New Zealand general election, 1972

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New Zealand general election, 1972
New Zealand
1969 ←
25 November 1972 (1972-11-25) → 1975

All 87 seats in the House of Representatives of New Zealand
44 seats were needed for a majority
Turnout 1,340,168 (88.94%)
  First party Second party
  Norman Kirk.jpg Jack Marshall Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F011973-0020 cropped.jpg
Leader Norman Kirk Jack Marshall
Party Labour National
Leader since 1965 1972
Leader's seat Sydenham Karori
Last election 39 seats, 44.2% 45 seats, 45.2%
Seats won 55 32
Seat change Increase 16 Decrease 13
Popular vote 677,669 581,422
Percentage 48.4% 41.5%
Swing Increase 4.2% Decrease 3.7%

Prime Minister before election

Jack Marshall

Elected Prime Minister

Norman Kirk

The New Zealand general election of 1972 was held to elect MPs to the 37th session of the Parliament of New Zealand. The Labour Party, led by Norman Kirk, defeated the governing National Party.


The National Party had been in office since the 1960 elections, when it had defeated the ruling Labour Party, led by Walter Nash. The Second Labour Government was the shortest-lasting of all New Zealand governments to that day; in contrast, the Second National Government, led for the majority of its tenure by Keith Holyoake, would be re-elected three times. National's policies were focused around stability and a "steady as she goes" approach, but Holyoake's Government was increasingly perceived as tired and worn-out. In February 1972, Holyoake stood aside and was replaced by his deputy, Jack Marshall, who took steps to reinvigorate the party.

Meanwhile, Norman Kirk had been at the helm of Labour since 1965. In this time, he had been modernising and updating the Labour Party, but narrowly lost the 1969 election. Kirk slimmed and dressed to improve his image, and visited several overseas Labour parties to broaden his knowledge. He activated a "spokesman" or shadow cabinet system to spread the responsibility, though it was difficult to avoid one composed largely of Auckland and Christchurch members. Despite these improvements, commentators speculated whether National would pull off another cliff-hanger victory.

Economic recession and voter fatigue hurt National at the polls. Labour's solgan was 'Time For A Change-Vote Labour', which expertly captured the national mood.

The election[edit]

The date for the 1972 elections was 25 November, a Saturday. 1,583,256 people were registered to vote, and there was a turnout of 89.1%. This turnout was slightly higher than the previous election, and considerably higher than the following one. The number of seats being contested was 87, the highest number since the late 19th century.


The 1972 election saw the Labour Party defeat the governing National Party, winning 55 seats to National's 32. Labour was therefore able to form its first government since 1960, with Norman Kirk becoming Prime Minister. The second National government thus gave way to the third Labour government. No minor parties managed to gain seats, and no independents were elected. There were 1,583,256 electors on the roll, with 1,401,152 (88.50%) voting.

Party Candidates Total votes Percentage Seats won Change
Labour 87 677,669 48.37 55 +16
National 87 581,422 41.50 32 -13
Social Credit 87 93,231 6.65 - ±0
Values 42 27,467 1.96 - ±0
New Democratic Party 86 8,783 0.63 - ±0
Liberal Reform Party 24 4,077 0.29 - ±0
Independent 42 (exc. Dallas) 4,454 0.32 - ±0
Dr Barry Dallas1 1 4,049 0.29 - ±0
Total 456 1,401,152 87 +3

1 Independent runner-up, West Coast

Votes summary[edit]

Popular Vote
Social Credit
New Democratic
Liberal Reform
Parliament seats

The table below shows the results of the 1972 general election:


