New Zealand general election, 1951

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New Zealand general election, 1951
New Zealand
1949 ←
1 September 1951 (1951-09-01) → 1954

All 80 seats in the New Zealand Parliament
41 seats were needed for a majority
Turnout 1,069,791
  First party Second party
  Sidney George Holland (1953).jpg Walter Nash (ca 1940s).jpg
Leader Sidney Holland Walter Nash
Party National Labour
Leader since 1940 1951
Leader's seat Christchurch North Hutt
Last election 46 seats, 51.9% 34 seats, 47.2%
Seats won 50 30
Seat change Increase 4 Decrease 4
Popular vote 577,630 490,143
Percentage 54.0% 45.8%
Swing Increase 2.1% Decrease 4.1%

Prime Minister before election

Sidney Holland

Elected Prime Minister

Sidney Holland

The 1951 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the Parliament of New Zealand's 30th term. The First National Government was re-elected, with the National Party increasing its lead over the opposition Labour Party.


The National Party had formed its first administration after the 1949 elections, in which it had ended four terms of government by the Labour Party.[1] The National government, with Sidney Holland as Prime Minister, had undertaken a number of economic and constitutional reforms, although it had not seriously modified the new social welfare system which Labour had introduced. Labour's leader, Peter Fraser, had died in December 1950 after a long period of poor health, and had been replaced in January 1951 by Walter Nash. Nash had been Minister of Finance for the duration of the first Labour government.[2]

The most significant issue in the 1951 elections was the growing industrial unrest of the time, particularly the ongoing dockworkers dispute. Holland condemned the strikers, calling the situation "industrial anarchy". The Labour Party, under Nash, attempted to take a moderate position in the dispute, but ended up displeasing both sides. Holland, seeking a mandate to respond strongly to the strike, called a snap election.

The election[edit]

The date for the main 1951 elections was 1 September, and for the first time, elections to the four Maori seats were held on the same day.[3] The 1951 elections were also the first under the new regulations which required elections to be held on a Saturday. 1,205,762 people were registered to vote, and turnout was 89.1%.[4] The number of seats being contested was 80, a number which had been fixed since 1902.[5]


The 1951 election saw the governing National Party re-elected with a twenty-seat margin, a substantial improvement on the twelve-seat margin it previously held. National won fifty seats compared with the Labour Party's thirty.[5] The popular vote was closer, however, with National winning 54% to Labour's 46%.[6] No seats were won by minor party candidates or by independents.[7] This was the last New Zealand general election in which any party has ever captured a majority of the popular vote.[6]

Party Leader Votes Percentage Seats won change
National Sid Holland 577,630 54.0% 50 +4
Labour Walter Nash 490,143 45.8% 30 -4
Communist 528 0.05% 0
Others (including independents) 1,490 0.14% 0 0
National re-elected 1,069,791 100% 80

