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.

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 (N/A)
Avon John Mathison Mary Batchelor (National)
Awarua Hugh Templeton Aubrey Begg (N/A)
Bay of Plenty Percy Allen (N/A)
Birkenhead Norman King 1,533 Don McKinnon (National)
Christchurch Central Bruce Barclay (N/A)
Clutha Peter Gordon (N/A)
Coromandel (new electorate) Leo Schultz
Dunedin Central Brian MacDonell (N/A)
Dunedin North Ethel McMillan (N/A)
East Coast Bays (new electorate) Frank Gill
Eden John Rae Mike Moore (N/A)
Egmont Venn Young (N/A)
Franklin Alfred E. Allen Bill Birch 4,188 Geoff Braybrooke (Labour)
Gisborne Esme Tombleson Trevor Davey (N/A)
Grey Lynn Eddie Isbey 5,487 J Meder (National)
Hamilton East (new electorate) Rufus Rogers
Hamilton West Leslie Munro Dorothy Jelicich 544 G S D Heather (National)
Hastings Duncan MacIntyre Richard Mayson (N/A)
Hawkes Bay Richard Harrison (N/A)
Henderson Martyn Finlay (N/A)
Heretaunga Ron Bailey (N/A)
Hobson Logan Sloane 1,148 B H E Manning (Social Credit)
Hutt Trevor Young (N/A)
Invercargill John Chewings J. B. Munro (N/A)
Island Bay Gerald O'Brien (N/A)
Kapiti (new electorate) Frank O'Flynn
Karori Jack Marshall (N/A)
King Country (new electorate) Jim Bolger
Lyttelton Tom McGuigan (N/A)
Manawatu Les Gandar Allan McCready (N/A)
Mangere Colin Moyle (N/A)
Manukau Roger Douglas (N/A)
Manurewa Phil Amos (N/A)
Marlborough Ian Brooks (N/A)
Miramar Bill Young (N/A)
Mt Albert Warren Freer (N/A)
Napier Gordon Christie (N/A)
Nelson Stanley Whitehead (N/A)
New Lynn Jonathan Hunt (N/A)
New Plymouth Ron Barclay (N/A)
North Shore George Gair (N/A)
Oamaru Allan Dick Bill Laney (N/A)
Onehunga Hugh Watt (N/A)
Otago Central John Rose Ian Quigley 1,483 John Rose (National)
Otahuhu (new electorate) Bob Tizard
Pahiatua Keith Holyoake (N/A)
Pakuranga Bob Tizard Gavin Downie 1,802 J B Irwin (Labour)
Palmerston North Joe Walding (N/A)
Papanui Bert Walker (N/A)
Petone Fraser Colman (N/A)
Piako Jack Luxton (N/A)
Porirua Gerard Wall (N/A)
Raglan Douglas Carter (N/A)
Rakaia (new electorate) Colin McLachlan
Rangiora Herbert Pickering Kerry Burke (N/A)
Rangitikei Norman Shelton Roy Jack (N/A)
Remuera Allan Highet (N/A)
Riccarton Eric Holland (N/A)
Rodney Peter Wilkinson (N/A)
Roskill Arthur Faulkner (N/A)
Rotorua Harry Lapwood (N/A)
Ruahine (new electorate) Les Gandar
St Albans Roger Drayton (N/A)
St Kilda William Fraser (N/A)
South Canterbury Rob Talbot 2,035 N D Braithwaite (Labour)
Stratford David Thomson (N/A)
Sydenham Norman Kirk (N/A)
Tamaki Rob Muldoon (N/A)
Tasman (new electorate) Bill Rowling
Taupo Rona Stevenson Jack Ridley 783 J F Higgins (National)
Tauranga George Walsh Keith Allen (N/A)
Timaru Basil Arthur (N/A)
Wairarapa Jack Williams 1086 Ben Couch (National)
Waitakere Martyn Finlay (N/A)
Waitemata Frank Gill Michael Bassett 2,544 Ray La Varis (National)
Wallace Brian Talboys (N/A)
Wanganui William Tolhurst Russell Marshall (N/A)
Wellington Central Dan Riddiford Ken Comber 27 D A Shand [nb 1] (Labour)
West Coast (new electorate) Paddy Blanchfield 4,242 Barry Dallas
Western Hutt Henry May (N/A)
Whangarei (new electorate) Murray Smith 1,180 L G Carr
Wigram Mick Connelly (N/A)
Waikato Lance Adams-Schneider (N/A)
Wigram Mick Connelly 5,255 D G Cox (National)
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Paraone Reweti 6,190 K M Dewes (National)
Northern Maori Matiu Rata 5,260 Graham Latimer (National)
Southern Maori Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan 8,251 K Parahi (National)
Western Maori Koro Wētere 8,686 R Te A H Rawiri (National)

Table footnotes:

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


  • 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.