An electorate or electoral district (Māori : rohe pōti) is a geographical constituency used for electing members (MPs) to the New Zealand Parliament. The size of electorates is determined such that all electorates have approximately the same population.
Before 1996, all MPs were directly chosen for office by the voters of an electorate. In New Zealand's electoral system, 72 of the usually 120 seats in Parliament are filled by electorate members, with the remainder being filled from party lists in order to achieve proportional representation among parties. The 72 electorates are made up from 65 general and seven Māori electorates. The number of electorates increases periodically in line with national population growth; the number was increased from 71 to 72 starting at the 2020 general election.
The Electoral Act 1993 refers to electorates as electoral districts.Electorates are informally referred to as seats, but more technically the term "seat" can refer to any elected member's place in Parliament (inclusive of list MPs).
As of 2018 [update] the Representation Commission determines electorate boundaries. The Commission consists of:
The Representation Commission reviews electorate boundaries after each New Zealand census, which normally occurs every five years.The South Island is guaranteed to have 16 general seats, and dividing the number of persons in the South Island's general electoral population by 16 determines the South Island Quota which is then used to help calculate the number of Māori electorates and to determine the number of North Island electorates. The number of Māori electorates is influenced by the Māori Electoral Option where Māori voters can opt to be in either a Māori electorate or a general electorate. The percentage of Māori voters opting for the Māori roll determines the percentage of the whole Māori population (of persons claiming Māori ancestry at the previous census) which is then divided by the South Island Quota to calculate the number of Māori seats. South Island Māori opting for the general roll are included in the population on which the South Island Quota is established. The North Island population (including Māori opting for the general roll) is divided into electorates, each of approximately the same population as the South Island ones. Electorates may vary by no more than 5% of the average population size. This has caused the number of list seats in Parliament to decline as the population is experiencing "northern drift" (i.e. the population of the North Island, especially around Auckland, is growing faster than that of the South Island) due both to internal migration and to immigration.
Although the New Zealand Parliament is intended to have 120 members, some terms have exceeded this quantity. Overhang seats arise when a party win more seats via electorates than their proportion of the party vote entitles them to; other parties are still awarded the same number of seats that they are entitled to, which results in more than 120 seats in total.In 2005 and 2011, 121 members were elected; 122 members were elected in 2008.
Originally, electorates were drawn up by the Representation Commission based on political and social links, with little consideration for differences in population. Elections for the New Zealand House of Representatives in the 1850s modelled the electoral procedures used for the British House of Commons, which at that time featured both single-member electorates (electorates returning just one MP) and multi-member electorates (electorates returning more than one MP). [ need quotation to verify ] For the 1905 election the multi-member electorates were abolished. The quota system persisted until 1945.Each electorate was allocated a different number of MPs (up to three) in order to balance population differences. All electorates used a plurality voting system. From 1881, a special country quota meant that rural seats could contain fewer people than urban seats, preserving improportionality by over-representing farmers.
Because of the increasing North Island population, the Representation Commission awarded the North Island an additional electoral seat beginning in the 2008 general election.Another new North Island seat was added for the 2014 general election. Each time, the need for an extra seat was determined from the results of the most recent New Zealand census, with the seat coming out of the total number of list seats. The total number of list seats has thus declined from 55 to 49 since the introduction of mixed-member proportional voting in 1996.
The Representation Commission determines the names of each electorate following the most recent census.An electorate may be named after a geographic region, landmark (e.g. a mountain) or main population centre. The Commission adopts compass point names when there is not a more suitable name. The compass point reference usually follows the name of the main population centre, e.g. Hamilton East.
Over the years, there have been two types of "special" electorates created for particular communities. The first were special goldminers' electorates, created for participants in the Otago Goldrush—goldminers did not usually meet the residency and property requirements in the electorate they were prospecting in, but were numerous enough to warrant political representation. Two goldminers' electorates existed, the first began in 1863 and both ended in 1870.
Much more durable have been the Māori electorates, created in 1867 to give separate representation to Māori citizens. Although originally intended to be temporary, they came to function as reserved positions for Māori until 1967, ensuring that there would always be a Māori voice in Parliament. In 1967 the reserved status of the Maori seats was removed, allowing non-Maori to stand in the Maori electorates, thus removing any guarantee that Maori would be elected to Parliament. Until 1993 the number of Māori electorates was fixed at four, significantly under-representing Māori in Parliament. In 1975 the definition of who could opt to register on either the general or the māori roll was expanded to include all persons of Māori descent.Previously all persons of more than 50% Māori ancestry were on the Māori roll while persons of less than 50% Māori ancestry were required to enrol on the then European roll. Only persons presumed to have equal Māori and European ancestry (so-called half-castes) had a choice of roll. Since the introduction of MMP, the number of seats can change with the number of Māori voters who choose to go on the Māori roll rather than the general roll.
