The Parliament of New Zealand consists of the Queen of New Zealand and the New Zealand House of Representatives and, until 1951, the New Zealand Legislative Council. However, most people incorrectly refer to the House of Representatives as 'Parliament'. The House of Representatives usually consists of 120 Members of Parliament (MPs), sometimes more due to overhang seats. MPs are directly elected by universal suffrage. New Zealand essentially follows the Westminster system of government, and is governed by a cabinet and Prime Minister chosen by the House of Representatives.

Parliament is physically located in Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand since 1865.

The next election will be 20th September, 2014. Mr Key announced it in March.

History Edit

The Parliament was established by the British New Zealand Constitution Act 1852, which established a bicameral legislature, but the upper house, the Legislative Council, was abolished in 1951, so the legislature is now unicameral. Parliament received full control over all New Zealand affairs in 1947 with the passage of the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act.

Country Quota Edit

One historical specialty of the New Zealand Parliament was the Country Quota, which gave greater representation to rural politics. From 1889 on (and even earlier in more informal forms), districts were weighted according to their urban/rural split (with any locality of fewer than 2,000 people considered rural). Those districts which had large rural proportions received a greater number of nominal votes than they actually contained voters - as an example, in 1927, Waipawa, a district without any urban population at all, received an additional 4,153 nominal votes to its actual 14,838 - having the maximum factor of 28% extra representation. The country quota was in effect until it was abolished in 1945 by a mostly urban-elected Labour government, which went back to a one voter, one vote system.[1]


Template:Politics of New Zealand The New Zealand Parliament is sovereign with no institution able to override its decisions. The ability of Parliament to act is, legally, unimpeded. The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act is a normal piece of legislation, it is not superior law. Parliament is limited in extending its term, deciding on who can vote, how they vote (via secret ballot), how the country should be divided into electorates, and the make up of the Representation Commission which decides on those electorates. These issues require either 75% of all MPs to support the bill or a referendum on the issue. The entrenchment of these provisions was done through a normal Act of Parliament, however.

Houses Edit

New Zealand House of RepresentativesEdit

File:Bowen House Beehive Parliament.JPG
Main article: New Zealand House of Representatives

The New Zealand House of Representatives has been the New Zealand Parliament's sole chamber since 1951. It is democratically elected at intervals of not more than about three years and two months. It has eighteen select committees to scrutinise legislation.

Upper houseEdit

The New Zealand Parliament does not have an upper house; it is unicameral rather than bicameral. There was an upper house up to 1950, and there have been occasional suggestions to create a new one.

Legislative CouncilEdit

Main article: New Zealand Legislative Council

The Legislative Council was intended to scrutinize and amend bills passed by the House of Representatives, although it could not initiate legislation or amend money bills. Despite occasional proposals for an elected Council, Members of the Legislative Council (MLCs) were appointed by the Governor, generally on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. At first, MLCs were appointed for life, but a term of seven years was introduced in 1891. It was eventually decided that the Council was having no significant impact on New Zealand's legislative process, and the terms of its members expired on 31 December 1950. At the time of its abolition it had fifty-four members, including its own Speaker.

Senate proposalEdit

The National government of Jim Bolger proposed the establishment of an elected Senate when it came to power in 1990, thereby reinstating a bicameral system, and a Senate Bill was drafted. Senators would be elected by STV, with a number of seats being reserved for Māori, and would have powers similar to those of the old Legislative Council. The House of Representatives would continue to be elected by FPP.

The intention was to include a question on a Senate in the second referendum on electoral reform. Voters would be asked, if they did not want a new voting system, whether or not they wanted a Senate.[1] However, following objections from the Labour opposition, which derided it as a red herring, and other supporters of MMP, the Senate question was removed by the Select Committee on Electoral Reform, and the issue has not been pursued since.

Passage of legislationEdit

The New Zealand Parliament's model for passing Acts of Parliament is similar (but not identical) to that of other Westminster System governments.

Laws are initially proposed in Parliament as bills. They become Acts after being approved three times by Parliamentary votes and then receiving Royal Assent from the Governor-General. The majority of bills are promulgated by the government of the day (that is, the party or parties that have a majority in Parliament). It is rare for government bills to be defeated, indeed the first to be defeated in the twentieth century was in 1998. It is also possible for individual MPs to promote their own bills, called member's bills; these are usually put forward by opposition parties, or by MPs who wish to deal with a matter that parties do not take positions on.

House of RepresentativesEdit

See also: New Zealand House of Representatives#Passage of legislation

Within the House of Representatives, bills must pass through three readings and be considered by both a Select Committee and the Committee of the Whole House.

Royal AssentEdit

See also: Wikipedia:Royal Assent#New Zealand

If a Bill passes its third reading, it is passed by the Clerk of the House of Representatives to the Governor-General, who will (assuming constitutional conventions are followed) grant Royal Assent as a matter of course. Some constitutional lawyers, such as Professor Philip Joseph, believe the Governor-General does retain the power to refuse Royal Assent to Bills in exceptional circumstances - specifically if democracy is to be abolished[2]. Others, such as former law professor and former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer and Matthew Palmer argue any refusal of Royal Assent would lead to a constitutional crisis[3]. Refusal of Royal Assent has never occurred under any circumstances in New Zealand.

Once Royal Assent has been granted, the Bill then becomes law, and comes into effect immediately except for any portions of it that are stated to have different commencement dates.

Terms of ParliamentEdit

Parliament is currently in its 49th term.

Term Elected in Government
1st Parliament 1853 election No Parties
2nd Parliament 1855 election
3rd Parliament 1860 election
4th Parliament 1866 election
5th Parliament 1871 election
6th Parliament 1875 election
7th Parliament 1879 election
8th Parliament 1881 election
9th Parliament 1884 election
10th Parliament 1887 election
11th Parliament 1890 election First Liberal
12th Parliament 1893 election
13th Parliament 1896 election
14th Parliament 1899 election
15th Parliament 1902 election
16th Parliament 1905 election
17th Parliament 1908 election
18th Parliament 1911 election Reform
19th Parliament 1914 election
20th Parliament 1919 election
21st Parliament 1922 election
22nd Parliament 1925 election
23rd Parliament 1928 election United
24th Parliament 1931 election United (in coalition)
25th Parliament 1935 election First Labour
26th Parliament 1938 election
27th Parliament 1943 election
28th Parliament 1946 election
29th Parliament 1949 election First National
30th Parliament 1951 election
31st Parliament 1954 election
32nd Parliament 1957 election Second Labour
33rd Parliament 1960 election Second National
34th Parliament 1963 election
35th Parliament 1966 election
36th Parliament 1969 election
37th Parliament 1972 election Third Labour
38th Parliament 1975 election Third National
39th Parliament 1978 election
40th Parliament 1981 election
41st Parliament 1984 election Fourth Labour
42nd Parliament 1987 election
43rd Parliament 1990 election Fourth National
44th Parliament 1993 election
45th Parliament 1996 election Fourth National (in coalition)
46th Parliament 1999 election Fifth Labour (in coalition)
47th Parliament 2002 election
48th Parliament 2005 election
49th Parliament 2008 election Fifth National (in coalition)
50th Parliament 2011 election
51st Parliament 2014 election

See alsoEdit


  1. McKinnon, Malcolm (ed.) (1997). New Zealand Historical Atlas. David Bateman, plate 90. 
  2. Philip Joseph (2002). Constitutional and Administrative Law in New Zealand, 2nd edition, Brookers. ISBN 9780864723994. 
  3. Sir Geoffrey Palmer and Matthew Palmer (2004). Bridled Power: New Zealand's Constitution and Government, 4th edition, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195584635. 

External linksEdit

Template:New Zealand topics

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