New Zealand electorates

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An electorate is a voting district for elections to the New Zealand Parliament. In informal discussion, electorates are often called seats. The most formal description, electoral district, is rarely seen outside of electoral legislation. Before 1996, all Members of Parliament were directly chosen for office by the voters of an electorate. In 2014 under the MMP electoral system, 71 of the usually 120 seats in Parliament were filled by electorate members, with the remainder being filled from party lists in order to achieve proportional representation (there were 69 electorates in 2005, and 70 electorates in the 2008 and 2011 elections). The 71 electorates are made up from 64 general and seven Māori electorates.


Originally, electorates were drawn up based on political and social links, with little consideration for differences in population. Each electorate was allocated a different number of MPs (up to three) in order to balance population differences, but this was only partly successful. Eventually, a new system was introduced — each electorate would elect one MP, and boundaries would be drawn based on population. However, a special country quota meant that rural seats were allowed to contain fewer people than urban seats, preserving the inequality and over-representing farmers. The quota persisted until 1945.

Today, electorate boundaries are determined by the Representation Commission. The Commission consists of:

  • Four government officials—the Government Statistician, the Surveyor-General, the Chief Electoral Officer, and the Chairperson of the Local Government Commission.
  • A representative of the governing party or coalition, and a representative of the opposition block.
  • A chairperson (often a judge) nominated by the other members, with the exception of Chairperson of the Local Government Commission.

Boundaries are reviewed after each New Zealand Census, which occurs every five years. The South Island is guaranteed to have 16 general seats, and dividing the number of persons in the South Island's general electoral population by 16 determines the South Island Quota which is then used to calculate the number of Māori electorates and North Island electorates. The number of māori electorates are determined by the Māori Electoral Option where Māori voters can opt to be in either a māori electorate or a general electorate. The percentage of Māori voters opting for the māori roll determines the percentage of the whole Māori population (of persons claiming Māori ancestry at the previous census) which is then divided by the South Island Quota to calculate the number of māori seats. South Island Māori choosing opting for the general roll are included in the population on which the South Island Quota is established. The North Island population (including Māori opting for the general roll) being divided into electorates of approximately the same population as the South Island ones.[1] Electorates may vary by no more than 5% of the average population size. This has caused the number of list seats in Parliament to decline as the population is experiencing "northern drift" (i.e. the population of the North Island, especially around Auckland, is growing faster than that of the South Island) due to both internal migration and immigration.

Because of the increasing North Island population, the North Island was awarded an additional electoral seat beginning in the 2008 general election.[2] Another North Island seat was created for the 2014 general election.[3] Each time, the need for an extra seat was determined from the results of the most recent census, with the seat coming out of the total number of list seats. The total number of list seats has thus declined from 51 to 49 since 2007.

Although the New Zealand Parliament is intended to have 120 members, recent iterations have exceeded this quantity. Due to some parties winning more electorate seats than their proportion of the party vote suggests, overhang seats have awarded. In 2005 and 2011, 121 members were elected; 122 members were elected in 2008.

Special electorates[edit]

For more details on the qualifications required to vote, which were gradually extended, see History of voting in New Zealand.

Over the years, there have been two types of "special" electorates created for particular communities. The first were special goldminers' electorates, created for participants in the Otago Goldrush — goldminers did not usually meet the residency and property requirements in the electorate they were prospecting in, but were numerous enough to warrant political representation. Two goldminers' electorates existed, the first began in 1863 and both ended in 1870.

Much more durable have been the Māori electorates, created in 1868 to give separate representation to Māori citizens. Although originally intended to be temporary, they came to function as reserved positions for Māori, ensuring that there would always be a Māori voice in Parliament. Until 1996 the number of Māori electorates was fixed at four, significantly under-representing Māori in Parliament. In 1975 the definition of who could opt to register on either the general or the māori roll was expanded to include all persons of Māori descent.[4] Previously all persons of more than 50% Māori ancestry were on the māori roll while persons of less than 50% Māori ancestry were required to enrol on the then European roll. Only persons presumed to have equal Māori and European ancestry (so-called half-castes) had a choice of roll.[5] Since the introduction of MMP, the number of seats can change with the number of Māori voters who choose to go on the Māori roll rather than the general roll.

