All 92 seats for the New Zealand House of Representatives
47 seats were needed for a majority
The 1981 New Zealand general election, held on 28 November 1981, was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the 40th New Zealand Parliament. It saw the governing National Party, led by Robert Muldoon, win a third term in office, but the opposition Labour Party, led by Bill Rowling, won the largest share of the votes cast.
The 40th New Zealand Parliament was a term of the Parliament of New Zealand. Its composition was determined by the 1981 elections, and it sat until the 1984 elections.
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 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.
Before the election, the National Party governed with 50 seats, while the opposition Labour Party held 40 seats. The Social Credit Party held two (one of which had been taken from National in a recent by-election). The National Party had won a landslide victory in the 1975 election, but in the 1978 election, although remaining in office, had lost ground. The style of Robert Muldoon's leadership was growing increasingly unpopular, both with his party and with the public, and there had been an abortive leadership challenge by Brian Talboys in 1980. Some commentators believed that the 1981 election would mark an end to Muldoon's government.
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 New Zealand Social Credit Party was a political party which served as the country's "third party" from the 1950s through into the 1980s. The party held a number of seats in the New Zealand House of Representatives, although never more than two at a time. It has since renamed itself the New Zealand Democratic Party, and was for a time part of the Alliance.
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 and all permanent residents of New Zealand were eligible to vote, although only citizens were able to be elected.
Some pundits have since claimed that the Springbok Tour increased votes for National in provincial electorates, despite the tour not being seen as a major election issue.
The opposition Labour Party was led by Bill Rowling, who had been leader of the party in the past two elections. While Rowling had performed poorly against Muldoon in 1975, and was generally viewed by the public as weak, he had gradually recovered a measure of public respect. In the previous election, Labour had won a plurality of the vote, but did not win a majority of the seats. Many believed that this time, Labour would manage to convert its support into seats, although that did prove not to be the case.
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.
Not all of Muldoon's opponents gave their support to Rowling and the Labour Party, however. The small Social Credit Party, traditionally New Zealand's "third party", was enjoying strong support, but the first-past-the-post electoral system made it difficult for Social Credit to win seats. After the East Coast Bays by-election, Social Credit reached as high as 30% in opinion polls, but it then declined.
A first-past-the-post electoral system is one in which voters indicate on a ballot the candidate of their choice, and the candidate who receives the most votes wins. This is sometimes described as winner takes all. First-past-the-post voting is a plurality voting method. FPTP is a common, but not universal, feature of electoral systems with single-member electoral divisions, and is practised in close to one third of countries. Notable examples include Canada, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as most of their current or former colonies and protectorates.
The East Coast Bays by-election of 1980 was a by-election during the 39th New Zealand Parliament in the East Coast Bays electorate. It resulted in an upset for the National Party, as their candidate and future leader Don Brash was unexpectedly beaten by Gary Knapp of the Social Credit Party.
The election was held on 28 November. 2,034,747 people were registered to vote, and 91.4% turned out. That was a markedly higher turnout than recorded for the previous election, but as the official statistics for that election are regarded as highly misleading, the comparison is probably not valid. It is likely that turnout in the 1981 election was about the same as in the election before it.
The 1981 election saw the National Party win 47 of the 92 seats in parliament, a drop of three from before the election (National lost Hunua, Kapiti, Miramar and Wellington Central but won Taupo). This meant that National kept its majority by only a single seat, which became highly problematic over the next parliamentary term. The Labour Party won 43 seats, a gain of three (Labour won Hunua, Kapiti, Miramar and Wellington Central but lost Taupo). The Social Credit Party managed to retain its two seats, East Coast Bays and Rangitikei.
For the second election in a row, Labour won more votes than National, but fewer seats, allowing National to retain government despite not winning the popular vote. Social Credit won more than 20% of the popular vote but only two seats. This result, and that of 1978, contributed to New Zealand adopting the Mixed Member Proportional system of proportional representation in the 1990s.
