Nelson is a New Zealand parliamentary electorate, returning one Member of Parliament to the House of Representatives of New Zealand. From 1853 to 1860, the electorate was called Town of Nelson. From 1860 to 1881, it was City of Nelson. The electorate is the only one that has continuously existed since the 1st Parliament in 1853.
The current MP for Nelson is Rachel Boyack of the Labour Party after defeating long time incumbent Nick Smith of the National Party in the 2020 general election.
Nelson is based around the city of Nelson, with the dormitory town of Richmond and the smaller community of Hope drafted in to bring the electorate up to the required population quota.
A significant adjustment to the electorate's boundaries was carried out ahead of the change to mixed-member proportional (MMP) voting in 1996; the decrease in South Island electorates from 25 to 16 lead to the abolition of one western South Island electorate; Tasman was split between West Coast and the then (geographically) much smaller Nelson electorate.
The Representation Commission adjusted the boundaries in the 2007 review, which first applied at the 2008 election;the electorate was not changed in the 2013/14 review. Brightwater was moved to West Coast-Tasman at the 2020 redistribution.
An electorate based around Nelson has been contested at every election since the first Parliament in 1853. Two of the original 24 electorates from the 1st Parliament still exist (New Plymouth is the other one), but Nelson is the only original electorate that has existed continuously.
The electorate was initially known as Town of Nelson. From 1866 to 1881, it was called City of Nelson. Since 1881, it has been known as simply Nelson.
From 1853 to 1881, Nelson was a two-member electorate.James Mackay and William Travers were the first two representatives elected in 1853. Travers and William Cautley (MP for Waimea) both resigned on 26 May 1854. Travers subsequently contested the seat that Cautley had vacated, being elected in the 21 June 1854 Waimea by-election. Samuel Stephens, who succeeded Travers in Nelson, died before the end of the first term, but the seat remained vacant.
Alfred Domett retired from politics at the end of the 3rd Parliament. Edward Stafford resigned in 1868 during the term of the 4th Parliament. Nathaniel Edwards won the resulting by-election. Martin Lightband resigned after a year in Parliament in 1872 and was succeeded by David Luckie.
Nelson became a single member electorate in 1881. Henry Levestam, who was first elected in an 1881 by-election to replace Adams was confirmed by the voters at the next three general elections (1881, 1884 and 1887), but he died in office on 11 February 1889.
Joseph Harkness won the resulting 1889 by-election and was confirmed in the 1890 election.He retired at the end of the parliamentary term in 1893 and was succeeded by John Graham, who with the 1893 election started a representation of the electorate that would last until his retirement in 1911.
Harry Atmore an Independent Member of Parliament succeeded John Graham in the 1911 election,but he was defeated at the next election in 1914 by Thomas Field of the Reform Party. At the subsequent election in 1919, Atmore defeated Field and represented the electorate until his death on 21 August 1946.
Atmore's death did not cause a by-election, as the 1946 election was held in November of that year. The contest was won by Edgar Neale of the National Party.He held the electorate until 1957, when he retired.
Neale was succeeded by Stan Whitehead of the Labour Party in the 1957 election. This started Labour's dominance in the electorate, which was to last for four decades. Whitehead died on 9 January 1976 in the office and this caused the 1976 by-election, which was won by Labour's Mel Courtney. In the 1981 election, Courtney stood as an Independent against Labour's Philip Woollaston, with the latter the successful candidate. Woollaston retired in 1990 and was succeeded by Labour's John Blincoe. When the electorate was enlarged for the 1996 election, it absorbed most of the former seat of Tasman, held by National's Nick Smith. Smith defeated Blincoe and held the seat until the 2020 election, when Labour's Rachel Boyack won the seat.
Despite a National Party candidate being elected for Nelson between 1996 and 2020, Labour has won the party vote in Nelson in all but three elections during the period (the three elections of the Fifth National Government). Nelson is also an electorate in which the Green Party performs better locally than the party does nationally. Combined, votes at the 2017 election for the Green Party candidate Matt Lawrey and Labour Party candidate Rachel Boyack would have been sufficient to unseat the incumbent Smith.
Independent Conservative Liberal Reform National Labour Green
|1853 election||James Mackay||William Travers|
|1854 by-election||Samuel Stephens|
|1855 election||Alfred Domett||Edward Stafford|
|1866 election||Oswald Curtis|
|1868 by-election||Nathaniel Edwards|
|1871 election||Martin Lightband|
|1872 by-election||David Mitchell Luckie|
|1875 election||John Sharp|
|1879 by-election||Acton Adams|
|1879 election||Albert Pitt|
|1881 by-election||Henry Levestam|
|1881 election||Henry Levestam|
|1889 by-election||Joseph Harkness|
|1893 election||John Graham|
|1911 election||Harry Atmore|
|1914 election||Thomas Field|
|1919 election||Harry Atmore|
|1946 election||Edgar Neale|
|1957 election||Stan Whitehead|
|1976 by-election||Mel Courtney|
|1981 election||Philip Woollaston|
|1990 election||John Blincoe|
|1996 election||Nick Smith|
|2020 election||Rachel Boyack|
Members of Parliament elected from party lists in elections where that person also unsuccessfully contested the Nelson electorate. Unless otherwise stated, all MPs terms began and ended at general elections.
|2002 election||Mike Ward|
|2008 election||Maryan Street|
|2020 election||Chris Baillie|
|2020 general election: Nelson|
Blue background denotes the winner of the electorate vote.
