1990 New Zealand general election

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1990 New Zealand general election
Flag of New Zealand.svg
  1987 27 October 1990 1993  

All 97 seats in the House of Representatives
49 seats needed for a majority
 First partySecond partyThird party
Jim Bolger, 1990s.jpg
Mike Moore, 1992 (crop).jpg
Jim Anderton, 2010.jpg
Leader Jim Bolger Mike Moore Jim Anderton
Party National Labour NewLabour
Leader since 26 March 1986 4 September 1990 1 April 1989
Leader's seat King Country Christchurch North Sydenham
Last election40 seats, 44.02%57 seats, 47.96%New party
Seats won67291
Seat changeIncrease2.svg 27Decrease2.svg 28Increase2.svg 1
Popular vote872,358640,91594,171
SwingIncrease2.svg 3.80%Decrease2.svg 12.82%Increase2.svg 5.16%

1990 New Zealand general election - Results.svg
Results of the election

Prime Minister before election

Mike Moore

Subsequent Prime Minister

Jim Bolger

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 two terms in office. The National Party, led by Jim Bolger, won a landslide victory and formed the new government.


This election was the first time since 1975 that National had won the popular vote. [1] [2]


The Labour Party had taken office after defeating the National Party under Robert Muldoon in the 1984 election. David Lange became Prime Minister and Roger Douglas became Minister of Finance. The economic program outlined by Douglas was deeply unpopular with Labour's traditional supporters, however – deregulation, privatisation, and free trade, all opposed by the party's more left-wing members, were a key part of the Rogernomics platform. This internal dissent was off-set somewhat by new social legislation and a strong stance against nuclear weapons.

Labour was re-elected in the 1987 election with its parliamentary majority untouched, but the internal disputes continued. Eventually Lange forced Douglas to resign in December 1988, but continued destabilisation of his leadership by Douglas had weakened Lange's position such that he resigned eight months later. He was replaced as Prime Minister by Geoffrey Palmer, but Palmer failed to revive Labour's falling popularity. Several months before the election, Palmer was replaced by Mike Moore. The National Party was performing strongly – its leader, Jim Bolger, spoke repeatedly of "the Decent Society", saying that the reforms were doing significant damage to the social fabric of the country. The government was also being challenged by the NewLabour Party, founded by renegade MP Jim Anderton.

MPs retiring in 1990

Five National MPs and eleven Labour MPs intended to retire at the end of the 42nd Parliament.

National George Gair North Shore
Merv Wellington Papakura
Ian McLean Tarawera
Venn Young Waitotara
Derek Angus Wallace
Labour Geoffrey Palmer Christchurch Central
Stan Rodger Dunedin North
Anne Collins East Cape
Trevor Young Eastern Hutt
Roger Douglas Manurewa
Philip Woollaston Nelson
Colin Moyle Otara
Trevor de Cleene Palmerston North
Bob Tizard Panmure
Michael Bassett Te Atatu
Russell Marshall Wanganui

The election

The date for the 1990 election was 27 October. 2,202,157 people were registered to vote, and 85.2% of these people turned out. The number of seats being contested was 97 – this was the same as in the previous election, which had the largest number of seats for any Parliament until that point.

Summary of results

The 1990 election eventually saw a victory for the National Party, then in opposition. National won nearly half (48%) of the vote and 67 (69%) of the seats, becoming the fourth National government. This was the highest number of seats the party had ever won, either in absolute terms or as a percentage. Four new (and young) National MPs: (Bill English, Tony Ryall, Roger Sowry and Nick Smith) were called the "brat pack" by Sir Robert Muldoon (himself one of the "Young Turks" of 1960). [3]

The new Green Party gained the third-highest number of votes, but won no seats. The NewLabour Party won a single seat, due to Jim Anderton retaining the Sydenham seat he originally won as a Labour candidate.

The governing Labour Party, by contrast, suffered its worst-ever electoral defeat since it first won power in the 1935 election, winning only 29 (30%) of the seats and 35% of the vote (its lowest percentage since 1931), and losing 27 seats. Initially it appeared that twelve ministers and the Speaker had lost their seats, but Fran Wilde scraped in on special votes. Many of Labour's talented "class of 84" were sent away, though five of them, Annette King, Jim Sutton, Trevor Mallard, Richard Northey and Judy Keall, returned in 1993. [4]

The result was primarily due to intense anger at Labour and its policies (shown by it losing 12% of the vote) rather than love of National (which only increased its vote by 4%).

