Elections (New Zealand)

Where can I find information about the New Zealand government elections?

Image: Voting by russellstreet on Flickr (modified from original).

Entry last updated: 09/10/17

Introduction

Parliamentary elections are held every 3 years when New Zealanders get the opportunity to decide who will govern the country. Elections following a similar pattern are also held every 3 years to elect mayors and councillors to oversee political issues of a local nature.

History of voting and elections

New Zealand held its first parliamentary election in 1853 but the number of people who were allowed to vote was quite restricted.

Te Ara: Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Here you can find out more about the history of voting and how this changed over the years.

  • From the A-Z tab choose the letter V.
  • Then select Voting rights.

This is also a good resource to use for some background information on New Zealand elections in general.

  • From the A-Z tab choose the letter E.
  • Go down to Electoral systems and you will find some details about the different systems over the years.

As well as the information in these articles, remember to look at the External links and sources. You will find a list of additional resources here in both electronic and print formats.

NZHistory

Another great site for New Zealand topics, NZHistory has a lot of information about this topic.

Both of the above websites are excellent starting points for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. They belong to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

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.

DigitalNZ

This comprehensive site has a good range of New Zealand content, brought together from a number of official sources and dating back to 1840.

  • Use the keywords 'electoral system New Zealand' to find other sources of information such as audio, video and images.
  • You will find the tabs for these at the top of the page after doing your search.

Elections today

Under current New Zealand law, everyone who is a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident and is aged 18 or over is able to vote.

Elections

This website is the official government site and is managed by the Electoral Commission. Hover over the different tabs to find the information you need.

  • Hover over the different tabs to find information on how to enrol as a voter and how to vote.
  • New Zealand's current voting system is MMP (Mixed Member Proportional) and by using the Voting system tab you can find out how this works.
  • This is also a good place to look for official election results.
Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

New Zealand Parliament

As the official website of the New Zealand Parliament, here you can find a number of reliable and detailed fact sheets.

Local Government New Zealand

This a good resource to use to check out the local level of government. Elections for a mayor and councillors for each of New Zealand's local authorities are also held every 3 years. Find more information on the workings of local government by going to the NZ's Local Government page.

Political parties

There are a number of different political parties that are active in New Zealand, but this hasn't always been the case.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Have another look at Te Ara to explore the history and development of political parties in New Zealand. This covers the original 2 party system and right up to the present day when a number of smaller parties are able to gain seats and potentially join with a bigger party to form a government.

Each of the political parties has its own website, and these are the resources to use to find out about their official policies and political campaigns.

Some of the main political parties are:

In addition to policies and official news, most of these sites will have information on the history of the party, often including a timeline of significant dates. Look for an About us link or tab.

Election news, issues and results

During the months leading up to an election there is often lots of news and reporting in the media. You may like to explore one or two of the following sites for some different viewpoints.

Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre

This is one of the EPIC resources. EPIC is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. You may need a password from your local or school library to access it.

This particular database has lots of magazines and newspapers from Australia and New Zealand.

  • Use the search box and enter the keywords 'New Zealand general elections'.
  • You can refine your search by using the options on the left of the page.
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.

New Zealand Herald

The New Zealand Herald is a great website for finding out about news and current events in New Zealand. It usually has up to date information about the elections, during the election period. There are two ways to search this site.

  1. Hover your mouse over the New Zealand tab on the left-hand side of the page and choose Politics.
  2. Use the search bar and enter your keywords (eg 'elections' or 'voting').
Tips: Some websites have advertisements (or ads) which ask us to buy something or tell us to ‘click here’. It’s best to ignore these ads and focus on the information we’re looking for.

Scoop

This site has up-to-the-minute New Zealand news and press releases. It's a good source for some different points of view. Look for the tab called Politics for election news, or search for the issue you are interested in, like 'housing'.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

Stuff.co.nz

This is another useful news website where you can find current election information during the elections.There are two ways to search this site.

  1. Go to the National tab at the top of the page and then select Politics.
  2. Use the search bar and enter the keyword 'elections'.
Tips: You can also search for news on Google. Enter your search words into Google and then click on the link to News at the top of the page. The articles will appear with the most recent news stories at the top.

Books

Many books have been written about the elections and politics, and this list is a very small selection. Check your local public and school libraries to see what they have.

Some interesting titles:

You will also be able to find titles about election campaigns as well as biographies of people in politics.

Here are some other Many Answers entries you might be interested in:

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