The History of Migration to and Settlement of Pito-one (Petone) 1840–1990 (after James Turkington 1940).

A series of acrylic mural paintings by Irena Stenner and Grant Corbishley, 1989.

Petone Settlers Museum (Te Whare Whakaaro o Pito-one).

The mural by James Turkington originally decorated the four walls in the foyer of the Wellington Provincial Centennial Memorial, built on the Petone foreshore in 1940. A number of events were also staged on the beach nearby, which is where the first New Zealand Company settlers landed.

The painting, along with the building, subsequently fell into disrepair and was painted over in the late 1970s, at about the time the building was refurbished and converted to the Petone Settlers Museum. The only record of the original mural remaining was a series of black-and-white photographs held by the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington. When it was decided to commission the repainting for the 1990 commemorations, these were used as a basis, although two new panels were added.

New Zealand Official Yearbook
Cat. no. 01.001
ISSN 0078–0170

Recommended retail price:
      — softcover $49.95 (incl. GST)
      — hardcover $69.95 (incl. GST)

Published by the Department of Statistics.

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The Department of Statistics has an information desk at every office. In answer to a letter, visit, or telephone call, information officers can provide statistical information, or tell you more about the department's other services, including access to statistics on the INFOS computer database.

Table of Contents

List of Tables


The ultimate shape of any society is determined by the choices made by its people in their everyday lives. Sometimes they are choices forced upon them by extraordinary circumstances.

The focus of early historians was upon the large events of history and the prominent characters. Then came the modern, social historians who asked about ordinary people's lives, about the size of their families, where they lived, why they moved, how much they earned, what happened to their land, what they believed in, or died of.

Probably the most important and lasting effect of the 1990 commemorations is a thoughtful reassessment of our country by its citizens at large. People are realising any future we may have presupposes a present and a past which are all ultimately related. So we look to perceive patterns which might help us understand what really makes us tick as New Zealanders.

And we are very lucky, because for most of the past 150 years, quietly providing a full and informative record of the changing shape of our lives, have been the New Zealand Official Yearbooks. They have provided students of geography and social history with a remarkable and respected source of accessible, accurate, up-to-date information.

For this high standard of service I commend the Department of Statistics and all who have worked on the Yearbooks. They have made a contribution to the accurate charting of our heritage which is gaining more and more public recognition.

Now, there is this special edition to mark 1990. It is a fitting landmark which will be a highlight in our records. I do not think any collection of reference books can afford to be without a copy. I hope the Official Yearbooks continue to chronicle our lives and land.

PAUL REEVES, Governor-General.

The New Zealand coat of arms

New Zealand has had its own coat of arms since 1911. Prior to that the United Kingdom coat of arms (featuring a lion and a unicorn on either side of a shield and crown) was used. This design still adorns the top of the pediment on the Old Government Buildings in Wellington, which were built in 1875 to house the colony's public service.

One of the few specific changes to flow on from the granting of dominion status in 1907, was the right for New Zealand to have its own coat of arms. The design below was approved by royal warrant on 26 August 1911. It appeared in the 1912 Yearbook in colour, along with a written description in full heraldic jargon.

The coat of arms was revised in 1956. This time in the wake of further constitutional changes which saw the country become the ‘Realm of New Zealand’ instead of ‘Dominion’. Accordingly, the Union Jack and British lion were replaced by St Edward's Crown, which had been worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her coronation.

At that same time the dress of the figures at the side of the shield was revamped, some Victorian-looking scroll work at the base of the design was replaced by two ferns, and the motto ‘onward’ was replaced by ‘New Zealand’. The new coat of arms appeared in full colour at the beginning of the 1963 and subsequent Yearbooks, and this is reproduced below.


Readers will notice the changes from earlier editions with the 1990 edition of the New Zealand Official Yearbook. Apart from the obvious change of size, there are also major differences in content.

The 94th edition of the Official Yearbook not only provides the regular statistics and other authoritative reference material on New Zealand, but also a wealth of historical material on many different topics, much of which has been reproduced or derived from earlier editions.

The departmental editors have managed to counterpoint the contemporary information with historical text, graphics and photographs, and the result is a volume with frequent changes of perspective as the reader peruses it. I am sure that readers will find the mixture both interesting and informative.

The Official Yearbook can trace its origins in time to a number of different dates last century. It was not known as the Official Yearbook until 1893, but a precursor, the Handbook of New Zealand was prepared as early as 1875. Although not strictly the Official Yearbook's centennial, the 1990 commemorative year was seen as an appropriate time for a special edition.

The preparation of the 1990 Official Yearbook has involved even more contributors than usual, with several hundred persons in various departments and other organisations contributing. Many persons have also given generously of their private time, particularly in the preparation of historical material. All contributors are acknowledged at the end of each chapter, but on behalf of the department I would like to offer my thanks to all concerned. I also record my appreciation of the fine work of the Department of Statistics editorial and graphic design staff, as well as those at the Government Printing Office, who have successfully completed their tasks under considerable time pressure. My special thanks go to Bob White, the Chief Editor of the Official Yearbook, for turning the concept of the 1990 commemoration edition into a product of such excellence.

Despite the emphasis on history, this is not the last edition of the Official Yearbook of course. It will return in the second half of 1991—in its usual format—and continue to chronicle developments in New Zealand as a nation, while providing an authoritative reference work that New Zealanders can use from day to day.

In regard to the specific statistical content of the Official Yearbook, readers should understand that the volume contains only a very small fraction of available official statistics. Just because statistics are not in the Official Yearbook do not assume, as sometimes happens, that they are not available. A written or telephone inquiry to the Department of Statistics will readily reveal the full range of available statistics.

I welcome you as a reader of this special edition of the New Zealand Official Yearbook, and hope that it provides an effective source for meeting a wide range of public information needs.

Government Statistician

June 1990.


The 1990 Yearbook was produced by the Information Services Branch of the Department of Statistics, with the assistance of many individuals and organisations—these are listed in the ‘Contributors’ section at the end of each chapter, but the department wishes to record its thanks here.

Deputy Government Statistician: Len Cook.
Manager: Kevin Eddy.

Editor: Bob White.
Assistant editors: Elizabeth Stone; Don Hunter; lain Malcolm; Michael Biggs.
Designer: Alistair Stewart.
Maps and diagrams: Peter McGrath; Maureen Metcalfe.
Photograph editor: Athol McCredie.
Proofreading: Jane Hunt; Myra Page.


Individual photographs are credited separately, usually at the bottom right-hand corner. Two abbreviations have been used in crediting photographs. ‘NM’ denotes the National Museum as the source of a photograph, while ‘ATL’ refers to the Alexander Turnbull Library. All credits are given in roman type, with individual collections) within larger collections given in italics (e.g., ATL, McAllister refers to the McAllister Collection within the Alexander Turnbull Library).

The editors record their thanks to the many individuals and institutions who made photographs available—particularly the staff of the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Thanks is also expressed to the individual artists and owners of works of art featured in the section ‘Some New Zealand landscape art’.

A Yearbook for New Zealand

The New Zealand government has published a Yearbook of one form or another for more than a century—this volume is an attempt to place this publishing heritage before a wider audience than the historians, economists, and other researchers who frequently begin their research into particular topics in the pages of early Yearbooks and Handbooks.

As such it is not a complete unearthing of what earlier Yearbooks contain, instead it offers only a glimpse. A wider view of many subjects will be found in the rows of earlier Yearbooks in the country's libraries.

The Yearbook traces its origins to the Official Handbook of New Zealand—a Collection of Papers by Experienced Colonists on the Colony as a Whole and in the Several Provinces. This publication, which was printed in England and largely circulated there, appeared in 1875. It was edited by Julius Vogel (later Sir), the Premier of New Zealand, who was at the time leading the country through a period of rapid growth—largely based on capital borrowed overseas. Its purpose was to give ‘a New Zealand view of New Zealand to those who may think of making in the colony their homes or the theatre of business operations’. The book's well-written articles, generously illustrated with woodcuts and photographs, make interesting reading to this day. Although its purpose made it perhaps a little too sanguine.

A new Handbook was issued in parts during 1883–84. It had a similar purpose to its predecessor, but was largely revised—reflecting the rapid political, social and economic changes taking place in the country. Also, by this time the colonial economy was beginning to wane—and this was reflected.

The first Handbooks published and printed in New Zealand appeared in 1891. Early in that year the Report on the Statistics of New Zealand, 1889 was produced by the Registrar-General's office. Later in the year a similar volume was produced that was based on 1890 statistics. Both books were concise (at about 200 pages) and contained a brief history (discovery and early settlement) and a description of the physical features of New Zealand, followed by descriptive and interpretative comment on each of the main classes of statistics published in the annual statistical report. Appendices included a diary of principal events in the history of the colony, the customs tariff, and a brief article on the thermal springs district of New Zealand.

The following year, 1892, saw the appearance of the more ambitious New Zealand Official Handbook, also published by the Registrar-General, E. J. Von Dadelszen, but in the name of the Premier, Balance.

Its 350 pages included a list of successive Parliaments, Premiers, foreign consuls, members of both houses, the principal government officials, and, among other things, an ecclesiastical section. A 64-page commentary on official statistics followed. Articles on special subjects ranging from agriculture to mineral waters concluded the main section of the Handbook, comprising 165 pages. An appendix of 62 pages dealt with lands open for selection, the customs tariff, postal information, and principal events (a feature which has continued to the present). This volume, like its predecessors, was written largely for the information of new or prospective settlers.

In 1893 the first New Zealand Official Yearbook appeared. The government had decided to publish the book annually, and it began the series that has continued to this day. The book was divided into three parts: part 1 included the introductory, official and statistical sections; part 2 contained over 40 articles on special subjects; and the third part contained a detailed description of each land district in New Zealand—locality by locality.

The Yearbook continued in substantially the same format for several years, although there was a gradual change in emphasis until, by the early years of the twentieth century, the considerably expanded volume was intended as a reference work for New Zealanders, and less for intending settlers.

A feature of the earlier issues of the Yearbook was the inclusion of many plates of scenery to accompany colourful descriptive articles. Also, at a time of strong economic growth and new prosperity and assurance for the colony, numerous hand-colour block diagrams and pictograms were included—showing the many areas of progress.

By 1913 the Yearbook had grown to 988 pages and still appeared in three parts—introductory (largely official), statistical, and articles on special subjects. The 1913 issue also contained for the first time a bibliography of works on New Zealand.

During World War I, shortages of staff and paper, and other priorities, saw the Yearbook shrink to a relatively ‘slim’ 700 pages. By the end of the war the transition from guidebook to reference work was complete.

Gone were all the photographs and diagrams and most of the special articles on topical subjects as they arose. Accordingly, the style of writing also changed—to a more sparse and ‘modern’ style, as would be expected from an official reference book.

The post-war slump, combined with severe paper shortages, saw the book shrink from 968 to 414 pages in 1920, the smallest issue this century. The next volume—a combined one covering 1921 and 1922—was in an entirely new form, the demi-octavo size of page previously used giving way to the royal octavo, a size retained until the 1988–89 edition. The book was entirely rearranged, several new sections were introduced, and new features included in existing sections.

In those days of ‘hot metal’ letterpress printing, the trays of lead type that made up each page were stored at the Government Printing Office, with amendments made line-by-line (or ‘slug’ of type) for each edition. ‘Re-casting’ the entire type for the Yearbook was not completed again until well after World War II (in 1953). From about this time the first graphs and black-and-white plates began to reappear in the book after a gap of 40 years.

Yearbook sales, like everything else about the book, remained steady at about 5000 copies per annum or less for most years until the 1960s. In 1961 it was again reformatted and a more ‘vigilant’ editorial policy began to emerge. This, coupled with a relatively-stable (and heavily subsidised) cover price of between 15/- and £1, saw sales begin to increase steadily—eventually to reach a peak of over 12 000 copies per edition in the late 1970s (as recently as 1981 the 1040-page volume sold for less than $10).

The two decades from 1960 were, in many ways, the heyday of the Yearbook as a reference volume. It faced little competition as an authoritative source of information on New Zealand, and was fairly heavily subsidised. Also, as it became more assured in its coverage of ‘routine’ facts and figures, it began to branch out into increasing numbers of special articles and photographic supplements on topical subjects—or, if nothing else was available, New Zealand scenery. This was, in a sense, a return to the approach of the first Handbooks and Yearbooks. In 1974, the Commonwealth Games at Christchurch saw the first colour photograph supplement, and these were to be an annual feature until the early 1980s.

The 1980s were, in turn, to see major changes for New Zealand's Yearbook. The revolution in printing and information technology that has taken place from the late 1970s was to affect sales badly as it failed to capitalise on the new technologies and several new reference works appeared in competition. At the same time the price subsidy was reduced, leading to sales falling to just over a third of their former levels by about the middle of the decade. A soft cover was introduced in 1983 to keep the purchase price down.

Despite being converted to the new ‘cold-type’ and offset printing process in 1978, the Yearbook continued to be presented largely as it had been for 70 years, while its statistics were available from a range of more up-to-date sources, and it had failed in many ways to keep step as a general reference on New Zealand. At the same time, in an age of on-line access to computer databases and a general passion for up-to-the-minute information, the need for a ‘chronicle’ was not widely perceived.

After 1930s-level sales in 1986 (4500 copies), the Yearbook has begun to recover some of its lost sales and restore itself to its former position as a New Zealand reference work of first resort.

This edition takes stock of the Yearbook's long publishing heritage and illustrates some aspects of its role as a chronicle over more than a century. Whether this role will be retained for another century remains to be seen.

How to use the 1990 Yearbook

As a new reader of the New Zealand Official Yearbook you may be surprised at the range of information within its pages. But, like any other reference work, the Yearbook is only as effective as its information is accessible. The following notes are therefore included to familiarise you with the book.

What is the Yearbook?

As noted above, the aims and functions of the New Zealand Official Yearbook have changed with the times. Today, its editors publish with two main purposes in mind. Firstly, it is a compendium of facts and figures on New Zealand. Secondly, it is an annual describing major changes in New Zealand's administrative framework for the year preceding publication.

The Yearbook does not usually contain the latest or most detailed statistics on particular topics, but it does tell its readers where the latest or more detailed figures or information are available. Also, the historical material included in the 1990 Yearbook, while accurate, is obviously not complete. Rather it is illustrative and has been included to complement the current facts and figures.

Finding your way

There are two likely ways you will look for information.

If your question is general, for example ‘How is New Zealand governed?’, then you will probably refer firstly to the table of contents (beginning overleaf), which lists not only chapter headings but major sections within chapters. In approaching the book this way it is worth bearing in mind that the 26 chapters follow a ‘logical’ progression. The first few chapters describe the physical setting as well as New Zealand's history, system of government and international relations. A description of its people comes next, followed by social framework and institutions. Chapters 12–21 describe New Zealand's work-force and industries, while the final chapters of the book discuss the nation in broad economic terms.

Throughout the book cross references are made, usually by reference to numbered sections within chapters (which appear at the head of each right-hand page).

If, on the other hand, your question is more specific, for example ‘How many people drown while boating each year?’, then the book is thoroughly indexed, and a brief note on the system used can be found at the beginning of the index.

To find historical information simply follow the same steps as to find contemporary facts and figures.

About the history

The 1990 Yearbook is in a sense two books—one about today and another about the past—and at times the relationship between current and historical material can be confusing. One or two ‘rules of thumb’ can eliminate this confusion. The first point to remember is that current text and tables appear only in the wider column on each page and in the same typeface as you are reading. The second is that historical material appears only in the narrower column of type—in another typeface and usually with a colour background.

A third rule to remember is that all text or tables reproduced from earlier Yearbooks appears in italic type—again only in the narrow column.

If it is not given in the text, the year any text originally appeared is given in boldface type below. Where photographs or diagrams are reproduced from earlier-editions, the date of the Yearbook they appeared in is given in small print below the left-hand corner.

Remember, historical material reproduced from earlier editions does not necessarily reflect the view of the Department of Statistics or any other Yearbook contributor today—but it is reproduced word-for-word as it originally appeared (in italic type).

Deadline for statistics

Because the Yearbook covers such a broad range of subjects, few of its statistics are being published for the first time. Many statistics from government departments and other organisations have been published late in the year preceding publication.

For this edition the figures published are at least the latest available at 1 January 1990.


If the source of a particular table is other than the Department of Statistics, then it is noted at the base of the table. Tables are usually for the year ended 31 March, or for the calendar year. Most tables indicate the months in which the years end, and where a single year is indicated and no month is mentioned the figures can be assumed to be for the calendar year. Where two years are given together, e.g., 1988–89, and no month is mentioned, it can be assumed the figures are for the year ended 31 March.

The following symbols are used in all the tables:

Figures are often rounded-off to the nearest thousand or some convenient unit. Sometimes this rounding results in tables with totals which disagree slightly with the total of the individual items shown.

Statistics from the 1981 and 1986 Censuses of Population and Dwellings have been subject to a process of random rounding, whereby all cell values, including row and column totals, have been rounded. Individual figures will therefore not necessarily add up to the stated totals.

Weights and measures, and a glossary of statistical terms used, are given at the back of the book.

Further information

If you require general information on a topic the ‘Further information’ section at the end of each chapter provides a brief list of official publications relevant to that chapter. Contributing organisations are also listed in the order of appearance at the end of each chapter, and a list of Department of Statistics publications can be found at the back of the book.


Special articles in earlier Yearbooks

1892 Building stones; Varieties of soil.

1894 Acclimatisation; Co-operative system of constructing public works; Frozen meat trade; Labour in New Zealand; Railways in New Zealand: their history and progress; Sheep fanning; The Southern Alps; State farms; The West Coast Sounds:

1895 Shipping companies; The Wellington-Manawatu railway.

1896 Laws of England and New Zealand, difference between.

1897 Waihi Gold Mining Co.

1898 Mount Cook: its glaciers, and the Hermitage; A scenic wonderland.

1899 Christchurch to West Coast, journey from; Forest trees and the timber industry'; The gold dredging industry; The Mount Cook district; Journeys in Central North Island; Tuhoeland.

1900 The Chatham Islands; Coal deposits of New Zealand; The hemp industry'; Kauri gum; Maori mythology; Ascent of Mount Sefton, and a night on Mount Cook; New Zealand contingents for South Africa; Pumicestone deposits of New Zealand; Up the Wanganui River, to Tokaanu.