|Party||Candidates||Total votes||Percentage||Seats won|
The tables below shows the results of the 1981 general election:
National Labour Social Credit Mana Motuhake Independent
|Albany||Don McKinnon||1,964||Bryan Mockridge|
|Ashburton||Rob Talbot||3,655||John Srhoy|
|Auckland Central||Richard Prebble||6,614||Dorice Reid|
|Avon||Mary Batchelor||7,820||Colin McNicholl|
|Awarua||Rex Austin||2,341||Dick Fitzgerald|
|Bay of Islands||Neill Austin||864||Les Hunter|
|Birkenhead||Jim McLay||2,104||Bill Smith|
|Christchurch Central||Geoffrey Palmer||7,028||Ian Wilson|
|Clutha||Robin Gray||661||Clive Matthewson|
|Dunedin Central||Brian MacDonell||4,169||Nancy Ruth King|
|Dunedin North||Stan Rodger||4,733||Des Bleach|
|East Cape||Duncan MacIntyre||1,964||Peter Dey|
|East Coast Bays||Gary Knapp||758||Don Brash|
|Eastern Hutt||Trevor Young||5.011||Alex Duthie|
|Eden||Aussie Malcolm||117||Ian Scott|
|Fendalton||Eric Holland||Philip Burdon||1,158||David Close|
|Gisborne||Bob Bell||150||Allan Wallbank|
|Hamilton East||Ian Shearer||1,188||Lois Welch|
|Hamilton West||Mike Minogue||1,477||Paddy McCaffrey|
|Hastings||David Butcher||1,845||Hamish Kynoch|
|Hauraki||Leo Schultz||Graeme Lee||1,787||Gordon Miller|
|Hawkes Bay||Richard Harrison||2,430||Mike Cullen|
|Helensville||Dail Jones||216||Jack Elder|
|Heretaunga||Ron Bailey||Bill Jeffries||2,233||Ronald Palmer|
|Horowhenua||Geoff Thompson||876||David Page|
|Hunua||Winston Peters||Colin Moyle||996||Winston Peters|
|Invercargill||Norman Jones||1,592||Dougal Soper|
|Island Bay||Frank O'Flynn||3,938||Doug Catley|
|Kaimai||Bruce Townshend||5,146||Douglas Conway|
|Kaipara||Peter Wilkinson||1,029||Nevern Connachy|
|Kapiti||Barry Brill||Margaret Shields||495||Barry Brill|
|King Country||Jim Bolger||2,158||Derek Mason|
|Lyttelton||Ann Hercus||3,892||Simon Stamers-Smith|
|Manawatu||Michael Cox||2,913||Dennis Kessell|
|Mangere||David Lange||5,806||John Pettit|
|Manurewa||Roger Douglas||2,815||Keith Ralph|
|Marlborough||Doug Kidd||1,643||Graeme Macann|
|Matamata||Jack Luxton||3,460||David Mawdsley|
|Miramar||Bill Young||Peter Neilson||649||Bill Young|
|Mt Albert||Warren Freer||Helen Clark||3,907||Warren W Moyes|
|Napier||Gordon Christie||Geoff Braybrooke||3,009||Kevin Rose|
|Nelson||Mel Courtney||Philip Woollaston||698||Mel Courtney|
|New Lynn||Jonathan Hunt||4,874||Ron Hanson|
|New Plymouth||Tony Friedlander||1,567||Dennis Duggan|
|North Shore||George Gair||3,969||Peter Chambers|
|Ohariu||Hugh Templeton||1,567||Norman Ely|
|Onehunga||Fred Gerbic||2,012||Sue Wood|
|Otago||Warren Cooper||4,893||Bryan Griffiths|
|Otahuhu||Bob Tizard||5,164||Stuart McDowell|
|Pahiatua||John Falloon||7,569||Bill Sutton|
|Pakuranga||Pat Hunt||783||Neil Morrison|
|Palmerston North||Joe Walding||Trevor de Cleene||2,110||Brian Elwood|
|Papakura||Merv Wellington||3,215||John Cheeseman|
|Papanui||Mike Moore||4,409||Brian Keeley|
|Papatoetoe||Eddie Isbey||1,689||Roy McKeen|
|Pencarrow||Fraser Colman||4,065||Willard Amaru|
|Porirua||Gerard Wall||3,639||Estelle Brittain|
|Rangiora||Derek Quigley||932||Chris Hayward|
|Rangiriri||Bill Birch||3,004||Roy Hayward|
|Rangitikei||Bruce Beetham||2,376||Paul Bardwell|
|Remuera||Allan Highet||5,105||Judith Tizard|
|Roskill||Arthur Faulkner||Phil Goff||2,525||Cheryl Parsons|
|Rotorua||Paul East||1,544||Johnny W Lepper|
|St Albans||David Caygill||4,926||James Baker|
|St Kilda||Bill Fraser||Michael Cullen||3,579||Stuart Clark|
|Selwyn||Colin McLachlan||Ruth Richardson||2,129||Bill Woods|
|Sydenham||John Kirk||5,594||Richard Bach|
|Tamaki||Robert Muldoon||5,153||Richard Northey|
|Taranaki||David Thomson||4,470||Brian Heilihy|
|Tarawera||Ian McLean||2,442||Noel Scott|
|Tasman||Bill Rowling||2,246||Edward Krammer|
|Taupo||Jack Ridley||Roger McClay||36||Jack Ridley|
|Tauranga||Keith Allen||2,232||Paul Hills|
|Te Atatu||Michael Bassett||3,330||Stella Noble|
|Timaru||Basil Arthur||1,850||Jane Coughlan|
|Waikato||Lance Adams-Schneider||Simon Upton||4,661||Noel Johnston|
|Waipa||Marilyn Waring||2,768||John Kilbride|
|Wairarapa||Ben Couch||1,546||Tom Gemmell|
|Waitakere||Ralph Maxwell||2,883||Martin Gummer|
|Waitaki||Jonathan Elworthy||305||Jim Sutton|
|Waitotara||Venn Young||2,784||Sam Gray|
|Wallace||Brian Talboys||Derek Angus||6,558||Owen Horton|
|Wanganui||Russell Marshall||1,668||Terry Heffernan|
|Wellington Central||Ken Comber||Fran Wilde||1,283||Ken Comber|
|West Coast||Kerry Burke||4,406||Douglas Truman|
|Western Hutt||John Terris||1,420||John Tanner|
|Whangarei||John Elliott||John Banks||1,743||Maurice Penney|
|Yaldhurst||Mick Connelly||1,962||Margaret E Murray|
|Eastern Maori||Paraone Reweti||Peter Tapsell||6,232||Albert Tahana|
|Northern Maori||Bruce Gregory||3,541||Matiu Rata|
|Southern Maori||Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan||8,665||Amster Reedy|
|Western Maori||Koro Wētere||8,624||Eva Rickard|
Sir Robert David Muldoon, also known as Rob Muldoon, was a New Zealand politician who served as the 31st Prime Minister of New Zealand, from 1975 to 1984, while Leader of the National Party.
