Return to DecisionMaker Publications main menu.  Return to Guide contents page. Meet the team. Using the DecisionMaker Guide site. Places on the web that interest us.
Order your copy of the Guide or other DecisionMaker publications.
A directory of Government agencies.
Exercises and worksheets for highschool students.
The big picture
Link to the big picture
Link to How the law works
Link to How Parliament works Link to How government works

Search in DecisionMaker

Pieces of a whole
Sovereignty: from the Treaty of Waitangi to the United Nations
Sovereignty challenged
Te Tiriti o Waitangi
How it all fits together
Representing the Queen
Three branches of government
MMP's first decade
Watchdogs for democracy
National identities
Association of former Members of Parliament
Pacific citizens
How consultation works
How participation works




Three branches of government

Graphic shows three branches of government, the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.

New Zealand’s system of Government follows the Westminster model, with a constitutional monarchy, a sovereign Parliament, and the essential business of government distributed among three separate entities.

This principle of distribution is known as the separation of powers. It exists to ensure that the principal powers of the government, that is, legislative, Executive and judicial, are not concentrated in the hands of any single set of persons.

Each of the three branches has a specific function:

The legislature, which in New Zealand is the single chamber House of Representatives, retains the legislative power to make laws, through drafting, examining and debating bills. Unlike Australia and England, New Zealand no longer has a second chamber in the form of a Senate or an upper House.

The Executive, made up of the Crown (represented by the Governor-General), Cabinet Ministers, and the public service, has responsibility for developing, initiating and implementing policy, as well as for the publiction and administration of legislation.

The judiciary comprises the Judges and the courts, and exercises the power to interpret and apply the law through the court system.

As the New Zealand Parliament has no upper House, it is up to the MMP electoral system and the strong select committee system to ensure that the Executive does not dominate the legislature. This role is exercised by the Senate in Australia and the House of Lords in the UK.

The actions of the Executive are also subject to the restraints of the Treaty of Waitangi, the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, the Human Rights Act, and international law.

This account is by Diane Salter, who uses the diagram in her professional development of policy analysts and managers in the public and private sectors. It was developed for the 5th edition of the DecisionMaker Guide to Parliament and Government, and readers can find out more from the Office of the Clerk at NZ's Parliament, and can find out more also from the Ministry of Justice
Link updated 21 December 2005


Affiliated programs Sitemap Privacy Accessibility Terms of use

Search powered by
Google New Zealand W3C HTML Guidelines

Copyright © 2006 Asia Pacific Economic News Ltd. All rights reserved. Users of the Guide are free to make copies or entire pages for personal or educational use, but not for commercial purposes. Copies of individual photos or ilustrations may not be made without the permission of the copyright holders. Use of this website signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use.