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Petitioning Parliament

Ancient tradition
Modern petitions
How to do it

Every New Zealand citizen or resident has the right to petition the House of Representatives to address a grievance or change a policy.

Ancient tradition

The tradition of petitions to Parliament is very old. It goes back to medieval Britain – long before New Zealand’s Parliament first met in 1854.

When the early English Parliaments identified an injustice they wanted to correct, they would petition the King for action. If the King and his Council agreed to act on the petition, they would send back a written reply. These replies came to be regarded as decrees or statutes having the force of law.

Over time, Parliament became increasingly specific about what it desired. Instead of sending a petition, it would send a 'bill' to the King, listing all the actions it wanted.

In modern New Zealand, Parliament still sends bills to the Governor-General (who represents the Queen). When he or she signs these, they become Acts of Parliament.

Modern petitions

New Zealand’s Parliament allows any New Zealander to make a petition to the House of Representatives on any subject – provided they have first
tried all other methods to redress their grievance. The House is advised of the petition and it is then referred to a select committee for study. Select committees can report back to the House with a recommendation on what action should be taken. Often petitions are referred to the Government for its consideration. The Government must then report to the House on what action it will take.

A petition may or may not have any practical consequence, but making it does ensure that your opinion or grievance is heard and is given some thought by Members of Parliament.

How to do it

To make a petition to the House of Representatives, obtain information from the Office of the Clerk. This sets out the rules you must follow on how your petition must be worded and who can present it. Don’t start gathering signatures until you have read this information!

Find out more!

Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives
Parliament Buildings
Wellington
Tel: (04) 471 9999 extn 8194
Fax: (04) 473 2439