  2. Norton 1988, pp. 193, 220.
  3. "The First Eleven (retiring MPs)". National Library of New Zealand.
  4. Gustafson, Barry (1986). The First 50 Years: A History of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Reed Methuen. p. 66. ISBN   0-474-00177-6.
  5. Norton 1988, pp. ?.
  6. Norton 1988, p. 214.
  7. Norton 1988, p. 222.
  8. Wilson 1985, p. 210.
  9. Espiner, Guyon (3 March 2012). "Profile: Labour deputy Grant Robertson". New Zealand Listener . Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  10. Gustafson 1986, p. 353.
  11. Gustafson 1986, p. 355.