New Zealand general election, 1990

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New Zealand general election, 1990
New Zealand
1987 ←
27 October 1990
→ 1993

All 97 seats in the House of Representatives of New Zealand
49 seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party
  Jim Bolger at press conference cropped.jpg Mike Moore.jpg
Leader Jim Bolger Mike Moore
Party National Labour
Leader since 1986 1990
Leader's seat King Country Christchurch North
Last election 40 seats, 44.02% 57 seats, 47.96%
Seats won 67 29
Seat change Increase 27 Decrease 28
Popular vote 872,358 640,915
Percentage 47.82% 35.14%
Swing Increase 3.80% Decrease 12.82%

Prime Minister before election

Mike Moore

Elected Prime Minister

Jim Bolger

The 1990 New Zealand general election was held on 27 October to determine the composition of the 43rd New Zealand parliament. The governing Labour Party was defeated, ending its controversial two terms in office. The National Party, led by Jim Bolger, won a landslide victory and formed the new government.


The Labour Party had taken office after defeating the National Party under Robert Muldoon in the 1984 election. David Lange became Prime Minister and Roger Douglas became Minister of Finance. The economic program outlined by Douglas was deeply unpopular with Labour's traditional supporters, however — deregulation, privatisation, and free trade, all opposed by the party's more left-wing members, were a key part of the so-called "Rogernomics" platform. This internal dissent was off-set somewhat by new social legislation and a strong stance against nuclear weapons.

Labour was re-elected in the 1987 election with its parliamentary majority untouched, but the internal disputes continued. Eventually Lange forced Douglas to resign in December 1988, but the crisis had weakened Lange's position such that he resigned eight months later. He was replaced as Prime Minister by Geoffrey Palmer, but Palmer failed to revive Labour's falling popularity. Several months before the election, Palmer was replaced by Mike Moore. The National Party was performing strongly — its leader, Jim Bolger, spoke repeatedly of "the Decent Society", saying that the reforms were doing significant damage to the social fabric of the country. The government was also being challenged by the NewLabour Party, founded by renegade MP Jim Anderton.

The election[edit]

The date for the 1990 election was 27 October. 2,202,157 people were registered to vote, and 85.2% of these people turned out. The number of seats being contested was 97 — this was the same as in the previous election, which had the largest number of seats for any Parliament until that point.

Summary of results[edit]

The 1990 election eventually saw a victory for the National Party, then in opposition. National won nearly half (48%) of the vote and 67 (69%) of the seats, becoming the fourth National government. This was the highest number of seats the party had ever won, either in absolute terms or as a percentage. Four new (and young) National MPs: (Bill English, Tony Ryall, Roger Sowry and Nick Smith) were called the "brat pack" by Sir Robert Muldoon (himself one of the "Young Turks" of 1960).[1]

The new Green Party gained the third-highest number of votes, but won no seats. The NewLabour Party won a single seat, due to Jim Anderton retaining the Sydenham seat he originally won as a Labour candidate.

The governing Labour Party, by contrast, suffered its worst-ever electoral defeat since it first won power in the 1935 election, winning only 29 (30%) of the seats and 35% of the vote (its lowest percentage since 1931), and losing 27 seats. Initially it appeared that twelve ministers and the Speaker had lost their seats, but Fran Wilde scraped in on special votes. And many of Labour's talented "class of 84" were sent away, though four of them: Annette King, Jim Sutton, Trevor Mallard and Judy Keall returned in 1993.[2]

Detailed results[edit]

Party totals[edit]

Election results[3]
Party Candidates Total votes Percentage Seats won
National 97 872,358 47.82 67
Labour 97 640,915 35.14 29
Greens 71 124,915 6.85 -
NewLabour 93 94,171 5.16 1
Democrats 91 30,455 1.67 -
Social Credit 68 17,897 0.98 -
Mana Motuhake 4 10,869 0.60 -
McGillicuddy Serious 59 10,058 0.55 -
Christian Heritage 18 9,591 0.53 -
Minor parties and Independents 76 12,863 0.71 -
Total 674 1,824,092 97

Electorate results[edit]


The tables below shows the results of the 1990 general election:


