New Zealand general election, 1943

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New Zealand general election, 1943
New Zealand
1938 ←
24 (Māori) & 25 September (general) 1943
→ 1946

All 80 seats in the Parliament of New Zealand
41 seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party
  Peter Fraser.jpg Sidney George Holland (1953).jpg
Leader Peter Fraser Sidney Holland
Party Labour National
Leader since 1940 1940
Leader's seat Wellington Central Christchurch North
Last election 53 seats, 55.8% 25 seats, 40.3%
Seats won 45 34
Seat change Decrease 8 Increase 9
Percentage 47.6% 42.8%
Swing Decrease 8.2% Increase 2.5%

Prime Minister before election

Peter Fraser

Elected Prime Minister

Peter Fraser

The 1943 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the Parliament of New Zealand's 27th term. With the onset of World War II, elections were initially postponed, but it was eventually decided to hold a general election in September 1943, around two years after it would normally have occurred. The election saw the governing Labour Party re-elected by a comfortable margin, although the party nevertheless lost considerable ground to the expanding National Party.


The Labour Party had formed its first government after its resounding victory in the 1935 elections and had been re-elected by a substantial margin in the 1938 elections. Michael Joseph Savage, the first Labour Prime Minister, died in 1940; he was replaced by Peter Fraser, who was widely viewed as competent even if he was less popular than Savage. In the same year as Fraser took power, however, the opposition National Party had replaced the ineffectual Adam Hamilton with Sidney Holland, and was beginning to overcome the internal divisions that had plagued Hamilton's time as leader.

As World War II continued, the issues surrounding it naturally came to dominate political debate. Shortages appeared, prompting a certain amount of dissatisfaction with the government. The matter of conscription was also contentious — although both Labour and National supported it, many traditional followers of Labour were angry at their party's stance. Many early Labour leaders, including Fraser, had been jailed for opposing conscription in World War I, and were branded hypocrites for later introducing it; Fraser justified his change of position by saying that World War I was a pointless war but that World War II was necessary. A faction of Labour, dissatisfied with the mainstream party's economic and conscription policies, followed dissident MP John A. Lee to his new Democratic Labour Party.

The election[edit]

The date for the main 1943 elections was 25 September, a Saturday. Elections to the four Maori electorates were held the day before. 1,021,034 civilians and an uncertain number of serving military personnel were registered to vote — special legislation provided voting rights to all serving members of the armed forces regardless of age, and they voted over several days prior to 25 September.[1][2]

Among the civilian population, there was a turnout of 82.8%. The number of seats in Parliament was 80, a number that had been fixed since 1902.[1]

However two seats were uncontested, Awarua and Matarura; both seats were held for the National Party by serving officers; James Hargest (Awarua) was interned in Switzerland, and Tom Macdonald (Mataura) had just been invalided home.[3] 1943 was the last general election when some candidates were elected unopposed.[4]

Election results[edit]

The leaders of National and Labour, plus the 24 new MPs following the 1943 general election

The 1943 election saw the governing Labour Party retain office by a ten-seat margin, winning forty-five seats to the National Party's thirty-four, with one independent. The popular vote was considerably closer — Labour won 47.6%, while National won 42.8%. Holland was stunned by the result, and called for a Commission of Inquiry to look at the servicemens’ vote, but was answered by a report from the Chief Electoral Officer.

On the morning of election day, overseas counts from London, Ottawa and the Middle East indicated a majority for Labour, but domestic results coming in during the evening suggested to several government officials and even to Walter Nash thal Labour would lose. By 10.30 pm only 35 of the 80 seats were certain for Labour, with Barclay (Marsden) defeated and even Nordmeyer (Oamaru) uncertain. But with 73,000 servicemens’ votes that came in during the day, Lowry (Otaki), Hodgens (Palmerston North) and Roberts (Wairarapa) scraped in. Over subsequent days with 60,000 special votes plus over 20,000 more servicemens’ votes, both Nordmeyer and Anderton (Eden) also scraped in. Fraser, who had campaigned among the troops, quipped that it was not only North Africa that the Second Division had saved.[5][6]

John A. Lee's new Democratic Labour Party won only 4.3% of the vote, and no seats. Bill Barnard and Colin Scrimgeour were formerly on the Labour left. Barnard had left the Labour Party with John A. Lee but had fallen out with him and left Lee's Democratic Labour Party, standing as an independent. Scrimgeour stood as an independent against Prime Minister Peter Fraser in Wellington Central and polled well, reducing Fraser's majority so that Fraser only sneaked back on a minority vote.