1901 Maori religion; The Marlborough Sounds, and Otago lakes.

1902 Cook Islands, the law of; The neolithic Maori.

1903 Maori sociology.

1905 Colour sense of the Maori.

1906 Maori marriage customs.

1907 Amusements, games, etc. of the ancient Maori; New Zealand International Exhibition.

1908 Clothing, etc. of the ancient Maori.

1912 Agriculture in New Zealand

1913 HMS New Zealand and government training ship Amokura; Mineral waters of New Zealand.

1915 The external trade of New Zealand.

1919 Topographical nomenclature of the Maori; Wages and working hours in New Zealand.

1925 Education system of New Zealand; Effect of nativity order on infant mortality; Local government in New Zealand; Terman intelligence tests in New Zealand schools.

1926 Cancer in New Zealand: a statistical study; The totalisator.

1927 Mission of the Britomart at Akaroa in August 1840; Mortality rates.

1929 Livestock production.

1938 Dairy farm survey; Ross Dependency.

1940 Plants and fauna; Libraries; Tourist attractions, mineral waters and spas.

1946 The Alexander Turnbull Library; The National Film Unit.

1947–49 Retail prices in New Zealand.

1950 Economic policy and national income.

1951–52 Department of Scientific and Industrial Research; Standardisation.

1953 Sources of statistical information.

1954 Royal Tour of New Zealand, 23 December 1953 to 31 January 1954.

1955 New Zealand tourist industry, tourist and sporting attractions.

1956 Royal Commission on Monetary, Banking, and Credit Systems.

1957 Consumers Price Index—1955 revision.

1958 New Zealand activities in the Antarctic.

1959 New Zealand's international activities.

1960 Grassland research in New Zealand.

1961 University education for science and technology.

1962 New Zealand and the European Economic Community.

1963 Royal visit, February 1963; The development of New Zealand's railway system 1863–1963.

1964 The arts in New Zealand.

1965 The Maori people as shown by the Population Census 1961.

1966 Industrial relations—the next ten years and beyond; Population growth and economic development in New Zealand.

1967 Scientific research in New Zealand.

1968 Recent constitutional changes in the South-west Pacific.

1969 National Development Conference 1969; Development of forestry and forest industries; Captain James Cook and his three voyages of discovery in the Pacific 1768–79.

1970 Metrication; Human pressures on the natural environment.

1971 Ministry of Works, 1871–1971.

1972 Evolution of social security in New Zealand; The New Zealand dairy industry 1871–1971.

1973 Development of the meat industry 1922–72; New Zealand membership of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development;

1974 Tenth British Commonwealth Games 1974; New Zealand ports and shipping developments.

1975 Revision of Consumers Price Index 1974; Household Sample Survey 1973–74; Input-output analysis: an abacus for economists.

1976 Tourism, the invisible export; One hundred years of Lands and Survey.

1977 Royal visit 1977; New Zealand at the turning point; Education in the New Zealand community.

1978 Abbreviations, contractions, and acronyms; General Price Index.

1979 Abbreviations, contractions, and acronyms (revised); The child and learning in a multi-cultural society.

1980 The New Zealand environment and changes in environmental management since 1970; Life tables: a measure of life expectancy.

1981 The golden fleece: the evolution of the New Zealand wool industry; Consumers Price Index 1980 revision.

1982 General election 1981; A century of meat exports.

1984 INFOS (Information Network for Official Statistics).

1985 New Zealand women: their changing situation, 1970–84.

1986–87 Goods and services tax.

1987–88 National parks centennial.

1988–89 New Zealand's immigration policy; Te reo Maori; New directions in social policy.

Chapter 1. Geography

1.1 Physical features

New Zealand lies in the south-west Pacific Ocean and consists of two main, and a number of smaller islands, whose combined area of 270 000 square kilometres is similar to the size of Japan or the British Isles.

The main North and South Islands are separated by Cook Strait, which at its narrowest point is 20 kilometres wide. They lie on an axis running from north-east to south-west, except for the low-lying Northland peninsula. The administrative boundaries of New Zealand extend from 33° to 53° south latitude, and from 162° east to 173° west longitude. In addition to the main and nearby islands, New Zealand also includes the following small inhabited outlying islands: the Chatham Islands, 850 kilometres east of Christchurch; Raoul Island in the Kermadec Group, 930 kilometres north-east of the Bay of Islands; and Campbell Island, 590 kilometres south of Stewart Island. New Zealand also has jurisdiction over the territories of Tokelau and the Ross Dependency, which are described in chapter 4.


Land areaSize

* These figures were current at 1 December 1989. New mapping techniques mean there are regular small adjustments.

Includes islands in territorial local authorities.

Excluding islands in territorial local authorities.

Source: Department of Survey and Land Information.

 sq. km.
North Island115,777
South Island151,215
Offshore islands833
Stewart Island1,746
Chatham Islands963
                Total270 534

New Zealand is more than 1600 kilometres long and 450 kilometres wide at its widest part, and has a long coastline for its area. The coast is very indented in places, providing many natural harbours. The country is also very mountainous, with less than a quarter of the land less than 200 metres above sea level. In the North Island the main ranges run generally north-east to south-west, parallel to the coast, from East Cape to Cook Strait, with further ranges and four volcanic peaks to the north-west. The South Island is much more mountainous than the North Island. A massive mountain chain, the Southern Alps, runs almost the length of the island. There are many outlying ranges to the Southern Alps in the north, and the south-west of the South Island. There are at least 223 named peaks higher than 2300 metres. There are also 360 glaciers in the Southern Alps. The largest are, on the east, the Tasman (length 29 kilometres), Murchison (17 kilometres), Mueller (13 kilometres), Godley (13 kilometres) and the Hooker (11 kilometres), and, on the west, the Fox (15 kilometres) and the Franz Josef (13 kilometres).


Mountain or peakElevation

* Since 1986 both the Maori and European names of this mountain have had official recognition.

Peaks over 5000 metres.

Source: Department of Survey and Land Information.

North Island—
     Taranaki or Egmont*2,518
South Island
Southern Alps
     Mt Hicks (St David's Dome)3,183
     Malte Brun3,155
     Elie de Beaumont3,117
     La Perouse3,079
     Glacier Peak3,007

New Zealand's rivers are mainly swift and difficult to navigate. They are important as sources of hydro-electric power and artificial lakes have been created as part of major hydroelectric schemes.



* Over 150 kilometres in length from the mouth to the farthest point in the river system irrespective of name, including estimated courses through lakes.

Source: Department of Survey and Land Information.

North Island—
Flowing into the Pacific Ocean
Flowing into the Tasman Sea
South Island—
Flowing into Cook Strait
Flowing into the Pacific Ocean
Flowing into Foveaux Strait
Flowing into the Tasman Sea



* Over 20 square kilometres in area.

Source: Department of Survey and Land Information.

 sq. km
North Island—
South Island—
     Te Anau344
     Benmore (artificial)75
     Aviemore (artificial)29
     Mahinerangi (artificial)21

1.2 Geology

New Zealand is in an area of the world characterised by active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes. The ‘ring of fire’, as this area is known, forms a belt that surrounds the Pacific Ocean and is the surface expression of a series of boundaries between the plates that make up the earth's crust.

Plate tectonics is a theory used to explain the fundamental geological features of the earth. According to the theory the crust of the earth is made up of a series of plates, rather like a jigsaw puzzle. Although these surface plates are rigid, the rocks of the underlying layer of the earth, its upper mantle, are partially molten. This provides the convection mechanism for movement of the overlying plates. Over millions of years these plates have moved in relation to each other, colliding together, pulling apart, or sometimes sliding past each other. The boundary between the Indo-Australian plate and the Pacific plate runs through New Zealand, and the processes resulting from their collision have had a profound effect on New Zealand's geology. When two plates collide, one is pushed beneath the other in a process known as subduction. Zones of subduction are defined by two deep sea trenches to the north and south of New Zealand, which are connected by the Alpine Fault. The size, shape and geology of New Zealand reflects the long process of construction and deformation along this plate boundary.

Rock types

The interplay of earth movements and erosion has created the sedimentary rocks that cover almost three-quarters of New Zealand. Erosion of land produced sand, mud, gravel and other debris which was carried out to sea and accumulated in great thicknesses to form rocks such as sandstone, mudstone, greywacke and conglomerate. The shells and skeletons of sea creatures also accumulated and formed thick layers of limestone. Most sedimentary rocks are formed in near horizontal layers called strata. Earth movements later raised the rocks above the sea to form land, and in many places pressure tilted and folded the strata. Seas advanced and retreated over the New Zealand area many times and the sedimentary rocks represent almost every geological period since the Cambrian (see time scale). Their age is revealed by the fossils they contain or may be determined by various radiometric techniques.

As well as the sedimentary rocks of various ages, New Zealand incorporates in its complex structure metamorphic rocks (schist, gneiss and marble), and intrusive igneous rocks (granite, gabbro, diorite and serpentine). Many of these metamorphic and intrusive igneous rocks are hundreds of millions of years old.

Instrusive rocks are generally considered to have entered the outer crust in a molten state, often during periods of mountain building. Some may, however, result from the intense metamorphism (melting) of pre-existing sediments. Intrusive rocks contain large crystals and have a coarse-grained texture.

Metamorphic rocks are formed when previously existing rocks are subjected to high temperatures and pressures while buried deep within the earth's crust. During metamorphism new minerals and structures develop within a rock due to the great temperatures and pressures. Such metamorphism often takes place during relatively short periods of mountain building.

Volcanic rocks (basalt, andesite, rhyolite and ignimbrite), are the products of many volcanic eruptions that have characterised New Zealand's geological history. The most recognisable volcanoes in New Zealand now occur in the North Island, where a number are active. They include those in Tongariro National Park, White Island and Mount Tarawera. Others such as Mount Taranaki (or Egmont), and Rangitoto may be considered dormant at present although they are still regarded as significant hazards. Sporadic episodes of volcanic activity have also occurred in the South Island with Timaru, Lyttelton, Oamaru and Dunedin all having basaltic volcanoes less than 13 million years old.

Geological history

The oldest rocks in New Zealand are found in Nelson, Westland and Fiordland. They have been dated back to the Paleozoic era about 570 million years ago. They include thick sedimentary rocks which suggest that to yield the great volume of sediments a large land-mass existed nearby at that time, although so far little has been deduced about its shape or position.

The history of the later part of the Paleozoic era, and the Mesozoic era, is rather better understood. For a vast span of time from the Carboniferous period, probably until the early Cretaceous period, an extensive depositional basin occupied the New Zealand region. At first, during much of the late Paleozoic, huge quantities of submarine lava and volcanic ash were included in the materials that accumulated. In the later Permian and Mesozoic times sediments were mainly sand and mud, probably derived from some landmass west of present New Zealand. These rocks have been compacted into hard greywacke (a type of sandstone), and argillite (hard, dark mudstone).

In the early Cretaceous period one of the main mountain-building episodes in New Zealand's history took place. Although basinal sedimentation continued through the Cretaceous period in eastern New Zealand, elsewhere this basin was compressed, and the sediments were intensely crumpled, broken and raised above the sea, probably forming a large, mountainous landmass. Some of the sediments, now exposed over much of Otago, alpine Westland, and parts of the Marlborough Sounds, were metamorphosed into schist and gneiss by high temperatures and the tremendous deforming pressures. This intense folding of the strata occurred approximately 100 million years ago in the mid-Cretaceous period. Slowly the mountains were eroded and gradually a land of low relief was produced. The sea gradually advanced over the eroded stumps of the Mesozoic mountains, beginning its transgression earlier in some areas than in others. In the early Cretaceous period the land became submerged in the region of present Northland and the eastern margins of the North and South Islands, and thick deposits of mudstone and sandstone accumulated in some of these areas. At the close of the Mesozoic era, and in the very early Tertiary era, the land became so reduced in size that little sediment was produced and only comparatively thin deposits of bentonitic and sulphurous muds, and fine, white foraminiferal limestone accumulated. During this time, New Zealand's main coal deposits accumulated in swamps on the surface of the old land. These became buried by marine deposits as the sea continued its transgression in the Eocene period. By the Oligocene period most of the land was submerged, and in shallow waters free of land sediments, thick deposits of shell and foraminiferal limestone accumulated. Scattered remnants of this Oligocene limestone are used for most of New Zealand's cement and agricultural lime.


EraPeriod Approximate time since
period began (years)
CenozoicHolocene (recent)Quaternary10,000
Pleistocene2 million
PlioceneTertiary6 million
Miocene24 million
Oligocene38 million
Eocene53 million
Paleocene65 million
MesozoicCretaceous 135 million
Jurassic 190 million
Triassic 238 million
PaleozoicPermian 300 million
Carboniferous 350 million
Devonian 405 million
Silurian 435 million
Ordovician 500 million
Cambrian 570 million
Source: DSIR.

After the Oligocene submergence, earth movements became more vigorous; many ridges rose from the sea as islands, and sank or were worn down again; sea basins formed and were rapidly filled with sediments. New Zealand's late Tertiary environment has been described by Sir Charles Fleming (Tuatara, June 1962) as follows: ‘The pattern of folds, belts and troughs that developed was on a finer scale than in the Mesozoic … the land moved up and down as a series of narrow, short, interfingering or branching folds. … We can think of Tertiary New Zealand as an archipelago … a kind of writhing of part of the mobile Pacific margin seems to have gone on.’ The thick deposits of soft grey sandstone and mudstone that now make up large areas of the North Island and some parts of the South Island, are the deposits that accumulated in the many sea basins that developed in the later Tertiary.

Recent geological history

Late in the Cenozoic era, in the Pliocene and Pleistocene periods between 6 million and 1 million years ago, another great episode of mountain building took place. Earth movements became intense, and slowly pushed up the Southern Alps and New Zealand's other main mountain chains. It was during this period that the general size and shape of the present islands of New Zealand was determined. Much of the movement during this mountain-building period (the Kaikoura Orogeny) took the form of displacement of blocks of the earth's crust along fractures called faults. The total movement of blocks adjacent to major faults amounted to thousands of metres. It must have been achieved very slowly, probably by innumerable small movements, each less than a few metres. The blocks adjacent to ‘transcurrent’ faults moved both vertically and laterally along the faults. The New Zealand landscape today in some regions shows well-preserved, tilted fault blocks bounded by fault scarps (steep faces hundreds or even thousands of metres high). From Milford Sound to Cook Strait, an almost unbroken depression, formed by river valleys and low saddles on the intervening ridges, marks the line of New Zealand's Alpine Fault. Contrasting rock types occur on either side of the fault. This is illustrated by the 480 kilometre separation of Permian igneous rocks, which occur in Nelson and western Otago. Fault movements continue to the present day and have accompanied several major earthquakes of the past century. Many minor but revealing landscape features, such as scarplets or offset ridges, or streams, show where the movement has been occurring over recent centuries.

Erosion has transformed the landscape during this time, carving detailed patterns of peaks, ridges, valleys and gorges. The deposition of debris has built up alluvial plains, shingle fans and other construction forms. At the coast, waves have eaten back the headlands and built beaches, spits and bars. The late Pleistocene glaciers carved the fiords of Fiordland and the valleys occupied by most of the South Island lakes; there were also small glaciers on Ruapehu, where remnants survive, on Mount Taranaki and the Tararua Range. Sea-level changes accompanied the formation and later melting of global glacial ice, affecting the erosion and deposition of the rivers. These changes were responsible for the formation of many prominent river terraces.

Volcanic activity over the past few million years has played an important part in shaping the landscape. Banks Peninsula, a twin volcanic dome in Canterbury, also achieved much of its growth then. The largest volcanic outpourings of late geological times in New Zealand has been in the region between Tongariro National Park and the Bay of Plenty coast; andesite lava, scoria, and ash were erupted in the Pleistocene period and later, to build the volcanoes, Ruapehu, Tongariro, and Ngauruhoe. More than 8000 cubic kilometres of molten ignimbrite pumice and rhyolite lava erupted, building up the Volcanic Plateau, which is one of the largest and youngest accumulations of acid volcanic rocks in the world. Mount Taranaki is an andesitic stratovolcano, with the remnants of three other volcanic cones nearby; all are of Pleistocene age. In the Waikato there are eroded Pleistocene cones of andesitic composition associated with a number of alkaline eruptive centres. The largest is Pirongia, a basaltic andesite cone some 900 metres high. Auckland city and the area just south has been the scene of many eruptions of basalt lava and scoria in Pleistocene and Holocene times, and many small scoria cones can be seen there. Late Tertiary and Quaternary basaltic eruptions in North Auckland have built lava plateaus and many young cones. From these volcanic outpourings some valuable mineral resources have been derived. The ironsands mined on the west coast of the North Island are concentrations of magnetite and ilmenite, which have been eroded from volcanic rocks.


Compared with some other parts of the almost continuous belt of earthquake activity around the rim of the Pacific—such as Japan, Chile, and the Philippines—the level of seismic activity in New Zealand is moderate, although earthquakes are common. It may be roughly compared with that prevailing in California. A shock of Richter magnitude 6 or above occurs on the average about once a year, a shock of magnitude 7 or above once in ten years, and a shock of about magnitude 8 perhaps once a century, but in historic times only one shock (the south-west Wairarapa earthquake in 1855) is known to have reached this magnitude.

Other natural disasters and accidents are together responsible for more casualties than earthquakes. The most serious seismic disasters in New Zealand have been the Hawkes Bay earthquake of 1931 in which 256 deaths occurred, and the Buller earthquake of 1929 in which there were 17 deaths. The total resulting from all other shocks since 1840 is less than 15 deaths. The last earthquake to cause deaths occurred at Inangahua in 1968, when three people died, while the most recent damaging earthquakes have been at Edgecumbe in the Bay of Plenty in March 1987 and Dannevirke in May 1990.

The process of earthquake occurrence is understood in terms of a large volume of the earth's crust being subjected to strain by the relentless movement of the great plates of the earth's surface against each other. The strain eventually exceeds the strength of the rock, which ruptures. Energy is radiated outwards in the form of elastic waves, which can be felt at places near the origin, and detected by sensitive instruments at greater distances. In large shallow earthquakes the rupture may appear at the surface, forming or renewing movement on a geological fault. In regions where the majority of earthquakes are very shallow, such as California, there is a tendency for the earthquake origins to cluster near geological fault traces, but in regions of deeper activity, such as New Zealand, this is not so. There is little activity near the Alpine Fault, which stretches for some 500 kilometres from Milford Sound to Lake Rotoiti, and is considered one of the world's largest and most active faults.