Detailed results

Party totals

1990 nz parliament.svg
Election results [5]
PartyCandidatesTotal votesPercentageSeats won
National 97872,35847.8267
Labour 97640,91535.1429
Greens 71124,9156.85-
NewLabour 9394,1715.161
Democrats 9130,4551.67-
Social Credit 6817,8970.98-
Mana Motuhake 410,8690.60-
McGillicuddy Serious 5910,0580.55-
Christian Heritage 189,5910.53-
Minor parties and Independents7612,8630.71-

Votes summary

Popular Vote
Parliament seats

Electorate results

NewZealandElectorates1990-Labeled.png The tables below shows the results of the 1990 general election:


  National   Labour   Democrats   NewLabour   Mana Motuhake

Electorate results for the 1990 New Zealand general election
ElectorateIncumbentWinnerMajorityRunner up
General electorates
Albany Don McKinnon 7,455June Allen
Ashburton Jenny Shipley 7,922Basil Moskovis
Auckland Central Richard Prebble 3,277Kathryn Hill
Avon Larry Sutherland 4,250Wendy Rush
Awarua Jeff Grant 4,964Heather Russell
Bay of Islands John Carter 5,285Bruce Raitt
Birkenhead Jenny Kirk Ian Revell 2,813Jenny Kirk
Christchurch Central Geoffrey Palmer Lianne Dalziel 3,769Ross Gluer
Christchurch North Mike Moore 2,148Peter Yarrell
Clevedon Warren Kyd 4,732 Ann Batten
Clutha Robin Gray 6,527Jeff Buchanan
Coromandel Graeme Lee 6,342Margaret Hawkeswood
Dunedin North Stan Rodger Pete Hodgson 2,336Gael Donoghue
Dunedin West Clive Matthewson 1,779Ian McMeeking
East Cape Anne Collins Tony Ryall 1,968Dianne Collins
East Coast Bays Murray McCully 5,216 Gary Knapp
Eastern Hutt Trevor Young Paul Swain 801Rosemary Thomas
Eden Richard Northey Christine Fletcher 1,524 Richard Northey
Fendalton Philip Burdon 4,993Tony Day
Gisborne Allan Wallbank Wayne Kimber 449 Allan Wallbank
Glenfield Judy Keall Peter Hilt 2,958 Judy Keall
Hamilton East Bill Dillon Tony Steel 2,121 Bill Dillon
Hamilton West Trevor Mallard Grant Thomas 1,563 Trevor Mallard
Hastings David Butcher Jeff Whittaker 728 David Butcher
Hawkes Bay Bill Sutton Michael Laws 2,895 Bill Sutton
Heretaunga Bill Jeffries Peter McCardle 1,122 Bill Jeffries
Hobson Ross Meurant 6,641Howard Henry
Horowhenua Annette King Hamish Hancock 624 Annette King
Invercargill Rob Munro 4,137Barry Rait
Island Bay Elizabeth Tennet 3,635Ann Nolan
Kaimai Robert Anderson 8,147Gordon Dickson
Kaipara Lockwood Smith 8,610Wayne Sellwood
Kapiti Margaret Shields Roger Sowry 1,599 Margaret Shields
King Country Jim Bolger 7,274Cameron Gordon
Lyttelton Peter Simpson Gail McIntosh 68 Peter Simpson
Manawatu David Robinson Hamish MacIntyre 3,089 David Robinson
Mangere David Lange 4,039Bryan Archer
Manurewa Roger Douglas George Hawkins 1,143Pat Baker
Maramarua Bill Birch 7,670 Charles Chauvel
Marlborough Doug Kidd 7,187Barbara Hutchinson
Matamata John Luxton 8,501Bill Pepperell
Miramar Peter Neilson Graeme Reeves 552 Peter Neilson
Mt Albert Helen Clark 1,230Larry Bellshaw
Napier Geoff Braybrooke 1,265Colleen Pritchard
Nelson Philip Woollaston John Blincoe 636L Baigent
New Lynn Jonathan Hunt 1,099Martyn Athol Bishop
New Plymouth Harry Duynhoven John Armstrong 1,701 Harry Duynhoven
North Shore George Gair Bruce Cliffe 6,183Graeme Ransom
Ohariu Peter Dunne 783George Mathew
Onehunga Fred Gerbic Grahame Thorne 612 Fred Gerbic
Otago Warren Cooper 3,927Tony Cooke
Otara Colin Moyle Trevor Rogers 1,226 Taito Phillip Field
Pahiatua John Falloon 7,689Margo Martindale
