New Zealand general election, 1949

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New Zealand general election, 1949
New Zealand
1946 ←
29 (Māori) & 30 November (general) 1949 → 1951

All 80 seats in the Parliament of New Zealand
41 seats were needed for a majority
Turnout 1,113,852
  First party Second party
  Sidney George Holland (1953).jpg Peter Fraser.jpg
Leader Sidney Holland Peter Fraser
Party National Labour
Leader since 1940 1940
Leader's seat Christchurch North Wellington Central
Last election 38 seats, 48.4% 42 seats, 51.3%
Seats won 46 34
Seat change Increase 8 Decrease 8
Popular vote 556,805 506,073
Percentage 51.9% 47.2%
Swing Increase 3.5% Decrease 4.1%

Prime Minister before election

Peter Fraser

Elected Prime Minister

Sidney Holland

The 1949 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the Parliament of New Zealand's 29th term. It saw the governing Labour Party defeated by the opposition National Party. This marked the end of the First Labour government and the beginning of the First National government.


The Labour Party had formed its first administration after winning the 1935 elections, and had remained in power (with gradually decreasing majorities) since then. The National Party, formed by a merger of the parties which Labour had originally ousted, gradually increased its power in Parliament; the ineffectual Adam Hamilton was replaced by Sidney Holland, and internal disputes were gradually resolved. The Prime Minister, Peter Fraser, was increasingly weary. Ongoing shortages after World War II also eroded public support for the government. The National Party's decision not to repeal Labour's social welfare policies also increased its appeal.

The election[edit]

The date for the main elections was a Wednesday 30 November. Elections to the four Māori electorates were held the day before—the 1949 elections were the last in which Māori voted on a different day. 1,113,852 people were registered to vote, although rolls for the Māori seats were "woefully inadequate." Voter turnout for the elections is disputed, given the problems with the Māori roll—some sources place it at 93.5 percent, while others estimate 92.9 percent. Regardless, the turnout was relatively high for the time. The number of seats being contested was 80, a number which had been fixed since 1902.

Election results[edit]

Party standings[edit]

The 1949 election saw the governing Labour Party defeated by a twelve-seat margin. It has previously held a four-seat majority. Labour won a total of 34 seats, as opposed to National's 46. The popular vote was considerably closer—Labour won 47.2 percent to National's 51.9 percent. No seats were won by minor party candidates or by independents.

Party Leader Votes Percentage Seats won change
National Sid Holland 556,805 51.88% 46 +8
Labour Peter Fraser 506,073 47.16% 34 -8
Communist 3,499 0.33% 0
Democratic Labour John A. Lee 2,627 0.24% 0
Independents and minor parties, (including Frank Langstone) 4,150 0.39% 0 0
National elected 1,073,154 100% 80

Initial MPs[edit]

The table below shows the results of the 1949 general election:


