List of prime ministers of New Zealand

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The current and five former prime ministers in 2021 (from left) – Bill English, John Key, Geoffrey Palmer, Jacinda Ardern, Helen Clark, and Jim Bolger
Four New Zealand prime ministers pictured in 1992 (from left) – David Lange, Jim Bolger, Robert Muldoon and Mike Moore

The prime minister of New Zealand is the country's head of government and the leader of the Cabinet, whose powers and responsibilities are defined by convention.[1] Officially, the prime minister is appointed by the governor-general, but by convention, the prime minister must have the confidence of the House of Representatives.[2] The prime minister is always a member of parliament.[1]

Originally, prime ministers headed loose coalitions of independents, which were often unstable; since the advent of political parties, the prime minister is usually the leader of the largest political party in the House.[1] Since 1935, every prime minister has been a member of either the National party or the Labour party, reflecting their domination of New Zealand politics.[3] After the introduction of mixed-member proportional voting in 1996, prime ministers have usually needed to negotiate agreements with smaller parties to maintain a majority in Parliament.[1]

The title of the office was originally "colonial secretary", which was formally changed to "premier" in 1869.[4] That title remained in use for more than 30 years, until Richard Seddon changed it to "prime minister" during his tenure in the office; he used the title officially at the Imperial Conference of 1903.[4]

Some historians regard James FitzGerald as New Zealand's first prime minister, although a more conventional view is that neither he nor his successor (Thomas Forsaith) should properly be given that title, as New Zealand did not yet have responsible government when they served.[1][5] Most commonly, Henry Sewell, who served during 1856, is regarded as New Zealand's first premier.[6] Beginning with Sewell, forty individuals have so far held the premiership,[7][8] not including acting prime ministers. Nine prime ministers have held the position for more than one period in office. Richard Seddon, Prime Minister for thirteen years between 1893 and 1906, held the office for the longest term.[9] The youngest prime minister was Edward Stafford, who assumed office at age 37, and the oldest was Walter Nash, who left office at age 78.[10] Three prime ministers have been women, a count equalled by Iceland, Lithuania, Poland and the United Kingdom, and only surpassed by Finland and Switzerland.[11]

The incumbent prime minister is Jacinda Ardern, who assumed office on 26 October 2017.[7]

List of officeholders[edit]

The parties shown are those to which the heads of government belonged at the time they held office and the electoral districts shown are those they represented while in office. Several prime ministers belonged to parties other than those given and represented other electorates before and after their time in office. A number in brackets indicates the prime minister served a previous term in office.

Key

  Independent   Liberal   Reform   United   Labour   National

Colonial Secretaries (1856–1869)[7][8]
No. Portrait Name
Constituency
(Birth–Death)
Election
(Parliament)
Term of office Political party Government
Took office Left office Time in office
1 Henry Sewell, 1860 cropped.jpg The Honourable
Henry Sewell

MP for Christchurch, Canterbury
(1807–1879)
1855 (2nd) 7 May
1856
20 May
1856
14 days Sewell
2 Sir William Fox, ca 1890.jpg The Right Honourable
Sir William Fox
KCMG

MP for Wanganui and Rangitikei, Wellington
(1812–1893)
— (2nd) 20 May
1856
2 June
1856
14 days Fox I
3 Edward Stafford.jpg The Right Honourable
Sir Edward Stafford
GCMG

MP for Nelson, Nelson Province
(1819–1901)
— (2nd) 2 June
1856
12 July
1861
5 years,
41 days
Stafford I
(2) Sir William Fox, ca 1890.jpg The Right Honourable
Sir William Fox
KCMG

MP for Rangitikei, Wellington
(1812–1893)
1860–1861 (3rd) 12 July
1861
6 August
1862
1 year,
26 days
Fox II
4 Alfred Domett c1870-1887.jpg The Honourable
Alfred Domett