Electorates in the 51st New Zealand Parliament[edit]

New Zealand electorates used in the previous two elections (2008 and 2011), showing 2011 results

This table shows the electorates as they are represented, as of 28 March 2015, during the 51st New Zealand Parliament.

General electorates[edit]

Electorate MP Party Description
Auckland Central Kaye, NikkiNikki Kaye National inner-city Auckland and Hauraki Gulf islands
Bay of Plenty Muller, ToddTodd Muller National central Bay of Plenty coast
Botany Ross, Jami-LeeJami-Lee Ross National east Auckland
Christchurch Central Wagner, NickyNicky Wagner National inner city Christchurch
Christchurch East Williams, PotoPoto Williams Labour eastern Christchurch
Clutha-Southland Barclay, ToddTodd Barclay National Southland region (excluding Invercargill) and south Otago and parts of Central Otago
Coromandel Simpson, ScottScott Simpson National Coromandel Peninsula and Hauraki Plains
Dunedin North Clark, DavidDavid Clark Labour central and north Dunedin
Dunedin South Curran, ClareClare Curran Labour south Dunedin and east Dunedin
East Coast Tolley, AnneAnne Tolley National Wairoa, Gisborne, eastern Bay of Plenty
East Coast Bays McCully, MurrayMurray McCully National northeastern North Shore City
Epsom Seymour, DavidDavid Seymour ACT east-central Auckland
Hamilton East Bennett, DavidDavid Bennett National east Hamilton
Hamilton West Tim Macindoe National west Hamilton
Helensville Key, JohnJohn Key National northwest Auckland urban fringe
Hunua Bayly, AndrewAndrew Bayly National Franklin, rural districts south of Auckland.
Hutt South Mallard, TrevorTrevor Mallard Labour southern Hutt Valley
Ilam Brownlee, GerryGerry Brownlee National western Christchurch
Invercargill Dowie, SarahSarah Dowie National Invercargill, peripheral towns and Stewart Island/Rakiura
Kaikōura Smith, StuartStuart Smith National Marlborough, Kaikoura and north Canterbury
Kelston Sepuloni, CarmelCarmel Sepuloni Labour Glen Eden, Sunnyvale, Glendene, Kelston, New Lynn, and Avondale
Mana Faafoi, KrisKris Faafoi Labour Porirua city and southern Kapiti Coast
Mangere Sio, WilliamWilliam Sio Labour Mangere, south Auckland
Manukau East Salesa, JennyJenny Salesa Labour Otara and eastern Manukau city
Manurewa Wall, LouisaLouisa Wall Labour central and southern Manukau city
Maungakiekie Lotu-Iiga, SamSam Lotu-Iiga National south east suburbs of Auckland city
Mt Albert Shearer, DavidDavid Shearer Labour west-central Auckland
Mt Roskill Goff, PhilPhil Goff Labour south-western Auckland city
Napier Nash, StuartStuart Nash Labour city of Napier
Nelson Smith, NickNick Smith National city of Nelson
New Lynn Cunliffe, DavidDavid Cunliffe Labour West Auckland
New Plymouth Young, JonathanJonathan Young National city of New Plymouth and Waitara
North Shore Barry, MaggieMaggie Barry National south east North Shore
Northcote Jonathan Coleman National south west North Shore
Northland Peters, WinstonWinston Peters New Zealand First Northland outside of Whangarei
Ōhariu Dunne, PeterPeter Dunne United Future north Wellington and western Hutt Valley hills
Ōtaki Guy, NathanNathan Guy National Horowhenua and northern Kapiti Coast
Pakuranga Williamson, MauriceMaurice Williamson National east Auckland
Palmerston North Lees-Galloway, IainIain Lees-Galloway Labour city of Palmerston North
Papakura Judith Collins National Papakura and parts of Franklin district, Auckland.
Port Hills Dyson, RuthRuth Dyson Labour south east Christchurch and port of Lyttelton
Rangitata Goodhew, JoJo Goodhew National South Canterbury
Rangitīkei McKelvie, IanIan McKelvie National northern Manawatu and inland Whanganui region.
Rimutaka Hipkins, ChrisChris Hipkins Labour northern Hutt Valley
Rodney Mitchell, MarkMark Mitchell National Hibiscus Coast, Wellsford and Warkworth
Rongotai King, AnnetteAnnette King Labour southern and eastern suburbs of Wellington; Chatham Islands
Rotorua McClay, ToddTodd McClay National Rotorua District and Kawerau
Selwyn Adams, AmyAmy Adams National western Christchurch urban fringe and Ashburton
Tāmaki O'Connor, SimonSimon O'Connor National eastern suburbs of Auckland city
Taranaki-King Country Kuriger, BarbaraBarbara Kuriger National northern Taranaki towns, King Country and Te Awamutu
Taupō Upston, LouiseLouise Upston National Taupo, Turangi, South Waikato and Ruapehu districts
Tauranga Bridges, SimonSimon Bridges National central Tauranga and Mount Maunganui
Te Atatu Twyford, PhilPhil Twyford Labour Te Atatu peninsula and Henderson, west Auckland
Tukituki Foss, CraigCraig Foss National Hastings and southern Hawkes Bay
Upper Harbour Bennett, PaulaPaula Bennett National Massey to Glenfield
Waikato Tisch, LindsayLindsay Tisch National north Waikato
Waimakariri Doocey, MattMatt Doocey National northwest Christchurch, Rangiora and Kaiapoi
Wairarapa Scott, AlastairAlastair Scott National Wairarapa, Tararua District
Waitaki Dean, JacquiJacqui Dean National north and parts of central Otago
Wellington Central Robertson, GrantGrant Robertson Labour inner-city Wellington
West Coast-Tasman O'Connor, DamienDamien O'Connor Labour West Coast, Murchison and north Nelson regional coast
Whanganui Borrows, ChesterChester Borrows National city of Wanganui and south Taranaki coast
Whangarei Reti, ShaneShane Reti National city of Whangarei
Wigram Woods, MeganMegan Woods Labour south west Christchurch

