New Zealand general election, 1931

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New Zealand general election, 1931
New Zealand
1928 ←
1 (Māori) & 2 December (general) 1931
→ 1935

All 80 seats in the New Zealand House of Representatives
41 seats were needed for a majority
Turnout 714,511 (83.3%)
  First party Second party
  Joseph Gordon Coates 1931.jpg Harry Holland (1925).jpg
Leader Gordon Coates Harry Holland
Party Reform Labour
Alliance United/Reform
Leader since 1925 1919 (party formation)
Leader's seat Kaipara Buller
Last election 27 seats, 34.8% 19 seats, 26.2%
Seats won 28 24
Seat change Steady 0 Increase 5
Popular vote 190,170 244,881
Percentage 26.6% 34.3%
Swing Decrease 9.3% Increase 8.1%

  Third party Fourth party
  George William Forbes.jpg Harold Montague Rushworth (1920).jpg
Leader George Forbes Harold Rushworth
Party United Country Party
Alliance United/Reform
Leader since 1930 1928
Leader's seat Hurunui Bay of Islands
Last election 27 seats, 29.8% 1 seat, 1.6%
Seats won 19 1
Seat change Decrease 8 Steady 0
Popular vote 120,801 16,710
Percentage 16.9% 2.3%
Swing Decrease 13.3% Increase 0.7%

Prime Minister before election

George Forbes

Prime Minister-Designate

George Forbes

The 1931 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the Parliament of New Zealand's 24th term. It resulted in the newly formed coalition between the United Party and the Reform Party remaining in office as the Liberal-Reform Government, although the opposition Labour Party made some minor gains.


In the 1928 elections, the Reform Party won 28 seats to the United Party's 27 seats. Shortly after the election the Reform Party lost a vote of no-confidence and the United Party managed to form a government, the United Government, with the support of the Labour Party, with governing Reform Party going into the opposition. In 1931, however, the agreement between United and Labour collapsed due to differing opinions on how to counter the Great Depression. The Reform Party, fearing that the Depression would give Labour a substantial boost, reluctantly agreed to form a coalition with United to avert elections. By forming a coalition, United and Reform were able to blunt Labour's advantage, ending the possibility of the anti-Labour vote being split.

The election[edit]

The date for the main 1931 elections was 2 December, a Wednesday. Elections to the four Māori electorates were held the day before. 874,787 people were registered to vote, and there was a turnout of 83.3%. This turnout was below average for the time period.

The number of seats was 80, a number which had been fixed since 1902.[1] However in four electorates (Bay of Plenty, Oroua, Pahiatua, Waitomo) there was only one candidate.[2][3]


Crowd on intersection of Willis and Mercer Streets, Wellington, outside the offices of The Evening Post, awaiting the results of the 1931 general election

The 1931 election saw the recently formed governing coalition retain office as the United/Reform Coalition, winning fifty-one seats, including four independents. This was a drop of four seats from what the two parties had won in the previous elections, but was still considerably better than many had expected given the economic situation. The Labour Party won twenty-four seats, a gain of five. In the popular vote (including pro-coalition independents), the coalition won 54.0% of the vote, down from the 66.1% that the two parties had won previously. Labour won 34.3%. The only other party to gain a place in Parliament was the Country Party, which won a single seat. Four other independents were elected. Four candidates were elected unopposed: Walter Broadfoot in Waitomo, John Cobbe in Oroua, Alfred Ransom in Pahiatua, and Kenneth Williams in Bay of Plenty.[4]

Result of the 24th election to the New Zealand House of Representatives[edit]

Party Leader Votes Percentage Seats change
Reform Gordon Coates 190,170 54.03 28 ±0
United George Forbes 120,801 19 -8
Independents (in support of Coalition) 75,069 4 +3
Labour Harry Holland 244,867 34.27 24 +5
Country Party Harold Rushworth 16,710 2.34 1 ±0
Independents (including Harry Atmore) 66,894 9.36 4 -1
Coalition win Total Votes 714,511 100% 80

The following table shows the detailed results:


