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Our House: A house of representatives should, ideally, be ...

International perspectives on democracy: Commonwealth heads of government leaders said in their ...

Electing Parliament: The MPs and the political parties in New Zealand's Parliament are elected ...

Members of Parliament: In the 27 July 2002 general election, Labour gained 52, National 27, New Zealand ...

Forming the government: The Labour and Progressive Coalition Parties in Parliament have agreeed ...

Composition of Parliament: New Zealand's Parliament is a place where more and more sections ...

The New Zealand Business and Parliament Trust: The New Zealand Business and Parliament Trust was formed in 1991 to bridge ...

The role of the speaker: The Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives is the highest officer ...

Who drafts the laws? To make sure laws ar written correctly, Parliament has ...

The Office of the Clerk: The position of Clerk of the House of Representatives is one of the oldest ...

Parliamentary Service: The Parliamentary Service is one of two parliamentary agencies providing ...

What MPs do: Conventions, not job descriptions, guide what ..

MP's pay: Members of Parliament currently receive a ....

Living two lives: John Key, aged 41, National MP for Helensville, was an investment ...

From Youth MP to youngest MP: Darren Hughes, at 24 New Zealand's youngest ...

Government and Opposition: There is a tradition of thinking that asserts that ideas change with ...

How laws are made: Parliament is New Zealand's supreme law-making body. It's members study ...

How a bill becomes an Act

Select committees: After a bill is introduced to Parliament and has been given its ...

Select commitee members

Petitioning Parliament: Every New Zealand citizen or resident has the right to petition Parliament ...

Visiting Parliament: People come for many reasons to tour New Zealand's Parliament ...

150 years: The New Zealand Parliament celebrates its 150th ...


  Electing Parliment
Who does what?
Election results

Electing Parliament

Get yourself on the roll
MMP is a Proportional Voting System

The MPs and the political parties in New Zealand’s Parliament — the House of Representatives — are elected by the people to represent us. Elections are held at least every three years. It is important that you vote, because the laws passed by Parliament and the decisions made by the government affect you, your country and the area in which you live.

There is universal suffrage in New Zealand. All citizens and permanent residents aged 18 and older have the right to vote. Every citizen who is enrolled as an elector is eligible to be a candidate for election as a Member of Parliament.

A political party that gains more than half the 120 seats in Parliament at a general election can form a majority government by itself. If no one party has an outright majority of MPs, two or more parties with a combined majority of seats can form a majority coalition government. If no one party has an outright majority and no majority coalition can be agreed upon, one or more parties can form a minority government with the support of other parties outside the government.

New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy. Our sovereign, the Queen of New Zealand, is the Head of State. The Queen’s representative, the Governor-General, has all the powers of the Queen in relation to New Zealand. Although an integral part of the process of government, the Queen and the Governor-General remain politically neutral and do not get involved in the political contest.

Get yourself on the roll

Before you can vote, your name must be on the electoral roll. The electoral roll is a record of all enrolled New Zealand voters that is kept up to date between elections.

To register as an elector a person must be at least 17 years of age, a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident, and must have lived in the country for at least one year at some stage during their life. You must also have lived continuously for at least one month at the address for which you apply to be registered.

Once you have enrolled as an elector, you must let a Registrar of Electors know whenever you shift to a new address. You can do this by filling in a 'Change of Address Request' form at any PostShop or postal agency, or by updating your address on the electoral website, .

People who fail to advise their new address are removed from the electoral roll and will need to re-enrol.

A roll for each General and Māori electorate is printed every year (and twice in a general election year) showing each elector’s name, address and occupation. Printed rolls are available for public inspection at each Registrar of Electors’ office, PostShops, public libraries and courthouses. Anyone can also check their enrolment through the electoral website.

If you are of Māori descent and enrolling for the first time, you can choose to go on either the General or the Māori electoral roll. Once enrolled you cannot change the type of roll you are on until the next Māori Electoral Option, which is held every five years, after a census.

By going on the Māori roll you’ll be voting for a Māori electorate MP instead of a General electorate MP. But everyone chooses between the same parties with their Party Vote.

MMP is a Proportional Voting System

Under New Zealand’s proportional electoral system, each elector can cast two votes, both of which are printed side by side on a single ballot paper:

  • the Party Vote shows all the registered political parties that have nominated a party list for the general election. Every voter chooses among the same parties on the Party Vote, regardless of whether he or she is enrolled for a General electorate or a Māori electorate
  • the Electorate Vote is for an electorate MP to represent the General or Māori electorate for which the voter is enrolled as an elector.

Voters need to know that, in general, each qualifying party’s share of the MPs in the House of Representatives is decided by its share of all the Party Votes. To qualify for a share of the 120 seats in Parliament a political party has to win an electorate seat or at least five percent of the Party Votes. So, for example, a party that wins 20% of the Party Votes can expect to have 24 Members of Parliament.

If a party’s share of the Party Votes entitles it to more seats than the number of electorate seats it has won, the party gets whatever number of list MPs is needed to bring it up to the right total.

But if a party’s share entitles it to fewer seats than the number of electorate seats it has won, it still keeps its electorate seats. These are known as overhang seats and the total number of seats in Parliament increases by that number until the next election.

List MPs come from the list nominated by each party before the election. They are elected in the order they appear on the party’s list, after deleting any candidates who won electorate seats.

Who does what?

Electoral administration is currently shared by three main agencies:

The Chief Electoral Office (part of the Ministry of Justice) conducts elections and national referenda. It appoints Returning Officers in each of the 69 electorates. Contact:

The Electoral Commission is responsible for the registration of political parties and the supervision of their compliance with the requirements of the Electoral Act relating to election expenses and disclosure of donations. It also allocates election broadcasting time and funds to political parties and has a public information role. Contact:
The Electoral Enrolment Centre (part of New Zealand Post) is responsible for enrolling electors and keeping the electoral rolls up to date. It also conducts the Māori Electoral Option. Contact:

Graphic shows instructions for voting.

Find out More!

To find out more about New Zealand’s electoral system go to our website or contact the Electoral Commission or phone (4) 474 0670




Elections New Zealand logo.



Photo shows a sign outside a polling booth directing people to the voting area.
























Elections New Zealand logo.