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Waka taua (war canoes) at the Bay of Islands, 1827-8.

New Zealanders speak colloquially of party-hopping as waka-jumping when elected politicians switch political parties between elections (taking their parliamentary seat with them and potentially upsetting electoral proportionality in the Parliament of New Zealand).[1]

The advent of MMP in New Zealand parliamentary politics in the 1990s — culminating in the use of the new electoral system from 1996 onwards — led to a series of defections and re-alignments as the old monolithic two-party system broke up and many politicians struggled to define and project their images and beliefs in new parties and groupings. The new political climate tended to favour the foundation of political parties (whereas in former times dissidents had often simply became independent MPs). Voters tended to punish many waka-jumpers in this period, but some survived and flourished, often to the disgust of their former party colleagues. Due to the frequency of waka-jumping in national politics, New Zealand enacted legislation (the Electoral Integrity Act of 2001, expired at the 2005 election) which required politicians elected from a party list to resign from Parliament if they left their party's parliamentary caucus. As the actions of the Progressive Party in 2002 showed, parties can still find ways around such law.[citation needed]


The Māori word waka applies often to a large Māori canoe (or any vehicle). The term is a variant on the phrase "jumping ship".

List of waka-jumpers[edit]


  1. ^ "Maori Party vote vital to save 'waka-jumping act' - National - NZ Herald News". Nzherald.co.nz. 2005-10-23. Retrieved 2011-12-05.