Within New Zealand at least two separate systems of seismic activity can be distinguished. The Main Seismic Region covers the whole of the North Island except the Northland peninsula, and the part of the South Island north of a line passing roughly between Banks Peninsula and Cape Foulwind. The Southern, or Fiordland, Seismic Region includes southern Westland, western Southland, and western Otago. Less clearly defined activity covers the remainder of the two main islands, and extends eastwards from Banks Peninsula to include the Chatham Islands.

Shallow earthquakes, which are the most numerous, originate within the Earth's crust, which in New Zealand has an average thickness of some 35 kilometres. These shocks are responsible for almost all damage to property, and are widely scattered throughout the country. In historically recent times, the Main and Fiordland Seismic Regions have been significantly more active than the rest of New Zealand, but neither the Central Seismic Region., which lies between them, nor the Northland peninsula has been free from damaging shocks. The details of the present pattern are not necessarily unchanging, and could alter significantly after the occurrence of a major earthquake. Because of this, the broader geophysical setting, and the distance to which the effects of a large earthquake extend, it would be highly imprudent to treat any part of New Zealand as completely free from the risk of serious earthquake damage.

Many active regions of the Earth have only shallow earthquakes, but in others shocks have been known to occur at depths as great as 700 kilometres below the surface. It is thought that these deep shocks originate within the edges of crustal plates that have been drawn down or thrust beneath their neighbours. Such deep events are common in both the Main and Fiordland Seismic Regions of New Zealand, but their relative positions with respect to the shallow activity and to other geophysical features are rough mirror images. This is believed to indicate that in the North Island the edge of the Pacific Plate lies below that of the Indian Plate, while in the south of the South Island the Pacific Plate is uppermost and the Indian Plate has been thrust beneath it.

The most important system of deep shocks in New Zealand lies in a well-defined zone beneath the Main Seismic Region, stretching from the Bay of Plenty to Nelson and Marlborough. The maximum depth of occurrence is about 400 kilometres at the northern end, and decreases evenly to a depth of about 200 kilometres before the southern boundary of the region is reached. Along the whole of the system, there is also a regular decrease in depth from west to east. In northern Taranaki, near the western limit of this activity, a small isolated group of shocks at a depth of about 600 kilometres has also been recorded. In the Central Seismic Region only shallow shocks are known. The maximum depth of earthquakes appears to be less than 150 kilometres in the Fiordland Region where the deep activity is more concentrated than in the north, lying close to Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri.

Both earthquakes and volcanoes are found in geophysically disturbed regions, but large earthquakes are rare, although small earthquakes usually accompany volcanic eruptions. Regions of active volcanism are also subject to periodic outbreaks of small earthquakes, all of similar magnitude, and very numerous, known as ‘earthquake swarms’. Although the number of shocks may cause alarm, it is unusual for even minor damage to result. There is not often a simultaneous volcanic outbreak, but swarms are rare in non-volcanic regions. In New Zealand they have occurred in the volcanic zone that includes Mount Ruapehu and White Island, the Coromandel Peninsula, parts of Northland, and Taranaki.

Earthquakes in 1989. The largest earthquake during the year was on 23 May, 800 kilometres south of Invercargill on the Macquarie Ridge. It was of magnitude 8.2, the largest in the world in several years. Despite its size, there was no damage because of its oceanic location. It was felt very strongly on Macquarie Island, however.

Within New Zealand, the largest earthquake was on 31 May at Te Anau. It was of magnitude 6.6 and was felt throughout the southern South Island. There was some damage in Fiordland and Central Otago, but this was limited because the focal depth was about 60 kilometres.

Most other earthquakes were small, causing more alarm than damage. On 8 August another deep earthquake, this one of magnitude 5.9, occurred south of Patea in southern Taranaki and was felt over much of central New Zealand. Numerous other smaller shocks generally followed the diffuse pattern of previous years.

Each year analysis of earthquake data from a network of record stations is completed by the Seismological Observatory of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. This analysis allows scientists to pinpoint the location, magnitude and depth of earthquakes—information that can be used to pick trends and in the theory of plate tectonics.

1.3 Climate

New Zealand is a long, narrow, mountainous country surrounded by a large expanse of ocean. The nearest major land mass is Australia some 1600 kilometres to the west.

The climate of New Zealand is largely influenced by:

  • Its location in a latitude zone where the prevailing wind flow is westerly;

  • Its oceanic environment; and

  • Its mountains, especially the main mountain chain which modifies the weather systems as they pass eastwards, and also provides a sheltering effect on the leeward side of the mountains. Local orography is the cause of a number of different ‘microclimates’ in a given region.

The day-to-day weather is mostly determined by a series of anticyclones and troughs of low pressure in the westerlies. Consequently New Zealand weather is changeable, typically with short periods of a few days of settled or unsettled weather. At times the westerly regime breaks down and there are cold southerly outbreaks (with snow in winter and sometimes spring), or northerly intrusions of warm, moist air when tropical depressions move southwards into New Zealand latitudes in the summer.

The main mountain chain which extends much of the length of the country is a major barrier to weather systems approaching from the west. Consequently there is a marked contrast between the climates of regions west and east of the mountains, and this is much greater than north-south climatic differences.

The surrounding ocean means that New Zealand largely has a ‘marine’ climate—except in Central Otago, which most nearly approaches a ‘continental’ climate (dry with hot summers and cold winters).

Many parts of the country are subject to extremes of wind and rain, giving rise to wind damage to buildings and forests, and flooding as depressions with their fronts pass close to or over the country. The rugged terrain is an important factor in the enhancement of the wind strength and/or rainfall.

Temperature extremes are mainly confined to places east of the main ranges. High temperatures usually occur in warm north-westerly wind conditions due to the so-called föhn effect. These high temperatures are often followed by sudden falls in temperature as a cold front moves up the east coast of both islands.


Although New Zealand lies in a zone of predominant westerlies, easterlies may predominate in individual months and, north of Taranaki, the mean wind flow is south of west.

New Zealand is thought of as a windy country because:

  • Its rugged terrain affects the wind speed and gustiness;

  • Most of the population lives close to the windier coastal places; and

  • There is an abundance of open agricultural land with little shelter to reduce the mean wind speed.

However, over most of the country for much of the time wind speeds are not high.

In practice the wind regime is complex. This is mainly due to the interaction of the wind with the rugged terrain. Cook Strait, which is the major break in the main mountain chain, is a region of relatively high mean wind speed in strong westerly and easterly airstreams. The wind speed is also enhanced near the Manawatu Gorge and Foveaux Strait. A notable but not very common wind in New Zealand is the warm, dry north-westerly föhn wind, which occurs east of the main mountains, and is best known in Canterbury. Easterly föhns can occur too but are fairly rare.

Wind speeds are generally lower inland compared with coastal locations, but occasional high winds occur depending on the type of terrain. Mean wind speeds over the sea are generally higher than over land (because of less factional drag) and this is reflected in higher average wind speeds at coastal locations compared with inland sites.

In the North Island winds decrease during late summer or early autumn, whereas in much of the South Island, winter is the least windy season. Sea breezes are common in summer in coastal locations of both islands.


The rainfall distribution is largely controlled by the mountains and the greatest mean annual rainfall occurs over the South Island mountains, which are also the highest. There is a large range of mean annual rainfall over the country from less than 400 mm in Central Otago to over 12 000 mm in the Southern Alps.

Much of the North Island has a mean annual rainfall in the range 1200–1800 mm. About the mountains values are above 2400 mm and less than 1200 mm in Manawatu, central and southern Hawkes Bay, the Hauraki Plains and parts of Wairarapa. The driest areas are about Hastings and Martinborough where annual totals are about 800 mm.

The mean annual rainfall distribution in the South Island is much more complicated, ranging from totals over 12 000 mm in the Southern Alps to much drier areas east of the mountains. The latter areas include much of north and central Canterbury, with annual totals less than 800 mm, south Canterbury and the Mackenzie Country with totals below 600 mm, to the very dry area of Central Otago with totals below 400 mm in places.

There is a marked difference in the seasonal rainfall for the North and South Islands. The wettest season, for virtually all the North Island and for Nelson, Marlborough and north Canterbury, is winter. For the West Coast and the Southern Alps the wettest season is spring, when the westerlies are strongest. Central and south Canterbury are wettest in summer, and Fiordland, Southland and southern Otago are wettest in autumn.

The driest season is summer for most of the North Island and the northern part of the South Island. The West Coast is driest in winter, as is much of inland Canterbury. Otago and Southland. Coastal parts of Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Canterbury and south Otago are driest in spring as they are sheltered from the westerlies which prevail then.

Over most of the North Island there are at least 130 rain days annually (days with at least 1 mm of rain). East of the ranges there are some places which have less than 100 rain days annually. In the South Island there is a much greater contrast in annual rain days. In Fiordland and Stewart Island rain days exceed 200 a year, while on the West Coast they exceed 180 a year. In the very dry areas of Central Otago annual rain days number less than 80.

Seasonal rainfall does not vary greatly from year to year and its reliability in spring is particularly advantageous for agriculture. However, spring is the driest season in much of Hawkes Bay and coastal Canterbury.

Heavy rain and floods. Because of its rugged terrain and oceanic location New Zealand is susceptible to serious flooding, which occurs quite frequently. No part of the country is immune from flooding due to heavy rain and overflowing river systems. Although there are seasonal frequencies for different parts of the country, floods can occur at any time of the year. Sometimes only localities are affected, but whole provinces can experience flooding as well.

Tropical depressions

Tropical cyclones are relatively small intense weather systems which can wreak havoc in islands in the South Pacific if they pass nearby. The usual tropical cyclone season is November to March. Occasionally tropical cyclones move south into New Zealand latitudes by which time they have lost their ‘cyclone’ characteristics of a circular cloud system (which may have a central eye), very strong wind field and large amount of water vapour in their cloud system. By the time these weather systems move southwards into the Tasman Sea or the seas east of New Zealand they cover a much larger area with their cold front/warm front cloud system and somewhat weakened wind field. However, if one of these former tropical depressions passes close to or over New Zealand the combination of New Zealand's terrain, the large amount of remaining water vapour in the cloud system and the strong winds can produce heavy rain and flooding. A recent example was Cyclone Bola, which caused massive damage in the Poverty Bay/East Cape region in March 1988. Tropical depressions moving into New Zealand latitudes also have the effect of spreading warm, moist air over the country thereby noticeably increasing the humidity and maximum and minimum temperatures above those usually experienced.


Summer droughts are a big problem for farmers because high temperatures result in high soil moisture loss. However, droughts can occur in other seasons (e.g., autumn and spring) as well, being least common in winter. Droughts are relatively common in summer in Northland, Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa and Manawatu. In the South Island, Nelson, Marlborough and regions east of the Alps are prone to drought, especially in summer.


Mean annual temperatures decrease steadily from north to south; from 15°C in Northland to 13°C in Wellington to 10°C in Southland. Some inland parts of the South Island have mean temperatures below 8°C. Temperatures also decrease with altitude at the rate of 2°C per 300 metres.

January and February are the warmest months and July the coldest. The highest temperatures occur east of the main ranges and in Central Otago and reach the low to mid-thirties in most summers and sometimes the high thirties. The lowest temperatures occur on clear frosty nights especially in Central Otago and in the mountains. Minimum air temperatures of several degrees below zero are not uncommon in winter, but values below −10°C rarely occur away from the mountains.


All parts of the country, except the northern tip of Northland, experience frosts. Apart from the mountain areas, the coldest parts of the country in winter are Central Otago and the Mackenzie Country in Canterbury. There are considerable variations in frostiness even over small areas, as each place has its own microclimate. Spring air frosts are a problem for horticulturists in Central Otago and some pans of the lower North Island as crop damage can result if precautions are not taken.


The sunniest places, where annual sunshine hours exceed 2350, are near Blenheim, the Tasman Bay area from Nelson to Riwaka, and the Bay of Plenty area near Whakatane. Other areas with at least 2000 annual sunshine hours include Central Otago, coastal pans of Gisborne and Hawkes Bay, Manawatu, lowland parts of Taranaki and southern Wairarapa.

Despite the marked difference in rainfall between Westland and Canterbury, sunshine hours are similar. This is due to the fact that although rainfall on the West Coast is greater than east of the mountains, there are substantial fine periods. Also, in westerlies, cloud spreads from the mountains across Canterbury and prevailing north-easterly winds cause low cloud about the east coast.

There is also an increase in cloudiness down the east coast from Kaikoura to Invercargill with annual sunshine hours ranging from over 2000 in the north to 1600 in the south. This tendency continues further south.


Severe hail storms are small scale phenomena and therefore are not easily detected by the weather station network. Most reports therefore come from the media.

About nine severe hail storms occur on average each year although there is a large year-to-year variation (two to 17). The country can be divided into two approximate regions, east and west of the main ranges. In the eastern region, which includes central Hawkes Bay, part of the Waimea Plains south and west of Nelson, and a strip near the coast from central Canterbury to northern Otago, most of the severe storms between October and February, in the afternoon. In the western region, storms are less likely from February to May, but still more likely during the afternoon, although they occur at other times too. Wairarapa south of Pahiatua is less susceptible to severe hail storms than other parts of the country.


The incidence of thunderstorms in New Zealand is quite low by world standards. Fewer than 15 people have been killed by lightning strikes in New Zealand since about 1920. In coastal areas in the north and west of the country thunderstorms are most frequent in winter or spring. They usually occur at night or in the morning, although some occur in the afternoon. There are few thunderstorms in much of the east of both islands. Those that do occur are usually in summer afternoons. In the interior of the South Island most thunderstorms occur in spring.


The average number of tornadoes recorded in New Zealand is in excess of 30 a year. These can occur in any month and are most likely in the early afternoon. New Zealand tornadoes are generally much smaller than those occurring in other countries, such as the United States, and therefore the amount of damage is correspondingly much less. Most tornado reports come from densely populated areas, suggesting that many more tornadoes occur than are reported.


The permanent snow fields in New Zealand are, in the North Island, on Mt Taranaki, and a small area on the central plateau above 2300 metres, and in the Southern Alps above 2000 metres. Snow fails are highly variable from year to year. They usually occur in winter, but can occur in spring as well, even as late as November. Winter snow lines are about 1500 metres in the North Island. For the South Island they range from 1000 metres in the south to 1300 metres in the north. Snow lines sometimes fall below 600 metres in winter, but usually for no more than a few days. Snow occasionally falls down to sea level on the east coast of the South Island, but does not lie very long. Spring storms can cause severe losses of new-born lambs on the east coast.

Relative humidity

Because of its oceanic environment most parts of New Zealand experience relatively high average humidity (70–80 percent) in coastal areas and somewhat lower inland. Humidity is usually highest overnight and in the early morning and lowest in mid-afternoon. Very low humidities (below 40 percent) occur in Canterbury when hot, dry föhn north-westerlies blow. Low humidities also occur behind cold fronts moving up the east coast of the South Island. Periods of up to a week of high humidity can occur in summer when a stationary anticyclone, east of the country', brings warm, moist air over much of New Zealand. High humidities also occur when former tropical cyclones move south into the Tasman Sea. Northland and Auckland also tend to experience high humidity in the summer.

Air pollution

Because of the absence of major heavy industry, its remote location in an oceanic environment and a relatively windy climate. New Zealand's air is much cleaner than in the Northern Hemisphere. However, where there are any large population centres, extensive motor vehicle usage or factories, air quality problems occur from time to time (e.g., photochemical pollution in Auckland on a few days in summer).


StationElevationRainfallAir frostGround frost;Bright sunshine
Mean annualRain days*

* A rain day is one when 1.0 mm or more of rain was recorded.

A screen (or air) frost occurs when the temperature in the screen (at 1.3 metres above ground) falls below 0°c.

A ground frost occurs when the grass minimum thermometer (25 mm above short grass) reads −1.0°c or lower.

Source: New Zealand Meteorological Service.

 metresmm no. days
per year
no. days
per year
Kaitaia Airport801,41813801.72,113
Auckland (Albert Park)491,18514004.22,102
Tauranga Airport41,3491185.356.92,277
Hamilton (Ruakura)401,20113125.571.82,006
Rotorua Airport2871,49112321.256.9..
Gisborne Airport41,0581136.840.72,204
New Plymouth Airport271,5291442.012.82,165
Palmerston North (DSIR)3499512613.554.41,794
Masterton (Waingawa)11497112431.489.12,004
Wellington (Kelburn)1251,240125015.02,019
Nelson Airport29869937.789.72,397
Westport Airport22,1921681.039.31,925
Hanmer Forest3871,16311481.7139.51,898
Hokitika Airport392,78316816.056.41,846
Lake Tekapo68359772100.1175.82,217
Dunedin (Musselburgh)27841209.777.71,676
Invercargill Airport01,03715746.3111.11,621
Milford Sound36,26718228.556.1..


 Mean daily minimum*Mean daily maximumDaily minimumAnnual extremes

* The mean daily temperature is the average of the maximum and minimum temperature for a given day.

Source: New Zealand Meteorological Service.

 degrees Celsius
Kaitaia Airport19.311.723.815.−0.5
Auckland (Albert Park)19.410.923.−0.1
Tauranga Airport18.59.323.614.113.34.533.3−5.3
Hamilton (Ruakura)17.88.323.913.511.63.134.7−9.9
Rotorua Airport17.67.522.811.912.43.029.8−5.7
Gisborne Airport18.79.124.413.813.04.438.1−3.4
New Plymouth Airport17.19.121.413.012.75.330.3−2.4
Palmerston North (DSIR)−6.0
Masterton (Waingawa)−6.9
Wellington (Kelburn)−1.9
Nelson Airport17.26.521.911.912.51.136.3−6.6
Westport Airport15.88.219.512.012.04.328.6−3.5
Hanmer Forest15.63.922 29.29.0−1.337.1−13.2
Hokitika Airport15.−3.2
Lake Tekapo14.81.621.36.08.3−2.833.3−15.6
Dunedin (Musselburgh)15.06.419.09.911.11934.5−8.0
Invercargill Airport13.−7.4
Milford Sound14.45.418.59.310.31.528.3−4.9

The southern oscillation

When the air pressure is abnormally high in the Indonesian region, it is correspondingly low in the South Pacific and vice versa. This phenomenon is called the ‘southern oscillation’. When southern oscillation episodes occur, the usual weather patterns in the southern Pacific, including New Zealand, are significantly altered.