The election was also notable for the defeat of Apirana Ngata a renowned Māori statesman and member for Eastern Maori after 38 years in parliament, by Ratana- Labour candidate Tiaka Omana. Labour now held all four Māori seats and would continue to do so until 1993.

One independent was re-elected: Harry Atmore from Nelson — this was the last electoral victory by a candidate not from the major parties until the 1966 election. Atmore had the tactical support of Labour who (as in 1935 and 1938) did not stand a candidate against him, and he generally voted with Labour.[7]

Party standings[edit]

Party Leader Percentage Seats won change
Labour Peter Fraser 47.6 45 -8
National Sidney Holland 42.8 34 +9
Democratic Labour John A. Lee 4.3 0 new party
(including Harry Atmore, Bill Barnard & Colin Scrimgeour)
3.9% 1 -1
Labour re-elected 100% 80

Initial MPs[edit]

The table below shows the results of the 1943 general election:


 Labour    National    Democratic Labour    Independent  

Electorate results for the New Zealand general election, 1943[8]
Electorate Incumbent Winner Majority Runner up
General electorates
Auckland Central Bill Parry 4769 W G S Swabey (National)
Auckland East Frederick Schramm 962 H T Merritt (National)
Auckland Suburbs Rex Mason 3028 T A Bishop (National)
Auckland West Peter Carr 5402 J W Kealy (National)
Avon Dan Sullivan 4460 J N Clarke (National)
Awarua James Hargest (uncontested)
Bay of Islands Charles Wallace Boswell Sidney Walter Smith 1276 Charles Wallace Boswell (Labour)
Bay of Plenty Bill Sullivan 1679 C Mills (Labour)
Buller Paddy Webb 4635 E W Nicolaus (National)
Central Otago William Bodkin 2723 J Mackay (Labour)
Christchurch East Mabel Howard 5537 R G Brown (National)
Christchurch North Sidney Holland 2645 George Manning[9] (Labour)
Christchurch South Robert Macfarlane 4416 A R Guthrie (National)
Clutha James Roy 1587 H K Edie (Labour)
Dunedin Central Peter Nielson 2155 L J T Ireland (National)
Dunedin North James Wright Munro 2798 A L S Castle (National)
Dunedin South Fred Jones 3061 D Murdoch (National)
Dunedin West Gervan McMillan Philip Connolly 1338 A S Falconer (National)
Eden Bill Anderton 14 Wilfred Fortune (National)
Egmont Charles Wilkinson Ernest Corbett 2422 E T Cox (Labour)
Franklin Jack Massey 3285 A Best (Labour)
Gisborne David William Coleman 572 Harry Barker[10] (National)
Grey Lynn John A. Lee Fred Hackett 6059 John A. Lee (Democratic Labour)
Hamilton Charles Barrell Frank Finlay 454 Charles Barrell (Labour)
Hauraki Andrew Sutherland 2723 E C R N Robinson (Labour)
Hawke's Bay Edward Luttrell Cullen 1636 E N Pryor (National)
Hurunui George Forbes William Henry Gillespie 1566 J Morgan (Labour)
Hutt Walter Nash 5269 N P Croft (National)
Invercargill William Denham 987 W Bell (National)
Kaiapoi Morgan Williams 761 W H Overton (National)
Kaipara Gordon Coates Clifton Webb 2800 J S Stewart (Labour)
Lyttelton Terry McCombs 1374 Edward Bickmore Ellison Taylor[11] (National)
Manawatu John Cobbe Matthew Oram 2305 W. H. Oliver (Labour)
Marlborough Edwin Meachen 450 Tom Shand (National)
Marsden James Gillespie Barclay Alfred Murdoch 1006 James Gillespie Barclay (Labour)
Masterton John Robertson Garnet Hercules Mackley 494 John Robertson (Labour)
Mataura Tom Macdonald (uncontested)
Mid-Canterbury Mary Grigg Richard Gerard 634 D C Barnes (Labour)
Motueka Clarence Skinner 301 J R Haldane (National)
Napier Bill Barnard Tommy Armstrong 1273 M Spence (National)
Nelson Harry Atmore 191 F W Huggins (National)
New Plymouth Frederick Frost Ernest Aderman 1276 Frederick Frost (Labour)
Oamaru Arnold Nordmeyer 125 T R Beatty (National)
Onehunga Arthur Osborne 3324 J Park (National)
Otahuhu Charles Petrie 464 G Hamilton (National)
Otaki Leonard Lowry 191 Bertie Cooksley (National)
Pahiatua Alfred Ransom Keith Holyoake 1825 G A Hansen (Labour)
Palmerston North Joe Hodgens 212 A E Mansford (National)
Patea Harold Dickie William Sheat 912 A H Langslow (Labour)
Raglan Lee Martin Robert Coulter 108 R J Glasgow (National)
Rangitikei Edward Gordon 1612 R Freeman (Labour)
Remuera Bill Endean Ronald Algie 4183 Martyn Finlay (Labour)
Riccarton Herbert Kyle Jack Watts 1322 H E Denton (Labour)
Roskill Arthur Richards 962 Roy McElroy[12] (National)
Rotorua Alexander Moncur Geoffrey Sim 715 Alexander Moncur (Labour)
Stratford William Polson 2059 B Richmond (Labour)
Tauranga Frederick Doidge 3625 D A Hill (National)
Temuka Jack Acland 1690 G A Harris (Labour)
Thames Jim Thorn 935 W A Clark (National)
Timaru Clyde Carr 1701 J S Satherwaite (National)
Waikato William Goosman 4615 C Croall (Labour)
Waimarino Frank Langstone 1404 R O Montgomerie (National)
Waipawa Cyril Harker 2091 A Low (Labour)
Wairarapa Benjamin Roberts 151 J J Maher (National)
Waitaki Doug Kidd 821 J S Adams (National)
Waitemata Mary Dreaver Henry Thorne Morton 321 Mary Dreaver (Labour)
Waitomo Walter Broadfoot 1881 E A Waters (Labour)
Wallace Adam Hamilton 1607 J J Lynch (Labour)
Wanganui Joseph Cotterill 2437 E J Kirk (National)
Wellington Central Peter Fraser 1206 Will Appleton (National)
Wellington East Bob Semple 2588 L T Jacobsen (National)
Wellington North Charles Henry Chapman 1897 Thomas Hislop (National)
Wellington South Robert McKeen 4156 E R Toop (National)
Wellington Suburbs Harry Ernest Combs 2581 Bill Veitch (National)
Wellington West Catherine Stewart Charles Bowden 1183 Catherine Stewart (Labour)
Westland James O'Brien 2600 F Chivers (National)
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Apirana Ngata Tiaka Omana 240 Apirana Ngata (National)
Northern Maori Paraire Karaka Paikea Tapihana Paraire Paikea 2438 E M Pou (National)
Southern Maori Eruera Tirikatene 558 J P T Barrett (Independent)
Western Maori Toko Ratana 3309 Pei Te Hurinui Jones (National)