|National||N Nick Smith||16,851||37.91||-2.78||9,185||20.57||-18.74|
|Advance NZ||Ben Harris||393||0.88||—||480||1.07||—|
|New Conservative||Simon Gutschlag||317||0.71||+0.11||690||1.54||+1.03|
|Progressive Aotearoa||Bruce Dyer||50||0.11||—|
|Total Valid votes||44,448||44,635|
|Labour gain from National||Majority||4,525||10.18||-0.23|
|2017 general election: Nelson|
Blue background denotes the winner of the electorate vote.
|NZ First||Susan Sara||1,429||3.47||—||2,712||6.51||−1.13|
|Money Free||Richard Osmaston||48||0.12||−0.34|
|Total Valid votes||41,131||41,651|
|2014 general election: Nelson|
Blue background denotes the winner of the electorate vote.
|Money Free||Richard Osmaston||175||0.46||+0.46|
|Total Valid votes||37,867||38,174|
|2011 general election: Nelson|
|NZ First||Kevin Gardener||669||1.94||+1.94||1,913||5.42||+2.38|
|United Future||Doug Stevens||204||0.59||+0.21||348||0.99||-0.08|
|ACT||Paul Charles Hufflett||171||0.49||-0.36||259||0.73||-1.75|
|Total Valid votes||34,553||35,267|
Electorate (as at 26 November 2011): 46,817
|2008 general election: Nelson|
|United Future||Kelvin Deal||138||0.39||-1.17||387||1.07||-2.43|
|Bill and Ben||209||0.58|
|Total Valid votes||35,832||36,220|
|2005 general election: Nelson|
|United Future||Dennis Wells||568||1.56||-0.72||1,289||3.50||-3.18|
|Christian Heritage||Nick Barber||209||0.57||-1.33||141||0.38||-1.48|
|Māori Party||Anne Fitzsimon||165||0.45||89||0.24|
|Direct Democracy||Rex Newey||67||0.18||50||0.14|
|Total Valid votes||36,429||36,802|
|2002 general election: Nelson|
|United Future||Dennis Wells||762||2.28||2,254||6.68||+5.68a|
|Christian Heritage||Nick Barber||635||1.90||-1.20||628||1.86||-2.80|
|Mana Māori Movement||3||0.01||±0.00|
|Total Valid votes||33,382||33,721|
|1999 general election: Nelson|
|Christian Heritage||Nick Barber||1,077||3.10||1,624||4.66|
|NZ First||Trevor Squires||296||0.85||732||2.10|
|McGillicuddy Serious||Tim Owens||223||0.64||95||0.27|
|Mana Māori Movement||5||0.01|
|Total Valid votes||34,705||34,845|
|1996 general election: Nelson|
|Labour||N John Blincoe||8,057||23.30||11,012||31.82|
|NZ First||Bernard Downey||1,510||4.37||3,417||9.88|
|Christian Coalition||Nick Barber||749||2.17||2,206||6.38|
|McGillicuddy Serious||Tim Owens||279||0.81||187||0.54|
|Natural Law||Michelle McGregor||86||0.25||59||0.17|
|Asia Pacific United||21||0.06|
|Superannuitants & Youth||14||0.04|
|Advance New Zealand||7||0.02|
|Mana Māori Movement||6||0.02|
|Ethnic Minority Party||4||0.01|
|Total Valid votes||34,584||34,602|
|National gain from Labour||Majority||12,424||35.92|
|NZ First||Bernard Downey||1,039||3.92|
|Christian Heritage||Nick Barber||746||2.81|
|Natural Law||V Ward-Brown||131||0.49|
|Social Credit||K S Taylor||152||0.73|
|Democrats||J E Collin||124||0.59||-1.41|
|McGillicuddy Serious||M D Kingi||90||0.43|
|NZ Party||Inga Jimenez||1,348||6.25|
|Social Credit||Jack Collin||318||1.47|
|Social Credit||Neville McLean||1,545||7.61|
|Social Credit||D C Massey||1,506||7.91|
|Social Credit||Rudolph Muller||452||2.58|
|Imperial British Conservative||Coronita Weallens||38||0.21|
|Social Credit||Colin Nicholls||992||5.35|
|Social Credit||Archie Mahan||715||4.36|
|New Democratic||John O'Brien||487||2.97|
|Social Credit||Keith Martin||2,013||12.46|
|National||E B Slack||5,732||34.20|
|Social Credit||Colin Nicholls||3,250||19.39||-10.04|
|Social Credit||Colin Nicholls||1,503||9.35|
|National||Colin Wilson Martin||6,752||40.93||-3.86|
|Social Credit||Archie Mahan||1,223||7.41|
|National||Colin Wilson Martin||7,083||44.79|
|Social Credit||C Toomer||1,138||7.19|
|Social Credit||K S Taylor||2,055||13.29|
|Labour||Reynell Conrad Arthur Marshall||7,047||45.57|
|Labour||Cyril Harold Goodman||6,680||47.91|
|National||Frederick William Huggins||5,860||48.87|
|National||John Robert Kerr||5,206||45.89|
|Reform||Frederick William Oscar Smith||3,294||37.02|
|Labour||John George Price||1,079||12.40|
|Independent Liberal||Walter Moffatt||1,371||22.70|
|Conservative||William Spencer Hampson||570||9.44|
|Second ballot result|
|Independent Liberal||Walter Moffatt||2,139||36.82||+14.12|
|Independent Liberal||Walter Moffatt||316||5.27|
|Second ballot result|
|Independent Liberal||Jesse Piper||521||12.08|
|Liberal||Francis William Flowerday||94||6.60|
|Independent||James Crowe Richmond||407||48.17|
|Independent||James Crowe Richmond||156||29.05|
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