An index, called the southern oscillation index, has been constructed using pressure recordings from Tahiti and Darwin. Usually there is a lag of some months between a major excursion of the oscillation, either positive or negative, and a characteristic weather regime developing. The period of the southern oscillation is very irregular, varying between about two and ten years with an average period of three to four years. However, once established, significant El Niño and La Niña episodes can persist for six to 12 months.

In general, negative values of the oscillation index are associated with an increase in the frequency of south-westerly winds over New Zealand, with below average rainfall in the north and east of the country. This phase of the southern oscillation is called El Niño. The most recent example occurred in 1986–87. However, 1982–83 was the period when the oscillation index reached its largest negative value this century and rainfall was well above normal on the west coast of the South Island.

The other major phase of the southern oscillation, when the index is positive, is called La Niña. Positive values of the index are associated with an increase in the frequency of northeasterly winds over the country with reduced rainfall in western areas. A recent La Niña episode occurred over the year from spring 1988–89 and was associated with a major drought on the east coast of the South Island.


Highest rainfall for selected periods
10 minutes3Tauranga17 April 1948
1 hour107Whenuapai16 February 1966
12 hours368Milford Sound26–27 March 1978
24 hours521Milford Sound11–12 February 1958
24 hours651Prices Flat (Westland)12 May 1978
48 hours690Milford Sound11–12 February 1958
72 hours871Stratford Mountain House22–24 February 1971
1 year9,760Horner Tunnel1940
1 year13,219Waterfall Creek (Westland)1983
Lowest rainfall for selected periods
3 months10CoromandelJanuary 1950
3 months10BlenheimJanuary 1935
3 months10ClydeJuly 1966
6 months74HastingsNovember 1920
6 months53AlexandraMarch 1930
Rainless periods (selection)
LocationDuration (days)Date
Wai-iti (Marlborough)718 February–19 April 1939
Moa Creek (West Otago)6819 March–25 May 1950
Mangapura Landing (Taranaki)6719 December 1927–23 February 1928
Otamatapaio (Otago)6721 March–26 May 1970
Otamatapaio (Otago)6517 April–20 June 1966
LocationTemperature (°C)Date
North Island
Ruatoria39.27 February 1973
Ruatoria38.911 January 1979
Ruatoria35.26 December 1970
Gisborne airport35.110 March 1983
South Island
Rangiora42.47 February 1973
Ashburton38.419 January 1956
Lincoln36.930 December 1896
Ashburton36.010 March 1956
North Island
Chateau Tongariro−13.67 July 1937
Minginui−12.028 May 1978
Kuripapango−11.630 June 1958
South Island
Ophir−19.72 July 1943
Manorburn−18.62 August 1939
Lake Tekapo−15.620 June 1927
Manorburn−15.630 June 1941
LocationTotal (hours)Date
North Island
Taupo335January 1950
Gisborne327December 1947
Highest total for one year was 2533 hours at Napier 1942
South Island
Blenheim335January 1957
Blenheim321December 1974
Blenheim307November 1968
Queenstown307November 1937
Highest total for one year was 2686 hours at Blenheim 1972
Wind gusts*
LocationSpeed (km/h)Date

* Selection of extremes for various months.

Source: New Zealand Meteorological Service.

Mt John (Canterbury)25018 April 1970
Hawkins Hill (Wellington)2486 November 1959
Hawkins Hill (Wellington)2484 July 1962
Mt John (Canterbury)24810 September 1970
Oteranga Bay (Wellington)24310 April 1968

1.4 Vegetation and wildlife

The vegetation and wildlife of New Zealand are the product of not only natural factors during tens of millions of years, but also human factors over the last 1000 years. The New Zealand landmass is believed to be a fragment of the ancient southern continent of Gondwanaland, which has been isolated for over 100 million years, allowing many ancient plants and animals to survive. Although New Zealand has undergone many physical and climatic changes, such as mountain building, volcanic activity, and glaciation, parts of the landmass have remained in continuous existence with part of their original complement of plants and animals.

New Zealand is now a very diverse land and changes from being almost subtropical (‘winterless’) in the north, to cool temperate, even subantarctic in the south, with a very wet, mild climate in the west, and a much drier, sometimes almost continental climate, in the east. The long and exceptionally diverse coastline, with many islands, produces habitats for coastal and lowland plants and animals, and there are extensive montane and alpine habitats as well. Geological variation has meant species have adapted to habitats based on soils derived from limestone, volcanic rock, serpentine, alluvial muds and gravels, and peat. Such diversity has led to New Zealand being classified into over 260 ecological districts, each with a distinct blend of topography, climate, vegetation, and wildlife.

Superimposed on natural diversity has been 1000 years of human activity; harvesting of naturally occurring species, introduction of species from elsewhere, and transformation of natural vegetation into farmland by fire, logging, and drainage. While approximately 80 percent of the land area was forested before humans arrived, only 27 percent remains forested, mainly in the mountainous hinterland.

Origins of plants and animals

The vegetation and wildlife of New Zealand today is made up of different bio-geographic elements. The Gondwanaland element consists of ancient plants and animals: conifers such as kauri (Agathis australis), frogs (Leiopelma), reptiles like tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus), large ground snails (Powelliphanta), and flightless birds such as the kiwi (Apteryx spp.) and the now extinct moa (Dinothiformes). A tropical element includes the nikau palm, kie kie (Freycenetia), tree ferns, many northern forest trees, tropical snails (Placostylis), and earthworms.An Australian element includes many ferns, orchids, small seeded tree species like manuka (Leptospermum scoparium), insects, and birds (such as the nectar-feeding tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae), parakeets, and many wetland birds). A Pacific element includes trees like pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa), numerous ferns, and migratory birds like the shining cuckoo (Chalcites lucidus). A subantarctic or circumpolar element includes beech (Nothofagus), which occurs also in South America and Southern Australia and was once present on Antarctica, and the world's largest number of several characteristically southern bird groups such as penguins, albatrosses, and petrels. A South American element includes Fuchsia. A cosmopolitan mountain element entered New Zealand along the mountain and island chain from South-east Asia and includes plants such as buttercups, daisies, veronicas and gentians. A cultural element of recent human origin comes from all parts of the world (particularly Europe, North America, Australia and South Africa), and consists of trees, horticultural plants, weeds, mammals, birds, and many other groups.

Northern (subtropical), central (temperate), and southern (subantarctic) marine areas are recognisable as such by their characteristic species; for instance rock oyster, blue mussel and dredge oyster, respectively. Bull kelp is a notable southern species. Some very unusual marine animals occur, including black coral and ancient brachiopods in the southern fiords and sea daisies—starfish relatives which live on sunken wood at a depth of 1000 metres. The complex sea floor means that shore, continental shelf, and deep water species occur close together, resulting in diverse marine life.

Vegetation and wildlife today

Uniqueness is a feature of the natural life of New Zealand. Foremost is the absence—apart from two species of bat, of local land mammals, which had not evolved at the time New Zealand became separate. Many flightless birds and insects have evolved. The most remarkable birds were some 12 species of moa, forest and shrub browsers that took the place of large herbivores in other parts of the world. Moa became extinct during Maori times, but other flightless birds remain, including kiwi, kakapo (a nocturnal parrot—the largest in the world), and weka (a scavenging rail). Flightless insects are numerous, including many large beetles and cricket-like weta.

The absence of mammals also meant that birds became important as seed-dispersing agents, so that most forest plants bear small berries, including the giant conifers (podocarps), the smaller canopy trees, and even some forest-floor herbs. Some alpine plants produce berries, dispersed by the New Zealand pipit and the kea (mountain parrot).

As a consequence of the great physical and climatic upheavals which New Zealand has undergone the forest has been influenced by extinction. Coconut palms once occurred in New Zealand, and fossil remains of kauri, now limited to the northern North Island, have been found south to Canterbury. Some tropical plant groups are represented by a single species, surviving only on protected islands, or in the far north. Some, like Tecomanthe are known from only a single plant in the wild.

The range of bird species is also very limited in comparison with other temperate land masses of similar size. Considerable natural extinction has occurred. The endemic family of wattle birds contains only four species. One of these, the huia, is now extinct. On the other hand, there has been great diversification among smaller life-forms, such as tiny forest-floor snails, spiders, aquatic caddis flies, lichens, mosses and liverworts. Of note is the diversity of alpine plants such as daisies (Celmisia, Senecio), veronica (Hebe), native carrot (Aciphylla) and buttercups. Many of these plants produce rosettes of large leaves, which seem to adapt the plants to cold, windy, subantarctic conditions in the relatively recently-formed high mountains. Other plants adapted to cold, windy conditions are cushion plants, some of which form remarkable mounds called ‘vegetable sheep’.

In the forest and along its margins there are shrubs with tangled and criss-crossed branches bearing tiny leaves. Sometimes these shrubs are the juvenile forms of tree species, but more often are the adult itself. Nowhere else in the world is this peculiar growth form so abundant. It may be an adaptation to browsing by the now extinct moa, or it may help plants to adapt to cold or dry conditions.

Although many New Zealand plants and animals occupy very specialised habitats, droughts, high winds, floods, and erosion mean that many species need to be highly adaptable. Accordingly, many insects, such as native bees, gather food from a wide variety of sources, and some forest species, like beech, regenerate best after the parent forest has been destroyed (by volcanic eruption for example).

However, the overwhelming character of the land-based wildlife is its dependence on forest, and its vulnerability to introduced predators such as rats. The forests and natural grasslands have also been severely modified by introduced browsers such as possums, deer and goats, and some introduced plants, like marram grass, have taken over the places where native species would normally grow.

A vast proportion of the native animals and plant species are found only in New Zealand. Virtually all insects, spiders and snails, and all earthworms are restricted to New Zealand, as are most birds and plants, most freshwater fish (27 species), and all reptiles (38 species).

Table 1.9 summarises the numbers of native and introduced species in New Zealand today, although many figures are approximate and may change after future scientific investigation.


GroupNumber of speciesPercentage endemic*

* Native species not found anywhere else.


Source: Department of Conservation.

Marine algae (seaweeds)390043
Ferns and allies2016341
Flowering plants1,7001,81384
Spiders/harvestmen602 50090
Freshwater fish232785

Forests. Apart from mountains above bush-line, swamps, coastal dunes, and some dry inland basins, most of New Zealand was originally forest-covered. The forests were reduced by a third by Maori clearance before European settlement, and a further third by European clearance over the last 150 years, so that now only 23 percent of New Zealand remains forested. Much occurs in mountainous areas, and most is now protected.

There is a wide range of natural forest types. Around the coast is a fragmented narrow band of plants with varying degrees of salt tolerance, (including mangroves, nikau palm and mostly tropical Pacific species, such as karaka and pohutukawa. Coastal forests are particularly important habitats for marine birds (for example various petrels and penguins), and offshore islands form refuges for tuatara, flightless insects and snails. The characteristic New Zealand forest type is warm temperate evergreen rain forest. In the far north this is dominated by kauri and various broad-leaved species, though little original forest remains. Swamp forest dominated by the podocarp kahikatea (Dacrycarpus dacrydioides) was once extensive, and remains prominent in the western South Island. Elsewhere the podocarps (rimu, totara, matai, and miro) are associated with a diverse range of broad-leaved evergreen tree species, ferns, vines and epiphytes, forming dense and complex multi-storeyed communities at low altitudes. The range of species gradually diminishes with both increasing altitude and increasing latitude. Evergreen beech forest is characteristic of the central and southern North Island and South Island, above 300 metres altitude. These montane forests have fewer species than lowland forests, and extensive areas may be dominated by a single tree species. The bush-line, usually of mountain or silver beech, is located generally between 1350 and 1500 metres.

A wide range of secondary forest types have developed since human arrival, notably kanuka forests east of the main divide, manuka and kanuka forests in northern New Zealand, and a range of broad-leaved tree and tree-fern forest types on abandoned farmland.

Cool moist climates produce an abundance of ferns in New Zealand forests, not only giant tree ferns, but also filmy ferns which clothe tree trunks, and ground ferns.

Wetlands. A rise in sea-level inundated coastal valleys formed during the ice-age. This created extensive estuaries, rich in worms, molluscs and eelgrass, which are important habitats for marine birds, such as oyster-catchers, and a refuge for migratory waders. In the north the estuaries support dense groves of low mangroves, while elsewhere there are extensive rush and sedge wetlands which are spawning grounds for whitebait or inanga (Galaxias spp.). The numerous rivers of New Zealand created extensive freshwater wetlands dominated by harakeke or flax (Phormium), raupo (Typha) and sedges. These have mostly been drained but are extensive in the western South Island. Numerous small swamps and lakes have been formed to the lee of sand dunes deposited along western coasts by prevailing westerly winds. Lakes, swamps and bogs made by glaciers are features of the South Island high country.

Dune lands. Coastal sand deposits were once colonised by the now threathened pingao (Desmochoenus spiralis), a sedge used for traditional Maori weavings. The areas have been stabilised by marram grass, lupins and pines, which have displaced native species, and so few remain in their natural state.

Grasslands. When Europeans arrived in the nineteenth century much of the eastern South Island was covered by short tussock grassland or silver tussock and fescue, which had become established after Maori fires removed forests. Before the Maori the only naturally occurring lowland tussock was in the dry interior of Central Otago. Pastoral farming and introduced grasses have now largely destroyed short tussock grassland. However, at higher altitudes, especially above the bush-line, extensive areas of natural tall snow tussock (Chionochloa spp.) occur.

Shrublands. Natural shrublands are rare and usually occur where soil or water factors restrict forest development, such as the margins of coastal estuaries and other wetlands, and rocky bluffs. Immediately above the bushline, a narrow band of diverse shrubland often occurs, dominated by the heath Dracophyllum, shrub daisies, hebes, and alpine podocarps. The most extensive shrublands occur in the once-forested dryland of eastern New Zealand, where small-leaved sometimes spiny shrubs occur, notably matagouri (Discaria), tauhinu (Cassinia), and divaricating coprosmas. These shrublands are stages in the re-establishment of forest. Fernland, particularly bracken fern (Pteridium esculentum), once a staple Maori food, is very widespread throughout deforested New Zealand hill country. Like shrubland it serves as a nurse-bed for forest species.

Alpine vegetation. Large-leaved herbs, mat plants, and cushion plants occur throughout the tall tussocks, and in places dominate and form herb fields of great beauty in flower. Scree supports a range of specialised, often fleshy, drought-resistant plants. Alpine bluffs support a scattered cover of shrubs, herbs and cushion plants, adapted to extreme climate and sometimes possessing very strange form, such as the vegetable sheep (Raoulia spp, Haastia spp).

Introduced vegetation and wildlife. The New Zealand landscape is now dominated by introduced animals and plants. Over 1500 exotic plants grow wild, some (like rye-grass, browntop, gorse and sweet briar), over large areas. Although introduced plants have seldom colonised extensive areas of native vegetation, wild animals (deer, pigs, goats, possums, stoats and rats) are widespread, and some introduced birds, such as blackbirds, occur everywhere. Urban vegetation is largely exotic and domestic stock dominate agricultural areas throughout the lowlands.

Introduced plants and animals have greatly increased the diversity of species in New Zealand. However, their increase has been associated with a decrease in the area dominated by native species. Today a large number of native species are very rare and seldom seen. In recent years the urgency for measures to ensure the survival of endangered species has become a world-wide concern.

1.5 Time zone

One uniform time is kept throughout mainland New Zealand. This is the time 12 hours ahead of Co-ordinated Universal Time, and is named New Zealand Standard Time (N.Z.S.T.). It is an atomic standard, and is maintained by the New Zealand Time Service of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR). One hour of daylight saving, named New Zealand Daylight Time, which is 13 hours ahead of Co-ordinated Universal Time, was observed for 1989–90 from 2 a.m. (N.Z.S.T.) on the second Sunday in October, until 2 a.m. (N.Z.S.T.) on the third Sunday in March. Time kept in the Chatham Islands is 45 minutes ahead of that kept in New Zealand.


  • 1.1 Department of Survey and Land Information.

  • 1.2 Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.

  • 1.3 New Zealand Meteorological Service.

  • 1.4 Department of Conservation.

  • 1.5 Department of Internal Affairs.


Department of Survey and Land Information; Department of Scientific and Industrial Research; New Zealand Meteorological Service; Department of Internal Affairs; Department of Statistics.

Further information


New Zealand Atlas. Ward, I., ed. Government Printer, 1976.

The New Zealand Map Collection. Department of Survey and Land Information.


Gage, M. Legends in the Rocks—An Outline of New Zealand Geology. Whitcoulls, 1980.

Lillie, A. R. Strata and Structure in New Zealand. Tohunga Press, 1980.

Riddolls. P. M. New Zealand Geology—Containing Geological Maps of New Zealand 1:2000000. DSIR, Science Information Publishing Centre, 1987.

Searle, E. J. City of Volcanoes. 2nd edition. Longman Paul, 1981.

Smith, I. E. M., ed. Late Cenozoic Volcanism in New Zealand. Bulletin 23, Royal Society of New Zealand, 1986.

Soons, J.; Selby, M., eds. Landforms of New Zealand. Longman Paul, 1982.

Speden, I. G.; Keyes. I. W. Illustrations of New Zealand Fossils. DSIR Information Series 150, 1981.

Stevens, G. R. Lands in Collision: Discovering New Zealand's Past Geography. DSIR Information Series 161, 1985.

Stevens, G. R. New Zealand Adrift: The Theory of Continental Drift in a New Zealand Setting. A. H. and A. W. Reed, 1980.

Stevens, G. R. Rugged Landscape. A. H. and A. W. Reed, 1974.

Suggate, R. P.; Stevens, G. R.; Te Punga, M. T., eds. The Geology of New Zealand. 2 vols. Government Printer, 1978.

Thornton, J. Field Guide to New Zealand Geology. Reed Methuen, 1985.

Williams, G. J. Economic Geology of New Zealand. AusIMM Monograph Series 4, 1974.


An Encyclopedia of New Zealand. McLintock, A. H., ed. Government Printer, 1966.

Johnson, K. F. Bibliography of New Zealand Meteorological Service Publications 1892–1985. New Zealand Meteorological Service, 1986.

New Zealand Atlas. Ward, I., ed. Government Printer, 1976.

The Meteorological Service publishes monthly summaries of:

Climate Observations (Misc. Pub. 109) and Rainfall Observations (Misc. Pub. 110) annually; Climate Observations which are updated every 10 years, e.g. 1980 (Misc. Pub. 177); Rainfall Normals (averages) for 30-year periods, e.g. 1951–1980 (Misc. Pub. 185); Sunshine Normals (averages) for 30-year periods, e.g. 1951–1980 (Misc. Pub. 186); and Temperature Normals (averages) for 30-year periods, e.g. 1951–1980 (Misc. Pub. 183). The service also produces regional climatologies (Misc. Pub. 115), maps and many other publications.

Vegetation and wildlife

Enting, B.; Molloy, L. The Ancient Islands. Port Nicholson Press, 1982.

Kuschel, G., ed. Bio-geography and Ecology in New Zealand. W. Junk, 1975.

Salmon, J. J. The Native Trees of New Zealand. Reed Methuen, 1980.

Stevens, G. R. Lands in Collision: Discovering New Zealand's Past Geography. DSIR, 1985.

Chapter 2. History

2.1 New Zealand before 1840

Archaeology and oral tradition are the main sources for present-day knowledge of the origins and way of life of the early Polynesian inhabitants of the islands in the Pacific which became known as Aotearoa. Archaeology encompasses physical anthropology, linguistic evidence, and traditional accounts, as well as sophisticated examination of the tangible relics of human occupation. Oral traditions did not simply describe what happened. They also explained and justified past events, and were often the accounts of the victors in intertribal conflict. Both are of much value to historians, and also pose problems. Statements about New Zealand's Polynesian past must therefore remain tentative.

An outpost of Polynesia

The ancestors of Aotearoa's earliest inhabitants are thought to have reached the western Pacific some 4000 years ago, and gradually made their way along the Melanesian chain of islands. Long ocean journeys became possible for them with the introduction of the sail and the invention of the outrigger, which stabilised canoes in rough seas. They reached Fiji and Tonga by about 1000 B.C., and in this area many of the distinctive features of Polynesian social organisation and language developed. About 2000 years ago there was a further eastward movement to the Society, Marquesas, and Cook Islands, at the heart of the Polynesian triangle. Probably from this region, the most isolated parts of Polynesia were settled—New Zealand, Hawaii, and Easter Island. There has been much controversy as to the nature of, and reasons for, undertaking such long ocean voyages. Some would have been accidental, the result of canoes being blown off shore. At other times, refugees from defeated tribes or over-populated areas may well have set off into the unknown, confident that they were likely to make a safe landfall somewhere. Knowledge of stars, currents, bird migrations, and the signs of distant land was such that the possibility of controlled journeys over even thousands of kilometres cannot be discounted. The canoe or canoes which brought the first successful colonists to Aotearoa must have carried men and women, dogs, rats, vegetables for cultivation, and a variety of tools and ornaments for practical use and as models for those to be made subsequently. Such a well-equipped expedition is unlikely to have been completely accidental.

Polynesian people, known today as Maori, were living in New Zealand by about the tenth century A.D., although earlier dates have been considered until quite recently. They had come in one or more groups from the same general area of eastern Polynesia, known to them as Hawaiki. There are traditions of numerous voyages from Hawaiki, and of a number of famous canoes, whose occupants were the founders of tribal groupings which remain distinctive today. Some of these stories probably refer to migrations within New Zealand; a few to voyages elsewhere in Polynesia. After the initial period of settlement there were probably few or no continuing contacts with the outside world. Maori culture developed characteristics which reflected both its Polynesian roots and its new physical environment.

Maori agriculture. By the twelfth century settlements were scattered over most of the country. At first their inhabitants tried to reproduce a tropical Polynesian economy. Their ideal subsistence base was kumara (sweet potato) horticulture, supplemented by fishing, hunting, and plant gathering, but there was no typical form of subsistence. In the tropical Pacific the kumara is a perennial and can be propagated by direct transfer. Under New Zealand conditions it was necessary to store the crop over winter in sunken cellars and underground pits to provide tubers for winter consumption and seed tubers for spring planting. This adaptation of kumara cultivation was a great agricultural achievement. Gourds were also grown widely, and taro was important in a few favoured northern areas, while yam and paper mulberry cultivation was barely possible. Kumara would not grow in the southern part of Te Waipounamu (the South Island). Here people lived by hunting, fishing, and food gathering, and moved seasonally between areas with different resources.

In the early centuries of settlement the plains of Te Waipounamu, in particular, supported huge numbers of large flightless birds called moa. These provided an excellent food source, substituting for native land mammals, which were almost non-existent. Until moa numbers were seriously depleted, by hunting and by the destruction of the forest cover on which they depended for food, the eastern South Island seems to have been the most densely peopled part of New Zealand. The decline of the moa was probably accompanied by climatic changes which made horticulture more difficult and made the inhabitants more dependent on fish, shellfish, and marine mammals. After about 1400 the population of the South Island fell. In the most closely settled parts of Te Ika a Maui (the North Island), such as the Tamaki isthmus (now the site of Auckland city), hunting and trapping declined rapidly, and fishing and shellfish gathering provided the main sources of protein. Here cultivations were more extensive and productive, and most people lived in settled communities, in which pa (earthwork forts) became increasingly common as the population grew, and competition for the most valuable land led to greater conflict.

Maori social organisation. Maori society comprised groups of varying size: whanau (extended families of perhaps 10 to 30 people), hapu (subtribes, with up to 500 members) and iwi (tribes). Membership of these groups was usually based on descent from a common ancestor. There were also waka, loose groupings of tribes whose claimed descent from people who had sailed on the same migratory canoe. Components of the system changed over time. Large whanau evolved into hapu, and large hapu came to be considered tribes, while other related branches declined. In everyday life hapu were probably the largest significant groups. They were the basis of the larger settlements and probably formed the normal fighting units in warfare. In response to major external threats, however, people would congregate at a few large pa, setting aside quarrels to face the common tribal enemy. Settlement styles varied greatly, influenced by patterns of subsistence, climate, and the extent to which local relationships were peaceful or warlike. James Cook's 1769 expedition observed pa sizes ranging between three and 500 houses. People lived in dispersed hamlets, in large fortified pa and, in some areas, in isolated households. As with economic life, there was no single characteristic form of social organisation.

For most Maori life was fundamentally a communal experience, in which all aspects of living were inter-related. Economic and social activities were shared, and carried out on behalf of the whole community. Land, which was by far the most important form of property, belonged to the tribe as a whole, although smaller groups had traditional rights to use particular areas and resources. Kaumatua (elders) headed families. Communities were nominally—and to a significant degree, actually—ruled by rangatira (chiefs), whose positions were hereditary but had in practice to be reinforced by performance. Nor could rangatira ignore public opinion as expressed at tribal meetings by kaumatua. Chiefs and their possessions were to some extent tapu (sacred) and thereby protected against harm. Tapu also safeguarded cultivations and burial grounds, and functioned as an agency of social control more effective than any police force. Tapu was regulated by tohunga (priests or experts). Those of highest status interpreted the will of the gods and embodied tribal history' and knowledge; lesser tohunga were specialists in such things as carving, tattooing, and canoe-building.

Relations between tribes. Tribal groups interacted through both trade and warfare. Regional specialities such as greenstone (jade) and titi (muttonbirds) were often transported long distances for bartering, probably at first mainly by ocean-going canoes. Knowledge also was transferred between tribes; Cook found at some landfalls that news of his coming had preceded him.

Making war was probably an important feature of life from the earliest times, although particular areas might be free of it for long periods. Competition for status and authority, and the desire for mana (prestige), motivated both individuals and whole tribes. Reasons for continuing conflicts were seldom absent: the importance of the concept of utu (the principle that acts should be repaid equally) meant that at least one party to a dispute usually felt justified in carrying it on. War was also a means of gaining control over land, which was valued for its fertility or its resources, such as stone for tool-making. But fighting was usually seasonal, fitting in with the cycles of subsistence, and conducted by small' raiding parties carrying out sporadic attacks which produced few casualties. The construction of elaborate fortified pa in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries suggests that warfare intensified in that period. Particularly in the warm, fertile northern part of Te Ika a Maui, where an increasing population made natural resources scarcer and more valuable. At times, economic pressures or military defeat displaced hapu or whole tribes into less desirable areas, whose occupants were in turn driven out or enslaved. But in many regions there was unbroken occupation by the same group of people over long periods.

Life in pre-European New Zealand has been seen by various writers as embodying ‘manly’ virtues, ideal communism, nature-centred spirituality, or healthy rural simplicity. It had elements of all these qualities, but it could also be ‘nasty, brutish and short’. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Maori were relatively tall and sturdy, free from infectious diseases, adequately fed, and fairly unlikely to die violently. But the average life span was only about 30 years, similar to that in most societies up to the twentieth century. Many adults suffered from arthritis brought on by constant physical labour, and from gum infections and tooth loss resulting from their diets.

By the late eighteenth century there were probably rather more than 100 000 ‘New Zealanders’, all but a few thousand of them living in the North Island. Fiercely protective of their social identities, they were deeply attached to the land which gave them physical and spiritual life. Their ways of living had evolved many local variations. They had no concepts of nationhood or race; as they began to encounter Europeans, they saw them as members of another, if stranger, rival tribe.

European exploration

There is no convincing evidence to support ingenious theories that New Zealand was the landfall for one or several long-forgotten European voyagers before the 1640s. It seems clear that the first arrivals from overseas for several centuries were the members of a Dutch East India Company expedition commanded by Abel Tasman. He was sent in quest of the riches of the Great South Land which was supposed to balance the land mass of Eurasia in the Northern Hemisphere. On 13 December 1642 he sighted ‘a large, high-lying land’ which he named Staten Landt. It was the west coast of the South Island of the soon-to-be-renamed ‘Nieeuw Zeeland’. Tasman anchored a few days later, and lost four men when local Maori interpreted an exchange of trumpet fanfares as a prelude to battle. Sailing away up the west coast of the North Island, he did not again attempt to land, and so found none of the ‘treasures or matters of great profit’ which were the object of his voyage. Aotearoa was now represented by a jagged line on European maps, but Tasman's experience did not encourage explorers or fortune-seekers to follow in his wake.

Europeans did not return until 1769. This time those seeking the mythical southern continent were British, the expedition's ostensible purposes were scientific, and its leader was the great explorer James Cook. On his first visit he circumnavigated New Zealand; his published journal and the reports of the scientists and artists on board made it known to the outside world. He returned in 1773–74 and 1777. There were misunderstandings and violence: a Maori was killed at Cook's first landfall and, in 1773, ten of his men were killed and eaten at Arapawa Island in the Marlborough Sounds. But he persevered, finding most encounters characterised by mutual curiosity and eagerness to barter. His respect for the Maori as ‘noble savages’ excited European imaginations, and foreshadowed attitudes which were to be important later.

Other explorers soon followed, the Frenchman Jean de Surville only two months after Cook first arrived. Ill-treating the local inhabitants, he set the scene for the blunders which three years later led to the deaths of his countryman Marion du Fresne and some two dozen of his crew. Julien Crozet, du Fresne's second-in-command, massacred about 250 Maori in retaliation. Further expeditions under the Englishman Vancouver, the Frenchman D'Entrecasteaux, and the Italian Malaspina (leading a Spanish fleet) ensured that New Zealand was not again forgotten in Europe.

Trade and religion. Two early British schemes to colonise New Zealand came to nothing. But soon after a penal colony was established at Fort Jackson (now Sydney) in 1788, commercial exploitation of Aotearoa's resources became practicable. New Zealand became, in economic terms, an offshoot of New South Wales. In 1792 the first sealing vessel in New Zealand waters left a gang at Dusky Sound in Fiordland. Americans soon played a major role in sealing, which was mostly carried out in the far south, from Dusky Sound to Otago. It reached a peak in the first decade of the nineteenth century, after which over-exploitation brought a shift in the focus of activity to the newly-discovered sub-antarctic Campbell and Macquarie Islands.

Deep-sea whaling in New Zealand waters began in 1791, and remained important for about half a century, reaching a peak in the 1830s. Most whalers were American or British, although Australian, French, and Portuguese vessels were involved late in this period. Increasingly whaling vessels called at New Zealand harbours, notably the Bay of Islands, for rest, recreation, and replenishment of supplies. While whalers' visits were usually brief, they became frequent enough to have a significant impact on local Maori communities. From 1829 bay whaling stations were established around the coasts of the South Island and the southern half of the North Island. These bases were usually quasi-permanent, and often became focal points for European settlement, as their activities included farming and trade.

Flax was seen as an important commodity from Cook's time. It was the intended economic basis for several abortive colonisation schemes. A boom in flax exports from the late 1820s proved to be short-lived, but it did result in more settlers joining the bay whalers and the already well-entrenched missionaries. Scraping flax was very laborious work, and the ropes and cordage made from it varied in quality. Timber was the next major primary product, with exports reaching a peak about 1840. Mills were opened around the richly-forested northern coasts, most notably around Hokianga Harbour, where a number of European timber millers settled, and a shipyard was established in 1826. Agricultural exports also increased. Potatoes (introduced by Cook or du Fresne) and pigs (landed at the orders of Governor King of New South Wales in the 1790s) were being traded with visiting ships by the early 1800s. From this time wheat and maize were cultivated by Bay of Islands Maori. By 1836 it was said that New Zealand was ‘becoming a perfect granary for New South Wales’. Missionaries had introduced horses and cattle in 1814, and later set up demonstration farms. Bay whalers and other traders also grew crops and ran stock. European enterprise developed side by side with such Maori adaptations as the rapid acceptance of the potato as a staple food.

New Zealand's first mission station was established at Rangihoua in the Bay of Islands in 1814, under the auspices of the Church of England's Church Missionary Society. The man most responsible for its formation was Samuel Marsden, senior chaplain to the New South Wales penal colony from 1800 until his death in 1838. An entrepreneur as well as a stern propagator of the faith, he was a successful breeder of sheep and cattle, pioneered grape growing in New South Wales, and owned mills and ships. Under his supervision the society's mission at first comprised men with practical skills, who were encouraged to engage in trade. Indeed they had no choice, as the first station was on a site too poor to support even subsistence agriculture. The community barely survived isolation, internal squabbles, and the uncertain patronage of local chiefs. Preaching the faith did not really begin until the determined Henry Williams arrived to set up a new station at Paihia in 1823. The establishment of a farm inland at Waimate in 1831 was followed late in the decade by expansion of Anglican missions southwards as far as the Waikato, Rotorua, and Gisborne, and (in 1839) to the coast north of Wellington. From 1827 Maori language translations of the Bible were made, and the teaching of reading and writing in Maori was emphasised. The Wesleyans had opened a mission in the Hokianga area in 1823, and also set up stations further south in the 1830s. A Roman Catholic Marist mission, led by Bishop Pompallier, began in Northland in 1838. From the mid-1830s many Maori converted to Christianity. Movements which blended Maori and Christian ideas also developed. An example was that of Te Atua Wera/Papahurihia in the Bay of Islands-Hokianga area. They were part of the adjustment of traditional social patterns to new realities.

Changes in Maori society

It is difficult to assess what effect the presence of Europeans—around the coasts and venturing into the interior in the last few years before 1840—had on the indigenous inhabitants. It has been asserted that the Maori population declined by nearly 50 percent between 1770 and 1840; and, alternatively, that it was about the same in both years. Both sides put the 1840 figure at between 100 000 and 125 000. Differences of this scale over such a basic issue suggest how difficult it is to make firm statements about Maori society in the period. Areas such as the Bay of Islands and the Hokianga, where contact with Europeans was greatest, underwent in a few decades changes which had taken centuries to transform Europe. Maori society was resilient and able to adapt to the revolution in technology and ideas with which it was confronted. The European impact varied greatly. In the Bay of Islands there was an intermittent pakeha (non-Maori) presence from the 1790s, and permanent settlers from 1814; these numbered several hundred by 1839. In contrast, areas such as the Urewera mountains had not been visited by Europeans when British sovereignty was declared. Other regions had varying exposure to direct and indirect contact.

European diseases seem to have first reached epidemic proportions in the 1790s. The Maori initially had no immunity to them, and they were made more vulnerable by their communal lifestyle. Dysentery, diphtheria and influenza took many lives in the following decades. But some of the world's most lethal diseases, including yellow fever, typhus, and cholera, were not introduced, and by 1840 immunities to the more common types of sickness were beginning to develop. Some health problems resulting from pakeha presence were very localised—alcoholism and prostitution were confined to the few zones of intense contact. Other effects were widespread. European-introduced animals were both a source of food and rivals for scarce resources, while new plants such as potatoes and corn eventually became staples of Maori diet. The ability to purchase desired European goods depended on income-generating activities which often necessitated debilitating labour, such as raising commercial crops, felling and transporting timber, and stripping flax. Sometimes whanau or hapu moved to unhealthy lowland areas to be close to now-valued resources. New fashions in clothing, such as the wearing of European suits or blankets, regardless of their unsuitability in hot or wet weather, also increased susceptibility to sickness.

The nature of Maori warfare was altered by the introduction of muskets in the early 1800s. These were first used in small numbers as close-combat weapons of the traditional kind. By 1818 the Ngapuhi confederation—because of geography the pioneers of much social change in the period—discovered that the firing of many weapons at a distance created enough terror to enable the rout of an enemy to be completed by traditional means. From 1820, when their great chief Hongi Hika returned from a missionary-inspired visit to England with 300 muskets, Ngapuhi and their allies rampaged across the North Island on a series of expeditions which took many lives, settled old scores, and raised the mana of the victors to unprecedented heights. As muskets became widely available, other tribes took advantage of temporary leads in local arms races to attack their neighbours. By 1840 the balance of power was such that inter-tribal warfare had virtually ceased. One result of these campaigns was the migration of perhaps 30 000 people and, as a consequence, intractable disagreements about land rights in some areas.

Maori people were eager to adopt European goods and ideas: muskets, agricultural techniques, literacy, and Christianity were all enthusiastically embraced, and some (such as firearms) rapidly became necessities. Some Maori even travelled the world as crew members on European ships. But pakeha innovations were used in Maori ways for Maori purposes. If they did not serve these purposes they tended to be abandoned. The increased rate of conversions to Christianity just before 1840, for example, can be understood in terms of changes in Maori society, as well as seen as a consequence of more effective missionary activity. Social dislocation which resulted from inter-tribal fighting fed a need for spiritual explanation. But the new religion was also fashionable, and the mana which was granted to the literate brought many eager students to mission schools. Missionary teaching was a means to the end of gaining European knowledge. For Maori the most important function of a pakeha was to provide trade goods. Europeans lived in New Zealand on Maori terms, and in 1839 there were still only a few more than 1000 scattered over the whole country.

