1949 New Zealand general election

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← 1946 29 (Māori) & 30 November (general) 1949 1951 →

All 80 seats in the New Zealand Parliament
41 seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party
  Sidney George Holland (1951).jpg Peter Fraser.jpg
Leader Sidney Holland Peter Fraser
Party National Labour
Leader since 26 November 1940 4 April 1940
Leader's seat Fendalton Brooklyn
Last election 38 seats, 48.4% 42 seats, 51.3%
Seats won 46 34
Seat change Increase 8 Decrease 8
Popular vote 556,805 506,073
Percentage 51.9% 47.2%
Swing Increase 3.5% Decrease 4.1%

Prime Minister before election

Peter Fraser

Elected Prime Minister

Sidney Holland

The 1949 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the New Zealand Parliament's 29th term. It saw the governing Labour Party defeated by the opposition National Party. This marked the end of the First Labour government and the beginning of the First National government.


The Labour Party had formed its first ministry after winning the 1935 election, and had remained in power (with gradually decreasing majorities) since then. The National Party, formed by a merger of the parties which Labour had originally ousted, gradually increased its power in Parliament; the ineffectual Adam Hamilton was replaced by Sidney Holland, and internal disputes were gradually resolved. The Prime Minister, Peter Fraser, was increasingly weary. Ongoing shortages after World War II also eroded public support for the government. The National Party's decision not to repeal Labour's social welfare policies also increased its appeal.

The election[edit]

The date for the main elections was a Wednesday 30 November. Elections to the four Māori electorates were held the day before—the 1949 elections were the last in which Māori voted on a different day. 1,113,852 people were registered to vote, although rolls for the Māori seats were "woefully inadequate." Voter turnout for the elections is disputed, given the problems with the Māori roll—some sources place it at 93.5 percent, while others estimate 92.9 percent. Regardless, the turnout was relatively high for the time. The number of seats being contested was 80, a number which had been fixed since 1902.

Election results[edit]

Party standings[edit]

The 1949 election saw the governing Labour Party defeated by a twelve-seat margin. It has previously held a four-seat majority. Labour won a total of 34 seats, as opposed to National's 46. The popular vote was considerably closer—Labour won 47.2 percent to National's 51.9 percent. No seats were won by minor party candidates or by independents.

John A. Lee stood for Grey Lynn as the sole Democratic Labour candidate and got 2,627 votes, coming third.

Election results
Party Candidates Total votes Percentage Seats won change
National 80 556,805 51.88 46 +8
Labour 80 506,073 47.16 34 −8
Communist 16 3,499 0.33 0 ±0
Democratic Labour 1 2,627 0.24 0 ±0
Others 19 4,150 0.39 0 ±0
Total 196 1,073,154 80

Votes summary[edit]

Popular Vote
Parliament seats

Initial MPs[edit]

The table below shows the results of the 1949 general election:


 Labour    National  

Electorate results for the 1949 New Zealand general election[1]

Electorate Incumbent Winner Majority Runner up
General electorates
Arch Hill Bill Parry 5,174 Gordon Frederick Smith
Ashburton Geoff Gerard 2,385 William Erle Rose
Auckland Central Bill Anderton 2,799 Leonard Bradley
Avon John Mathison 4,593 G W Kinzett
Awarua George Richard Herron 3,179 Neville Pickering[2]
Bay of Plenty Bill Sullivan 3,680 Thomas Godfrey Santon
Brooklyn Peter Fraser[3] 2,956 Berta Burns[4]
Buller Jerry Skinner 2,206 Phil McDonald
Central Otago William Bodkin 3,906 Thomas Augustus Rodgers
Christchurch Central Robert Macfarlane 3,637 Kevin Marlow
Clutha James Roy 3,231 John Edward Keenan
Dunedin Central Phil Connolly 989 David Murdoch
Dunedin North Robert Walls 668 Richard Brickell
Eden Wilfred Fortune 2,259 Pat Curran
Egmont Ernest Corbett 4,539 Brian Edgar Richmond
Fendalton Sidney Holland 4,076 Robert Newman
Franklin Jack Massey 5,481 John Parsons
Gisborne David Coleman Reginald Keeling 489 Harry Dudfield[5][6]
Grey Lynn Fred Hackett 4,203 John Leon Faulkner[7]
Hamilton Hilda Ross 1,605 John Granville
Hastings Ted Cullen Sydney Jones 982 Ted Cullen
Hauraki Andrew Sutherland 3,944 Percival Peacock
Hawke's Bay Cyril Harker 3,442 Dick Beattie
Hobson Sidney Walter Smith 5,068 William Edmund Lane
Hurunui William Gillespie 2,535 Arthur J. Smith
Hutt Walter Nash 2,273 Horace Leonard Heatley
Invercargill Ralph Hanan 1,159 William Denham
Island Bay Robert McKeen 2,770 Herbert Edward Childs
Karori Charles Bowden 3,585 Ethel Harris
Lyttelton Terry McCombs 978 Richard Ralph Beauchamp
Manawatu Matthew Oram 3,433 Basil A. Rodgers
Marlborough Tom Shand 1,862 J H Wilson
Marsden Alfred Murdoch 3,276 Douglas L. Ross
Miramar Bob Semple 1,315 Cuthbert Taylor
Mornington Wally Hudson 4,185 Geoffrey Stephens
Mount Albert Warren Freer 931 Reg Judson
Mount Victoria Jack Marshall 1,808 Nathan Seddon
Napier Tommy Armstrong 721 William Tucker
Nelson Edgar Neale 1,373 R C A Marshall
New Plymouth Ernest Aderman 1,517 Clarence Robert Parker
North Shore Martyn Finlay Dean Eyre 1,344 Martyn Finlay
Oamaru Arnold Nordmeyer Thomas Hayman 694 Arnold Nordmeyer
Onehunga Arthur Osborne 2,300 Alan A. Coates
Onslow Harry Combs 1,927 John S. Meadowcroft[8]
Otahuhu Charles Petrie Leon Götz 1,275 Alexander Boyd Dixon
Otaki Jimmy Maher 374 John Capstick
Pahiatua Keith Holyoake 4,507 G P O'Leary
Palmerston North Ormond Wilson Blair Tennent 518 Ormond Wilson
Parnell Duncan Rae 960 Bill Schramm
Patea William Sheat 1,841 Frederick William Finer
Petone Mick Moohan 2,527 Norm Croft
Piako Stan Goosman 6,266 Gilbert Parsons Kenah
Ponsonby Ritchie Macdonald 2,278 Brian Kingston
Raglan Alan Baxter Hallyburton Johnstone 1,022 Alan Baxter
Rangitikei Edward Gordon 3,310 E R De Malmanche
Remuera Ronald Algie 5,079 Hugh Watt[9][1]
Riccarton Angus McLagan 2,707 Harry Lake[10]
Rodney Clifton Webb 4,546 Arthur Leaming
Roskill Frank Langstone John Rae 1,415 James Freeman
St Albans Jack Watts 1,142 George Manning[11]
St Kilda Fred Jones 331 Gerald Lyon
Selwyn John McAlpine 1,327 Alan Sharp
Sydenham Mabel Howard 5,643 Oliver G. Moody[8]
Tamaki Tom Skinner Eric Halstead 1,095 Tom Skinner
Tauranga Frederick Doidge 4,595 Hillary Joseph Pickett
Timaru Clyde Carr 832 Jack Lockington
Waikato Geoffrey Sim 5,923 John Ronald Burfitt
Waimarino Paddy Kearins 202 Arthur Herbert MacPherson
Waimate David Campbell Kidd 1,767 Roy Davison
Wairarapa Garnet Mackley Bert Cooksley 963 George Anders Hansen
Waitakere Rex Mason 930 Robert Tapper
Waitomo Walter Broadfoot 5,079 Frank Kitts
Wallace Tom Macdonald 4,511 Herman Victor Freeman
Wanganui Joe Cotterill 1,019 E V O'Keefe
Wellington Central Charles Henry Chapman 575 Will Appleton
Westland Jim Kent 2,744 Patrick Joseph O'Regan
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Tiaki Omana 3,211 Turi Carroll
Northern Maori Tapihana Paraire Paikea 2,029 James Henare
Southern Maori Eruera Tirikatene 687 Huro Nathanial Bates
Western Maori vacant[nb 1] Iriaka Ratana 6,317 Hoeroa Marumaru

Table footnotes:

  1. ^ Matiu Ratana, the previous holder of the Western Maori electorate, died on 7 October 1949. His wife Iriaka Ratana stood for election instead.


  1. ^ a b "The General Election, 1949". National Library. 1950. pp. 1–5, 8. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
  2. ^ Norton 1988, p. 197.
  3. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 198.
  4. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 357.
  5. ^ Norton 1988, p. 228.
  6. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 308.
  7. ^ Norton 1988, p. 419.
  8. ^ a b Gustafson 1986, p. 378.
  9. ^ Norton 1988, p. 331.
  10. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 325.
  11. ^ Sharfe, Jean. "Manning, George". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 17 February 2010.


  • Fraser, S. E. (1967). The 1949 General Election (MA thesis). Dunedin: University of Otago.
  • Gustafson, Barry (1986). The First 50 Years : A History of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Reed Methuen. ISBN 0-474-00177-6.
  • McLennan, R. (1963). The Last Years of the First Labour Government 1945–1949 (MA thesis). Auckland: University of Auckland.
  • 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.