 Labour    National  

Electorate results for the New Zealand general election, 1949[1]
Electorate Incumbent Winner Majority Runner up
General electorates
Arch Hill Bill Parry 5,174 G F Smith (National)
Ashburton Richard Geoffrey Gerard 2,385 W E Rose (Labour)
Auckland Central Bill Anderton 2,799 L G Bradley (National)
Avon John Mathison 4,593 G W Kinzett (National)
Awarua George Richard Herron 3,179 Neville Pickering[2] (Labour)
Bay of Plenty Bill Sullivan 3,680 T G Santon (Labour)
Brooklyn Peter Fraser[3] 2,956 Mrs Berta S Burns[4] (National)
Buller Clarence Skinner 2,206 F E McDonald (National)
Central Otago William Bodkin 3,906 T A Rodgers (Labour)
Christchurch Central Robert Macfarlane 3,637 K J Marlow (National)
Clutha James Roy 3,231 J E Keenan (Labour)
Dunedin Central Philip Connolly 989 D Murdoch (National)
Eden Wilfred Fortune 2,259 P T Curran (Labour)
Egmont Ernest Corbett 4,539 B Richmond (Labour)
Fendalton Sidney Holland 4,076 R T Newman (Labour)
Franklin Jack Massey 5,481 J Parsons (Labour)
Gisborne David William Coleman Reginald Keeling 489 Harry Dudfield[5][6] (National)
Grey Lynn Fred Hackett 4,203 J L Faulkner (National)
Hamilton Hilda Ross 1,605 J Granville (Labour)
Hastings Edward Luttrell Cullen Sydney Jones 982 Edward Luttrell Cullen (Labour)
Hauraki Andrew Sutherland 3,944 P Peacock (Labour)
Hawke's Bay Cyril Harker 3,442 H E Beattie (Labour)
Hobson Sidney Walter Smith 5,068 W E Lane (Labour)
Hurunui William Henry Gillespie 2,535 A J Smith (Labour)
Hutt Walter Nash 2,273 H L Heatley (National)
Invercargill Ralph Hanan 1,159 William Denham (Labour)
Island Bay Robert McKeen 2,770 H E Childs (National)
Karori Charles Bowden 3,585 Mrs E Harris (Labour)
Lyttelton Terry McCombs 978 R R Beauchamp (National)
Manawatu Matthew Oram 3,433 B A Rodgers (Labour)
Marlborough Tom Shand 1,862 J H Wilson (Labour)
Marsden Alfred Murdoch 3,276 D L Ross (Labour)
Miramar Bob Semple 1,315 C H Taylor (National)
Mornington Walter Arthur Hudson 4,185 G C Stephens (National)
Mount Albert Warren Freer 931 R F Judson (National)
Mount Victoria Jack Marshall 1,808 N R Seddon (Labour)
Napier Tommy Armstrong 721 W Tucker (National)
Nelson Edgar Neale 1,373 R C A Marshall (Labour)
New Plymouth Ernest Aderman 1,517 C R Parker (Labour)
North Dunedin Robert Walls 668 R G Brickell (National)
North Shore Martyn Finlay Dean Eyre 1,344 Martyn Finlay (Labour)
Oamaru Arnold Nordmeyer Thomas Hayman 694 Arnold Nordmeyer (Labour)
Onehunga Arthur Osborne 2,300 A A Coates (National)
Onslow Harry Ernest Combs 1,927 John S Meadowcroft[7] (National)
Otahuhu Charles Robert Petrie Leon Götz 1,275 A B Dixon (Labour)
Otaki James Joseph Maher 374 J J D Chapstick (Labour)
Pahiatua Keith Holyoake 4,507 G P O'Leary (Labour)
Palmerston North Ormond Wilson Blair Tennent 518 Ormond Wilson (Labour)
Parnell Duncan Rae 960 Frederick Schramm (Labour)
Patea William Sheat 1,841 F W Finer (Labour)
Petone Michael Moohan 2,527 N P Croft (National)
Piako William Goosman 6,266 G P Kenah (Labour)
Ponsonby Ritchie Macdonald 2,278 B H Kingston (National)
Raglan Alan Baxter Hallyburton Johnstone 1,022 Alan Baxter (Labour)
Rangitikei Edward Gordon 3,310 E R De Malmanche (Labour)
Remuera Ronald Algie 5,079 Hugh Watt[8][1] (Labour)
Riccarton Angus McLagan 2,707 Harry Lake[9] (National)
Rodney Clifton Webb 4,546 A Leaming (Labour)
Roskill Frank Langstone John Rae 1,415 J Freeman (Labour)
St Albans Jack Watts 1,142 George Manning[10] (Labour)
St Kilda Fred Jones 331 G Lyon (National)
Selwyn John McAlpine 1,327 E A Sharp (Labour)
Sydenham Mabel Howard 5,643 Oliver G Moody[7] (National)
Tamaki Tom Skinner Eric Halstead 1,095 Tom Skinner (Labour)
Tauranga Frederick Doidge 4,595 H J Pickett (Labour)
Timaru Clyde Carr 832 J F Lockington (National)
Waikato Geoffrey Sim 5,923 J R Burfitt (Labour)
Waimarino Paddy Kearins 202 A H MacPherson (National)
Waimate David Campbell Kidd 1,767 W R Davison (Labour)
Wairarapa Garnet Hercules Mackley Bertie Cooksley 963 G A Hansen (Labour)
Waitakere Rex Mason 930 R Tapper (National)
Waitomo Walter Broadfoot 5,079 Frank Kitts (Labour)
Wallace Tom Macdonald 4,511 H V Freeman (Labour)
Wanganui Joseph Cotterill 1,019 E V O'Keefe (National)
Wellington Central Charles Henry Chapman 575 Will Appleton (National)
Westland James Begg Kent 2,744 P J O'Regan (National)
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Tiaki Omana 3,211 Turi Carroll (National)
Northern Maori Tapihana Paraire Paikea 2,029 James Henare (National)
Southern Maori Eruera Tirikatene 687 Huro Nathanial Bates (National)
Western Maori vacant[nb 1] Iriaka Matiu Ratana 6,317 Hoeroa Marumaru (National)

Table footnotes:

  1. ^ Matiu Ratana, the previous holder of the Western Maori electorate, died on 7 October 1949. His wife Iriaka Ratana stood for election instead.


  1. ^ a b "The General Election, 1949". National Library. 1950. pp. 1–5, 8. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Norton 1988, p. 197.
  3. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 198.
  4. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 357.
  5. ^ Norton 1988, p. 228.
  6. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 308.
  7. ^ a b Gustafson 1986, p. 378.
  8. ^ Norton 1988, p. 331.
  9. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 325.
  10. ^ Sharfe, Jean. "Manning, George". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 17 February 2010. 


  • Gustafson, Barry (1986). The First 50 Years : A History of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Reed Methuen. ISBN 0-474-00177-6. 
  • Norton, Clifford (1988). New Zealand Parliamentary Election Results 1946–1987: Occasional Publications No 1, Department of Political Science. Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington. ISBN 0-475-11200-8. 
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103. 
  • The 1949 General Election by S.E. Fraser (1967, MA Thesis; University of Otago, Dunedin)
  • The Last Years of the First Labour Government 1945-1949 by R. McLennan (1963, MA Thesis; University of Auckland, Auckland)