British sovereignty established

The vagueness of their instructions allowed early Governors of New South Wales to view New Zealand as a political as well as an economic ‘dependency’, and also to encourage plans for settlement. In 1804 Governor King ordered investigations into charges that brutalities had been inflicted on Maori by a ship's captain. This was the first of many attempts to regulate the behaviour of British subjects in New Zealand. In 1814 the Maori people were declared to be ‘under the protection of His Majesty’, and the missionary Thomas Kendall was appointed as a justice of the peace to maintain order in co-operation with local chiefs. He had no effective force at his disposal. Prisoners had to be sent to Sydney for trial. In 1817 Britain declared New Zealand to be outside its legal jurisdiction, although British subjects could be charged for serious crimes committed there. Schemes for colonisation continued, and in 1826 settlers selected by the first New Zealand Company arrived. While many went straight on to Sydney, some established themselves at the Hokianga. As trade and settlement increased. New Zealand moved further into the British sphere of influence. In 1832 James Busby was appointed British Resident at the Bay of Islands. He was a ‘watchdog without teeth’, having very few legal powers (he was not even a justice of the peace) and no reliable means of coercing British subjects. His authority rested on occasional visits by British warships. In 1837 one of three Europeans who had plundered the home of a Kororareka storekeeper was hanged in Sydney. British subjects fomenting disorder in New Zealand were clearly now subject, at least potentially, to legal retribution.

In May 1837 a combination of the remnants of the earlier New Zealand Company and others interested in profiting from Edward Gibbon Wakefield's ideas of transplanting the pre-industrial English class structure to the colonies formed what was soon to be named the New Zealand Company. An attempt at the ‘systematic colonisation’ of New Zealand was now imminent. Wakefield's vision was of the migration of integrated communities comprising all social strata from gentry to respectable working folk, while excluding the nobility and the very poor. The key to success was to set a ‘sufficient’ price for land. If land was too cheap it would be bought by both speculators and labourers, with undesirable consequences; but the price was to be low enough to enable working-class people to settle on the land after some years of thrift and honest toil, their purchases financing a fresh influx of labourers and ensuring continued economic growth. The eventual form of settlement owed little to this theory, but Wakefield's energy and the strength of his backers ensured that large-scale colonisation would take place. The company sent an expedition in 1839 to find a site for a colony. It acted in haste because the decision to annex New Zealand had already been made, and it wished to buy land before its dealings could be regulated by officials. Even before word reached England that any land had been bought, ships full of emigrants had departed, the first (the Tory) arriving at Port Nicholson (Wellington) on 22 January 1840.

British sovereignty over New Zealand was established in international law by New South Wales Governor Gipps' proclamation on 14 January 1840 that his frontiers included New Zealand, and that Captain William Hobson was appointed his Lieutenant-Governor there. Hobson arrived at the Bay of Islands with a small entourage of officials on 24 January, and at Waitangi on 6 February 1840 he obtained from local Maori chiefs the first signatures to the Treaty of Waitangi'. The significance of this document has been debated ever since. In its English-language original all rights and powers of sovereignty were ceded to Queen Victoria, while in return the possession of land, forests and fisheries was secured to the chiefs, with the Crown alone having the right to purchase land. The Queen extended her protection and all the rights and privileges of British subjects to the Maori people. The Maori-language version, hastily translated by the missionary Henry Williams, was couched in considerably vaguer terms, partly because of the difficulty of conveying European legal concepts. Maori signatories assented to the Queen taking over the rights of ‘kawanatanga’ (governorship). As the only local example of the exercise of such authority was the ineffective James Busby, it is unlikely they understood the possible implications of their agreement. Over the next few months signatures to several differing versions of the treaty were collected around the country. Important tribes such as Ngati Maniapoto and Waikato did not regard it as a matter deserving serious consideration, and failed to sign; Ngapuhi were resented for their role as first signatories. To further complicate matters, on 21 May 1840, while signatures were still being sought, Hobson proclaimed British sovereignty over the North Island by virtue of the treaty, and over the South and Stewart Islands on the basis of Cook's discoveries. In 1841 New Zealand became a colony in its own right, and the capital followed a shift in the balance of European settlement from its first site at Russell in the Bay of Islands to the new town of Auckland on the Tamaki isthmus, which was both strategically located and surrounded by land ideal for farming.

2.2 European and Maori, 1840 to 1890

Growth of European settlement

New Zealand Company settlements were founded at Wellington in 1840, Wanganui and New Plymouth in 1841, and Nelson in 1842. By 1845 the company had brought about 9000 settlers to the country. In 1842 the main towns had non-Maori populations of 3800 in Wellington, 2900 in Auckland, 2500 in Nelson, 900 in New Plymouth, 650 in Russell and Hokianga combined (which shows how quickly this area was bypassed by settlers), and 200 in Akaroa, where colonists were landed by the French Nanto-Bordelaise Company in 1840. These European enclaves were ‘mere encampments on the fringe of Polynesia’; their very existence was dependent on the tolerance of local Maori. This could scarcely be relied on, as the New Zealand Company had bought land in such haste, and with such little regard for the communal nature of Maori land tenure, that war was at least threatened at each of their sites within a few years. In 1843 a number of Europeans were killed in the Wairau area when they illegally tried to arrest two Ngati Toa chiefs. Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata, for resisting the survey of land that the chiefs denied having sold. Tribes-people led by these chiefs were involved in fighting in the hinterland of the Wellington settlement in 1846; again, Maori were opposing settler encroachment onto land that the Maori held was still theirs. There were several attacks on the town of Wanganui in 1847. In Taranaki the two races teetered on the brink of war for nearly 20 years. After two official investigations of the company's land purchase, the New Plymouth settlers were left to occupy a few thousand acres adjacent to the town. The scarcity of land suitable for agriculture blighted life within the towns. Uncertainty of tenure, and the mediocre quality of much of what was available, slowed sales and Jed to the acquisition of an increasing number of sections by absentee speculators (a problem which had impeded development in the New Zealand Company towns from the beginning). The resulting under-employment of Wakefield's ‘respectable’ labourers and artisans produced recurrent poverty and unrest. Only the later settlements of Otago and Canterbury could be considered successes. Otago was established in 1848 under the auspices of the New Zealand Company and in co-operation with the Free Church of Scotland. Canterbury folowed in 1850, with the support of the Church of England. There were only 2000 Maori in the whole of the South Island, and land purchases there were not disputed at the time.

War and politics in the 1840s and 1850s

New Zealand's first Governors—Hobson and Robert FitzRoy—were hamstrung by their acute lack of resources. The British Colonial Office required its colonies to be self-supporting; they were expected to pay their way through customs revenue and land sales. But the New Zealand state was at first unable to obtain much land, despite its monopoly on purchases from the Maori. The latter were not eager to sell at less than a fair market price, which the state could not afford to offer them. The imposition of customs duties drove away traders and raised the price of imported goods. The administration, at times insolvent, survived on Maori goodwill and economic assistance, and minimal financial support from London. In 1844 FitzRoy abolished customs duties, imposed a property tax, and allowed limited direct land dealings beween settlers and Maori. The practical effect of these measures was the loss of his only potential sources of substantial revenue. The measures were insufficient to conciliate the Ngapuhi chief Hone Heke, who was concerned at the decline of the Bay of Islands as a centre for European trade and settlement, and at the government's efforts to diminish chiefly authority by partially replacing it with its own. Heke's quarrel was with the state alone; he wanted to preserve the valuable Maori-European economic relationship. He allied himself with the resourceful chief Kawiti, who adapted traditional pa design to successfully withstand artillery bombardment and inflicted a serious defeat on British regular troops at Ohaeawai in mid-1845. Their combined forces had the better of a ten-month campaign which ended after an inconclusive engagement at Ruapekapeka in January 1846. Heke continued to be the most powerful man in the North until his death in 1850, and government influence there remained low. No punishment was imposed on the ‘rebels’.

FitzRoy was replaced during the Northern War by George Grey, who was to rule as Governor until 1853, and again (less autocratically) from 1861 to 1868. Backed, as his predecessors had not been, by adequate financial support from Britain, he was better equipped than they to mollify pakeha grievances about the slow growth of the colony. The European population had reached only 32 500 by 1854, when an elected General Assembly first met in Auckland. Demands for local self-government had nevertheless been voiced since 1840, when a New Zealand Company-appointed regime had ‘ruled’ for several months at Port Nicholson until Hobson declared it illegal. The ‘Wakefield’ settlements were led by well-educated gentry and middle-class families who expected to govern themselves. After Grey successfully argued against the implementation of an 1846 British Act conferring representative institutions, on the grounds that the state of race relations in the North necessitated his being in total control, constitutional associations in several centres agitated for elected assemblies.

The British Constitution Act of 1852 conferred a General Assembly with two chambers—an elected House of Representatives and a nominated Legislative Council—and divided the colony into six provinces (centred on the five Wakefield settlements and Auckland), each with an elected Provincial Council and headed by a separately-elected Superintendent. The vote was granted to all pakeha men aged 21 or more who met minimal property-owning requirements. Maori were in practice nearly all disfranchised. The Provincial Councils were subordinate to the General Assembly, and were barred from legislating on a range of subjects, including customs duties, currency, the justice system, postal services, and marriage. The central settler government was competent to act in most areas, but ‘native’ policy remained in the hands of the Governor until 1864, and foreign policy was made by the British government. In areas of domestic policy the General Assembly was not completely its own master. The Governor was empowered to reserve New Zealand legislation for the Sovereign's assent, and the Sovereign could disallow legislation after the Governor had assented to it. Both these powers were used, although rarely. The United Kingdom Parliament also had the authority to pass legislation applying to New Zealand, even overriding New Zealand legislation. After considerable confusion, Parliament's right to appoint ministers whose advice the Governor was normally obliged to take was recognised, and in 1856 Henry Sewell became Premier and formed the first responsible ministry.

Despite the comparatively wide franchise, for several decades only a minority of European males participated in electoral politics. The property test eliminated some, and many who were eligible did not register on the electoral rolls. Until 1879 polls in which fewer than half of those registered voted were common. Most people had more pressing concerns. A small group of men with sufficient leisure time to engage in politics easily dominated the scene, many were elected and re-elected unopposed. While there was a rapid turnover of MPs and ministries in the absence of any party organisation, there was considerable continuity in administration. A core of able men was essential for any ministry which was to last for long.

Most politicians put the interests of their own provinces before the colony's. Having been firmly established for several years before responsible central government came into effect, the provinces had taken over many key matters, including immigration, roading, land administration, policing, education, and hospitals. In 1856 their entitlement to land revenue and a share of customs duties was confirmed. In return they accepted responsibility for colonisation and development. Wide regional and local disparities resulted. The North Island provinces, particularly Auckland and Taranaki, had little land to sell and were always short of funds. Th South Island counterparts, especially Canterbury and Otago, had ample land and were to profit from economic booms which accompanied gold rushes in the 1860s, when they embarked on ambitious road, harbour, tunnelling, and immigration programmes. Wealthy provinces resented central government interference in their affairs, and southerners saw their revenues threatened by increased military expenditure in the North Island in the 1860s. Poor provinces looked to the capital for salvation from insolvency. Within each province the main towns were dominant, and little money reached outlying districts. This stimulated a desire for local autonomy which bore fruit in the creation of the new provinces of Hawkes Bay, Marlborough, Southland, and later Westland. Except for Hawkes Bay, they conspicuously failed to prosper, and their Lilliputian crises brought the whole system into disrepute. Nevertheless, European settlers identified strongly with their own communities, and the difficulty of communication between the areas they occupied made considerable regional autonomy essential.

Maori society from 1840 to 1860

In the 1840s the Maori were still preoccupied with their own concerns. Inter-hapu and intertribal competition was of paramount importance, and society remained fragmented. The very use of the word ‘Maori’, which implied the existence of a common race and culture, was mainly confined to pakeha until the 1850s. European innovations provided new ways to pursue traditional social and economic rivalries. Christianity offered literacy, a skill prized as a new basis for competition. Introduced foodstuffs such as potatoes and pigs, which could be raised in abundance with comparatively little effort, transformed the conspicuous production and ceremonial display of food—the yardstick shifted from quality to quantity. Maori participated vigorously in the colonial economy, exporting potatoes, wheat, and pigs throughout Australasia, and to the Californian goldfields. Maori farmers produced the bulk of New Zealand's exports to the Australian diggings. Horses, sheep, schooners, and flour mills were acquired as symbols of wealth as well as means to its creation. However, Maori agricultural production declined after an 1856 slump in the market in Victoria. European farmers had the advantage of individualised land tenure and, with access to credit, could make better use of technological innovations.

The first census of the Maori population in 1857–58 put the total at about 56 000, less than the pakeha population and only half of Dieffenbach's 1843 estimate. Both figures are doubtful, but the trend was clear. To the toll of diseases such as influenza, whooping cough, dysentery, and measles was added the effects of tuberculosis, bronchitis, and other respiratory tract infections, and low fertility caused by the previous generation's ill-health. High mortality rates contributed to the survival of belief in tapu and makutu (magic). The rituals of Christianity were widely adhered to, but for many Maori offered only partial explanations of an unsettled world.

As more European colonists arrived, questions of land ownership became more pressing. The traditional Maori practice was to reinforce claims to land by regularly using its resources. From this perspective, settlers who paid for land, built houses, and planted crops were generally accepted, but people who piled goods on the shore and disappeared were not taken seriously. From 1840 Maori people quickly became aware of the significance to the pakeha of the land deed itself, and the permanent nature of the alienation which followed its transfer. Yet they offered much land for sale over the next two decades. Many Maori were anxious to have settler communities in their midst as a guarantee of long-term progress. Land sales gave a unique opportunity to vindicate claims to customary title over rivals. The ceremony of payment was usually a vital part of the transaction, while the price paid was less important. Tensions between claimants often made sales acrimonious. Few chiefs obstructed sales on principle, just as few were committed to a policy of selling land. The goal was rather the advantage of one's own hapu.

Extensive land purchases by the Crown during Grey's first governorship were masterminded by his able lieutenant Donald McLean. Most of the South Island was bought for only £15 000, and 13 million hectares throughout New Zealand had been obtained by 1853 at a total cost of £50 000. McLean made huge purchases in the Manawatu, Wairarapa, and Hawkes Bay, while the boundaries of settlement advanced more slowly in the Auckland area. Maori tribes remained in control of a broad belt of territory stretching across the North Island from Taranaki to the Bay of Plenty and the East Coast. Grey's successor, Thomas Gore Browne, was unable to buy much land in this region, even when McLean resorted to secret deals and other underhand tactics in response to increasing settler pressure. Maori attempts to prevent land sales culminated in a pantribal movement, the Kingitanga, which in 1858 installed the venerable Waikato chief Te Wherowhero as King Potatau I. Its promoters hoped to end the chronic disputes by placing all Maori land under the King's mana and making its ownership subject to the decisions of his magistrates. But Maori society had no precedents for allegiance to a central judicial or administrative authority. Tribes of the Tainui confederation generally supported the King, but many others did not. The Kingitanga meant more to the chiefs, as a means of bolstering their mana—threatened by European-inspired individualism—than it did to their followers.

The struggle for supremacy: 1860–1872

Grey hoped to gradually transform the Maori into brown-skinned pakeha, who would ultimately be absorbed into a predominantly European population by inter-marriage. Grey's policy would require radical changes in Maori lifestyle, which he encouraged in a variety of ways. He financed English-language education of Maori children, fostered Maori agriculture and commerce with gifts of ploughs, mills, seeds, and schooners, and employed Maori and pakeha on ostensibly equal terms in the police forces that he controlled. In his second term Grey established a scheme for local administration under which Maori runanga (assemblies) would gradually introduce European concepts of law. The purpose of these ‘new institutions’ illustrates Grey's overall aim: the ‘amalgamation of the races’ was to occur on pakeha terms. Britain had asserted since 1840 that its law applied throughout Aotearoa, but in 1860 much of the North Island was still effectively beyond government control. The war which now broke out had much to do with the contest for land, but it was also a struggle for authority over the people that the land sustained, and for mana.

Fighting began in Taranaki in March 1860, when British troops attempted to remove Te Atiawa tribes people from land at Waitara which the Crown had allegedly bought, but which most of its claimants had refused to sell. Te Atiawa were soon reinforced by the Taranaki and Ngati Ruanui tribes, and later by Kingite forces from the Waikato region. In June, 350 Imperial troops were heavily defeated when they assaulted a pa at Puketakauere which contained both dummy and concealed defensive positions. For a year the civilian pakeha population remained virtually under siege in New Plymouth, while the British military vainly sought to engage the Maori in a decisive battle. Eventually the British embarked, under cover of a series of redoubts, on a laborious advance which had achieved no tangible success by the time a truce was agreed in March 1861. Fewer than 1000 Maori warriors had not lost any territory to some 3500 opponents, and were also able to keep the considerable resources plundered from abandoned European properties.

With Grey's return in 1861 the focus shifted to the Waikato. Imperial troops were steadily augmented, a military road was constructed from Auckland to the Waikato River, and the heartland of Kingite power was invaded in July 1863. British forces eventually numbered 14 000 effective troops (more than were available for the defence of England) and were led by a highly competent staff under General Sir Duncan Cameron, but they had great difficulty pushing back Maori opponents who never numbered more than 2000 at one time. Given the inability of the Maori economy to sustain an army continuously in the field, and the many obstacles to effective inter-tribal military co-operation, the Kingite resistance was remarkably successful, but by mid-1864 the Waikato Basin had been occupied up to the Puniu River. The search for a decisive victory now led Cameron to Tauranga, where he was stunningly defeated in a frontal attack on a superbly-designed fortress at Gate Pa, but was able to partially avenge this reverse at Te Ranga a few weeks later.

The territory occupied in the ‘Waikato War’, about 400 000 hectares, was confiscated by the colonial government, but fighting was far from over. Imperial troops campaigned on the west coast in 1865–66, while colonial units and allied kupapa (pro-government Maori) fought in the east. Both opposed adherents of the new religion of Pai Marire, which combined elements of traditional Maori beliefs, Christianity, and the innovations of its Taranaki prophet, Te Ua Haumene. In 1868, with Imperial forces now withdrawn from active service and ‘native’ policy firmly in the hands of the settler government, a grave crisis abruptly confronted pakeha New Zealand. Belated attempts to implement years-old land confiscations provoked a campaign by the Ngati Ruanui chief Titokowaru, who with a few hundred warriors repeatedly defeated much larger colonial forces until dissension among his followers brought his advance to an end. Simultaneously, the Rongowhakata prophet Te Kooti Rikirangi conducted a brilliant guerrilla campaign in the Poverty Bay area after escaping with some 160 prisoners of war from exile in the Chatham Islands. He proved far less adept than Titokowaru at pa construction and defence, however, and armed support for his cause dwindled until he was forced to seek sanctuary in Kingite territory early in 1872. The zone of effective Maori autonomy had now shrunk, but it still encompassed the ‘King Country’ in the central North Island, South Taranaki, and the Urewera district. Pakeha sovereignty was now an established fact, but it was by no means absolute.