MP for Nelson, Nelson Province
(1811–1887)
— (3rd) 6 August
1862
30 October
1863
1 year,
86 days
Domett
5 Frederick Whitaker.jpg The Honourable
Sir Frederick Whitaker
KCMG

Councillor
(1812–1891)
— (3rd) 30 October
1863
24 November
1864
1 year,
26 days
Whitaker–Fox
6 Sir Frederick Aloysius Weld.jpg The Honourable
Sir Frederick Weld
GCMG

MP for Cheviot, Canterbury
(1823–1891)
— (3rd) 24 November
1864
16 October
1865
327 days Weld
(3) Edward Stafford.jpg The Right Honourable
Sir Edward Stafford
GCMG

MP for Nelson, Nelson Province until 1868
MP for Timaru, Canterbury from 1868
(1819–1901)
— (3rd)
1866 (4th)
16 October
1865
28 June
1869
3 years,
256 days
Stafford II
Premiers and prime ministers (1869–present)[7][8]
No. Portrait Name
Constituency
(Birth–Death)
Election
(Parliament)
Term of office Political party Government
Took office Left office Time in office
(2) Sir William Fox, ca 1890.jpg The Right Honourable
Sir William Fox
KCMG

MP for Rangitikei, Wellington
(1812–1893)
— (4th)
1871 (5th)
28 June
1869
10 September
1872
3 years,
75 days
Fox III
(3) Edward William Stafford.jpg The Right Honourable
Sir Edward Stafford
GCMG

MP for Timaru, Canterbury
(1819–1901)
— (5th) 10 September
1872
11 October
1872
32 days Stafford III
7 George Marsden Waterhouse.jpg The Right Honourable
George Waterhouse

Councillor
(1824–1906)
— (5th) 11 October
1872
3 March
1873
144 days Waterhouse
(2) Sir William Fox, ca 1890.jpg The Right Honourable
Sir William Fox
KCMG

MP for Rangitikei, Wellington
(1812–1893)
— (5th) 3 March
1873
8 April
1873
37 days Fox IV
8 Julius Vogel, ca 1870s.jpg The Right Honourable
Sir Julius Vogel
KCMG

MP for Auckland East, Auckland
(1835–1899)
— (5th) 8 April
1873
6 July
1875
2 years,
90 days
Vogel I
9 Daniel Pollen, ca 1873.jpg The Honourable
Daniel Pollen

Councillor
(1813–1896)
— (5th) 6 July
1875
15 February
1876
225 days Pollen
(8) Sir Julius Vogel (25423335586).jpg The Right Honourable
Sir Julius Vogel
KCMG

MP for Wanganui, Wellington
(1835–1899)
1875–1876 (6th) 15 February
1876
1 September
1876
200 days Vogel II
10 Sir Harry Albert Atkinson, between 1860 and 1870.jpg The Honourable
Sir Harry Atkinson
KCMG

MP for Egmont, Taranaki.
provinces abolished on 1 November 1876

(1831–1892)
— (6th) 1 September
1876
13 October
1877
1 year,
43 days
Atkinson I • II
"Continuous Ministry"
11 George Grey, 1885.jpg The Right Honourable
Sir George Grey
KCB

MP for Thames
(1812–1898)
— (6th) 13 October
1877
8 October
1879
1 year,
361 days
Grey
12 Sir John Hall, ca 1880.jpg The Honourable
Sir John Hall
KCMG

MP for Selwyn
(1824–1907)
1879 (7th)
1881 (8th)
8 October
1879
21 April
1882
2 years,
196 days
Hall
"Continuous Ministry"
(5) Frederick Whitaker, ca 1870s.jpg The Honourable
Sir Frederick Whitaker
KCMG

Councillor
(1812–1891)
— (8th) 21 April
1882
25 September
1883
1 year,
158 days
Whitaker
"Continuous Ministry"
(10) Sir Harry Albert Atkinson, ca 1885.jpg The Honourable
Sir Harry Atkinson
KCMG

