1957 New Zealand general election

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1957 New Zealand general election

  1954 30 November 1957 (1957-11-30) 1960  

All 80 seats in the New Zealand Parliament
41 seats were needed for a majority
Turnout1,157,365 (92.9%)
 First partySecond party
Leader Walter Nash Keith Holyoake
Party Labour National
Leader since 17 January 1951 13 August 1957
Leader's seat Hutt Pahiatua
Last election35 seats, 44.1%45 seats, 44.3%
Seats won4139
Seat changeIncrease 6Decrease 6
Popular vote559,096511,699
SwingIncrease 4.2%Decrease 0.1%

Prime Minister before election

Keith Holyoake

Elected Prime Minister

Walter Nash

The 1957 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the New Zealand Parliament's 32nd term. It saw the governing National Party narrowly defeated by the Labour Party. The 1957 elections marked the beginning of the second Labour government, although this administration was to last only a single term.



The National Party had formed its first administration after the 1949 elections, and had been re-elected in the 1951 elections and the 1954 elections. As its third term in office continued, however, the Prime Minister, Sidney Holland, became increasingly ill. Holland's memory began to fail, and he is believed to have suffered a mild heart attack during the Suez Crisis. A mere two months before the 1957 election, Holland was persuaded by his party to step down; Keith Holyoake, his deputy, became Prime Minister. The Labour Party was still led by Walter Nash, who had been Finance Minister in the first Labour government.

The 1957 election campaign was dominated largely by financial issues, particularly introduction of the PAYE tax system. As a campaign promise, Labour announced that in the year that PAYE commenced, there would be a flat rebate of £100 on income tax — National attacked this as an election bribe. Labour also campaigned to abolish compulsory military training. National made no great changes to its policy platform, and Holyoake largely retained the Cabinet he had inherited from his predecessor.

The election

The date for the main 1957 election was 30 November. 1,252,329 people were registered to vote, and turnout was 92.9%. This turnout, although only average for the time, was not to be equalled or exceeded until the 1984 election. The number of seats being contested was 80, a number which had been fixed since 1902.

The Labour candidate for Clutha, R S Waters, died the day before the general election, and the election there was postponed to 18 January 1958. [1]

Election results

Party standings

The 1957 election saw the governing National Party defeated by a narrow two-seat margin. It had previously held a ten-seat majority. National won a total of thirty-nine seats, while the Labour Party won forty-one. In the popular vote, National won 44% to Labour's 48%. The Social Credit Party won 7% of the vote, a drop from its previous result of 11%. It still won no seats.

Election results
PartyCandidatesTotal votesPercentageSeats wonchange
Labour 80559,09648.3141+6
National 80511,69944.2139−6
Social Credit 8083,4987.210±0
Communist 57060.060±0
Independents 132,3660.200±0

Votes summary

Popular Vote
Social Credit
Parliament seats
Holyoake (right) congratulating Nash (left) on Labour's victory.

The table below shows the results of the 1957 general election:


