New Zealand general election, 1954

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New Zealand general election, 1954
New Zealand
1951 ←
13 November 1954 (1954-11-13) → 1957

All 80 seats in the Parliament of New Zealand
41 seats were needed for a majority
Turnout 1,096,877 (91.4%)
  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 50 seats, 54.0% 30 seats, 45.8%
Seats won 45 35
Seat change Decrease 5 Increase 5
Popular vote 485,630 484,028
Percentage 44.3% 44.1%
Swing Decrease 9.7% Decrease1.7%

Prime Minister before election

Sidney Holland

Elected Prime Minister

Sidney Holland

The 1954 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the Parliament of New Zealand's 31st term. It saw the governing National Party remain in office, but with a slightly reduced majority. It also saw the debut of the new Social Credit Party, which performed well but won no seats.


The National Party had formed its first administration after the 1949 elections. It had then been re-elected by a large margin amid the industrial disputes of the 1951 election. The Prime Minister, Sidney Holland, was popular in many sectors of society for his strong line against striking dockworkers and coalminers, while Labour's leader, Walter Nash, had been criticised for his failure to take a firm stand on the issue. Labour was troubled by internal disputes, with Nash subjected to an unsuccessful leadership challenge only a few months before the election. For the election, the National government adopted a "steady as she goes" approach, saying that the country was in good hands and did not need any major policy realignments.

The election[edit]

The date for the main 1954 elections was 13 November. 1,209,670 people were registered to vote, and turnout was 91.4%. The number of seats being contested was 80, a number which had been fixed since 1902.

The following new (or reconstituted) electorates were introduced in 1954: Heretaunga, Manukau, Rotorua, Stratford, Waipa and Waitemata.[1]


The 1954 election saw the governing National Party re-elected with a ten-seat margin, a drop from the twenty-seat margin it previously held. National won forty-five seats to the Labour Party's thirty-five. The popular vote was much closer, however, with the two parties separated by only 0.2%. No seats were won by minor party candidates or by independents, but the new Social Credit Party managed to win 11.2% of the vote.

Party Leader Candidates Votes Percentage Seats won change
National Sidney Holland 79 485,630 44.3% 45 -5
Labour Walter Nash 80 484,028 44.1% 35 +5
Social Credit Wilfrid Owen 79 122,573 11.2% 0 new party
Communist 1,134 0.1% 0
Others (including independents) 17 3,474 0.4 0 0
National re-elected 255 1,096,877 100% 80

The table below shows the results of the 1954 general election:


 National    Labour    Independent    Social Credit  

Electorate results for the New Zealand general election, 1954[2]
Electorate Incumbent Winner Majority Runner up
General electorates
Ashburton Richard Gerard 2,292 G. Glassey
Auckland Central Bill Anderton
Avon John Mathison
Awarua George Herron
Bay of Plenty Bill Sullivan
Buller Clarence Skinner
Central Otago William Bodkin John George
Christchurch Central Robert Macfarlane
Clutha James Roy
Dunedin Central Philip Connolly
Dunedin North Ethel McMillan 2,791 Mrs H. Black[3]
Eden Wilfred Fortune Duncan Rae 8 J. W. Stewart[4]
Egmont Ernest Corbett 2,977 R. Evans[5]
Fendalton Sidney Holland 3,004 R H McDonald
Franklin Jack Massey
Gisborne Harry Dudfield Reginald Keeling
Grey Lynn Fred Hackett
Hamilton Hilda Ross
Hastings Sydney Jones Edwin Keating
Hauraki Andrew Sutherland Arthur Kinsella 2,659 B. W. Dynes
Hawkes Bay Cyril Harker
Heretaunga (new electorate) Phil Holloway 5,058 Allan McCready
Hobson Sidney Smith 2,584 C. W. Elvidge
Hurunui William Gillespie 2,395 Norman Kirk
Hutt Walter Nash 3,681 C G Costello
Invercargill Ralph Hanan
Island Bay Robert McKeen Arnold Nordmeyer
Karori Charles Bowden Jack Marshall 1,811 J. A. Bateman[6]
Lyttelton Harry Lake
Manawatu Matthew Oram
Manukau (new electorate) Leon Götz
Marlborough Tom Shand
Marsden Alfred Murdoch Donald McKay
Miramar Bob Semple Bill Fox
Mornington Walter Hudson
Mt Albert Warren Freer 3,226 Robert Muldoon
Napier Peter Tait James Edwards 720 Peter Tait
Nelson Edgar Neale
New Plymouth Ernest Aderman
North Shore Dean Eyre 1,395 Arthur Faulkner
Oamaru Thomas Hayman
Onehunga Hugh Watt 4,389 Alfred E. Allen
Onslow Henry May 519 Wilfred Fortune
Otahuhu Leon Götz James Deas
Otaki James Maher 963 E. H. Langford
Pahiatua Keith Holyoake
Palmerston North Blair Tennent Philip Skoglund 346 Blair Tennant
Patea William Sheat Roy Jack 662 Benjamin R. Winchcombe
Petone Michael Moohan 4,211 F W Soward
Ponsonby Ritchie Macdonald
Raglan Hallyburton Johnstone
Rangitikei Edward Gordon Norman Shelton
Remuera Ronald Algie 3,544 Bob Tizard
Riccarton Angus McLagan
Rodney Clifton Webb Jack Scott
Roskill John Rae
Rotorua (new electorate) Ray Boord
St Albans Jack Watts
St Kilda Jim Barnes
Selwyn John McAlpine
Stratford (new electorate) Thomas Murray
Sydenham Mabel Howard
Tamaki Eric Halstead
Tauranga George Walsh
Timaru Clyde Carr
Waikato Geoffrey Sim
Waimate (vacant)[nb 1] Alfred Davey 1,438 Neville Pickering
Waipa (new electorate) William Goosman
Wairarapa Bertie Cooksley 1,691 Bob Wilkie[7]
Waitakere Rex Mason 3,424 J McAllister
Waitemata (new electorate) Norman King
Waitomo Walter Broadfoot David Seath
Wallace Tom Macdonald
Wellington Central Charles Chapman Frank Kitts
Westland James Kent 3,605 M. Wallace
Whanganui Joseph Cotterill
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Tiaki Omana 3,094 K. T. Anaru
Northern Maori Tapihana Paikea 4,435 H. T. Waetford
Southern Maori Eruera Tirikatene 2,864 Turi Carroll
Western Maori Iriaka Matiu Ratana 6,637 William Rakeipoho Bennett[8]
Table footnotes
  1. ^ David Campbell Kidd, the National Party MP for Waimate, died less than two months before the election, leaving his seat vacant.[9]


  1. ^ Norton 1988, pp. 7–9.
  2. ^ Norton 1988, pp. ?.
  3. ^ Norton 1988, p. 214.
  4. ^ Norton 1988, p. 220.
  5. ^ Norton 1988, p. 222.
  6. ^ Norton 1988, p. 260.
  7. ^ Espiner, Guyon (3 March 2012). "Profile: Labour deputy Grant Robertson". New Zealand Listener. Retrieved 26 September 2014. 
  8. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 355.
  9. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 210.


  • 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.