Events In History


Women and the vote

  • Women and the vote

    On 19 September 1893 the governor, Lord Glasgow, signed a new Electoral Act into law. As a result of this landmark legislation, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

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  • Page 2 – Brief history

    A history of the movement that won New Zealand women the vote in 1893

  • Page 3 – Women's suffrage milestones

    Women's suffrage milestones from 1869 to 1999

  • Page 4 – The National Council of Women

    Three years after the vote was won in 1893, a convention of representatives of 11 women's groups from throughout New Zealand resolved itself into the National Council of Women

The road to MMP

  • The road to MMP

    In 1993 New Zealanders voted to replace their traditional first past the post (FPP) voting system with mixed member proportional representation (MMP). Eighteen years on, as Kiwis voted in a new electoral referendum, we explore how and why that dramatic reform came about.

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  • Page 2 – First past the post

    From 1853 until 1993 (apart from 1908–13) New Zealand elections were held under the first past the post (FPP) or plurality system.

  • Page 3 – The Royal Commission

    During the 1981 and 1984 campaigns, Labour promised to set up a Royal Commission to look into a wide range of issues relating to the electoral system.

  • Page 4 – Putting it to the vote

    Although only 55% of electors took part in a referendum, an overwhelming 85% voted to change their electoral system. In the second part of the poll, 70% favoured mixed member

  • Page 5 – 1996 and beyond - the road to MMP

    The three years following the 1993 referendum, before the first MMP election in 1996, were ones of transition and uncertainty.

Election Days

  • Election Days

    When New Zealanders go to the polls on 26 November 2011, they will continue a 158-year-old tradition of parliamentary democracy in this country. Politics may have changed beyond recognition since 1853, but the cut and thrust of the campaign trail, the power of advertising, and the drama of polling day remain as relevant as ever.

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  • Page 2 – Early elections

    Even though New Zealand's electoral franchise (right to vote) was more generous than Britain's, the colony's early elections were in many ways small-scale replicas of those in

  • Page 3 – Cleaning up elections

    The New Zealand Parliament was alarmed by reports of electoral abuses in Auckland in the 1850s. It decided that electoral laws needed to be tightened, and in 1858 passed a

  • Page 4 – Nights on the town

    After the colour and controversy of the 1850s, election days in New Zealand have generally been orderly affairs. Even so, election nights could still be lively occasions.

  • Page 5 – Peddling politicians

    Given the printing technology of the time, early election posters and hoardings were inevitably simple.

  • Page 6 – Radio and TV

    Electoral advertising was transformed first by radio, and later by television.

  • Page 7 – General Elections 1853–2020

    Dates and turnout statistics for New Zealand general elections

  • Page 8 – Further information

    Find out more about election days in New Zealand.

The House of Representatives

  • The House of Representatives

    New Zealand's Parliament dates back to 1854, just 14 years after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and the beginning of the European settlement of the country. For most of its history as a nation state, New Zealand has had some form of elected government.

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  • Page 2 - Quick historyNew Zealand's Parliament has been making laws, scrutinising the government and representing New Zealanders for over 150 years.

Māori and the vote

  • Māori and the vote

    Between April and June 1868 the first four Māori MPs were elected to New Zealand's Parliament. Despite ongoing debate, the Māori seats remain a distinctive feature of this country's electoral landscape almost 150 years later.

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  • Page 3 – Change in the 20th century

    The fall and rise of Māori seats in the 20th century.

Television in New Zealand

  • Television in New Zealand

    New Zealand’s first non-experimental television transmission went to air on 1 June 1960. To mark five decades of TV, in 2010 we presented five snapshots of Kiwi TV history. Explore pre-1960 experiments, TV news, music shows and modern election coverage - and discover how our own history has been showcased on the small screen.

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  • Page 5 - Elections on TVIt took a while for television to make its mark on New Zealand elections, but since the 1980s the small screen has become the decisive election