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Prohibition vote 1911-87


This graph shows the changes in support for prohibition and continuance at the national referendums held from 1911 to 1987. Apart from the special April 1919 poll, all were held alongside general elections. No polls were held in 1931 (as a cost-saving measure during the Depression) or 1951 (because that year's snap election was held only two years after the 1949 poll). The licensing referendum was abolished in 1989.

The first poll, in 1911, saw prohibition achieve a clear majority – 55.8% of voters. But as the threshold was then set at 60%, it wasn't enough. The closest results were in the twin 1919 referendums, held in April and December, when the threshold was a bare majority; prohibition polled over 49% on each occasion. The December 1919 poll also saw the introduction of a third option – state control of the liquor industry. Support for state control peaked at 20.2% in 1946.


Ministry for Culture and Heritage

How to cite this page

Prohibition vote 1911-87, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated