1975 New Zealand general election

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1975 New Zealand general election
Flag of New Zealand.svg
  1972 29 November 1975 (1975-11-29) 1978  

All 87 seats for New Zealand House of Representatives
44 seats were needed for a majority
 First partySecond party
  Muldoon 1978.jpg Bill Rowling, 1962.jpg
Leader Robert Muldoon Bill Rowling
Party National Labour
Leader since 9 July 1974 6 September 1974
Leader's seat Tamaki Tasman
Last election32 seats, 41.5%55 seats, 48.4%
Seats won5532
Seat changeIncrease2.svg 23Decrease2.svg 23
Popular vote763,136634,453
SwingIncrease2.svg 6.1%Decrease2.svg 8.8%

Prime Minister before election

Bill Rowling

Elected Prime Minister

Robert Muldoon

The 1975 New Zealand general election was held on 29 November to elect MPs to the 38th session of the New Zealand Parliament. It was the first general election in New Zealand where 18- to 20-year-olds [1] and all permanent residents of New Zealand were eligible to vote, although only citizens were able to be elected.

38th New Zealand Parliament

The 38th New Zealand Parliament was a term of the New Zealand Parliament. It was elected at the 1975 general election on 29 November of that year.

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.



The incumbent Labour Party, following the sudden death of Labour leader Norman Kirk, was led by Bill Rowling, a leader who was characterised as being weak and ineffectual by some political commentators. Labour's central campaign was the so-called "Citizens for Rowling" petition which attacked National leader Robert Muldoon's forthright leadership style. This campaign was largely seen as having backfired on Labour.

Norman Kirk 29th Prime Minister of New Zealand

Norman Eric Kirk was a New Zealand politician who served as the 29th Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1972 until his sudden death in 1974.

Bill Rowling 30th Prime Minister of New Zealand

Sir Wallace Edward Rowling, commonly known as Bill Rowling, was a New Zealand politician who was the 30th Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1974 to 1975. He held office as the parliamentary leader of the Labour Party.

<i>Citizens for Rowling</i>

The Citizens for Rowling campaign was a failed campaign to stop Robert Muldoon winning the 1975 New Zealand election. It was named after then Labour Prime Minister Bill Rowling in the lead-up to the 1975 general election. Members of the campaign publicly signed the "Citizens for Rowling" petition warning against a National government led by Muldoon. The campaign was largely organised by David Exel, a former television producer and current affairs interviewer.

The National Party responded with the formation of "Rob's Mob". As former Minister of Finance in the previous National government, Muldoon focused on the economic impact of Labour's policies; National's campaign advertising suggested that Labour's recently introduced compulsory personal superannuation scheme would result in the government owning the New Zealand economy by using the worker's money, akin to a communist state. Muldoon argued that his New Zealand superannuation scheme could be funded from future taxes rather than an additional tax on current wages.

In July 1974, Muldoon as opposition leader had promised to cut immigration and to "get tough" on law and order issues. He criticized the Labour government's immigration policies for contributing to the economic recession and a housing shortage which undermined the New Zealand "way of life."

Immigration to New Zealand

Migration to New Zealand began with Polynesian settlement in New Zealand, then uninhabited, about 1250 to 1280. European migration provided a major influx following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Subsequent immigration has been chiefly from the British Isles, but also from continental Europe, the Pacific, the Americas and Asia.

During the 1975 general elections, the National Party had also played an electoral advertisement that was later criticized for stoking negative racial sentiments about Polynesian migrants. [2]

The campaign also achieved notoriety due to an infamous television commercial featuring "Dancing Cossacks", which was produced by Hanna Barbera on behalf of National's ad agency Colenso. [3]

Dancing Cossacks advertisement

The "Dancing Cossacks" television advertisement was a 1975 electoral advertisement for the New Zealand National Party, produced by advertising agency Colenso. The first half of the advertisement was animated by Hanna-Barbera, with the second half featuring National Party leader Robert Muldoon. The advert was produced to be highly critical of the governing New Zealand Labour Party's recently introduced compulsory superannuation scheme, implying the scheme would eventually turn New Zealand into a Soviet-style communist state, and urged people to vote for National in the upcoming general election.

A consummate orator and a skilled television performer, Muldoon's powerful presence on screen increased his popularity with voters. [4]


Celebrating on election night Celebrating on election night, November 29 1975.jpg
Celebrating on election night

The final results of election: National won 55 seats, and Labour 32 seats. Thus Robert Muldoon replaced Bill Rowling as Prime Minister, ending the term of the Third Labour government, and beginning the term of the Third National government. The party seat numbers were an exact opposite of the 1972 election. No minor parties won seats, though the election saw the best ever result for New Zealand's first green political party, Values. There were 1,953,050 electors on the roll, with 1,603,733 (82.11%) voting.

Notable electorate results included the election of two Māori MPs to general seats; the first time that any Māori had been elected to a non-Māori seat since James Carroll in 1893. The MPs in question were Ben Couch in Wairarapa and Rex Austin in Awarua.

In Palmerston North and Western Hutt, Labour was first on election night but lost when special votes were counted.

PartyCandidatesTotal votesPercentageSeats wonChange
National 87763,13647.5955+23
Labour 87634,45339.5632-23
Social Credit 87119,1477.430±0
Values 8783,2415.190±0
Socialist Unity 154080.030±0
Independent 673,7560.230±0

    Votes summary

    Popular Vote
    Social Credit
    Parliament seats

    The table below shows the results of the 1975 general election:


