The House of Representatives

Page 1 – Introduction

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.

Throughout this time the country's Parliament has made laws, scrutinised the government and represented New Zealanders. Few countries in the world can boast such a long and uninterrupted history of democracy.

Here we explore the story of Parliament by focussing on the institution itself, its place in New Zealand politics and the ways in which it carries out its business. Learn about the origins and development of New Zealand's Parliament, including its dramatic first sitting in May 1854; the, often arcane, procedures and rituals of the debating chamber; the rise of political parties and the role of the Opposition and the Speaker.