Pastoralism and gold

The huge Grey/McLean land purchases were the basis for an expansion of European economic activity. The Canterbury settlement, whose social composition came closest to Wakefield's ideal, was for a few years the colony's best approximation to a concentrated agricultural community. Soon, however, it became the most important base for a rapidly expanding pastoral economy. From the late 1840s, sheep grazing spread across the open country along the east coasts of both islands. Australian ‘squatters’ sold surplus merinos to New Zealand colonists with capital, and from the early 1850s many crossed the Tasman themselves to take up cheap long-term grazing leases. Grey reduced the price of rural land in 1853, ostensibly to help small farmers. The main effect, however, was to allow runholders to consolidate their holdings. By the mid-1860s many had secure tenure. During this ‘golden age’ of pastoralism, overseas prices for wool rose steadily, and sheep numbers increased from 750 000 in 1855 to 10 million in 1870. Wool was king, and the pastoralist came in some ways to resemble Wakefield's rural gentleman, pre-eminent economically, socially, and politically in his domain. But the scale of pastoral farming was very different from the intensive agriculture Wakefield had envisaged. Much of the work (e.g., shearing) was seasonal and undertaken by itinerant labourers; station homesteads were often quite primitive, and usually far from neighbours. Transience and loneliness thus accompanied economic growth.

The quest for wealth from a second staple product—gold—brought more hardship and isolation in the 1860s, even as the population rose rapidly. Beginning in 1861, a series of gold rushes transformed Otago virtually overnight. The province's population increased fivefold (to 60 000) between 1861 and 1863. Then the main focus of activity shifted to the west coast of the South Island, where by 1867 there were 29 000 inhabitants in an area almost unoccupied three years earlier. Mining declined rather quickly in Otago, more slowly in Westland. From the 1880s expensive dredging techniques revived the industry in both regions. The ‘diggers’ had profited less than had merchants, bankers, and farmers. Farmers also benefited from the influx of British troops during the Waikato war. Briefly, their provisioning was one of the colony's main sources of income. Equally briefly, small mixed farms became profitable.

In the 1860s, while the European population of the North Island rose to 97 000, the South Island's European population increased to 159 000. Unequal growth brought political change in 1865, when the capital was moved south to Wellington and the South Island gained 13 additional parliamentary seats. Otago was transformed from an obscure Presbyterian outpost into the foremost commercial and industrial province, with a quarter of the colony's pakeha population producing one-third of its exports. Secondary industries, largest in Otago and Auckland, manufactured a wide range of products for local markets, and by 1871 about 10 000 people were employed in manufacturing. The larger towns now contained groups of artisans and labourers with some capacity for combined action. In Dunedin the unemployed demanded relief work as boom turned to slump in the late 1860s.

‘Vogelism’: immigration and public works

The Otago-based businessman and politician Julius Vogel became Colonial Treasurer in 1869, and dominated political life until his departure for London in 1876 as Agent-General (a post which combined diplomacy and business promotion). When he took office the income-generating British troops had almost all left and the colony had just survived the severe military crisis of 1868–69. Dependence on world commodity prices had proved to be a mixed blessing, since receipts for wool and gold exports had slumped. The average wool price had fallen to 11 pence per pound in 1870 from 16 pence in 1860. Faced with the prospect of a serious depression, Vogel persuaded his cabinet colleagues to approve a programme of public borrowing to finance growth. Twenty million pounds were borrowed in a decade, mostly from Britain. The role of the state grew; there were four times as many civil servants in 1877 (some 7200) than a decade earlier. A large publicly-owned infrastructure of transport, communication, and other services was established. The 234 kilometres of public railways in 1873 became 1840 kilometres by 1880. One-third of public expenditure in the decade to 1881 went on roads and bridges, which had more practical effect than railways in improving communications in most areas. Also. 6500 kilometres of telegraph lines were built in the 1870s (their construction had begun for military reasons in the previous decade). Expensive harbour projects were undertaken around the country, and there was a boom in residential, business, and public building. Government spending in 1872 was said to be 13 times that of Canada on a per capita basis.

The 1870s was a decade of large-scale emigration from Europe. Most migrants went to America, a significant fraction to Australasia. The arrival in New Zealand within nine years of 115 000 government-assisted immigrants contributed to the near-doubling of the non-Maori population to 490 000 in 1880. Organised communities of Scandinavian, English and Irish came out under special settlement schemes. The first group were prominent in the clearing of the ‘Great Bush’ which covered much of the southern half of the North Island. This unremitting toil, like that of the railway and road builders, laid the foundations for much future development. The immediate result of Vogel's policies, however, was a substantial enlargement of New Zealand society without any corresponding strengthening of the economy. The colony had become more rather than less dependent on Britain as a source of both capital and income. By 1881 more than 90 percent of export revenue came from the United Kingdom, whereas Australia had taken over half New Zealand's exports in the 1860s. Wool had regained the status of largest overseas earner from gold.

The development of a centralised colonial economy linked by modern communications had political implications. While the implementation of ‘Vogelism’ was much influenced by regional pressures, it transformed the balance of power between centre and provinces. Provincial governments, designed in part as agents of colonisation, were now proving superfluous in this role. In 1871 the central government took over sole responsibility for immigration and railway construction. Opposition to some of Vogel's policies by provincialists in the House led ultimately to the end of the provincial system in 1876, over the protests of wealthy Canterbury and Otago. A network of county councils now joined existing borough councils, road boards, and harbour boards as the units of local government. Regional education, hospital, and land boards soon followed.

The 1880s: stagnation and innovation

A credit squeeze in 1878–79 ushered in some 15 years of economic stagnation, during which export and import prices and wages all fell roughly in proportion. Burdened with the overseas debts incurred in the 1870s, New Zealand remained dependent on the ability of a depressed British working class to buy its primary products. The most promising development was the beginning of frozen meat exports with the voyage of the Dunedin to the United Kingdom in 1882. This trade grew slowly at first. While there were 21 freezing works in 1892, they were not working to capacity. By then, however, meat exports exceeded £1 million in value annually, second only to wool. Experimentation produced new breeds of ‘sheep, which provided good quality mutton as well as wool and were suited to the country's dryish pastures. In 1882 New Zealand's first dairy factory opened at Edendale in Southland. Exports of dairy produce also grew slowly, with banks reluctant to finance small farmers’ production of perishable butter and cheese. Mechanisation in processing was paralleled by technological innovations in farming itself. Horse-drawn reapers and binders began to replace men. Traction engines and mechanical threshing mills appeared in the 1880s, as a boom in wheat production saw exports peak at more than £1 million in 1883. Local manufacturers ingeniously adapted agricultural equipment to local needs. The introduction of shearing machines in the late 1880s further reduced the demand for rural labour.

Other products enjoyed fluctuating fortunes. Most important in Auckland ‘province’ (provincial identity long outlived the institutions themselves), timber processing became the country's largest manufacturing enterprise between 1875 and 1885. A substantial export trade in kauri timber was vulnerable to erratic prices, as was the ‘poor man's industry’ of extracting kauri-gum (resin) deposits. Coal was exported from Westland from the mid-1880s. Urban manufacturing continued to grow until about 1886, after which the availability of cheap imports brought a decade of decline. By 1886 the number of industrial workers, including those making handicrafts, had reached 39 000. Most industries were small concerns serving local needs. In 1891 one-third of factory employees produced clothing and textiles, while a fifth made building materials, and another fifth food, drink, and tobacco products. Local manufacturers received some protection in 1888, when the Atkinson ministry imposed a 20 percent tariff on imported goods which competed with locally-made products. Not for the last time, a conservative government proved willing to use the power of the state for economic ends. The low-cost, low-wage conditions under which New Zealand industry operated were highlighted by the report of the 1890 ‘Sweating Commission’, which revealed exploitation of women and children in industry. The failure of the 1890 Maritime Strike by seamen, watersiders, miners, and railwaymen emphasised the relative weakness of urban labour in a mainly rural, export-dependent economy.

Maori society to 1890

The wars of the 1860s had brought both unprecedented Maori unity and new divisions. Alliance with the pakeha had offered some tribes the opportunity to settle old scores. While some kupapa fought defensive actions on their own soil, others ranged across the North Island in a manner reminiscent of the large supra-tribal war parties of earlier in the century. Co-operation and resistance continued to be twin motifs of Maori response to the pakeha for several decades after overt warfare ended. On balance, it seems that in this period collaboration was the less successful means of preserving tribal autonomy.

Kupapa and ‘rebels’ both suffered from the land confiscations of the 1860s. Fertility and strategic location were more important considerations for the settler government than the owners' part in rebellion. The operations of the Native Land Court, established under the Native Lands Act 1865, which permitted the leasing or purchase of land from Maori named in the court's certificates of title, efficiently parted the Maori from much of their remaining land. From 1873, the court operated under a system that was even more clearly weighted in favour of Maori wishing to sell land. In the 1880s land in the King Country itself—where King movement supporters had continued to live in effective independence—began to come before the court, and this paved the way for its purchase. Construction of the Auckland-Wellington railway through Ngati Maniapoto territory symbolised the end of an autonomous Maori zone. By 1892 less than one-sixth of the country remained in Maori ownership, and a quarter of that was leased to Europeans. Most Maori-owned land was rugged and bush-clad. Maori were now only 7 percent of the population; epidemics had reduced their numbers to 42 000 by 1896. Living in poor conditions—many in insanitary, makeshift camps—they grew scarcely enough for their own needs and relied increasingly on public works and seasonal work on European farms.

Yet Maori society remained resilient and adaptable. This was a time of intense political activity, of large tribal and supra-tribal meetings held in splendid new meeting-houses, and of negotiations with pakeha politicians. ‘Loyal’ Maori had been rewarded with four seats in the House of Representatives in 1867 and Maori MPs became increasingly skilled advocates of Maori rights. Ngati Kahungunu kupapa leaders organised a Repudiation movement to challenge the Hawkes Bay land sales of the 1860s. Kepa te Rangihiwinui, who had been one of the pakeha's main military allies, led an anti-land-sales group in Wanganui in the 1880s. In Te Waipounamu, the prophet Te Maiharoa led a heke (migration) of Ngai Tahu, which peacefully reoccupied tribal land in the Waitaki valley for two years, until evicted by armed police in 1879. In Taranaki, land proclaimed confiscated was left in Maori hands for more than a decade before pakeha settlers sought to occupy it. Here Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi, based at Parihaka, led a movement of passive resistance which attracted wide support, and was only subdued in 1881 by a massive show of military force. The two leaders and many of their followers were temporarily exiled to the South Island. Maori spiritual values remained strong. King Tawhiao's Tariao (‘morning star’) faith recognised guardian spirits and ancestors, and drew on the teachings of Te Ua. Te Kooti proved ultimately more significant as founder of the comprehensive and sophisticated Ringatu faith than as a warrior. The mission-trained Te Whiti claimed God's special protection for the Maori and preached predestination.

While Maori people now participated in the pakeha economy, they generally did so in family groups rather than as isolated individuals. The Maori remained separated from pakeha life by language and culture, as well as by geography. While there was no rigid segregation, they were still a distinct ethnic and social group. In the context of nineteenth-century European expansion world wide, this was no small achievement.

2.3 Development and depression: 1890–1935

The Liberals in power

Although 1890 came to be seen as a watershed year in New Zealand history, its significance was less apparent at the time. A general election resulted in a fragile majority for the loosely-organised team supporting Liberal leader John Ballance, who differed from Premier Harry Atkinson chiefly in proposing a graduated land tax which would encourage large landowners to reduce the size of their holdings and allow more small farmers on to the land. In Dunedin and Christchurch, increased awareness of political issues among wage-earners after the defeat of the Maritime Strike had electoral consequences, with the return of candidates sympathetic to labour. In rural electorates, by contrast, abstention from voting remained the most typical form of political activity. The abolition of plural voting had reduced the direct political power of those who owned property in several constituencies, but there was still a ‘country quota’ which gave rural voters 28 percent more strength than was justified by their share of the total population.

Ballance became assured of a viable majority in the House only after Atkinson alienated a number of members by stacking the Legislative Council with new appointees, in a bid to establish an unassailable majority there. The conservative ‘Continuous Ministry’ at last left office, leaving a legacy of constitutional controversy which did much to unify the Liberal alliance. Ballance now sought to make his own appointments to the upper house. After two years' argument the British Colonial Secretary instructed New Zealand's Governor to acquiesce. This ended the Governor's substantive role in politics. An Act set a seven-year term (as against tenure for life) for future legislative councillors and reduced the upper house to the effective status of a debating chamber. These events, together with the extension of the franchise to women in 1893—a result of the unwillingness of the new Liberal leader Richard John Seddon to alienate a powerful feminist-temperance alliance—gave New Zealand politics a markedly more democratic appearance.

Liberal legislation at first focused on land issues. The Land and Income Assessment Act 1891 imposed a modest, and modestly-graduated, tax on unimproved land values. This tax was a minimal imposition on prospering pastoralists, who sold up (when they did so) because rising land prices made it worthwhile. In 1892, Minister of Lands John McKenzie offered Crown lessees an optional 999-year lease without revaluation—this was freehold tenure in all but name. By 1907 more than 5000 Crown tenants had taken up some 1 million hectares under this tenure. These measures fostered Liberal support in the countryside, and in the 1893 election the party doubled its rural representation. Overall it now held 51 of the 74 European seats. The Advances to Settlers Act 1894 offered state loans to (non-Maori) settlers at reasonable interest rates. Its chief beneficiaries were not new ‘bush farmers’, but established farmers who could borrow to make improvements.

The success of these policies was much enhanced by a steady rise in export receipts after 1894. This income allowed the government to borrow for public works construction, land purchase, and loans to farmers, and enabled farmers to service their mortgages from increased earnings. By the end of the 1890s the full impact of refrigeration was bringing significant economic changes. In 1901 there were nearly 5000 dairy farmers, and by 1911—when they totalled one-third of all farmers—there were three times as many. The trend towards intensive farming was firmly established, as small-scale production became commercially viable. Before 1890 it took many sheep or a substantial herd of cattle to make a living; by 1900 a few hundred sheep or a handful of dairy cattle would suffice. Subsistence farming, widespread in the nineteenth century, now declined. Farming became a business, and increasingly a family business, as mechanisation brought a decline in the number of rural labourers. There were now three farm-produced export staples rather than one, although earnings from wool continued to be greater than those from meat or dairy products.

Townspeople profited from an expanding rural economy. Urban workers also benefited from legislation sponsored by the Liberals' first Minister of Labour, William Pember Reeves. The Factories Act 1894 provided for regular inspection of factories, closely regulated the conditions of employment of women and children, and restricted the working week in most industries to 48 hours. The Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1894 set up a mechanism for peacefully settling industrial disputes, and in the process elevated unions to equal status with employers in the bargaining process. Disputes not resolved by negotiation were to be settled by a central Arbitration Court, whose decisions were binding. Registration of unions was voluntary, and direct collective bargaining remained an option. But the collapse of unionism after 1890 made the new system appear attractive, and most unions sought the recognition offered. Union membership soared from some 8000 in 1896 to 57 000 in 1910. Reeves was not present to witness this growth of the labour movement. In 1896, unable to win support from his colleagues for a new round of radical legislation, he became Agent-General in London. His departure left urban wage-earners without an effective voice in the government, which was now dominated by the populist improvisation of Seddon, McKenzie, and a latter-day Vogel, Colonial Treasurer Joseph Ward.

Growth of the public sector. The Liberals created 12 new government departments, of which two were particularly notable. The Labour Department, initially set up in 1891 as the Bureau of Industries, was envisaged by its first Secretary, Edward Tregear, as a ‘benevolent bureaucracy’ which would act as a buffer between capital and labour. His staff, who numbered 83 full-timers and many part-time inspectors by 1908, administered Reeves' legacy. The Department of Agriculture, also created in 1891, increasingly assumed important regulatory functions. Systematic grading and branding of export produce was carried out at major ports. Farm inspectors ensured hygienic milking and milk storage, and campaigns against pests and stock diseases were stepped up. The Journal of Agriculture was founded in 1910. In 1893 the government took over direct control of the railway system, and set about expanding it. The country had 3200 kilometres of line by 1896 and 4800 kilometres by 1914. The North Island main trunk line was completed in 1908. Railways opened up whole areas for settlement—notably the hinterland of Auckland ‘province’—by making practicable the movement of supplies and farm produce. Provision of railways and roads remained of vital importance in local and national politics, and not only for economic reasons. Improved communications did much to reduce the demoralising isolation of backblocks living.

Other government functions also expanded. In 1903 the state asserted its control of all future hydro-electric power generation, and in 1911 the first large power station was completed at Lake Coleridge in Canterbury. Old-age pensions were introduced in 1898 to assist the growing numbers of destitute elderly people. As immigration grew relatively less important and family size also fell—women who married in 1880 averaged 6.5 live births, compared with 2.4 for those who married in 1923—the proportion of the aged in the population grew. Young people also benefited from the government's increased social role. The 1877 Education Act had set up a colony-wide system of primary education, through which four-fifths of the country's five to 15-year-olds were receiving instruction by 1891. After George Hogben became administrative head of the Education Department in 1899 the primary school service was much improved, the secondary system expanded, and technical education introduced. Activity in all these areas (and in others, such as health) required many more civil servants. In the past, government ministers had made most appointments, and controlled much of the day-to-day administration of ‘their’ departments. This became impractical as the functions of the bureaucracy grew more specialised. From 1912 appointment on merit, job classification, and standardised procedures were the norm. As in other western economies at this time, private bureaucracies were also growing, and wage and salary earners made up an increasing proportion of the work-force.

