|Prime Minister of New Zealand |
Te Pirimia o Aotearoa
|Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet|
|Style||The Right Honourable|
|Status||Head of government|
|Reports to||House of Representatives|
|Residence||Premier House, Wellington|
|Seat||The Beehive, Wellington|
|Appointer||Governor-General of New Zealand|
|Term length||At the Governor-General's pleasure|
|Constituting instrument||None (constitutional convention)|
|Inaugural holder|| Henry Sewell |
(as Colonial Secretary)
|Formation||7 May 1856|
|This article is part of a series on the|
politics and government of
The Prime Minister of New Zealand (Māori : Te Pirimia o Aotearoa) is the head of government of New Zealand. The incumbent [update] Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, leader of the New Zealand Labour Party, took office on 26 October 2017.
Māori, also known as te reo, is an Eastern Polynesian language spoken by the Māori people, the indigenous population of New Zealand. Closely related to Cook Islands Māori, Tuamotuan, and Tahitian, it gained recognition as one of New Zealand's official languages in 1987. The number of speakers of the language has declined sharply since 1945, but a Māori language revitalisation effort slowed the decline, and the language has experienced a revival, particularly since about 2015.
The head of government is either the highest or second highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, who often presides over a cabinet, a group of ministers or secretaries who lead executive departments. "Head of government" is often differentiated from "head of state", as they may be separate positions, individuals, or roles depending on the country.
New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.
The Prime Minister (informally abbreviated to PM) ranks as the most senior government minister. She or he is responsible for chairing meetings of Cabinet; allocating posts to ministers within the government; acting as the spokesperson for the government; and providing advice to the sovereign or the sovereign's representative, the governor-general. She or he also has ministerial responsibility for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Ministers, in the New Zealand Government, are members of Parliament who hold ministerial warrants from the Crown to perform certain functions of government. This includes formulating and implementing policies and advising the governor-general. Ministers collectively make up the executive branch of the New Zealand state. In practice, the governor-general is obliged to follow the advice of the prime minister on the appointment and dismissal of ministers.
The Cabinet of New Zealand is the New Zealand Government's body of senior ministers, responsible to the New Zealand Parliament. Cabinet meetings, chaired by the prime minister, occur once a week; in them, vital issues are discussed and government policy is formulated. Though not established by any statute, Cabinet has significant power in the New Zealand political system and nearly all bills proposed by Cabinet in Parliament are enacted.
The Government of New Zealand, or New Zealand Government, is the administrative complex through which authority is exercised in New Zealand. As in most parliamentary democracies, the term "Government" refers chiefly to the executive branch, and more specifically to the collective ministry directing the executive. Based on the principle of responsible government, it operates within the framework that "the Queen reigns, but the government rules, so long as it has the support of the House of Representatives".
The office exists by a long-established convention, which originated in New Zealand's former colonial power, the then United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The convention stipulates that the governor-general must select as prime minister the person most likely to command the support, or confidence, of the House of Representatives. This individual is typically the parliamentary leader of the political party that holds the largest number of seats in that chamber.The prime minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their actions to the governor-general, to the House of Representatives, to their political party, and ultimately to the national electorate.
A constitutional convention is an informal and uncodified procedural agreement that is followed by the institutions of a state. In some states, notably those Commonwealth of Nations states that follow the Westminster system and whose political systems derive from British constitutional law, most government functions are guided by constitutional convention rather than by a formal written constitution. In these states, actual distribution of power may be markedly different from those the formal constitutional documents describe. In particular, the formal constitution often confers wide discretionary powers on the head of state that, in practice, are used only on the advice of the head of government, and in some cases not at all.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state established by the Acts of Union 1800, which merged the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland.
The New Zealand House of Representatives is a component of the New Zealand Parliament, along with the Sovereign. The House passes all laws, provides ministers to form a Cabinet, and supervises the work of the Government. It is also responsible for adopting the state's budgets and approving the state's accounts.