 National    Labour    Social Credit    Independent  

Electorate results for the New Zealand general election, 1972
Electorate Incumbent Winner Majority Runner up
General electorates
Auckland Central Norman Douglas 2,009 W C Edwards
Avon John Mathison Mary Batchelor 6,055 G V Thomas
Awarua Hugh Templeton Aubrey Begg 723 Hugh Templeton
Bay of Plenty Percy Allen
Birkenhead Norman King 1,533 Don McKinnon
Christchurch Central Bruce Barclay 5,103 Mrs B J Beaven
Clutha Peter Gordon 2,131 L. J. McKay[1]
Coromandel (new electorate) Leo Schultz
Dunedin Central Brian MacDonell 3,771 F. A. O'Neill[2]
Dunedin North Ethel McMillan 4,020 J. H. Wallis[3]
East Coast Bays (new electorate) Frank Gill
Eden John Rae Mike Moore Mary Kidd[4]
Egmont Venn Young
Franklin Alfred E. Allen Bill Birch 4,188 Geoff Braybrooke
Gisborne Esme Tombleson Trevor Davey 488 Esme Tombleson[5]
Grey Lynn Eddie Isbey 5,487 J. Meder
Hamilton East (new electorate) Rufus Rogers 397 R M Jansen
Hamilton West Leslie Munro Dorothy Jelicich 544 G. S. D. Heather
Hastings Duncan MacIntyre Richard Mayson 1,148 Duncan MacIntyre
Hawkes Bay Richard Harrison 600 D. J. Butcher[6]
Henderson Martyn Finlay 4,221 R. C. MacFarlane[7]
Heretaunga Ron Bailey 2,964 J W Schnellenberg
Hobson Logan Sloane 1,148 B. H. E. Manning
Hutt Trevor Young
Invercargill John Chewings J. B. Munro
Island Bay Gerald O'Brien
Kapiti (new electorate) Frank O'Flynn
Karori Jack Marshall
King Country (new electorate) Jim Bolger
Lyttelton Tom McGuigan
Manawatu Les Gandar Allan McCready
Mangere Colin Moyle
Manukau Roger Douglas
Manurewa Phil Amos Patrick Norman Baker[8]
Marlborough Ian Brooks
Miramar Bill Young
Mt Albert Warren Freer
Napier Gordon Christie
Nelson Stanley Whitehead
New Lynn Jonathan Hunt
New Plymouth Ron Barclay
North Shore George Gair
Oamaru Allan Dick Bill Laney
Onehunga Hugh Watt
Otago Central Murray Rose Ian Quigley 1,483 Murray Rose
Otahuhu (new electorate) Bob Tizard
Pahiatua Keith Holyoake
Pakuranga Bob Tizard Gavin Downie 1,802 J. B. Irwin
Palmerston North Joe Walding 1,766 P W Mitchell
Papanui Bert Walker
Petone Fraser Colman
Piako Jack Luxton
Porirua Gerard Wall
Raglan Douglas Carter
Rakaia (new electorate) Colin McLachlan
Rangiora Herbert Pickering Kerry Burke
Rangitikei Norman Shelton Roy Jack
Remuera Allan Highet
Riccarton Eric Holland
Rodney Peter Wilkinson
Roskill Arthur Faulkner John Maurice Priestley[9]
Rotorua Harry Lapwood
Ruahine (new electorate) Les Gandar
St Albans Roger Drayton
St Kilda William Fraser
South Canterbury Rob Talbot 2,035 N. D. Braithwaite
Stratford David Thomson
Sydenham Norman Kirk
Tamaki Robert Muldoon
Tasman (new electorate) Bill Rowling
Taupo Rona Stevenson Jack Ridley 783 J. F. Higgins
Tauranga George Walsh Keith Allen 2,215 H. J. Uttinger[10]
Timaru Basil Arthur
Wairarapa Jack Williams 1,086 Ben Couch
Waitakere Martyn Finlay
Waitemata Frank Gill Michael Bassett 2,544 Ray La Varis
Wallace Brian Talboys
Wanganui William Tolhurst Russell Marshall
Wellington Central Dan Riddiford Ken Comber 27 D. A. Shand [nb 1]
West Coast (new electorate) Paddy Blanchfield 4,242 Barry Dallas
Western Hutt Henry May Julian Watts[11]
Whangarei (new electorate) Murray Smith 1,180 L. G. Carr
Wigram Mick Connelly
Waikato Lance Adams-Schneider
Wigram Mick Connelly 5,255 D. G. Cox
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Paraone Reweti 6,190 K. M. Dewes
Northern Maori Matiu Rata 5,260 Graham Latimer
Southern Maori Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan 8,251 K. Parahi
Western Maori Koro Wētere 8,686 R. Te A. H. Rawiri

Table footnotes:

  1. ^ Shand was first on election night, but lost when special votes were included


  1. ^ Norton 1988, p. 210.
  2. ^ Norton 1988, p. 213.
  3. ^ Norton 1988, p. 215.
  4. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 371.
  5. ^ Norton 1988, p. 229.
  6. ^ Norton 1988, p. 241.
  7. ^ Norton 1988, p. 243.
  8. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 354.
  9. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 382.
  10. ^ Norton 1988, p. 360.
  11. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 388.


  • Gustafson, Barry (1986). The First 50 Years : A History of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Reed Methuen. ISBN 0-474-00177-6. 
  • Templeton, Ian; Eunson, Keith (1972). In the Balance: Election '72. Dunedin: John McIndoe. 
  • Edwards, Brian, ed. (1973). Right Out: Labour Victory ’72. Reed. ISBN 0-589-00801-3. 
  • 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.