The Representation Act 1900 had increased the membership of the House of Representatives from general electorates 70 to 76, and this was implemented through the 1902 electoral redistribution. In 1902, changes to the country quota affected the three-member electorates in the four main centres. The tolerance between electorates was increased to ±1,250 so that the Representation Commissions (since 1896, there had been separate commissions for the North and South Islands) could take greater account of communities of interest. These changes proved very disruptive to existing boundaries, and six electorates were established for the first time, including Hurunui, and two electorates that previously existed were re-established.
The Hurunui electorate was first formed for the 1902 election, when it replaced the Ashley electorate. The first election in the new electorate was contested by five candidates: Richard Meredith of the Liberal Party, who was the incumbent from the Ashley electorate, Andrew Rutherford who also stood as a Liberal, George Forbes who stood as an Independent Liberal, as he did not gain the Liberal Party's nomination, Henry Reece, and George Thomas Pulley. Rutherford was successful, gaining almost twice the number of votes than the second-placed candidate, Reece.
Three candidates contested the 1905 election. Rutherford was returned with more than twice the votes of Obed Frederick Clothier, and George Thomas Pulley came a distant third.
Rutherford retired in 1908, and George Forbes and Obed Frederick Clothier contested the 1908 election. Forbes was successful, and started his long parliamentary career that would see him hold the electorate for the next 35 years to 1943. Forbes was Prime Minister from 1930 to 1935.