MP for Egmont
(1831–1892)
— (8th) 25 September
1883
16 August
1884
327 days Atkinson III
"Continuous Ministry"
13 Robert Stout, 1885.jpg The Right Honourable
Robert Stout
KCMG

MP for Dunedin East
(1844–1930)
1884 (9th) 16 August
1884
28 August
1884
13 days Stout–Vogel
(10) Sir Harry Albert Atkinson, ca 1885.jpg The Honourable
Sir Harry Atkinson
KCMG

MP for Egmont
(1831–1892)
— (9th) 28 August
1884
3 September
1884
7 days Atkinson IV
"Continuous Ministry"
(13) Sir Robert Stout.PNG The Right Honourable
Sir Robert Stout
KCMG

MP for Dunedin East
(1844–1930)
— (9th) 3 September
1884
8 October
1887
3 years,
36 days
Stout–Vogel
(10) Harry Atkinson.jpg The Honourable
Sir Harry Atkinson
KCMG

MP for Egmont
(1831–1892)
1887 (10th) 8 October
1887
24 January
1891
3 years,
109 days
Atkinson V
"Scarecrow Ministry"
14 John Ballance 1880.jpg The Right Honourable
John Ballance

MP for Wanganui
(1839–1893)
1890 (11th) 24 January
1891
27 April
1893[†]
2 years,
94 days
Liberal Liberal
15 Richard Seddon, 1906.jpg The Right Honourable
Richard Seddon

MP for Westland
(1845–1906)
— (11th)
1893 (12th)
1896 (13th)
1899 (14th)
1902 (15th)
1905 (16th)
1 May
1893
10 June
1906[†]
13 years,
41 days
Liberal
16 William Hall-Jones 2.jpg The Honourable
William Hall-Jones
KCMG

MP for Timaru
(1851–1936)
— (16th) 21 June
1906
6 August
1906
47 days Liberal
17 Joseph Ward c. 1906.jpg The Right Honourable
Sir Joseph Ward
BtGCMG

MP for Awarua
(1856–1930)
— (16th)
1908 (17th)
1911 (18th)
6 August
1906
12 March
1912
5 years,
220 days
Liberal Liberal
C&S with IPLL 1908–1910;
Labour 1910–1912; independents 1911–1912
18 Thomas Mackenzie.jpg The Right Honourable
Thomas Mackenzie
GCMG

MP for Egmont
(1853–1930)
— (18th) 28 March
1912
10 July
1912
105 days Liberal
19 William Ferguson Massey 1919.jpg The Right Honourable
William Massey

MP for Franklin
(1856–1925)
— (18th)
1914 (19th)
1919 (20th)
1922 (21st)
10 July
1912
10 May
1925[†]
12 years,
305 days
Reform Reform
with Liberal 1915–1919;
C&S with independents
20 Sir Francis Henry Dillon Bell, ca 1924.jpg The Right Honourable
Francis Bell
GCMGKC

Councillor
(1851–1936)
— (21st) 14 May
1925
30 May
1925
17 days Reform
21 Joseph Gordon Coates, 1931.jpg The Right Honourable
Gordon Coates
MC*

MP for Kaipara
(1878–1943)
— (21st)
1925 (22nd)
30 May
1925
10 December
1928
3 years,
195 days
Reform
(17) Sir Joseph Ward, 1928.jpg The Right Honourable
Sir Joseph Ward
BtGCMG

MP for Invercargill
(1856–1930)
1928 (23rd) 10 December
1928
28 May
1930
1 year,
170 days
United United
with Labour;
C&S with independents
22 George William Forbes.jpg The Right Honourable
George Forbes

MP for Hurunui
(1869–1947)
— (23rd) 28 May
1930
6 December
1935
5 years,
193 days
United
1931 (24th) United–Reform Coalition
23 Michael Joseph Savage Portrait (cropped).jpg The Right Honourable
Michael Joseph Savage

