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Parliament's people

Page 1 – Introduction

MPs, staff and spectators

Since 1996 there have been between 120 and 123 Members of Parliament (MPs) in New Zealand's House of Representatives, 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, whereas following the 2023 election, 45% of MPs were women. Māori MPs, who in 2023 made up 27% of Parliament, 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:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated