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The House of Representatives

Page 9 – Milestones

Significant events in 150 years of Parliament in New Zealand

1852 New Zealand Constitution Act passed by Britain.

1853 First elections are held for 37 Members of House of Representatives.

1854 Parliamentarians gather in Auckland for the opening of New Zealand's first Parliament on 24 May.

1856 Responsible government is achieved, in which government is formed from a majority in the House of Representatives.

1856 Compact is agreed to, in which political and financial relationships between central and provincial governments is resolved.

1858 Wellington Provincial Council Chambers are built, and these soon become Parliament Buildings.

1865 Seat of government and Parliament moves to Wellington.

1867 Four Maori seats are created, and there is separate Maori voting. There are 74 MPs in total in the House.

1870 Secret ballot is implemented for parliamentary elections.

1876 Provinces are abolished, leaving central government as the single legislative authority.

1879 Universal male suffrage or voting is introduced. The parliamentary term is reduced from five to three years.

1890 Number of MPs is reduced from 95 to 74.

1893 Women win the right to vote.

1899 General Assembly Library building is constructed.

1902 Number of MPs is increased to 80.

1907 Fire of 11 December destroys much of Parliament Buildings.

1912 Construction of a new Parliament House begins.

1918 Parliament moves into the incomplete Parliament House.

1919 Women are eligible to become MPs.

1933 First woman, Elizabeth McCombs, is elected to Parliament.

1936 Radio broadcasting of Parliament commences.

1951 Legislative Council is abolished.

1969 Number of MPs increased to 84. There is frequent upward adjustment of the number of MPs from now on due to population growth in the North Island. The voting age is lowered to 20 years.

1974 Voting age is lowered to 18 years.

1979 Government moves into the Beehive.

1986 Royal Commission on the electoral system recommends MMP.

1991 Parliament moves temporarily into the Bowen House chamber while Parliament Buildings are refurbished. It returns to the chamber in 1996.

1993 Number of MPs reaches 99.

1996 MMP electoral system is implemented, and there are 120 MPs.

2004 Commemoration of 150 years of Parliament in New Zealand is held.

You can also view the original timeline from which this information is taken as a pdf document (71k).



How to cite this page

Milestones, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated