Prime Ministers (New Zealand)

Where can I find information about the different Prime Ministers of New Zealand?

Entry last updated: 27/05/22

Introduction

The Prime Minister is the political leader of the New Zealand government and the country. In this entry we will look at what the Prime Minister does. We'll also look at the current Prime Minister and some past prime ministers of New Zealand.

Well-known prime ministers

The NZHistory site has biographies with information on the following well-known prime ministers:

Richard Seddon (1893 - 1906): Longest serving political leader.

Michael Joseph Savage (1935 - 1940): First Labour prime minister.

David Lange (1984 - 1989): Champion of New Zealand’s nuclear-free policy.

Jenny Shipley (1997 - 1999): First female prime minister.

Helen Clark (1999 - 2008): First elected female prime minister.

Tips: NZHistory is a great website for information about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

The role of Prime Minister

The Prime Minister is the political leader of New Zealand. In this section we'll look at the responsibilities or jobs of the Prime Minister. We'll also look at the differences between a prime minister and a president.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is a great place to start for information about the history, culture and people of Aotearoa New Zealand.

  • Use your keywords 'prime minister' to search.
  • Select the story about our Premiers and Prime Ministers.
  • From the contents choose The role of the prime minister.

Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.

Wonderopolis

This site is run by a non-profit organisation that helps children learn about interesting information and facts like the difference between a prime minister and a president.

Tips: Some of the words used in the Wonderopolis article are highlighted. If you hover your mouse or tap on the highlighted word it will open a bubble explaining what the word means.

Past Prime Ministers and Premiers

New Zealand has had 40 prime ministers and premiers. You'll find some great articles and biographies about them on the following sites.

New Zealand Parliament

This site has a great section on our current and past Members of Parliament (MPs). This includes former Prime Ministers (PMs) such as Helen Clark. It even tells you what their hobbies are!

  • To find the list of current MPs go to the MPs and Electorates tab near the top of the page.
  • Select the link that says Members of Parliament. You will see an alphabetical list of all the MPs currently in Parliament.
  • To view past MPs and Prime Ministers select the tab Former Members of Parliament tab.
  • Choose the name of the MP to see a full biography of the person, eg John Key.
  • To view lists of past MPs and Prime Ministers go to Visit and Learn and select MPs and parliaments, 1854 onwards.

Tips: You may have noticed that former Prime Ministers like Jenny Shipley have the title Right Honourable or Rt Hon. beside their names. These are awarded by the Queen to our Governor-Generals, Prime Ministers, Speakers of the House of Representatives, and Chief Justices. In the past the title has also been awarded to members of the Privy Council.

Britannica School

This is one of the EPICresources — a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. Britannica School includes biographies of different New Zealand Prime Ministers.

  • Choose the school level that is best suited to you.
  • Use the keywords 'New Zealand' and 'prime ministers' to find articles about this topic.
  • There is also a list of Prime Ministers of New Zealand with links to their life stories.
  • Or you can search by the Prime Minister's name eg Peter Fraser.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

NZHistory

NZHistory is a great website for information about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Under the banner select Politics and Government.
  • Find the heading Parliament and the people and select the article Premiers and Prime Ministers.
  • Go to Biographies for a full list.
  • Choose a prime minister to read about eg Bill English.

Dictionary of NZ Biography

This website comes is part of the Te Ara site and contains over 3,000 biographies of New Zealanders who have ‘made their mark’ on this country. It does not include people who are alive.

  • Search for the name of a prime minister eg Keith Holyoake.
  • Or to find a list of biographies on past prime ministers, go to Featured biographies and select PMs, then read Massey, William Ferguson.

Our current Prime Minister

The Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern is the current Prime Minister of New Zealand. She was sworn in as Prime Minister on 26 November 2017. She was sworn in for a second term on 6 November 2020.

Labour

This is the official site of the New Zealand Labour Party. Jacinda Ardern is the leader of the Labour Party as well as the Prime Minister. This website has a short biography of her.

  • From the Menu select Our Team.
  • Choose Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern.
  • Look down the page for Meet Jacinda.
  • Find information on her background, experience and career highlights so far.

Tips: When looking for info on a famous person we always recommend trying to find their official website first, as the information is likely to be more accurate than fan sites.

Books

There have been many books written about New Zealand Prime Ministers, check out your local public or school library to see what they have.

Some recommended titles:

SCIS no: 1832059

Topics covered

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