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 House of Representatives of New Zealand
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 United/Reform Coalition Government, although the opposition Labour Party made some minor gains.


In the 1928 election, 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 House of Representatives of New Zealand[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    Independent Liberal    Ratana  

Electorate results for the New Zealand general election, 1931[5][6]
Electorate Incumbent Winner Majority Runner up
General electorates
Auckland Central Bill Parry 3,793[7] Harold Penfound Congdon
Auckland East James Donald Frederick Schramm 2,256[8] Harold Percy Burton
Auckland Suburbs Rex Mason 1,223 Richard Herbert Marryatt[9]
Auckland West Michael Joseph Savage 4,517 Hugh Ross Mackenzie[9]
Avon Dan Sullivan 3,039 Harben Robert Young
Awarua Philip De La Perrelle 2,148 Norman McIntyre[10]
Bay of Islands Harold Rushworth 1,209 Allen Bell
Bay of Plenty Kenneth Williams (uncontested)
Buller Harry Holland 3,631 John Menzies[11]
Central Otago William Bodkin 2,516 Charles Todd
Chalmers Alfred Ansell 172 Norman Hartley Campbell
Christchurch East Tim Armstrong 3,206 George Frederick Allen
Christchurch North Henry Holland 2,077 Elizabeth McCombs
Christchurch South Ted Howard 2,798[12] Charles Samuel "Charlie" McCully[13]
Clutha Fred Waite Peter McSkimming 1,530 Fred Waite
Dunedin Central Charles Statham 262 Peter Neilson
Dunedin North James Wright Munro 524 John McCrae[14][15]
Dunedin South William Burgoyne Taverner Fred Jones 3,644 William Burgoyne Taverner
Dunedin West William Downie Stewart, Jr. 924 John Gilchrist
Eden Arthur Stallworthy 1,270[12] Bill Anderton
Egmont Charles Wilkinson 1,308 F. Gawith
Franklin Jack Massey 2,457 Harry Oswald Mellsop[16]
Gisborne Douglas Lysnar David William Coleman 317[12] Douglas Lysnar
Grey Lynn John Fletcher John A. Lee 3,242[7] John Fletcher
Hamilton Alexander Young 3,072[17] Hubert Beebe
Hauraki Walter William Massey 2,750[7] Charles Robert Petrie
Hawke's Bay Hugh Campbell 2,259 E L Cullen[18]
Hurunui George Forbes 3,953 R. J. Logan[19]
Hutt Walter Nash 2,823 James Kerr[nb 1]
Invercargill Vincent Ward James Hargest 508 W. McChesney
Kaiapoi Richard Hawke 1,414 John Archer[20]
Kaipara Gordon Coates 2,084 Albert Edward Robinson[21]
Lyttelton James McCombs 32 Frederick Willie Freeman[22]
Manawatu Joseph Linklater 2,246 Clifford Hunter
Manukau William Joseph Jordan 3,394[12] Stanley Rickards[9]
Marsden Alfred Murdoch 2,942 James Gillespie Barclay
Masterton George Sykes 1,951 Peter Butler
Mataura David McDougall 943 Thomas Golden[23]
Mid-Canterbury David Jones Jeremiah Connolly 136[24] David Jones
Motueka George Black 517 Keith Holyoake
Napier Bill Barnard 1,456 John Butler
Nelson Harry Atmore 100 Herbert Everett[25]
New Plymouth Sydney George Smith 3,472 William Sheat
Oamaru John Andrew MacPherson 1,046[12] John Craigie Kirkness
Oroua John Cobbe (uncontested)
Otaki William Hughes Field 1,321 Jim Thorn
Pahiatua Alfred Ransom (uncontested)
Palmerston Jimmy Nash 1,245 Joe Hodgens
Parnell Bill Endean 4,821[7] John William Yarnall
Patea Harold Dickie 3,495 W. G. Simpson
Raglan Lee Martin Stewart Reid 806 Lee Martin
Rangitikei James Thomas Hogan Alexander Stuart 15 James Thomas Hogan
Riccarton Herbert Kyle 589 Archibald Albany McLachlan[nb 2]
Roskill George Munns Arthur Shapton Richards 171[7] William John Holdsworth[26]
Rotorua Cecil Clinkard 57 Alexander Moncur
Stratford William Polson 1,518 J W McMillan[nb 3]
Tauranga Charles MacMillan 658 Bill Sullivan[nb 4]
Temuka Thomas Burnett 1,237 Thomas Herbert Langford
Thames Albert Samuel 464 John Sommerville Montgomerie[28]
Timaru Clyde Carr 820 Herbert N. Armstrong[29][nb 5]
Waikato Frederick Lye 981 Solomon Netheim Ziman[nb 6]
Waimarino Frank Langstone 591 William Henry Wackrow
Waipawa Albert Jull[nb 7] 386 John Davies Ormond, Jr.[nb 8]
Wairarapa Thomas William McDonald Alexander Donald McLeod 616 Thomas William McDonald
Waitemata Alexander Harris 2,378[7] Arthur Osborne[31]
Waitomo Walter Broadfoot (uncontested)
Wanganui Bill Veitch 590 Bill Rogers
Wellington Central Peter Fraser 2,471[32] Robert Darroch
Wellington East Bob Semple 593[32] Thomas Forsyth
Wellington North Charles Henry Chapman 1,061[32] George Troup
Wellington Suburbs Robert Alexander Wright 2,570[32] Tom Brindle
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Apirana Ngata 3,211 Pita Moko
Northern Maori Taurekareka Henare 1,188 Paraire Karaka Paikea
Southern Maori Tuiti Makitanara 19 Eruera Tirikatene
Western Maori Taite Te Tomo 1,436 Toko Ratana
Name Party Electorate Term
Bitchener, John Reform Waitaki 5th
Hamilton, Adam Reform Wallace 4th
Healy, Edward United Wairau 2nd
McKeen, Robert Labour Wellington South 4th
O'Brien, James Labour Westland 3rd

