Government of New Zealand

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
New Zealand

The Government of New Zealand (Māori: Te Kāwanatanga o Aotearoa), formally Her Majesty's Government in New Zealand,[1] is the administrative complex through which authority is exercised in New Zealand. Based on the Westminster system of responsible government, executive power in New Zealand is based on the principle that "The Queen reigns, but the government rules, so long as it has the support of the House of Representatives".[2]

The head of state of New Zealand, the Queen – represented in New Zealand by the Governor-General – follows the advice of the government and plays only a formal role in the executive, except with respect to the formation and dismissal of governments and the use of their reserve powers.

The head of government in New Zealand is the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is de facto indirectly elected, in that they are not directly elected by the people of New Zealand but become Prime Minister by (usually) becoming the leader of the largest party in Parliament following a general election. Formally, they are appointed and can be dismissed by the Governor-General of New Zealand. The current Prime Minister of New Zealand is John Key.


New Zealand had been granted self-government in 1853 following the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852, which was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Governments were set up at state and at provincial level, with initially six provinces. The provinces were abolished by the Abolition of Provinces Act 1876, during the Premiership of Harry Atkinson. For the purposes of the Act, the provinces formally ceased to exist on 1 January 1877.[3]

The first government that formed along political lines did not appear until 1891, when John Ballance formed the Liberal Party and the Liberal Government.

List of governments[edit]

See also[edit]