Originally the head of government was titled "colonial secretary" or "first minister". This was changed in 1869 to "premier". That title remained in use for more than 30 years, until Richard Seddon informally changed it to "prime minister" in 1901 during his tenure in the office.Following the declaration of New Zealand as a Dominion in 1907, the title of Prime Minister has been used exclusively in English. In Māori, the title pirimia, meaning "premier", continues to be used. New Zealand prime ministers are styled as "The Right Honourable", a privilege they retain for life.
The Colonial Secretary of New Zealand was an office established in 1840 and abolished in 1907. The office was similar to Colonial Secretaries found elsewhere in the British Empire.
A first minister is one of a variety of terms for the leader of a government cabinet, which is a term currently used to refer to the political leader of a devolved national government, such as the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, or of a dependent territory.
Premier is a title for the head of government in some countries, states and sub-national governments. A second in command to a premier is designated as a vice-premier or deputy premier.
The Governor-General appoints prime ministers, like other ministerial positions, on behalf of the monarch. By the conventions of responsible government, the Governor-General will call to form a government the individual most likely to receive the support, or confidence, of a majority of the elected members of the Parliament.In making this appointment, convention requires the Governor-General to act on the outcome of the electoral process and subsequent discussions between political parties by which the person who will lead the government as Prime Minister is identified. In practice, the position generally falls to the parliamentary leader of the largest political party among those forming the government. The Prime Minister may lead a coalition government and/or a minority government dependent on support from smaller parties during confidence-and-supply votes.
The monarchy of New Zealand is the constitutional system of government in which a hereditary monarch is the sovereign and head of state of New Zealand. The current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, ascended the throne on the death of her father, King George VI, on 6 February 1952.
Responsible government is a conception of a system of government that embodies the principle of parliamentary accountability, the foundation of the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy. Governments in Westminster democracies are responsible to parliament rather than to the monarch, or, in a colonial context, to the imperial government, and in a republican context, to the president, either in full or in part. If the parliament is bicameral, then the government is responsible first to the parliament's lower house, which is more representative than the upper house, as it has more members and they are always directly elected.
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.
Once appointed and sworn in by the Governor-General, the Prime Minister remains in the post until dismissal, resignation,or death in office. The Prime Minister, like other ministers, holds office "during the pleasure of the Governor-General", so theoretically, the governor-general can dismiss a prime minister at any time; however, convention heavily circumscribes the power to do so. The Governor-General might rarely exercise reserve power to dismiss a prime minister in circumstances pertaining to a non-confidence motion against the government in Parliament.
A death in office is the death of a person who was incumbent of an office-position until the time of death. Such deaths have been usually due to natural causes, but they are also caused by accidents and murders.
At Her Majesty's pleasure is a legal term of art referring to the indeterminate or undetermined length of service of certain appointed officials or the indeterminate sentences of some prisoners. It is based on the concept that all legitimate authority for government comes from the Crown. Originating in the United Kingdom, it is now used throughout the Commonwealth realms. In realms where the monarch is represented by a governor-general, governor or administrator, the phrase may be modified to be at the Governor's pleasure, since the governor-general, governor, lieutenant governor or administrator is the Queen's personal representative in the country, state or province.
In a parliamentary or semi-presidential system of government, a reserve power is a power that may be exercised by the head of state without the approval of another branch of the government. Unlike in a presidential system of government, the head of state is generally constrained by the cabinet or the legislature in a parliamentary system, and most reserve powers are usable only in certain exceptional circumstances. In some countries, reserve powers go by another name; for instance, the reserve powers of the President of Ireland are called discretionary powers.
The office is not defined by codified laws, but by unwritten customs known as constitutional conventions which developed in Britain and were replicated in New Zealand. These conventions are for the most part founded on the underlying principle that the prime minister and fellow ministers must not lose the confidence of the democratically elected component of parliament, the House of Representatives. The prime minister is leader of the Cabinet (itself a body existing by convention), and takes a coordinating role.
The Cabinet Manual 2008 provides an outline of the prime minister's powers and responsibilities.