 National    Labour    Green    NewLabour    Mana Motuhake  

Electorate results for the New Zealand general election, 1990
Electorate Incumbent Winner Majority Runner up
General electorates
Albany Don McKinnon J Allen (Labour)
Ashburton Jenny Shipley Basil Moskovis (Labour)
Auckland Central Richard Prebble K Hill (National)
Avon Larry Sutherland W Rush (National)
Awarua Jeff Grant H A Russell (Labour)
Bay of Islands John Carter B R Dent (Labour)
Birkenhead Jenny Kirk Ian Revell Jenny Kirk (Labour)
Christchurch Central Geoffrey Palmer Lianne Dalziel R Gluer (National)
Christchurch North Mike Moore P Yarrell (National)
Clevedon Warren Kyd A Stubbs-Batten (Labour)
Clutha Robin Gray J Buchanan (Labour)
Coromandel Graeme Lee Margaret Hawkeswood (Labour)
Dunedin North Stan Rodger Pete Hodgson G Donoghue (National)
Dunedin West Geoffrey Palmer Ian McMeeking (National)
East Cape Anne Collins Tony Ryall Anne Collins (Labour)
East Coast Bays Murray McCully Gary Knapp (N/A)
Eastern Hutt Trevor Young Paul Swain R F Thomas (National)
Eden Richard Northey Christine Fletcher Richard Northey (Labour)
Fendalton Philip Burdon T Day (Labour)
Gisborne Allan Wallbank Wayne Kimber Allan Wallbank (Labour)
Glenfield Judy Keall Peter Hilt Judy Keall (Labour)
Hamilton East Bill Dillon Tony Steel Bill Dillon (Labour)
Hamilton West Trevor Mallard Grant Thomas Trevor Mallard (Labour)
Hastings David Butcher Jeff Whitaker David Butcher (Labour)
Hawkes Bay Bill Sutton Michael Laws Bill Sutton (Labour)
Heretaunga Bill Jeffries Peter McCardle Bill Jeffries (Labour)
Hobson Ross Meurant H Henry (Labour)
Horowhenua Annette King Hamish Hancock Annette King (Labour)
Invercargill Rob Munro B G Rait (Labour)
Island Bay Elizabeth Tennet A Nolan (National)
Kaimai Robert Anderson G L Dickson (Labour)
Kaipara Lockwood Smith W K Sellwood (Labour)
Kapiti Margaret Shields Roger Sowry Margaret Shields (Labour)
King Country Jim Bolger C Gordon (Labour)
Lyttelton Peter Simpson Gail McIntosh Peter Simpson (Labour)
Manawatu David Robinson Hamish MacIntyre David Robinson (Labour)
Mangere David Lange B Archer (National)
Manurewa Roger Douglas George Hawkins P Baker (National)
Maramarua Bill Birch Charles Chauvel (Labour)
Marlborough Doug Kidd B Hutchinson (Labour)
Matamata John Luxton W J Pepperell (Labour)
Miramar Peter Neilson Graham Reeves Peter Neilson (Labour)
Mt Albert Helen Clark L Bellshaw (National)
Napier Geoff Braybrooke C M Pritchard (National)
Nelson Philip Woollaston John Blincoe L Baigent (National)
New Lynn Jonathan Hunt M A Bishop (National)
New Plymouth Harry Duynhoven John Armstrong Harry Duynhoven (Labour)
North Shore George Gair Bruce Cliffe G Ransom (Labour)
Ohariu Peter Dunne G Mathew (National)
Onehunga Fred Gerbic Grahame Thorne Fred Gerbic (Labour)
Otago Warren Cooper T Cooke (Labour)
Otara Colin Moyle Trevor Rogers Phillip Field (Labour)
Pahiatua John Falloon M Martindale (Labour)
Pakuranga Maurice Williamson F C Grant (Labour)
Palmerston North Trevor de Cleene Steve Maharey P L Sherriff (National)
Panmure Bob Tizard Judith Tizard G Bartlett (National)
Papakura Merv Wellington John Robertson James Stubbs (Labour)
Papatoetoe Ross Robertson A W Brewster (National)
Pencarrow Sonja Davies Ray Wallace (National)
Porirua Graham Kelly P Faulkner (National)
Raglan Simon Upton O Scaletti-Longley (Labour)
Rangiora Jim Gerard J A McLachlan (Labour)
Rangitikei Denis Marshall P Barton (Labour)
Remuera Doug Graham C Harding (Labour)
Roskill Phil Goff Gilbert Myles Phil Goff (Labour)
Rotorua Paul East B Raitt (Labour)
St Albans David Caygill D Dumergue
St Kilda Michael Cullen B Alexander
Selwyn Ruth Richardson V Elley
Sydenham Jim Anderton L S Constable (Labour)
Tamaki Robert Muldoon M Martindale (Labour)
Taranaki Roger Maxwell S Dalziel (Labour)
Tarawera Ian McLean Max Bradford M R Moore (Labour)
Tasman Ken Shirley Nick Smith Ken Shirley (Labour)
Tauranga Winston Peters W K Delaney (Labour)
Te Atatu Michael Bassett Brian Neeson Dan McCaffrey (Labour)
Timaru Maurice McTigue G J Clarke (Labour)
Titirangi Ralph Maxwell Marie Hasler Ralph Maxwell (Labour)
Tongariro Noel Scott Ian Peters Noel Scott (Labour)
Waikaremoana Roger McClay D Davies (Labour)
Waikato Rob Storey G Middleton (Labour)
Waipa Katherine O'Regan M Apiata-Wade (Labour)
Wairarapa Wyatt Creech P Morgan (Labour)
Waitaki Jim Sutton Alec Neill Jim Sutton (Labour)
Waitotara Venn Young Peter Gresham D T O'Sullivan (Labour)
Wallace Derek Angus Bill English David Soper (Labour)
Wanganui Russell Marshall Cam Campion Jill Pettis (Labour)
Wellington Central Fran Wilde Pauline Gardiner[nb 1]
West Auckland Jack Elder L Wicks (National)
West Coast Kerry Burke Margaret Moir Kerry Burke (Labour)
Western Hutt John Terris Joy Quigley John Terris (Labour)
Whangarei John Banks E E Tait (Labour)
Yaldhurst Margaret Austin J Connelly (National)
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Peter Tapsell W K Kaa (Mana Motuhake)
Northern Maori Bruce Gregory Matiu Rata (Mana Motuhake)
Southern Maori Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan Tikirau Stevens (Mana Motuhake)
Western Maori Koro Wētere Eva Rickard (Mana Motuhake)