Electoral districts in the 2020 general election for the 53rd Parliament reflect changes made in the Representation Commission’s 2019/2020 boundary review. As well as new boundaries for many districts, the names of ten electorates have been changed, and one new electorate (Takanini) has been created.While some changes were made to the boundaries of the Māori electorates, their names and general area remain the same as in the 52nd Parliament.
|Auckland Central||Auckland||Chlöe Swarbrick||Green|
|Banks Peninsula (formerly Port Hills)||Canterbury||Tracey McLellan||Labour|
|Bay of Plenty||Bay of Plenty||Todd Muller||National|
|Christchurch Central||Canterbury||Duncan Webb||Labour|
|Christchurch East||Canterbury||Poto Williams||Labour|
|Dunedin (formerly Dunedin North)||Otago||David Clark||Labour|
|East Coast||Gisborne and Bay of Plenty||Kiri Allan||Labour|
|East Coast Bays||Auckland||Erica Stanford||National|
|Hamilton East||Waikato||Jamie Strange||Labour|
|Hamilton West||Waikato||Gaurav Sharma||Labour|
|Hutt South||Wellington||Ginny Andersen||Labour|
|Kaikōura||Marlborough and Canterbury||Stuart Smith||National|
|Kaipara ki Mahurangi (formerly Helensville)||Auckland||Chris Penk||National|
|Mt Albert||Auckland||Jacinda Ardern||Labour|
|Mt Roskill||Auckland||Michael Wood||Labour|
|Napier||Hawke's Bay||Stuart Nash||Labour|
|Nelson||Nelson and Tasman||Rachel Boyack||Labour|
|New Lynn||Auckland||Deborah Russell||Labour|
|New Plymouth||Taranaki||Glen Bennett||Labour|
|North Shore||Auckland||Simon Watts||National|
|Ōtaki||Wellington and Manawatū-Whanganui||Terisa Ngobi||Labour|
|Palmerston North||Manawatū-Whanganui||Tangi Utikere||Labour|
|Panmure-Ōtāhuhu (formerly Manukau East)||Auckland||Jenny Salesa||Labour|
|Port Waikato (formerly Hunua)||Auckland and Waikato||Andrew Bayly||National|
|Remutaka (formerly Rimutaka)||Wellington||Chris Hipkins||Labour|
|Rongotai||Wellington and the Chatham Islands||Paul Eagle||Labour|
|Rotorua||Bay of Plenty||Todd McClay||National|
|Southland (formerly Clutha-Southland)||Southland and Otago||Joseph Mooney||National|
|Taieri (formerly Dunedin South)||Otago||Ingrid Leary||Labour|
|Taranaki-King Country||Taranaki and Waikato||Barbara Kuriger||National|
|Tauranga||Bay of Plenty||Simon Bridges||National|
|Te Atatū||Auckland||Phil Twyford||Labour|
|Tukituki||Hawke's Bay||Anna Lorck||Labour|
|Upper Harbour||Auckland||Vanushi Walters||Labour|
|Waikato||Waikato||Tim van de Molen||National|
|Wairarapa||Wellington, Manawatū-Whanganui and Hawke's Bay||Kieran McAnulty||Labour|
|Waitaki||Otago and Canterbury||Jacqui Dean||National|
|Wellington Central||Wellington||Grant Robertson||Labour|
|West Coast-Tasman||West Coast and Tasman||Damien O'Connor||Labour|
|Whanganui||Manawatū-Whanganui and Taranaki||Steph Lewis||Labour|
|Whangaparāoa (formerly Rodney)||Auckland||Mark Mitchell||National|
|Whangārei (formerly Whangarei)||Northland||Emily Henderson||Labour|
|Te Tai Tokerau||Northland and Auckland||Kelvin Davis||Labour|
|Tāmaki Makaurau||Auckland||Peeni Henare||Labour|
|Hauraki-Waikato||Auckland and Waikato||Nanaia Mahuta||Labour|
|Waiariki||Bay of Plenty and Waikato||Rawiri Waititi||Māori|
|Ikaroa-Rāwhiti||Hawke's Bay, Gisborne, Manawatū-Whanganui and Wellington||Meka Whaitiri||Labour|
|Te Tai Hauāuru||Taranaki, Waikato, Manawatū-Whanganui and Wellington||Adrian Rurawhe||Labour|
|Te Tai Tonga||The South Island, Wellington and the Chatham Islands||Rino Tirikatene||Labour|
New Zealand is a representative democracy. Members of the unicameral New Zealand Parliament gain their seats through nationwide general elections, or in by-elections. General elections are usually held every three years; they may be held at an earlier date at the discretion of the prime minister, although it usually only happens in the event of a vote of no confidence or other exceptional circumstances. A by-election is held to fill a vacancy arising during a parliamentary term. The most recent general election took place on 17 October 2020.
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.
In New Zealand politics, Māori electorates, colloquially known as the Māori seats, are a special category of electorate that until 1967 gave reserved positions to representatives of Māori in the New Zealand Parliament. Every area in New Zealand is covered by both a general and a Māori electorate; as of 2020, there are seven Māori electorates. Since 1967 any candidate of any ethnicity has been able to stand in a Maori electorate. Candidates now do not have to be Māori, or even on the Māori roll. Voters however who wish to vote in a Māori electorate have to register as a voter on the Māori roll and need to declare they are of Māori descent.