MP for Auckland West
(1872–1940)
1935 (25th)
1938 (26th)
6 December
1935
27 March
1940[†]
4 years,
113 days
Labour First Labour
C&S with Rātana 1935–1936; independents 1935–1946
24 Peter Fraser.jpg The Right Honourable
Peter Fraser
CH

MP for Wellington Central until 1946
MP for Brooklyn from 1946
(1884–1950)
— (26th)
1943 (27th)
1946 (28th)
1 April
1940
13 December
1949
9 years,
257 days
Labour
25 Sidney George Holland (1953).jpg The Right Honourable
Sidney Holland
GCMGCH

MP for Fendalton
(1893–1961)
1949 (29th)
1951 (30th)
1954 (31st)
13 December
1949
20 September
1957
7 years,
282 days
National First National
26 Keith Holyoake (crop).jpg The Right Honourable
Keith Holyoake
KGGCMGCHQSOKStJ

MP for Pahiatua
(1904–1983)
— (31st) 20 September
1957
12 December
1957
84 days National
27 Walter Nash (ca 1940s).jpg The Right Honourable
Walter Nash
GCMGCH

MP for Hutt
(1882–1968)
1957 (32nd) 12 December
1957
12 December
1960
3 years,
1 day
Labour Second Labour
(26) Keith Holyoake, 1972.jpg The Right Honourable
Sir Keith Holyoake
KGGCMGCHQSOKStJ

MP for Pahiatua
(1904–1983)
1960 (33rd)
1963 (34th)
1966 (35th)
1969 (36th)
12 December
1960
7 February
1972
11 years,
58 days
National Second National
28 Jack Marshall, 1972.jpg The Right Honourable
Jack Marshall
GBECHED

MP for Karori
(1912–1988)
— (36th) 7 February
1972
8 December
1972
306 days National
29 Norman Kirk, crop.jpg The Right Honourable
Norman Kirk

MP for Sydenham
(1923–1974)
1972 (37th) 8 December
1972
31 August
1974[†]
1 year,
267 days
Labour Third Labour
Hugh Watt, 1951 (1).jpg The Right Honourable
Hugh Watt
JP

MP for Onehunga
(1912–1980)

Acting prime minister
— (37th) 31 August
1974
6 September
1974
7 days Labour
30 Bill Rowling, 1962.jpg The Right Honourable
Bill Rowling
KCMG

MP for Tasman
(1927–1995)
— (37th) 6 September
1974
12 December
1975
1 year,
98 days
Labour
31 Muldoon 1978.jpg The Right Honourable
Sir Robert Muldoon
GCMGCH

MP for Tamaki
(1921–1992)
1975 (38th)
1978 (39th)
1981 (40th)
12 December
1975
26 July
1984
8 years,
228 days
National Third National
32
David Lange (cropped).jpg
The Right Honourable
David Lange
ONZCH

MP for Mangere
(1942–2005)
1984 (41st)
1987 (42nd)
26 July
1984
8 August
1989
5 years,
14 days
Labour Fourth Labour
33 Geoffrey Palmer.jpg The Right Honourable
Geoffrey Palmer
KCMGACQC

MP for Christchurch Central
(born 1942)
— (42nd) 8 August
1989
4 September
1990
1 year,
28 days
Labour
34 Mike Moore, 1992 (crop).jpg The Right Honourable
Mike Moore
ONZAO

MP for Christchurch North
(1949–2020)
— (42nd) 4 September
1990
2 November
1990
60 days Labour
35 Bolger, 1992.jpg The Right Honourable
Jim Bolger
ONZ

MP for King Country
(born 1935)
1990 (43rd)
1993 (44th)
1996 (45th)
2 November
1990
8 December
1997
7 years,
37 days
National Fourth National
with Right of Centre 1994–1995;
United NZ 1995–1996;
New Zealand First 1996–1998;
Mauri Pacific, Mana Wahine, independents 1998–1999;
C&S with Future 1994–1995;
Christian Democrats 1995–1996;
United NZ 1995–1995, 1998–1999;
ACT, independents 1998–1999
36 Jenny Shipley and Winnie Laban (crop).jpg The Right Honourable
Jenny Shipley
DNZM