By constitutional convention, the prime minister holds formal power to advise the sovereign. This means that as long as the prime minister has the confidence of parliament, they alone may advise the monarch on:
As head of government, the prime minister alone has the right to advise the governor-general to:
The prime minister is regarded by convention as "first among equals".They do hold the most senior post in government, but are also required to adhere to any decisions taken by Cabinet, as per the convention of collective ministerial responsibility. The actual ability of a prime minister to give direct orders is largely limited; most of the position's power comes about through other means, such as:
Since the introduction of the MMP electoral system, there has been an increased need for the prime minister to be able to negotiate and maintain relationships with support parties, which places some constraints on their abilities.
The prime minister is also expected to take on additional portfolios.Historically, the prime minister looked after colonial and revenue portfolios. As New Zealand expanded, the role of minister of finance became too big; Prime Minister Sir Robert Muldoon was criticised for taking on the finance portfolio during his time in office as it resulted in a large concentration of power in one individual.
Before 1987, it was also common for Prime Ministers to take the role of minister of foreign affairs, so they could represent New Zealand on an international stage.More recent Prime Ministers have taken portfolios relevant to their interests, or to promote specific areas they saw as important. For example, David Lange took the education portfolio in his second term; Helen Clark took the role of Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage; and John Key was Minister for Tourism.
Although no longer likely to be the minister of foreign affairs, the prime minister is still responsible for welcoming foreign heads of government, visiting leaders overseas, and attending Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings.
Conventionally, the prime minister is the responsible minister for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), which is tasked with supporting the policy agenda of Cabinet through policy advice and the coordination of the implementation of key government programmes.Under the Fifth National Government the DPMC expanded to give prime ministers greater supervision of security and intelligence. The prime minister was also responsible for the New Zealand Security and Intelligence Service (NZSIS) and the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).
Under the Remuneration Authority Act 1977, and the Members of Parliament (Remuneration and Services) Act 2013, a prime minister's salary is determined annually by the Remuneration Authority, an independent body established by parliament to set salaries for members of parliament and other government officials. [ needs update ] the Prime Minister's salary is NZ$471,049, plus a tax-free allowance of NZ$22,606 to cover out-of-pocket official expenses such as meals, gifts, and entertainment. In addition, like all other ministers and members of parliament, the Prime Minister receives annual allowances for travel and lodging, as do the Prime Minister's spouse and children.For the fiscal year from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018,
The incumbent Prime Minister's official residence is Premier House, Tinakori Road, Wellington. Unlike the residences of certain other heads of government (e.g. the White House and 10 Downing Street), Premier House does not serve as the government headquarters; instead the Beehive is the location of the prime minister's office.The prime minister's governmental work is supported by the non-partisan Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The separate Private Office of the Prime Minister provides advice and support on political party matters.
The style of "The Right Honourable" (abbreviated to "The Rt Hon") is always granted to the prime minister. Former prime ministers retain this style for the remainder of their lives.The written form of address for the head of government should use their full parliamentary title as applicable: The Right Honourable [name], [post-nominal letters], Prime Minister of New Zealand.
Should a serving or former prime minister die, she or he is accorded a state funeral (subject to the approval of the family). Two prime ministers who died in office were buried in mausoleums: William Massey (died 1925) in the Massey Memorial in Wellington, and Michael Joseph Savage (died 1940) in the Savage Memorial at Bastion Point in Auckland.
Assuming that Henry Sewell is counted as the first prime minister, 40 individuals have held the office since it was established. Some of these people have held it on several different occasions, with the record for maximum number of times being shared between William Fox and Harry Atkinson (both of whom served four times). The longest that anyone has served in the office is 13 years, a record set by Richard Seddon. The first holder of the office, Henry Sewell, led the country for the shortest total time; his only term lasted just 13 days. The shortest term belonged to Harry Atkinson, whose third term lasted only seven days, but Atkinson served longer in total than did Sewell.The youngest was Edward Stafford, who was appointed Premier in 1856, at 37 years, 40 days old. The oldest was Walter Nash, who was 78 years old when he left office in 1960 (and 75 upon taking office in 1957).