Māori electorates[edit]

Electorate MP Party Description
Hauraki-Waikato Mahuta, NanaiaNanaia Mahuta Labour Waikato, including Coromandel
Ikaroa-Rawhiti Whaitiri, MekaMeka Whaitiri Labour East Cape, Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa and the Hutt Valley
Tamaki Makaurau Henare, PeeniPeeni Henare Labour central and southern Auckland
Te Tai Hauauru Rurawhe, AdrianAdrian Rurawhe Labour South Waikato, Taranaki, Manawatu-Wanganui and the Kapiti Coast
Te Tai Tokerau Davis, KelvinKelvin Davis Labour Northland, north and west Auckland
Te Tai Tonga Tirikatene, RinoRino Tirikatene Labour Wellington, the South Island, Stewart Island/Rakiura and the Chatham Islands
Waiariki Flavell, Te UruroaTe Ururoa Flavell Māori Bay of Plenty and Taupo

Abolished electorates[edit]

General electorates[edit]

Māori electorates[edit]

Goldminers' electorates[edit]


  1. ^ "Calculating future Māori and General Electorates". Electoral Commission (New Zealand). 1 October 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013. 
  2. ^ "Report of the Representation Commission, 2007" (PDF). Representation Commission. 2007. p. 4. Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "2014 Electorate Boundaries - Key Changes". Electoral Commission New Zealand. 17 April 2014. Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  4. ^ "Electoral Amendment Act 1975". Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "Electoral Act, 1956". Retrieved 10 March 2014. 

External links[edit]

  • Electorate profiles, produced by the Parliamentary Library, New Zealand Parliament
  • Map of electorates with boundaries, produced by the Elections NZ website, run by the Electoral Commission, the Electoral Enrolment Centre, the Representation Commission, and the Justice Sector.