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: 03/08/17
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.
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.
Another great site for New Zealand topics, NZHistory has a lot of information about this topic.
- 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.
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.
- Use the key words '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.
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 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 the latest news about the upcoming General Election, guidance 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 once all the votes have been counted.
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.
- 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.
- It is also a good option to use for finding 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. Find more information on the workings of local government by going to the NZ's Local Government page.
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. 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:
- New Zealand National Party
- New Zealand Labour Party
- New Zealand First
- Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand
- Māori Party
- ACT Party
- United Future
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
Coming up to an election there will be 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 includes issues relating to this country.
- Use the search box and enter the keywords 'New Zealand general election 2017'.
- You can further refine your search by checking 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.
Radio New Zealand (RNZ) provides comprehensive reporting on New Zealand news and current affairs. The link to politics will feature news on the election and this will increase as an election gets closer.
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 headed 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.
Many books have been written on this topic and the following are a very small selection. Check with your local public and school libraries for a bigger range of titles.
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
- The first 50 years : a history of the New Zealand National Party by Barry Gustafson
- 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.
Here are some other Many Answers entries you might be interested in: