Electoral Commission (New Zealand)

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Electoral Commission
Te Kaitiaki Take Kōwhiri
Logo of the New Zealand Electoral Commission as of September 2020.svg
Agency overview
Formed1 October 2010
Preceding agencies
JurisdictionNew Zealand
Agency executive
  • Karl Le Quesne, Chief Electoral Officer and Chief Executive
Websitevote.nz elections.nz

The Electoral Commission (Māori: Te Kaitiaki Take Kōwhiri) is an independent Crown entity set up by the New Zealand Parliament. It is responsible for the administration of parliamentary elections and referendums, promoting compliance with electoral laws, servicing the work of the Representation Commission, and the provision of advice, reports and public education on electoral matters. The commission also assists electoral agencies of other countries on a reciprocal basis with their electoral events.

Objective of the Electoral Commission[edit]

The Electoral Act 1993 defines the objective of the Electoral Commission as

"to administer the electoral system impartially, efficiently, effectively, and in a way that –

  1. Facilitates participation in parliamentary democracy; and
  2. Promotes understanding of the electoral system; and
  3. Maintains confidence in the administration of the electoral system".[1]

Functions of the Electoral Commission[edit]

The functions of the Electoral Commission are defined by law and in summary comprise:

  • Preparation and conduct of General Elections, by-elections, and referendums
  • Allocating government monies to registered political parties for radio and television broadcasting
  • Promoting public awareness of electoral matters through education and information programmes
  • Giving advice to the Minister and the House of Representatives on electoral matters referred to the commission
  • Making available information to assist political parties, candidates, and third parties to meet their statutory obligations in respect of electoral matters administered by the commission
  • Compiling and maintaining electoral rolls (from 1 July 2012).


The Electoral Commission is an independent Crown entity. The responsible Minister may not direct the commission to give effect to, or have regard to, government policy.

In addition:

  • the Governor-General appoints and removes Electoral Commissioners on the recommendation of the House of Representatives
  • the Electoral Commission has a statutory duty to act independently in performing its statutory duties and functions and exercising its powers
  • the Electoral Commission may provide information and advice to the Minister of Justice or the House of Representatives at any time and of its own volition.

Electoral Commission Board[edit]

The Electoral Commission Board has three members, appointed by the Governor-General, including one member as the Chairperson, one member as the Deputy Chairperson and the Chief Electoral Officer, who is the Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission.[2]

Position Name Portrait Date of appointment
Chair Marie Shroff Marie Shroff (Privacy Commissioner).JPG 19 August 2019[3]
Deputy Chair Jane Meares Jane Meares (cropped).jpg 19 August 2019[4]
Chief Electoral Officer Karl Le Quesne No image.png 21 April 2022[5]

Electoral events conducted by the Electoral Commission[edit]

Electoral Event Date
Mana by-election Saturday, 20 November 2010
Botany by-election Saturday, 5 March 2011
Te Tai Tokerau by-election Saturday, 25 June 2011
2011 general election Saturday, 26 November 2011
Referendum on the voting system Saturday, 26 November 2011
MMP Review February – October 2012
Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election Saturday, 29 June 2013
2013 New Zealand local elections 12 October 2016
Christchurch East by-election Saturday, 30 November 2013
Asset sales referendum 22 November – 13 December 2013
2014 general election Saturday, 20 September 2014
Northland by-election Saturday, 28 March 2015
First New Zealand flag referendum 20 November – 11 December 2015
Second New Zealand flag referendum 3–24 March 2016
2016 New Zealand local elections 8 October 2016
Mount Roskill by-election Saturday, 3 December 2016
Mount Albert by-election Saturday, 25 February 2017
2017 general election Saturday, 23 September 2017
Northcote by-election Saturday, 9 June 2018
2020 general election Saturday, 17 October 2020
2020 cannabis referendum Saturday, 17 October 2020
2020 euthanasia referendum Saturday, 17 October 2020
2022 Tauranga by-election Saturday, 18 June 2022
2022 Hamilton West by-election Saturday, 10 December 2022


Formation of the Electoral Commission[edit]

The Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill, passed unanimously by Parliament 19 May 2010, established a new independent Electoral Commission which was given overarching responsibility to administer elections.

The Electoral Commission, which took over the responsibilities of the Chief Electoral Office and the previous Electoral Commission, was formed on Friday 1 October 2010.

On 1 July 2012 the statutory responsibilities of the Electoral Enrolment Centre of New Zealand Post were transferred to the commission in accordance with the Electoral (Administration) Amendment Act 2011.

Previous Electoral Commission[edit]

The previous Electoral Commission of New Zealand (1993–2010) was a governmental body responsible for administering certain aspects of the country's electoral system.

It was an independent Crown entity, not part of any larger department or Ministry, and was established under the Electoral Act 1993. It worked alongside two other bodies, the Chief Electoral Office and the Electoral Enrolment Centre.

The four primary functions of the previous Electoral Commission were:

  • Registration of political parties. The commission was responsible for scrutinising and approving all changes to the electoral register. A place on the register allows parties to contest the party vote in general elections. Unregistered parties can put forward individual candidates, but cannot receive votes for proportional representation under the MMP system. The commission must have been satisfied that such a party meets the requirements for registration, such as having five hundred financial members.
  • Allocating broadcasting funding. Political parties are given state funding for any broadcasting they conduct in an election campaign. The commission was responsible for dividing money between the various parties, taking into account a party's membership, current number of MPs, previous election performance, and current polling. The commission also supervises the actual payment of this funding.
  • Supervision of financial declarations. to ensure transparency, parties are required to submit records showing how much money they received as donations and how much money they spent campaigning. The commission supervised this process.
  • Public education. The commission was the primary body charged with ensuring strong public awareness of how elections in New Zealand work.

For most business, the previous Electoral Commission consisted of four members – a President, a Chief Executive, the head of the Ministry of Justice, and the Chief Judge of the Māori Land Court.

Two additional members, one appointed by the Government and one by the Opposition, participate in the commission e.g. on the allocation of broadcasting funds. This participation is generally condemned by smaller parties, which claim that Labour and National unfairly monopolised funding. These additional members were removed by Labour in 2007 by the Electoral Finance Act; but the Act was repealed by National in 2009, with clauses of the EFA dealing with donation disclosure inserted into the 1993 Electoral Act.


  1. ^ "Electoral Act 1993". Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  2. ^ "Electoral Commission board". New Zealand Electoral Commission. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  3. ^ "Appointment of Chairperson of the Electoral Commission". New Zealand Gazette. 14 August 2019. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  4. ^ "Appointment of Deputy Chairperson of the Electoral Commission". New Zealand Gazette. 14 August 2019. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  5. ^ "Appointment of Chief Electoral Officer of the Electoral Commission". New Zealand Gazette. 26 April 2022. Retrieved 11 January 2023.

External links[edit]