  Labour     National   

Electorate results for the 1957 New Zealand general election. [2]
ElectorateIncumbentWinnerMajorityRunner up
General electorates
Ashburton Richard Gerard 1,769G Glassey
Auckland Central Bill Anderton 3,856Aileen Joyce
Avon John Mathison 6,100W E Olds
Awarua George Herron Gordon Grieve 1,636J P Wyatt [3]
Bay of Plenty Percy Allen 910Thomas Godfrey Santon
Buller Jerry Skinner 2,677N L Bensenmann
Christchurch Central Robert Macfarlane 4,071 Colin McLachlan
Clutha James Roy 1,490T A Rodgers [nb 1]
Dunedin Central Philip Connolly 1,778Marcus Anderson
Dunedin North Ethel McMillan 3,408G R Terry
Eden Duncan Rae 498Ian Watkins [4]
Egmont Ernest Corbett William Sheat 2,697Clarence Robert Parker
Fendalton Sidney Holland Jack Watts 824L G G White [5]
Franklin Jack Massey Alfred E. Allen 4,241Christopher Mountford
Gisborne Reginald Keeling 1,182A H MacPherson
Grey Lynn Fred Hackett 5,785Bernard Griffiths
Hamilton Hilda Ross 1,110 Ben Waters
Hastings Edwin Keating 1,070Arthur Heafy Sievewright
Hauraki Arthur Kinsella 1,161Brevat William Dynes
Hawkes Bay Cyril Harker 2,858Leonard Thomas Fischer
Heretaunga Phil Holloway 5,117 Allan McCready
Hobson Sidney Smith 3,134 Colin Moyle
Hurunui William Gillespie 1,749L Christie
Hutt Walter Nash 4,430 Lance Adams-Schneider
Invercargill Ralph Hanan 679T F Doyle
Island Bay Arnold Nordmeyer 4,209 Saul Goldsmith [6]
Karori Jack Marshall 3,061 Keith Spry
Lyttelton Harry Lake Norman Kirk 567Harry Lake
Manawatu Matthew Oram Blair Tennent 1,575Patrick Kelliher
Manukau Leon Götz 159Cyril Douglas Stamp
Marlborough Tom Shand 1,782Roy Evans
Marsden Donald McKay 2,088Mervyn Allan Hosking
Miramar Bill Fox 2,077Clevedon Costello
Mornington Walter Hudson 2,817Walter MacDougall
Mt Albert Warren Freer 3,987Geoffrey Taylor
Napier Jim Edwards 2,413Raymond Vincent Foster
Nelson Edgar Neale Stanley Whitehead 509Colin Wilson Martin
New Plymouth Ernest Aderman 657 Ron Barclay
North Shore Dean Eyre 462Peter Lawrence Smith
Onehunga Hugh Watt 5,686Donald Watson
Onslow Henry May 2,675Kevin O'Brien [7]
Otago Central John George 2,788J H Rapson
Otahuhu James Deas 3,442Robert Haszard
Otaki James Maher 1,122Cyril Shamy
Pahiatua Keith Holyoake 4,020William Erle Rose
Palmerston North Philip Skoglund 1,348 Bill Brown
Patea Roy Jack 902Benjamin R. Winchcombe
Petone Michael Moohan 4,159 Dan Riddiford
Piako New electorate William Goosman 3,812Alistair Walker
Ponsonby Ritchie Macdonald 6,592Gordon Frederick Smith
Raglan Hallyburton Johnstone Douglas Carter 161 Alan Baxter
Rangitikei Norman Shelton 2,983Stephen Malcolm Roberton
Remuera Ronald Algie 4,766Russell Gordon Penney
Riccarton Mick Connelly 2,867Deena V. Sergel [8]
Rodney Jack Scott 3,112George Webber
Roskill John Rae Arthur Faulkner 2,117 John Rae
Rotorua Ray Boord 2,009Alistair Murray Linton
Selwyn John McAlpine 1,731S S M Cook
St Albans Jack Watts Neville Pickering 501Eric Philip Wills [9]
St Kilda Jim Barnes Bill Fraser 791Jim Barnes
Stratford Thomas Murray 3,172J M Deegan
Sydenham Mabel Howard 6,450Oliver G. Moody
Tamaki Eric Halstead Bob Tizard 589 Eric Halstead
Tauranga George Walsh 3,342Oliver Liddell
Timaru Clyde Carr 2,954 Alfred James Davey
Waikato Geoffrey Sim 2,013Arthur John Ingram
Waipa William Goosman Hallyburton Johnstone 1,813Albert Clifford Tucker
Wairarapa Bert Cooksley 1,058Bob Wilkie [10]
Waitakere Rex Mason 3,682Leonard George Bradley
Waitaki New electorate Thomas Hayman 1,618A G Braddock
Waitemata Norman King 2,191 Robert Muldoon
Waitomo David Seath 2,474Vic Haines
Wallace Tom Macdonald Brian Talboys 4,319J S Reid
Wanganui Joseph Cotterill 1,419Mrs A K MacLean
Wellington Central Frank Kitts 1,685Max Wall
Westland James Kent 4,745Francis Frederick Boustridge
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Tiaki Omana 4,197W. Maxwell
Northern Maori Tapihana Paikea 4,310Timothy James Davis
Southern Maori Eruera Tirikatene 4,383Thomas Stratton
Western Maori Iriaka Matiu Ratana 5,553 Pei Te Hurinui Jones

Table footnotes:

  1. The previous Labour candidate, R S Waters, died the day before the general election, so the election in Clutha was postponed to 18 January 1958 [1]


  1. 1 2 Norton 1988, p. 209.
  2. Norton 1988, pp. ?.
  3. Norton 1988, p. 197.
  4. Norton 1988, p. 220.
  5. Norton 1988, p. 224.
  6. Gustafson 1986, pp. 364f.
  7. Gustafson 1986, p. 381.
  8. Gustafson 1986, p. 386.
  9. Gustafson 1986, p. 390.
  10. Espiner, Guyon (3 March 2012). "Profile: Labour deputy Grant Robertson". New Zealand Listener . Retrieved 26 September 2014.