 Country Party    Independent    Labour    Reform    United  

Electorate results for the New Zealand general election, 1931[5]
Electorate Incumbent Winner Majority Runner up
General electorates
Auckland Central Bill Parry (N/A)
Auckland East James Donald Frederick Schramm (N/A)
Bay of Plenty Kenneth Williams (uncontested)
Chalmers Alfred Ansell (N/A)
Dunedin South William Burgoyne Taverner Fred Jones William Burgoyne Taverner (Reform)
Hawkes Bay Hugh Campbell E L Cullen[6] (Labour)
Oroua John Cobbe (uncontested)
Pahiatua Alfred Ransom (uncontested)
Waitomo Walter Broadfoot (uncontested)
Wellington Central Peter Fraser 2,471[7] Robert Darroch (United)
Wellington East Bob Semple 593[7] Thomas Forsyth (Reform)
Wellington North Charles Henry Chapman 1,061[7] George Troup (Reform)
Wellington Suburbs Robert Alexander Wright 2,570[7] Tom Brindle (Labour)
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Apirana Ngata (N/A)
Northern Maori Taurekareka Henare (N/A)
Southern Maori Tuiti Makitanara (N/A)
Western Maori Taite Te Tomo (N/A)
Name Party Electorate Term
Armstrong, Tim Labour Christchurch East 4th
Atmore, Harry Independent Nelson 6th
Barnard, Bill Labour Napier 2nd
Bitchener, John Reform Waitaki 5th
Black, George Independent Motueka 2nd
Bodkin, William United Central Otago 2nd
Burnett, Thomas Reform Temuka 5th
Carr, Clyde Labour Timaru 2nd
Clinkard, Cecil United Rotorua 2nd
Coates, Gordon Reform Kaipara 7th
Coleman, David Labour Gisborne 2nd
Connolly, Jeremiah Independent* Mid-Canterbury 1st
De La Perrelle, Philip United Awarua 3rd
Dickie, Harold Reform Patea 3rd
Endean, Bill Reform Parnell 2nd
Field, William Reform Otaki 10th
Forbes, George United Hurunui 8th
Hamilton, Adam Reform Wallace 4th
Hargest, James Independent* Invercargill 1st
Harris, Alexander Reform Waitemata 7th
Hawke, Richard United Kaiapoi 2nd
Healy, Edward United Wairau 2nd
Henare, Taurekareka Reform Northern Maori 6th
Holland, Harry Labour Buller 6th
Holland, Henry Reform Christchurch North 3rd
Howard, Ted Labour Christchurch South 5th
Jordan, William Labour Manukau 4th
Jull, Albert United Waipawa 2nd
Kyle, Herbert Reform Riccarton 3rd
Langstone, Frank Labour Waimarino 3rd
Lee, John A. Labour Grey Lynn 3rd
Linklater, Joseph Reform Manawatu 4th
Lye, Frederick United Waikato 3rd
McCombs, James Labour Lyttelton 7th
McDougall, David United Mataura 2nd
McKeen, Robert Labour Wellington South 4th
McLeod, Alexander Reform Wairarapa 4th
MacMillan, Charles Reform Tauranga 4th
MacPherson, John United Oamaru 4th
McSkimming, Peter Independent* Clutha 1st
Makitanara, Tuiti United Southern Maori 2nd
Mason, Rex Labour Auckland Suburbs 3rd
Massey, Jack Reform Franklin 2nd
Massey, Walter Reform Hauraki 2nd
Munro, James Labour Dunedin North 4th
Murdoch, Alfred United Marsden 3rd
Nash, Jimmy Reform Palmerston 6th
Nash, Walter Labour Hutt 2nd
Ngata, Apirana United Eastern Maori 9th
O'Brien, James Labour Westland 3rd
Polson, William Independent* Stratford 2nd
Reid, Stewart Reform Raglan 2nd
Richards, Arthur Labour Roskill 1st
Rushworth, Harold Country Bay of Islands 2nd
Samuel, Albert Reform Thames 3rd
Savage, Michael Joseph Labour Auckland West 5th
Smith, Sydney George United New Plymouth 5th
Stallworthy, Arthur United Eden 2nd
Statham, Charles Independent Dunedin Central 7th
Stewart, William Downie Reform Dunedin West 6th
Stuart, Alexander Reform Rangitikei 1st
Sullivan, Dan Labour Avon 5th
Sykes, George Reform Masterton 7th
Te Tomo, Taite Reform Western Maori 2nd
Veitch, Bill United Wanganui 7th
Wilkinson, Charles Independent Egmont 4th
Young, Alexander Reform Hamilton 7th

Table footnotes:

  • Four of the eight independent MPs (Connolly, Hargest, McSkimming, and Polson) were aligned with the United-Reform coalition, and are not classified as independents by some sources.


  1. ^ "General elections 1853–2005 - dates & turnout". Elections New Zealand. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  2. ^ Bassett 1982, p. 67.
  3. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 286.
  4. ^ "Nominations Close". Evening Post CXII (123). 20 November 1931. p. 11. Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  5. ^ McRobie 1989, pp. 87f.
  6. ^ "A Coalition Certainty". The Evening Post CXII (120). 17 November 1931. p. 10. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Declaration of Result of Poll for the Electoral District of Wellington Suburbs". The Evening Post CXII (140). 10 December 1931. p. 2. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 


  • Bassett, Michael (1982). Three Party Politics in New Zealand 1911-1931. Auckland: Historical Publications. ISBN 0-86870-006-1. 
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.