New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world to have had three female heads of government, and one of only three countries to have had a female head of government directly succeed another.The first female prime minister was Jenny Shipley of the National Party, who replaced Jim Bolger in late 1997; Shipley was succeeded by Helen Clark in 1999. Jacinda Ardern, the second female leader of the Labour Party after Clark, became prime minister in 2017.
On becoming the Colony of New Zealand in 1841, New Zealand was directly governed by a governor, appointed by the Colonial Office in Britain. Self-government was established in 1853, following the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852, and the First Parliament met on 24 May 1854.
The origins of the office of prime minister are disputed. Use of the words "prime minister" as a descriptive term date back to the First Parliament, where they are applied to James FitzGerald and Thomas Forsaith.FitzGerald and Forsaith had no official titles, however, and New Zealand had not yet obtained self-government. As such, they are not usually considered prime ministers in any substantive sense.
The first person to be formally appointed to a position of executive leadership was Henry Sewell,who formed a brief ministry in April 1856, at the beginning of the Second Parliament. Despite his formal leadership role, however, his only actual title was "colonial secretary", a position comparable to a minister of internal affairs. His successor, William Fox, was also given a formal leadership role, but was not colonial secretary. When Frederick Weld became the sixth person appointed to formal leadership, a substantive leadership title, "premier", appeared. Weld's successor, Edward Stafford, briefly changed the title to "first minister", but it was soon restored to premier during the second tenure of Fox. From that point, the term "premier" was used almost exclusively for the remainder of the 19th century. Nevertheless, in the Schedule of the Civil List of 1873, provision was made for the salary of the head of government, referred to as the "Prime Minister".
Initially, premiers acted as mere advisers to the governor—with the governor at times a very active partner. This began to change during the first tenure of Edward Stafford. Stafford met with his ministers and made decisions outside of the Executive Council, thus establishing the modern convention of cabinet government.Stafford also clashed with the governor over control of native affairs, which was eventually to fall within the premier's powers.
The political position of the premier was enhanced by the development of modern political parties; premier John Ballance organised the first formal party in New Zealand, forming the Liberal Government in 1891.(Subsequent governments were led by prime ministers from the Reform, United, Labour and National parties). Although not every government would have a large majority, the party system and tight control of party members by whips helped heads of government to direct the passage of legislation in the House of Representatives. In 1893, the premier gained the ability to restrict the term of appointments to the Legislative Council.
The title of "prime minister" was used by Richard Seddon after 1901,following New Zealand's self-exclusion from the Federation of Australia. Seddon's immediate successor, William Hall-Jones, was the first to be sworn-in as "prime minister", in 1906.
The expanding power of the prime minister was kept in check by the need to build consensus with other leading members of Cabinet and of the governing party, including those who represented various ideological wings of the party. Other institutions, including Parliament itself and the wider state bureaucracy, also acted as limits on prime ministerial power; in 1912 Thomas Mackenzie was the last prime minister to lose power through an unsuccessful confidence motion in the House of Representatives.
One change brought about by the First World War was direct participation in governing the British Empire. Previously, New Zealand prime ministers had attended occasional colonial and imperial conferences, but they otherwise communicated with London through the governor (a position then appointed by the British government). In 1917, however, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George offered the New Zealand prime minister a seat in the Imperial War Cabinet, the British Empire's wartime coordinating body. In 1919, Bill Massey signed the Treaty of Versailles on behalf of New Zealand, signalling both prestige within the Empire as well as a new independence for the country.
Constitutional conventions adopted in 1930, following the Imperial Conference held that year, increased the domestic and international prestige of the prime minister. The Statute of Westminster 1931 confirmed that Dominions had exclusive power to make their laws. New Zealand initially resisted greater autonomy and did not adopt the statute until 1947. Increasingly, however, New Zealand began to act independently in foreign affairs. During the 1940s the prime minister's profile rose as New Zealand signed a number of international treaties.In 1967, Keith Holyoake became the first New Zealand prime minister to select candidates for the position of governor-general without any involvement of the British government. Holyoake advised the monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, to appoint Sir Arthur Porritt, the first New Zealand–born governor-general.