The 1987 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the 42nd sitting of the New Zealand Parliament. The governing New Zealand Labour Party, led by Prime Minister David Lange, was re-elected for a second term, although the Opposition National Party made gains. The election also saw the elimination of the Democratic Party from Parliament, leaving Labour and National as the only parties represented.
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.
Sir John Ross Marshall, commonly known as Jack Marshall, was a New Zealand politician of the National Party. He entered Parliament in 1946 and was first promoted to Cabinet in 1951. After spending twelve years as Deputy Prime Minister, he served as the 28th Prime Minister for most of 1972.
The 1996 New Zealand general election was held on 12 October 1996 to determine the composition of the 45th New Zealand Parliament. It was notable for being the first election to be held under the new mixed-member proportional (MMP) electoral system, and produced a parliament considerably more diverse than previous elections. It saw the National Party, led by Jim Bolger, retain its position in government, but only after protracted negotiations with the smaller New Zealand First party to form a coalition. New Zealand First's position as "kingmaker", able to place either of the two major parties into government, was a significant election outcome.
The 1990 New Zealand general election was held on 27 October to determine the composition of the 43rd New Zealand parliament. The governing Labour Party was defeated, ending its controversial two terms in office. The National Party, led by Jim Bolger, won a landslide victory and formed the new government.
The 1993 New Zealand general election was held on 6 November 1993 to determine the composition of the 44th New Zealand Parliament. It saw the governing National Party, led by Jim Bolger, win a second term in office, despite a major swing away from National in both seats and votes. The opposition Labour Party, despite a slight drop in their support, managed to make gains in terms of seats. The new Alliance and New Zealand First parties gained significant shares of the vote, but won few seats. The election was New Zealand's last under the non-proportional first past the post electoral system.
The 1978 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to elect the 39th New Zealand Parliament. It saw the governing National Party, led by Robert Muldoon, retain office, but the opposition Labour Party won the largest share of the vote. Reorganisation of the enrolment system caused major problems with the electoral rolls, which left a legacy of unreliable information about voting levels in this election.
The 39th New Zealand Parliament was a term of the Parliament of New Zealand which began with the general election held on 25 November 1978, and finished with the general election held on 28 November 1981. The dates of the Muldoon Ministry were from 13 December 1978 to 11 December 1981.
The New Zealand general election of 1972 was held on 25 November to elect MPs to the 37th session of the New Zealand Parliament. The Labour Party, led by Norman Kirk, defeated the governing National Party.
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 1960 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the New Zealand Parliament's 33rd term. It saw the governing Labour Party defeated by the National Party, putting an end to the short second Labour government.
The 1963 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of New Zealand Parliament's 34th term. The results were almost identical to those of the previous election, and the governing National Party remained in office.
The Third National Government of New Zealand was the government of New Zealand from 1975 to 1984. It was an economically and socially conservative government, which aimed to preserve the Keynesian economic system established by the First Labour government while also being socially conservative. Throughout its three terms it was led by Robert Muldoon, a populist but antagonistic politician who was sometimes described as his party's best asset and worst liability.
Barry Selwyn Gustafson is a New Zealand political scientist and historian, and a leading political biographer. He served for nearly four decades as Professor of Political Studies at the University of Auckland, and as Acting Director of the New Zealand Asia Institute from 2004 to 2006. He has contested various general elections, first for the Labour Party and later for the National Party, coming second each time.
The 37th New Zealand Parliament was a term of the New Zealand Parliament. It was elected at the 1972 general election on 25 November of that year.
The New Zealand National Party leadership election, 1984 was held to determine the future leadership of the New Zealand National Party. The election was won by former Deputy Prime Minister Jim McLay.