Parliament's people

Page 1 – Introduction

MPs, staff and spectators

Today there are 121 Members of Parliament (MPs) in New Zealand's Parliament, which is a far cry from the 37 who met for the first time in Auckland in 1854. For a start, that first Parliament was all male. Now, women make up about 30% of MPs. Māori MPs, now around 13%, were not part of that first Parliament either.

MPs now travel into Wellington by plane and car, but some of those who met in Auckland in 1854 spent two months at sea getting there. Through Parliament's history, just getting MPs to work has been a big issue.

An MP's life is not all work. They have always enjoyed an active social life, ranging from organised balls and competitions to the conviviality of Bellamy's, Parliament's bar and dining area.

And Parliament is not just about politicians. Attending to the needs of MPs, running the buildings and grounds, and conducting the official ceremonies demands a small army of staff with specialist skills. Advising on the difficult constitutional aspects of Parliament requires procedural specialists in the Office of the Clerk.

Teams of reporters and broadcasters bring Parliament's business to the wider public, while the action on the floor of the Debating Chamber also attracts onlookers who enjoy the spectacle of watching the House go about its business.

How to cite this page

'Parliament's people', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 17-Jul-2018