Table footnotes:


  1. ^ a b "General elections 1853–2005 - dates & turnout". Elections New Zealand. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  2. ^ Wood, G. A. (1996) [First ed. published 1987]. Ministers and Members in the New Zealand Parliament (2 ed.). Dunedin: University of Otago Press. p. 108. ISBN 1-877133-00-0. 
  3. ^ "To-Morrow's Election". Bay of Plenty Beacon 7 (9). 24 September 1943. p. 4. Retrieved 28 August 2013. 
  4. ^ Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. pp. 285–286. OCLC 154283103. 
  5. ^ Atkinson, Neill (2003), Adventures in Democracy: A History of the Vote in New Zealand, University of Otago Press, p.154.
  6. ^ Bassett, Michael (2000). Tomorrow Comes the Song: A life of Peter Fraser. Auckland: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-029793-6. 
  7. ^ Milne, Robert Stephen (1966). Political Parties in New Zealand. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press. p. 76. 
  8. ^ "The General Election, 1943". National Library. 1944. pp. 1–12. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  9. ^ Sharfe, Jean. "Manning, George". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  10. ^ Milton-Tee, Ann. "Harry Heaton Barker". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved December 2011. 
  11. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 387.
  12. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 375.


  • Gustafson, Barry (1986). The First 50 Years : A History of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Reed Methuen. ISBN 0-474-00177-6. 
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.