Elections (New Zealand)
Where can I find information about the New Zealand government elections?
Entry last updated: 04/08/20
General elections (or parliamentary elections) are held every 3 years when New Zealanders get the opportunity to decide who will govern the country. Local 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 is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.
To find out about the history of voting and how this changed over the years.
- From the Stories 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 Stories 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.
- Also look at Elections and campaigns.
Tips: 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 in both electronic and print formats.
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.
- Use the Politics and government link and have a look at the headings under Political milestones.
- Have a look at Women and the vote and Maori and the vote to find out about the history of these groups in New Zealand elections.
- Have a look at The road to MMP to find about the change from FPP (First Past the Post) to MMP (Mixed Member Proportional).
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.
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 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.
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.
This website is the official government site. Hover over the different tabs to find the information you need.
- Select Elections in NZ to find out about What happens in a general election.
- Also find information about What is a referendum? and What is the Māori Electoral Option?
- Select Democracy in NZ to find out about Political parties in New Zealand.
- Also find information about What is MMP? .
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.
As the official website of the New Zealand Parliament, here you can find a number of reliable and detailed fact sheets.
- Go to the tab Visit and Learn.
- Then go to How Parliament works and then Fact sheets.
- Parliament Brief: Parliament and the general election outlines the election process, who runs the country when Parliament is dissolved and what happens up to the opening of the new parliament.
- Also in the Visit and Learn tab is Parliament in Election Year.
- This has lots of articles about things like electorates, the MMP voting system, and referendums.
- Select the MPs and Electorates tab to find information on the Members of Parliament.
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.
- Select Local Government in New Zealand.
- Find information about how local government and councils work.
- Also find information about previous local elections.
There are a number of different political parties that are active in New Zealand, but this hasn't always been the case.
Have another look at Te Ara to explore the history and development of political parties in New Zealand.
- Go to Government and Nation and then Political Participation.
- Select Political parties.
- 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.
Tips: Many web pages have links to further information or to other recommended sites. Following these links is a great way to find out more. This searching method is called “pearl growing” because you are picking up pieces of sand to make a beautiful pearl!
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. 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.
Some of the main political parties are:
- NZ Labour Party
- New Zealand National Party
- New Zealand First
- Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand
- Māori Party
- ACT Party.
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.
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.
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.
- Hover your mouse over the New Zealand tab on the left-hand side of the page and choose Politics.
- 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.
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.
This is another useful news website where you can find current election information during the elections.There are two ways to search this site.
- Go to the Menu at the top of the page and then select Politics.
- 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.
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:
- Adventures in democracy : a history of the vote in New Zealand by Neill Atkinson
- Class, gender and the vote : historical perspectives from New Zealand by Miles Fairburn
- Labour : the New Zealand Labour Party, 1916-2016 by Peter Franks and Jim McAloon
- National at 80 : the story of the New Zealand National Party by Colin James
- Moments of truth : the New Zealand general election of 2014 by Stephen Levine
- Everything you need to know about voting under MMP : New Zealand's electoral system by Linda Pears.
You will also be able to find titles about election campaigns as well as biographies of people in politics.
SCIS no: 1832058