Table footnotes:

  1. ^ Gardiner was first on election night for Wellington Central, but lost when special votes were included [2]

Summary of seat changes[edit]

  • Electoral redistributions:
    • There was no redistribution of electoral boundaries between the 1987 and 1990 elections.
  • Seats captured:
    • By National: Birkenhead, East Cape, Eden, Gisborne, Glenfield, Hamilton East, Hamilton West, Hastings, Hawkes Bay, Heretaunga, Horowhenua, Kapiti, Lyttelton, Manawatu, Miramar, New Plymouth, Onehunga, Otara, Roskill, Tasman, Te Atatu, Titirangi, Tongariro, Waitaki, Wanganui, West Coast and Western Hutt (27 seats) were captured from Labour.
  • Seats transferred from departing MPs to new MPs:
    • The seats of North Shore, Papakura, Tarawera, Waitotara and Wallace, all held by departing National MPs, were won by new National candidates.
    • The seats of Christchurch Central, Dunedin North, Eastern Hutt, Manurewa, Nelson, Palmerston North and Panmure, all held by departing Labour MPs, were won by new Labour candidates.


  1. ^ *"The Brat Pack loses a member". Stuff/Fairfax. 25 May 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Bassett 2008, p. 538.
  3. ^ "New Zealand Elections 1972-1993". New Zealand Election Study. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  • Bassett, Michael (2008). Working with David: Inside the Lange Cabinet. Auckland: Hodder Moa. ISBN 978-1-86971-094-1. 
  • McLeay (ed), E. M. (1991). The 1990 General Election, Perspectives on Political Change in New Zealand: Occasional Publications No 3, Department of Political Science. Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington. ISBN 0-475-11202-4. 
  • Vowles, Jack & Aimer, Peter (1993). Voters’ Vengeance: The 1990 Election in New Zealand and the fate of the Fourth Labour Government. Auckland: University Press. ISBN 1-86940-078-X.