Table footnotes:

  1. ^ For some biographical details of James Kerr refer to his father's article
  2. ^ For some biographical details of McLachlan refer to his grandfather's article
  3. ^ McMillan claimed to stand for the Reform Party, but he was not the official candidate, as the United/Reform Coalition endorsed William Polson, who ran as an Independent[27]
  4. ^ Bill Sullivan was a member of the United Party, but Charles MacMillan was the official candidate of the United/Reform Coalition, hence Sullivan stood as an Independent
  5. ^ The Reform and United parties could not agree on an official coalition candidate for the Timaru electorate, so neither Armstrong (Reform) nor Herbert Hall (United) were official candidates, and many sources show them as Independents
  6. ^ Ziman was the father of John Ziman[30]
  7. ^ Jull was the official candidate of the United/Reform Coalition
  8. ^ Ormond was the son of John Davies Ormond and the father of John Ormond
  • 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. ^ The General Election, 1931. Government Printer. 1932. pp. 1–10. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Election Counts". Auckland Star LXII (291). 9 December 1931. p. 9. Retrieved 28 October 2014. 
  8. ^ "Recount of Votes". Auckland Star LXII (289). 7 December 1931. p. 9. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c "Parliamentary Elections". Auckland Star LXII (275). 20 November 1931. p. 5. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  10. ^ "Page 4 Advertisements Column 4". Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser LV (5636). 1 December 1931. p. 4. Retrieved 8 November 2014. 
  11. ^ "Buller Electorate". The Evening Post CXII (127). 25 November 1931. p. 10. Retrieved 8 November 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c d e "Election Results". Auckland Star LXII (290). 8 December 1931. p. 3. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  13. ^ "Straight Grained". New Zealand Truth (1197). 8 November 1928. p. 6. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  14. ^ "John McCrae". Auckland War Memorial Museum. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  15. ^ "Dunedin North". Auckland Star LXII (264). 7 November 1931. p. 11. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  16. ^ "Electoral". The New Zealand Herald. LXVIII (21053). 11 December 1931. p. 22. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  17. ^ "Electors' Choice". Auckland Star LXII (286). 3 December 1931. p. 8. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  18. ^ "A Coalition Certainty". The Evening Post CXII (120). 17 November 1931. p. 10. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  19. ^ "In Canterbury". Auckland Star LXII (281). 27 November 1931. p. 8. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  20. ^ Gustafson, Barry. "Archer, John Kendrick". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 8 April 2011. 
  21. ^ "Notice of Nominations received and Polling Places appointed". Rodney and Otamatea Times, Waitemata and Kaipara Gazette. 25 November 1931. p. 7. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  22. ^ "Notice of Nominations Received and Polling Places Appointed". Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser LV (5634). 24 November 1931. p. 2. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  23. ^ "Mr McDougall Opposed". The Evening Post CXII (120). 17 November 1931. p. 10. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  24. ^ "Public Notices". Ellesmere Guardian LII (99). 11 December 1931. p. 1. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  25. ^ "Opposing Mr Atmore". The Evening Post CXII (110). 5 November 1931. p. 10. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  26. ^ "Electoral". The New Zealand Herald. LXVIII (21051). 9 December 1931. p. 18. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 
  27. ^ "Stratford Electorate". The New Zealand Herald. LXVIII (21029). 13 November 1931. p. 11. Retrieved 6 December 2014. 
  28. ^ "Reform Triumph". The Northern Advocate. 18 June 1925. p. 5. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  29. ^ Kerr, Stephen (2003). "Good Old Clyde": Clyde Carr M.P., Timaru and the Art of Incumbency, 1928–1962 (Thesis). University of Canterbury. p. 66. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 
  30. ^ "Ziman, John Michael". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 
  31. ^ "Parliamentary Elections". Auckland Star LXII (275). 20 November 1931. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  32. ^ 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.