After the mixed-member proportional (MMP) system was introduced in 1996, prime ministers have had to manage minority governments. The skill of MMP management was exemplified by Helen Clark's nine years as prime minister (1999–2008), when her Labour Party remained in power thanks to a range of confidence and supply agreements with five smaller parties.
Until the premiership of Helen Clark, it was customary for senior members of the legislature, executive and judiciary—including the prime minister—to be appointed to the British Privy Council, granting them the style "Right Honourable". This practice was discontinued at the same time as the abolition of knighthoods and damehoods in 2000 from the New Zealand honours system. National's John Key became Prime Minister in 2008 and restored titular honours, but did not resume appointments to the Privy Council, meaning Key was styled "The Honourable".However, on 3 August 2010 the Queen granted the prime minister, along with the governor-general, speaker of the House of Representatives and chief justice, the style "Right Honourable" upon appointment. This decision will not affect past officeholders.
On 21 June 2018, Labour's Jacinda Ardern became the first prime minister of New Zealand (and second elected head of government) to give birth while in office.
As of June 2019, there are seven living former New Zealand Prime Ministers, as seen below.
The most recent Prime Minister to die was David Lange (served 1984–1989), on 13 August 2005, aged 63.
Since 1954 New Zealand has appointed a deputy prime minister. The deputy typically holds important ministerial portfolios and, by convention, becomes acting prime minister in the absence or incapacity of the prime minister. The deputy is commonly a member of the same party as the prime minister, but not necessarily so; in coalition governments the parliamentary leader of a junior party may be offered the post.Winston Peters, leader of New Zealand First, is the current Deputy Prime Minister, also serving as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Lists of the 40 people who have so far held the premiership:
The politics of New Zealand function within a framework of a unitary parliamentary representative democracy. New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy in which a hereditary monarch—since 6 February 1952, Queen Elizabeth II—is the sovereign and head of state.
A prime minister is the head of a cabinet and the leader of the ministers in the executive branch of government, often in a parliamentary or semi-presidential system. A prime minister is not a head of state or chief executive officer of their respective nation, rather they are a head of government, serving typically under a monarch in a hybrid of aristocratic and democratic government forms.
The Prime Minister of Australia is the head of government of Australia. The individual who holds the office is the most senior Minister of State, the leader of the Federal Cabinet. The Prime Minister also has the responsibility of administering the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and is the chair of the National Security Committee and the Council of Australian Governments. The office of Prime Minister is not mentioned in the Constitution of Australia but exists through Westminster political convention. The individual who holds the office is commissioned by the Governor-General of Australia and at the Governor-General's pleasure subject to the Constitution of Australia and constitutional conventions.
The Prime Minister of Canada is the primary minister of the Crown, chairman of the Cabinet, and Canada's head of government. The current, and 23rd, Prime Minister of Canada is the Liberal Party's Justin Trudeau, following the 2015 Canadian federal election. Canadian prime ministers are styled as The Right Honourable, a privilege maintained for life.
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The Executive Council of New Zealand is the full group of "responsible advisers" to the Governor-General of New Zealand on state and constitutional affairs. All Government ministers must be appointed as executive councillors before they are appointed as ministers; therefore all Cabinet ministers are also executive councillors. The governor-general signs a warrant of appointment for each member of the Executive Council, and separate warrants for each ministerial portfolio.
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The Sixth Labour Government has governed New Zealand since 26 October 2017. It is headed by Labour Party leader and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Now that New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has hit world headlines by becoming only the second elected head of government to give birth in office, attention has naturally been drawn to the first such leader – Pakistan's late two-time Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
She is only the second world leader in history to give birth while in office. Pakistan's former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto gave birth to a daughter in 1990.