The New Zealand general election of 1881 was held on 8 and 9 December in the Māori and European electorates, respectively, to elect 95 MPs to the 8th session of the New Zealand Parliament.
The New Zealand general election of 1887 was held on 26 September to elect 95 MPs to the tenth session of the New Zealand Parliament. The Māori vote was held on 7 September. 175,410 votes were cast. In 5 seats there was only one candidate.
The New Zealand electoral system has been mixed-member proportional (MMP) since 1996. MMP was introduced after a referendum in 1993. MMP replaced the first-past-the-post (FPP) system New Zealand had previously used for most of its history.
The 2008 New Zealand general election was held on 8 November 2008 to determine the composition of the 49th New Zealand Parliament. The liberal-conservative National Party, headed by its parliamentary leader John Key, won the largest share of votes and seats, ending nine years of government by the social-democratic Labour Party, led by Helen Clark. Key announced a week later that he would lead a National minority government with confidence-and-supply support from the ACT, United Future and Māori parties. The Governor-General swore Key in as New Zealand's 38th Prime Minister on 19 November 2008. This marked the beginning of the Fifth National Government which governed for the next nine years, until the 2017 general election, when a government was formed between the Labour and New Zealand First parties, with support on confidence and supply by the Green Party.
Coromandel is a New Zealand electoral division returning one member to the House of Representatives. It is currently represented by Scott Simpson, a member of the National Party.
North Shore is a parliamentary electorate that returns one Member of Parliament to the New Zealand House of Representatives. The current MP for North Shore is Simon Watts of the National Party, who at the 2020 election was elected to succeed the retiring Maggie Barry, also of National.
Rodney was a New Zealand parliamentary electorate, returning one Member of Parliament to the House of Representatives. The last MP for Rodney was Mark Mitchell of the National Party. He held this position from 2011 until the electorate was replaced with Whangaparāoa in 2020. Mitchell stood for and won that seat.
Te Atatū is a parliamentary electorate, returning one Member of Parliament to the New Zealand House of Representatives. The current MP for Te Atatū is Phil Twyford of the Labour Party.
Waitakere was a parliamentary electorate, returning one Member of Parliament to the New Zealand House of Representatives. The electorate was first formed for the 1946 election and existed until 2014, with breaks from 1969 to 1978 and from 1987 to 1993. The last MP for Waitakere was Paula Bennett of the National Party, who had held this position since the 2008 election.
Te Tai Tokerau is a New Zealand parliamentary Māori electorate that was created out of the Northern Maori electorate ahead of the first Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) election in 1996. It was held first by Tau Henare representing New Zealand First for one term, and then Dover Samuels of the Labour Party for two terms. From 2005 to 2014, it was held by MP Hone Harawira. Initially a member of the Māori Party, Harawira resigned from both the party and then Parliament, causing the 2011 by-election. He was returned under the Mana Party banner in July 2011 and confirmed at the November 2011 general election. In the 2014 election, he was beaten by Labour's Kelvin Davis, ending the representation of the Mana Party in Parliament.
Te Tai Tonga is a New Zealand parliamentary Māori electorate, returning one Member of Parliament to the New Zealand House of Representatives. It was established for the 1996 general election, replacing Southern Maori. The current MP for Te Tai Tonga is Rino Tirikatene of the Labour Party.
The 49th New Zealand Parliament was elected at the 2008 election. It comprised 122 members, including an overhang of two seats caused by the Māori Party having won two more electorate seats than its share of the party vote would otherwise have given it. The Parliament served from 2008 until the November 2011 election.
The 2014 New Zealand general election took place on Saturday 20 September 2014 to determine the membership of the 51st New Zealand Parliament.
The 50th New Zealand Parliament was elected at the 2011 general election. It had 121 members, and was in place from December 2011 until September 2014, followed by the 2014 general election. The first sitting of the 50th Parliament was held on 20 December 2011, where members were sworn in and Lockwood Smith was elected Speaker of the House. This was followed by the speech from the throne on 21 December. John Key continued to lead the Fifth National Government. Following the resignation of Smith, David Carter was elected Speaker.
The 51st New Zealand Parliament was elected at the 2014 general election. This Parliament consists of 121 members and was in place from September 2014 until August 2017, followed by the 2017 New Zealand general election. Following the final vote count John Key was able to continue to lead the Fifth National Government.
The next New Zealand general election to determine the composition of the 54th Parliament will be held after the currently elected 53rd Parliament is dissolved or expires.
The 53rd New Zealand Parliament is the current session of Parliament in New Zealand. It opened on 25 November 2020 following the 17 October 2020 general election, and will expire on or before 20 November 2023 to trigger the next election. It consists of 120 members of Parliament (MPs) with five parties represented: the Labour and Green parties, in government, and the National, Māori and ACT parties, in opposition. The Sixth Labour Government has a majority in this Parliament, with Jacinda Ardern as prime minister.
Both the single-member and the multi-member districts were instances of plurality voting systems, because candidates did not need a majority of the votes (more than half) to be elected. They required only a plurality – more votes than any of the other candidates – to win.