      National     Labour     Social Credit   

    Electorate results for the New Zealand general election, 1975 [5]
    ElectorateIncumbentWinnerMajorityRunner up
    General electorates
    Auckland Central Norman Douglas Richard Prebble 289 Murray McCully
    Avon Mary Batchelor 5,503T P George
    Awarua Aubrey Begg Rex Austin 2,150 Aubrey Begg
    Bay of Plenty Percy Allen Duncan MacIntyre 3,960R F McKee
    Birkenhead Norman King Jim McLay 2,816Norman King
    Christchurch Central Bruce Barclay 2,973T G B Armitage
    Clutha Peter Gordon 4,735F A O'Connell
    Coromandel Leo Schultz 4,724R L Bradley
    Dunedin Central Brian MacDonell 1,428A R Bright
    Dunedin North Ethel McMillan Richard Walls 958Brian Arnold
    East Coast Bays Frank Gill 5,594Rex Stanton
    Eden Mike Moore Aussie Malcolm 1,331 Mike Moore
    Egmont Venn Young 4,120Dennis Duggan
    Franklin Bill Birch 7,605Ron Ng-Waishing
    Gisborne Trevor Davey Bob Bell 1,321 Trevor Davey
    Grey Lynn Eddie Isbey 2,839Jens Meder
    Hamilton East Rufus Rogers Ian Shearer 2,246 Rufus Rogers
    Hamilton West Dorothy Jelicich Mike Minogue 2,069 Dorothy Jelicich
    Hastings Richard Mayson Robert Fenton 491 Richard Mayson
    Hawkes Bay Richard Harrison 3,805 David Butcher
    Henderson Martyn Finlay 401Warren Adams
    Heretaunga Ron Bailey 336Julie Cameron [6]
    Hobson Logan Sloane Neill Austin 4,101Howard Manning [nb 1]
    Hutt Trevor Young 1,019Brett Newell
    Invercargill J. B. Munro Norman Jones 2,533 J. B. Munro
    Island Bay Gerald O'Brien 1,274Bill Nathan
    Kapiti Frank O'Flynn Barry Brill 2,222 Frank O'Flynn
    Karori Jack Marshall Hugh Templeton 4,830 Margaret Shields
    King Country Jim Bolger 4,316T D Varnam
    Lyttelton Tom McGuigan Colleen Dewe 999 Tom McGuigan
    Manawatu Allan McCready 2,918Alan Charles Eyles
    Mangere Colin Moyle 1,604S A Lawson
    Manukau Roger Douglas 678B R Leaming
    Manurewa Phil Amos Merv Wellington 1,358 Phil Amos
    Marlborough Ian Brooks Edward Latter 3,010 Ian Brooks
    Miramar Bill Young 1,749 John Wybrow
    Mt Albert Warren Freer 247Frank Ryan
    Napier Gordon Christie 931J K W Isles
    Nelson Stanley Whitehead 1,093I D McWhannel
    New Lynn Jonathan Hunt 890B J O'Connor
    New Plymouth Ron Barclay Tony Friedlander 1,935 Ron Barclay
    North Shore George Gair 5,247Wyn Hoadley
    Oamaru Bill Laney Jonathan Elworthy 2,196 Bill Laney
    Onehunga Hugh Watt Frank Rogers 1,044K A O'Brien
    Otago Central Ian Quigley Warren Cooper 2,371 Ian Quigley
    Otahuhu Bob Tizard 3,785Mrs L E Morris
    Pahiatua Keith Holyoake 6,769P R Thornicroft
    Pakuranga Gavin Downie 7,016 Geoff Braybrooke
    Palmerston North Joe Walding John Lithgow 142 Joe Walding
    Papanui Bert Walker 2,985Rod Garden
    Petone Fraser Colman 2,834B. Robert Gluyas
    Piako Jack Luxton 6,174 Helen Clark
    Porirua Gerard Wall 2,265Ross Doughty
    Raglan Douglas Carter Marilyn Waring 3,756Bill Pickering
    Rakaia Colin McLachlan 5,237Graeme Lowrie
    Rangiora Kerry Burke Derek Quigley 1,386 Kerry Burke
    Rangitikei Roy Jack 1,756 Bruce Beetham
    Remuera Allan Highet 8,656G B Mead
    Riccarton Eric Holland 4,766D A Johnson
    Rodney Peter Wilkinson 7,817John Prebble
    Roskill Arthur Faulkner 530John Maurice Priestley [7]
    Rotorua Harry Lapwood 3,605 Peter Tapsell
    Ruahine Les Gandar 2,763Rex Willing
    St Albans Roger Drayton 1,570Ms P R Rotherberg
    St Kilda Bill Fraser 1,890Gordon Heslop
    South Canterbury Rob Talbot 4,301N B Lambert
    Stratford David Thomson 5,667P P Hopkins
    Sydenham John Kirk 3,817 Paul Matheson
    Tamaki Robert Muldoon 6,735C T Kaye
    Tasman Bill Rowling 529 Peter Malone
    Taupo Jack Ridley Ray La Varis 1,614Jack Ridley
    Tauranga Keith Allen 4,843Richard Hendry
    Timaru Basil Arthur 1,011David Arthur John Walker
    Waikato Lance Adams-Schneider 7,073Brian West
    Wairarapa Jack Williams Ben Couch 1,468 Jack Williams
    Waitemata Michael Bassett Dail Jones 1,385 Michael Bassett
    Wallace Brian Talboys 6,978Ian Lamont
    Wanganui Russell Marshall 1,244J G Rowan
    Wellington Central Ken Comber 1,076 David Shand
    West Coast Paddy Blanchfield 2,401 Barry Dallas
    Western Hutt Henry May Brian Lambert 109 Henry May
    Whangarei Murray Smith John Elliott 2,710 Murray Smith
    Wigram Mick Connelly 1,967Neil Russell
    Māori electorates
    Eastern Maori Paraone Reweti 6,261M Searancke
    Northern Maori Matiu Rata 4,151 Winston Peters
    Southern Maori Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan 6,452Willard Amaru
    Western Maori Koro Wētere 8,925E S Rangi

    Table footnotes:

    1. David Lange came third for Labour in Hobson


    1. Levine & Lodge 1976, p. ?.
    2. National Party advertisement (documentary). TVNZ Television New Zealand, Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 1975.
    3. "Dancing Cossacks political TV ad". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 23 August 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
    4. Atkinson 2003, pp. 188f.
    5. Norton 1988, pp. ?.
    6. Gustafson 1986, p. 358.
    7. Gustafson 1986, p. 382.

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