 Labour    National  

[v · t · e] Electorate results for the New Zealand general election, 1951[8]
Electorate Incumbent Winner Majority Runner up
General electorates
Arch Hill Bill Parry John Stewart 3,965 T P B Hope (National)
Ashburton Richard Gerard 2,867 W E Rose (Labour)
Auckland Central Bill Anderton 2,168 P G Hillyer (National)
Avon John Mathison 4,212 D W Russell (National)
Awarua George Herron 3,755 Neville Pickering (Labour)
Bay of Plenty Bill Sullivan 4,047 T G Santon (Labour)
Brooklyn Arnold Nordmeyer 1,826 C W Clift (National)
Buller Clarence Skinner 1,227 P E McDonald (National)
Central Otago William Bodkin 3,620 T A Rodgers (Labour)
Christchurch Central Robert Macfarlane 4,103 Mrs A Schumacher (National)
Clutha James Roy 3,583 J M Sanders (Labour)
Dunedin Central Philip Connolly 373 W P MacDougall (National)
Eden Wilfred Fortune 2,802 J R Burfitt (Labour)
Egmont Ernest Corbett 4,896 B E Richmond (Labour)
Fendalton Sidney Holland 4,366 P J Alley (Labour)
Franklin Jack Massey 5,358 Arthur Faulkner (Labour)
Gisborne Reginald Keeling Harry Dudfield 338 Reginald Keeling (Labour)
Grey Lynn Fred Hackett 3,813 H G Barry (National)
Hamilton Hilda Ross 2,252 E A Waters (Labour)
Hastings Sydney Jones 1,138 H E Beattie (Labour)
Hauraki Andrew Sutherland 4,468 B W Dynes (Labour)
Hawke's Bay Cyril Harker 4,153 A Lowe (Labour)
Hobson Sidney Smith 5,337 Norman King (Labour)
Hurunui William Gillespie 2,921 J W Andrews (Labour)
Hutt Walter Nash 2,248 J W Andrews (National)
Invercargill Ralph Hanan 2,123 F G Spurdle (Labour)
Island Bay Robert McKeen 1,680 J E Duncan (National)
Karori Charles Bowden 3,453 J A Bateman (Labour)
Lyttelton Terry McCombs Harry Lake 133 Terry McCombs (Labour)
Manawatu Matthew Oram 3,465 B A Rodgers (Labour)
Marlborough Tom Shand 2,452 Edwin Meachen (Labour)
Marsden Alfred Murdoch 4,001 M A Hosking (Labour)
Miramar Bob Semple 301 C H Taylor (National)
Mornington Walter Arthur Hudson 3,783 R G Pilling (National)
Mount Albert Warren Freer 604 R F Judson (National)
Mount Victoria Jack Marshall 2,198 Frank Kitts (Labour)
Napier Tommy Armstrong Peter Tait 44 Tommy Armstrong (Labour)
Nelson Edgar Neale 2,831 Stanley Whitehead (Labour)
New Plymouth Ernest Aderman 2,335 C R Parker (Labour)
North Dunedin Robert Walls 307 Sir Donald Cameron (National)
North Shore Dean Eyre 2,155 R N S J Wrathall (Labour)
Oamaru Thomas Hayman 1,315 C J Ryan (Labour)
Onehunga Arthur Osborne 1,966 L G Bradley (National)
Onslow Harry Combs 1,106 John Meadowcroft[9] (National)
Otahuhu Leon Götz 2,128 James Deas (Labour)
Otaki James Joseph Maher 1,142 Phil Holloway (Labour)
Pahiatua Keith Holyoake 4,598 O Jones (Labour)
Palmerston North Blair Tennent 200 Joe Hodgens (Labour)
Parnell Duncan Rae 1,587 Hugh Watt[10] (Labour)
Patea William Sheat 2,467 F W Finer (Labour)
Petone Michael Moohan 2,135 N P Croft (National)
Piako William Goosman 6,364 G P Kenah (Labour)
Ponsonby Ritchie Macdonald 1,504 Peter Dempsey[11] (National)
Raglan Hallyburton Johnstone 1,766 J H Wilson (Labour)
Rangitikei Edward Gordon 3,677 F A Dalzell (Labour)
Remuera Ronald Algie 5,346 Bob Tizard (Labour)
Riccarton Angus McLagan 2,265 Eric Philip Wills[12] (National)
Rodney Clifton Webb 4,893 A L Leaming (Labour)
Roskill John Rae 440 P A Curran (Labour)
St Albans Jack Watts 1,415 J B Mora (Labour)
St Kilda Fred Jones Jim Barnes 336 Fred Jones (Labour)
Selwyn John McAlpine 1,836 J G Barclay (Labour)
Sydenham Mabel Howard 4,403 A H Stott (National)
Tamaki Eric Halstead 1,461 Tom Skinner (Labour)
Tauranga Frederick Doidge George Walsh 5,400 H J Pickett (Labour)
Timaru Clyde Carr 564 W L Richards (National)
Waikato Geoffrey Sim 6,369 W H Bayly (Labour)
Waimarino Paddy Kearins 67 A M MacPherson (National)
Waimate David Kidd 2,232 A G Braddick (Labour)
Wairarapa Bertie Cooksley 2,032 G A Hansen (Labour)
Waitakere Rex Mason 641 R Tapper (National)
Waitomo Walter Broadfoot 5,286 J Dwyer (Labour)
Wallace Tom Macdonald 5,060 J W Cleary (Labour)
Wanganui Joseph Cotterill 226 E V O'Keefe (National)
Wellington Central Charles Chapman 277 Mrs B S Burns (National)
Westland James Kent 2,325 Mrs I C Brown (National)
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Tiaki Omana 3,706 Turi Carroll (National)
Northern Maori Tapihana Paikea 2,132 James Henare[13] (National)
Southern Maori Eruera Tirikatene 659 William Beaton (National)
Western Maori Iriaka Matiu Ratana 7,352 Hoeroa Marumaru (National)


  1. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 58.
  2. ^ Wilson 1985, pp. 82–83.
  3. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 138.
  4. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 286.
  5. ^ a b Wilson 1985, pp. 287–288.
  6. ^ a b Wilson 1985, p. 290.
  7. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 288.
  8. ^ "The New Zealand Official Year-Book, 1951–52". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 19 November 2012. 
  9. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 378.
  10. ^ Norton 1988, p. 314.
  11. ^ Gustafson 1986, pp. 360f.
  12. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 390.
  13. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 247.


  • 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 ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.