The previous electoral redistribution was undertaken in 1875 for the 1875–76 election. In the six years since, New Zealand's European population had increased by 65%. In the 1881 electoral redistribution, the House of Representatives increased the number of European representatives to 91 (up from 84 since the 1875–76 election). The number of Māori electorates was held at four. The House further decided that electorates should not have more than one representative, which led to 35 new electorates being formed, including Dunedin West, and two electorates that had previously been abolished to be recreated. This necessitated a major disruption to existing boundaries.
The electorate was urban, and comprised a number of suburbs in the west of Dunedin.
The electorate existed in the 19th century from 1881 to 1890. It was represented by:
The electorate was recreated, from 1908 to 1946. Stewart's son, also called William Downie Stewart, represented the electorate for the Reform Party from 1914 to 1935, when he was defeated by Labour's Gervan McMillan.
In 1984 the electorate was recreated again, until the introduction of MMP in 1996. Clive Matthewson represented the electorate from 1984 to 1996. He left the New Zealand Labour Party in 1995, and was one of the founders of the United New Zealand party.
Dunedin West was represented by seven Members of Parliament.
|1881 election||Thomas Dick|
|1884 election||William Downie Stewart|
|(Electorate abolished 1890–1908, see Dunedin)|
|1908 election||John A. Millar|
|1914 election||William Downie Stewart, Jr.|
|1935 election||Gervan McMillan|
|1943 election||Philip Connolly|
|(Electorate abolished 1946–1984)|
|1984 election||Clive Matthewson|
|(Electorate abolished in 1996)|
- McRobie, Alan (1989). Electoral Atlas of New Zealand. Wellington: GP Books. ISBN 0-477-01384-8.
- Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.