MP for Rakaia
(born 1952)
— (45th) 8 December
1997
10 December
1999
2 years,
3 days
National
37 Helen Clark official photo (cropped).jpg The Right Honourable
Helen Clark
ONZSSI

MP for Mount Albert
(born 1950)
1999 (46th)
2002 (47th)
2005 (48th)
10 December
1999
19 November
2008
8 years,
346 days
Labour Fifth Labour
with Alliance 1999–2002, Progressives 2002–2008;
C&S with Greens 1999–2002, 2005–2008; New Zealand First 2005–2008; United Future 2002–2008
38 John Key February 2015.jpg The Right Honourable
John Key
GNZMAC

MP for Helensville
(born 1961)
2008 (49th)
2011 (50th)
2014 (51st)
19 November
2008
12 December
2016
8 years
24 days
National Fifth National
C&S with ACT, United Future, Māori
39 Bill English September 2016.jpg The Right Honourable
Bill English
KNZM

List MP
(born 1961)
— (51st) 12 December
2016
26 October
2017
319 days National
40 Jacinda Ardern crop.jpg The Right Honourable
Jacinda Ardern

MP for Mount Albert
(born 1980)
2017 (52nd)
2020 (53rd)
26 October
2017
Incumbent 4 years, 343 days Labour Sixth Labour
with New Zealand First 2017–2020;
C&S with Greens 2017–2020;
Cooperation with Greens 2020–present
  • ^† Died in office

Timeline[edit]

Jacinda ArdernBill EnglishJohn KeyHelen ClarkJenny ShipleyJim BolgerMike Moore (New Zealand politician)Geoffrey Palmer (politician)David LangeRobert MuldoonBill RowlingHugh WattNorman KirkJack MarshallWalter NashKeith HolyoakeSidney HollandPeter FraserMichael Joseph SavageGeorge William ForbesGordon CoatesFrancis Bell (New Zealand politician)William MasseyThomas MackenzieJoseph WardWilliam Hall-JonesRichard SeddonJohn BallanceRobert StoutJohn Hall (New Zealand politician)George GreyHarry AtkinsonDaniel PollenJulius VogelGeorge Marsden WaterhouseFrederick WeldFrederick WhitakerAlfred DomettEdward Stafford (politician)William Fox (New Zealand)Henry Sewell


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e McLean, Gavin (1 December 2016). "Premiers and prime ministers – The role of prime minister". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  2. ^ "Prime Minister". Cabinet Manual. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 2008. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  3. ^ Papillon, Martin; Turgeon, Luc; Wallner, Jennifer; White, Stephen (2014). Comparing Canada: Methods and Perspectives on Canadian Politics. UBC Press. p. 126. ISBN 9780774827867. Retrieved 30 August 2016. ...in New Zealand politics, by the centre-left Labour Party and the centre-right National Party
  4. ^ a b McLintock, Alexander Hare (1966). "Prime Minister: The Title 'Premier'". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  5. ^ McIntyre, W. David. "FitzGerald, James Edward". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  6. ^ McIntyre, W. David. "Sewell, Henry". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d "Biographies – Premiers and Prime Ministers". nzhistory.govt.nz. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  8. ^ a b c "Prime Ministers of New Zealand since 1856". New Zealand Parliament. 18 January 2019. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  9. ^ "'King Dick' Seddon becomes premier". nzhistory.govt.nz. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 14 December 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  10. ^ "NZ politics, Premiers and PMs". nzhistory.govt.nz. Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  11. ^ Vogelstein, Rachel B.; Bro, Alexandra (29 March 2021). "Women's Power Index". Council on Foreign Relations. Archived from the original on 29 July 2022. Retrieved 2 August 2022.