Pakuranga Maurice Williamson 9,086Paul Charles Grant
Palmerston North Trevor de Cleene Steve Maharey 349Paul Sherriff
Panmure Bob Tizard Judith Tizard 1,098 Gray Bartlett
Papakura Merv Wellington John Robertson 5,665James Stubbs
Papatoetoe Ross Robertson 510 Allan Brewster
Pencarrow Sonja Davies 384 Ray Wallace
Porirua Graham Kelly 3,453P Faulkner
Raglan Simon Upton 5,442Olivia Scaletti-Longley
Rangiora Jim Gerard 5,273Judith Alison McLachlan
Rangitikei Denis Marshall 6,127Patricia Barton
Remuera Doug Graham 7,368Carl Harding
Roskill Phil Goff Gilbert Myles 644 Phil Goff
Rotorua Paul East 5,270Bruce Raitt
St Albans David Caygill 1,560David Dumergue
St Kilda Michael Cullen 1,886Bruce Alexander
Selwyn Ruth Richardson 5,441Val Elley
Sydenham Jim Anderton 1,443Linda Constable
Tamaki Robert Muldoon 7,592Malcolm Johnston
Taranaki Roger Maxwell 7,867Scott Dalziel
Tarawera Ian McLean Max Bradford 5,152Malcolm Moore
Tasman Ken Shirley Nick Smith 2,246 Ken Shirley
Tauranga Winston Peters 9,314Bill Delaney
Te Atatu Michael Bassett Brian Neeson 1,370Dan McCaffrey
Timaru Maurice McTigue 3,192Gary Clarke
Titirangi Ralph Maxwell Marie Hasler 64 Ralph Maxwell
Tongariro Noel Scott Ian Peters 886 Noel Scott
Waikaremoana Roger McClay 5,865David Davies
Waikato Rob Storey 6,172George Middleton
Waipa Katherine O'Regan 8,477Mark Apiata-Wade
Wairarapa Wyatt Creech 4,141Pauline Moran
Waitaki Jim Sutton Alec Neill 2,905 Jim Sutton
Waitotara Venn Young Peter Gresham 7,192Dominic O'Sullivan
Wallace Derek Angus Bill English 8,886David Soper
Wanganui Russell Marshall Cam Campion 409 Jill Pettis
Wellington Central Fran Wilde 246 Pauline Gardiner [nb 1]
West Auckland Jack Elder 252Laurie Wicks
West Coast Kerry Burke Margaret Moir 2,611 Kerry Burke
Western Hutt John Terris Joy Quigley 700 John Terris
Whangarei John Banks 6,839Edna Tait
Yaldhurst Margaret Austin 42John Connelly
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Peter Tapsell 6,844Wi Kuki Kaa
Northern Maori Bruce Gregory 956 Matiu Rata
Southern Maori Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan 7,614Tikirau Stevens
Western Maori Koro Wētere 5,466 Eva Rickard

Table footnotes:

  1. Gardiner was first on election night for Wellington Central, but lost when special votes were included [4]

Summary of seat changes

Post-election events

A number of local by-elections were required due to the resignation of incumbent local body politicians following their election to Parliament:


  1. "The Royal Commission". nzhistory.govt.nz. Retrieved 29 September 2023.
  2. "1890–1993 general elections". Elections. Retrieved 29 September 2023.
  3. 1 2 Bassett 2008, p. 538.
  4. "New Zealand Elections 1972–1993". New Zealand Election Study. Retrieved 17 December 2011.[ permanent dead link ]
  5. Bassett, Michael (2013). City of sails: the history of Auckland City Council, 1989–2010. p. 382. ISBN   1927262003.
  6. "Declaration of Result of Election". The New Zealand Herald . 5 December 1991. p. 14; 3.
  7. "Voters go for new parties". The New Zealand Herald . 28 November 1991. p. 1.
  8. Evans, Gavin (15 December 1990). "Blincoe Stalls Resignation". The Evening Post .
  9. Bly, Ross (29 April 1991). Southern Ward By-Election (Report). Wellington City Council.
  10. "Declaration of Result of Election". The Evening Post . 1 May 1991.

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