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Waka taua (war canoes) at the Bay of Islands, 1827-8.

New Zealanders speak colloquially of party-hopping as waka-jumping when a Member of Parliament (MP) switches political party between elections, taking their parliamentary seat with them and potentially upsetting electoral proportionality in the Parliament of New Zealand.[1]

The imminent advent of MMP in New Zealand parliamentary politics in the 1990s — culminating in its use from the 1996 election onwards — led to a series of defections and re-alignments as the old monolithic two-party system broke up and many politicians struggled to define and project their images and beliefs in new parties and groupings. The new political climate tended to favour the establishment of new political parties (whereas in former times dissidents had often simply become independent MPs). Voters tended to punish waka-jumpers in this period, but some survived and flourished, often to the disgust of their former party colleagues. Due to the frequency of waka-jumping, New Zealand enacted legislation (the Electoral Integrity Act of 2001, expired at the 2005 election) which required any MP who had entered parliament via a party list to resign from Parliament if they left that party's parliamentary caucus. As the actions of the Progressive Party in 2002 showed, parties still found ways around such law.[citation needed]


The Māori word waka applies often to a large Māori canoe (or any vehicle). The term waka-jumping is a variant on the phrase "jumping ship".

List of waka-jumpers[edit]

MMP era[edit]

Name Original party Switched New party
Jim Anderton Labour 1989 NewLabour
NewLabour 1991 Alliance
Alliance 2002 Progressives
Gilbert Myles National 1992 Liberal Party
Liberal Party 1993 Alliance
Alliance 1993 New Zealand First
Hamish MacIntyre National 1992 Liberal Party
Liberal Party 1993 Alliance
Winston Peters National 1993 Independent
Independent 1993 New Zealand First
Ross Meurant National 1994 Conservatives
Peter Dunne Labour 1994 Future New Zealand
Future New Zealand 1995 United
United 2002 United Future
Graeme Lee National 1995 Christian Democrats
Trevor Rogers National 1995 Christian Democrats
Clive Matthewson Labour 1995 United
Bruce Cliffe National 1995 United
Margaret Austin Labour 1995 United
Pauline Gardner National 1995 United
Peter Hilt National 1995 United
John Robertson National 1995 United
Jack Elder Labour 1996 New Zealand First
New Zealand First 1998 Mauri Pacific
Michael Laws National 1996 New Zealand First
Rod Donald Alliance 1997 Greens
Jeanette Fitzsimons Alliance 1997 Greens
Tau Henare New Zealand First 1998 Mauri Pacific
Peter McCardle New Zealand First 1998 Independent politician
Tuariki Delamere New Zealand First 1998 Mauri Pacific
Rana Waitai New Zealand First 1998 Mauri Pacific
Ann Batten New Zealand First 1998 Mauri Pacific
Tukoroirangi Morgan New Zealand First 1998 Mauri Pacific
Deborah Morris New Zealand First 1998 Independent
Alamein Kopu Alliance 1998 Mana Wahine
Frank Grover Alliance 1999 Christian Heritage
Matt Robson Alliance 2002 Progressives
Donna Awatere Huata ACT 2003 Independent
Tariana Turia Labour 2004 Māori Party
Gordon Copeland United Future 2007 Kiwi Party
Taito Phillip Field Labour 2007 Pacific Party
Hone Harawira Māori Party 2011 Mana Party
Mana Party 2014 Internet-Mana
Brendan Horan New Zealand First 2012 Independent Coalition

Historic waka-jumpers[edit]

Name Original party Switched New party
Frank Lawry Conservative 1891 Liberal
Francis Fisher Liberal 1905 New Liberal
New Liberal 1908 Independent
Independent 1910 Reform
William Hughes Field Liberal 1908 Independent
Independent 1909 Reform
David McLaren Ind. Labour League 1910 Labour (1910)
Vigor Brown Liberal 1920 Reform
Alfred Hindmarsh Labour (1910) 1912 United Labour
United Labour 1916 Labour
Bill Veitch Independent Labour 1912 United Labour
United Labour 1916 Independent
Independent 1922 Liberal
Liberal 1928 United
John Payne Labour (1910) 1912 Independent Labour
Independent Labour 1916 Independent
Gordon Coates Independent 1914 Reform
Reform 1936 National
National 1942 Independent
James McCombs Social Democrat 1916 Labour
Labour 1917 Independent Labour
Independent Labour 1918 Labour
Paddy Webb Social Democrat 1916 Labour
Andrew Walker United Labour 1916 Labour
George Sykes Reform 1919 Independent
Independent 1922 Reform
Herbert Kyle Reform 1936 National
National 1942 Independent
John A. Lee Labour 1940 Democratic Labour
Bill Barnard Labour 1940 Democratic Labour
William Sheat National 1954 Independent
Independent 1954 National
Gerald O'Brien Labour 1978 Independent
Mel Courtney Labour 1981 Independent
John Kirk Labour 1983 Independent


  1. ^ "Maori Party vote vital to save 'waka-jumping act' - National - NZ Herald News". Nzherald.co.nz. 2005-10-23. Retrieved 2011-12-05.