The rise of Reform

By 1900 the Liberal Party had a mass organisation as well as strong leadership. The Liberal-Labour Federation united regional associations through a national council and annual conferences. For the first time ordinary' people could become members of a political party. But, while the Liberals remained dominant in Parliament after Ward became Prime Minister on Seddon's death in 1906, social and economic forces gradually split the alliance between urban wage-earners and small-to-middling farmers which sustained them in power. As they became more established, small dairy and mixed farmers grew more critical of the government which had in many cases given them their start on the land. Demand for the freehold became a rallying cry. Free trade, unrestricted access to Maori land, and freedom from government regulation and from the spectre of socialist trade unionism, were other demands. The New Zealand Farmers' Union, launched in 1899, spread especially rapidly in newly-opened North Island districts. Its leadership soon comprised established as well as struggling farmers, and increasingly it supported the new Reform Party, led by William Ferguson Massey, which also gained the backing of protection-dependent urban businessmen after dropping free trade as party policy.

Meanwhile, urban workers grew disenchanted with the government as their share of the country's growing prosperity diminished after 1900. Real wages fell as the Arbitration Court delivered more miserly and belated award increases. In addition, up to 10 percent of the work-force continued to be intermittently or seasonally unemployed. Although this was much less than the one-third comparably affected in Edwardian England, rising national income was clearly being distributed unequally. Both the arbitration system and the political member unions to refuse arbitration and take direct action to achieve radical goals. Many leading militants had come from Australia, where an Irish-dominated working-class culture had developed nationalist, anti-British characteristics. In the decades around 1900 there was much movement of labour between New Zealand and Australia as economic conditions fluctuated. Many sheep-shearing gangs followed a regular seasonal route through both countries. A few socialists came from the United States, where revolutionary organisations like the Industrial Workers of the World preached the overthrow of capitalism through the unification of worker's into ‘one big union’ with the strength to confront the state.

Class conflict and world war

Losing support at both ends of the political spectrum, the Liberals failed to gain a clear majority in the 1911 election, and in 1912 enough MPs crossed the floor of the House to bring down the government. Massey now led a Reform Party government which in effect offered a more efficient administration of the Liberals' heritage. He moved first to defeat the challenge from the left. A 1912 dispute at the Waihi goldmine, over whether workers should accept arbitration under the 1894 Act, eventually ended in police-backed violence. In 1913 a ‘lock-out’ on the Wellington waterfront led to a general strike by watersiders, seamen, and coalminers. This was defeated after thousands of middle-class and farmer ‘special constables’, supporting the regular police and sustained by logistical backing from the military, fought with unionists on the streets of Auckland and Wellington. Clearly unable to overthrow the government by direct action, the militants turned to more conventional politics. A total of six ‘Social Democrat’ and Labour MPs were elected in 1914, and in 1916 a Labour Party was formed. If any one cause united Labour supporters behind their new party, it was opposition to military conscription, which was introduced in 1916 as New Zealand troops began to suffer the torments of the Western Front. The ‘Great War’ also marked the development of a sense of national identity in many New Zealanders. Since 1870, when dissatisfaction with Imperial troop withdrawals and declining prices on London markets had led to talk of secession and alliance with the United States, pakeha New Zealanders had taken for granted a position of loyal subordination within the British Empire. Remoteness from its centre was offset by the guarantee of security provided by the Royal Nan', and the facts of economic dependence. Throughout the period from 1875 until World War II, roughly 80 percent of New Zealand's exports were sold to the United Kingdom, and at least half its imports came from that country. Failure to join the Australian federation (created in 1901) was in large part an acknowledgment that New Zealand's most vital interests lay elsewhere. The ‘colony’ was officially renamed a ‘dominion’ in 1907, but this was seen as recognition of autonomy rather than full nationhood.

Wartime support for Britain modified attitudes of dependence. The 6500 volunteers who went to the South African War (1899–1902) saw themselves as superior mentally and physically to their British regular-force counterparts. The experience of World War I—103 000 New Zealanders served abroad, and some 18 000 died, out of a total population of little more than a million—reinforced claims of military excellence. These were enhanced by the heroic assault on Chunuk Bair in August 1915, during the Gallipoli campaign; achievements at Passchendaele in October 1917; and the role of the New Zealand Division in helping stop the great German advance in the spring of 1918. Although Massey claimed (unconvincingly) that in signing the Treaty of Versailles he did not act as the agent of a sovereign state, many New Zealanders felt they had earned statehood. The country was now a minor colonial power in its own right, having annexed the Cook Islands in 1901 and bloodlessly conquered German Samoa in August 1914. Prowess at the ‘national sport’ of rugby football had also become a source of (mostly male) patriotic pride after an all-but-undefeated tour of the British Isles by a representative team in 1905–6.

Uncertainty and depression

War had widened domestic divisions. While farmers profited from the commandeer system, under which the British government guaranteed purchase of New Zealand's main exports, the cost of living rose in towns and cities, and by 1919 real wages were lower than at any time since the turn of the century. The Protestant Political Association, which claimed to have 200 000 members in 1919, vigorously opposed ‘Rum’, ‘Romanism’ (i.e., Roman Catholicism) and ‘Rebellion’ (i.e., the Labour Party). Massey won his first decisive electoral victory in 1919. Reform now had 46 seats to the Liberals' 20 and Labour's eight. But the government had won only 36 percent of the vote, and Labour's share had reached 24 percent. Throughout the 1920s the existence of a three-party system was to lead to much greater fluctuations in seats won than in voting patterns.

Political instability reflected economic uncertainty. Soldiers had returned to promises of a ‘land fit for heroes to live in’—the state would put them on farms, or at least provide loans for this purpose. But government resettlement policies further fuelled a rise in land values initially sparked by wartime guarantees of markets. Between 1915 and 1925 some 40 percent of occupied land changed ownership, much of it for a great deal more than it was worth. Rural prosperity ended abruptly in 1921–22, when export prices fell sharply. In response, the government legislated. The Meat Export Control Act 1922 established a board to handle beef and mutton exports, and a 1923 Act regulated dairy exporting. Massey's successor as Reform Party leader and Prime Minister, J. Gordon Coates, was responsible for the Rural Advances Act 1926, which created a new section of the State Advances Department to grant rural first-mortgage loans, and also for the Rural Intermediate Credit Act 1927. Coates' government implemented a substantial public works programme, building hydro-electric power stations, railways, and roads. It also introduced a child allowance in 1926. Once again, a purportedly conservative administration was expanding the state's economic role.

Urban wage-earners, whose incomes were cut during the 1921–22 slump, looked to Labour to protect their interests. Labour now had to modify its radicalism to expand its appeal. It could not hope to govern without rural votes, which were denied Labour so long as they were seen as advocates of land nationalisation. Meanwhile, dissatisfaction with Coates' leadership grew among businessmen who resented his promotion of state activity, and farmers who had looked to him to break the bitter cycle of falling returns, fixed mortgage repayments, and increasing costs. The temporary beneficiaries of this disillusionment were the Liberals, who (renamed United and again led by the now ageing and ailing Ward) won more seats than either of their rivals in the 1928 election by opting for the old policy of borrowing for development. But, as export prices plummeted, depression deepened and borrowing proved impracticable. In 1930 United and Reform formed a coalition which comfortably won the 1931 election. This government moved to assist farmers through a 25 percent devaluation of the currency, a series of mortgage adjustment Acts, and lowered freight and interest rates. These measures did little to reduce growing support for radical monetary reform, which was advocated by the Douglas Credit movement and influenced Labour policy.

Giving priority to defending farmers' incomes worsened conditions in the cities. Most wages and salaries were cut by 10 percent in both 1931 and 1932. Such savage deflation in an already contracting economy led to an eighth of the work-force being unemployed by 1933. Government determination that the jobless should earn the meagre relief provided under the 1930 Unemployment Act (which levied a special tax on all males aged over 20) resulted in labour-intensive make-work projects and the establishment of spartan camps for single men in isolated areas. Sporadic outbreaks of violent protest in the main cities in 1932 were blamed by Prime Minister George Forbes on a ‘lawless minority’ and Communist agitation. His response was the Public Safety Conservation Act, which empowered the government to proclaim a national emergency and assume Draconian powers when public order was thought to be endangered. ‘Disloyal’ public servants, including those who protested against wage cuts, could now be dismissed under the Finance Act 1932. Resentment of the government became widespread.

Other social and economic developments. New Zealand's non-Maori population grew from 625 000 in 1891 to almost 1.5 million in 1936. This increase was uninterrupted, but slowed markedly in the 1930s as hard times led to fewer births and a net outflow of migrants. Until then immigration was continuous—there was a net inflow of some 200 000 between 1901 and 1928—but immigrants were a steadily diminishing proportion of the population. For this reason, and also because there was an even balance of the sexes among immigrants in later decades, the proportion of women to men increased. At the height of the gold rushes in the 1860s there had been only five pakeha women in the colony for every eight men. The ratio had reached nine to ten by 1901, and 97 to 100 by 1936. As unmarried men grew relatively fewer, some of the characteristic problems of frontier societies—such as alcoholism, crime, and loneliness—became less prevalent. The transience (enforced by the ephemeral nature of much employment) which had seen a majority of income-earners changing localities several times each decade also gradually diminished. The rural frontier moved forward more slowly, and in the 1930s contracted as many marginal back-country farms were abandoned.

There was a gradual but persistent movement of population from rural to urban areas, although this was arrested in the 1930s by the growth of public works camps. In 1896, 29 percent of the non-Maori population lived in towns of more than 8000 people; by 1936 the figure was 49 percent. The opening-up of the North Island's farming hinterland before World War I, and industrial development between the wars, saw its share of the population rise from half in 1900 to 65 percent in 1936. Non-Maori people were nearly all of northern European origin. Gold had attracted 5000 Chinese migrants by 1874, but discrimination and restrictions on immigration saw their numbers fall to little more than 2000 by 1916. About the same number of people of Yugoslav birth were living in New Zealand in 1911—most in the North Auckland peninsula. By 1936 some 1200 Indians were resident in the country.

Mechanisation brought substantial productivity increases in the primary sector, whose share of the total work-force fell from 42 percent in 1896 to 30 percent in 1926. Some primary industries declined in absolute terms, not merely relatively, as resources were concentrated on the three major export products. Kauri-gum production fell from a 1903 peak, the flax industry declined in the 1930s after fluctuating wildly, and gold and timber had ceased to be significant exports by 1914. Coal mining, which had expanded chiefly to provide fuel for the growing railway system, stagnated as railway construction slowed down. Urbanisation was paralleled by the growth and diversification of secondary industries. By the 1920s manufacturing's share of the gross domestic product was only slightly less than that in Australia and the United States, despite New Zealand's relative lack of protective barriers. Industry was typically small-scale, mixed, and unsophisticated, and processed imported components. In the 1920s motor-vehicle assembly and metalworking expanded significantly. By 1926 some 45 percent of the work-force were employed in the tertiary sector (providing services and doing ‘white-collar’ work). New Zealand had become a predominantly urban, yet farming-dependent, nation. It remained Britain's outlying farm as it developed many of the social and demographic characteristics of an industrialised society.

Maori society 1890–1935

Even after 1890, Maori resistance to pakeha dominance was occasionally physical. In 1895 Urewera Maori obstructed a survey until overawed by a military party. In 1898, 120 men of the regular army confronted followers of the Hokianga tohunga Hone Toia. Serious bloodshed in this ‘Dog Tax War’ was averted only by the timely intervention of the MP Hone Heke Rankin. In 1916 ‘the last shooting in the Anglo-Maori wars’ occurred when armed police fought a gun battle with followers of the Tuhoe leader Rua Kenana (founder of the Wairua Tapu religion), killing two of them. Increasingly, resistance took new forms. Petitioners sought the aid of the Crown in persuading the New Zealand government to honour the terms of the Treaty of Waitangi, which now gained a status among Maori which many had not granted it in 1840. The King movement set up its own parliament (Kauhanganui) under a constitution promulgated in 1894. More significant—even though pakeha legislators refused to acknowledge it—was the rival Kotahitanga parliament, promoted chiefly by kupapa leaders, which met annually from 1892 to 1902.

Expansion of the ‘native schools’ system in the 1870s (there were 57 by 1879) laid the basis for an influx of gifted students into church boarding-schools such as Te Aute and St Stephen's Colleges in succeeding decades. A group of former Te Aute students took the Irish-Maori MP James Carroll as their mentor (he held a general electorate from 1893 to 1919, having earlier represented Eastern Maori). They called themselves the Young Maori Party and advocated the wholesale adoption of pakeha culture. ‘There is no alternative but to become a pakeha’, said Maui Pomare, who had become the first Maori Health Officer in 1900. Pomare and his assistant Te Rangihiroa (Peter Buck), who was Director of Maori Hygiene from 1920, worked for improvements in sanitation and living conditions. The Maori population rose from 45 500 in 1901 to 57 000 in 1921, due to a decline in the frequency of epidemics, the gradual acquisition of immunity to them, and an increase of numbers in the child-bearing age group. Life expectancy rose from around 25 years in 1890 to 35 in 1905. But Maori health was still comparatively poor. The death rate in the influenza pandemic of 1918 was seven times that for Europeans.

Although Carroll was Minister of Native Affairs, the Liberals transferred 1.2 million hectares of Maori land to pakeha ownership. Reform alienated a further 1.4 million hectares. ‘Maori landowners, rather than the squattocracy, were vanquished by the state's promotion of closer settlement.’ Improvements in Maori farming came through communal initiatives. In the 1890s the Ngati Porou iwi, who retained much land on the East Coast of the North Island, embarked on large-scale pastoralism. By the mid-1920s they owned a million sheep, as well as a dairy factory, a finance company, and a co-operative store. Apirana Ngata (himself a Ngati Porou) as Native Minister sponsored a 1929 Act which channelled state credit to Maori farmers through the Department of Native Affairs. By 1937, the 750 000 acres being developed under this scheme were supporting about 18 000 people, most of whom lived in communities on or near the land they were working. Ngata, although, a member of the Young Maori Party, believed in fostering a communal rural lifestyle which continued Maori traditions.

While Maori in Parliament became skilful practitioners of taha pakeha (the European aspects of living), local leaders continued to have the most effective influence over Maori community life. None gained more stature than Te Puea Herangi, a member of the Waikato kahui ariki (paramount family), who came to prominence in the Kingitanga by leading a campaign against the conscription of Waikato Maori during the First World War. In 1921 she established a model pa at Ngaruawahia, and from the 1920s she was a figure of national importance for Maori. With her support. Ngata's land development schemes allowed Waikato communities to preserve their traditional way of life while productively occupying their own lands.

Gordon Coates was the first pakeha politician to provide leadership on Maori issues. As Minister of Native Affairs between 1921 and 1928 he was determined to ‘remove the old grievances so that economic and social change could proceed’. Among many initiatives, he established the Sim Commission to investigate the Waikato and Taranaki land confiscations (its findings largely upheld Maori grievances), and also the Maori Purposes Fund to make grants for educational, social, and cultural activities. With Ngata as Native Minister from 1928 to 1934 the momentum of reform continued. But the leadership of these two politicians began to be challenged by the spiritual leader Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana, who was an advocate for the interests of the ‘morehu’—detribalised, non-chiefly common people—to whom he offered a vision of spiritual and material betterment. His teachings seemed increasingly attractive as the depression worsened. Maori are thought to have comprised some 40 percent of the jobless, and by 1933 three out of every four adult male Maori were registered as unemployed.

2.4 The mid-twentieth century

Labour's first term (1935–38)

The Labour Party won power in the 1935 election, when it gained a total of 59 seats (counting a few sympathetic independent MPs) compared to the 19 retained by the Coalition government's candidates. In 1938 it was re-elected, with an increased share of the vote and 53 seats to the new National Party's 25. These successes inaugurated a 14-year tenure of office which, like the Liberal era of the 1890s, was to establish new patterns and set the terms of economic and political debate for the next 40 years. Like the Liberals, Labour benefited by being elected as the economy recovered from depression. And, as with the Liberals, the administration of Labour's achievement was eventually to be taken over by its conservative opponents.

Labour won office because it was seen to represent a genuine alternative to the orthodox economic policies which had entailed hardship for too many. In addition, although export prices and the general economy were recovering in 1935, dairy produce receipts were still low. Discontented dairy' farmers, who approved Labour's promises of guaranteed prices and cheap credit, were decisive in turning the Coalition's defeat into a rout. Led by the former ‘Red Fed’ and Socialist Party militant Michael Joseph Savage, the Labour government moved to restore and direct the economy and introduce a comprehensive social welfare system.

Previous cuts in wages and conditions of employment were reversed, and the normal manufacturing working week was reduced to 40 hours. Pay rates for relief work were substantially increased. Unemployment fell to 38 000 in 1936, and continued economic growth combined with a large public works programme to leave only about 8000 on ‘sustenance and relief’ by December 1937. In 1936 full jurisdiction was restored to the Arbitration Court, and union membership was made compulsory' for all workers subject to awards. The number of unionists rose in consequence from 103 000 in 1935 to 249 000 in 1938. The Agricultural Workers Act 1936 set a minimum pay rate for previously unprotected rural labourers, and required the provision of decent living conditions for them. By buying out private shareholding in the Reserve Bank (created by Coates in 1933 to give the state some control over monetary policy), the government assumed conclusively the power to use the ‘people's credit’. Finance issued by the Reserve Bank underwrote housing construction, public works, and guaranteed prices for dairy products. Cheap mortgages from the revitalised, government-controlled State Advances Corporation helped efficient but indebted farmers remain on the land.

During Labour's 14 years in power some 30 000 ‘state houses’ (government-owned, privately-built rental dwellings) were constructed. State Advances mortgages financed a further 19 000 houses built for private ownership in the same period. The two schemes together gave government assistance to two in every five houses built. Spreading state house suburbs whose inhabitants shared similar lifestyles came to symbolise an egalitarian ‘levelling upwards’ in the quality of New Zealand life. Educational reforms included the lowering of the school-entry age from six to five. The primary-level Proficiency examination was abolished and, after the leaving age was raised to 15, was effectively replaced by the new School Certificate. These changes required much greater spending on school construction and teachers' salaries. The landmark Social Security Act of 1938 was intended not merely to provide a subsistence income but to meet the ‘normal needs’ of beneficiaries. Essentially free general medical care was introduced despite the bitter opposition of doctors, who, ironically, were to be the group who benefited most from the new ‘welfare state’. Social security and public admiration for Savage were major factors in Labour's 1938 electoral triumph, which was blighted only by the recapture of some rural seats by a more united parliamentary opposition.

War and rehabilitation

The government now looked forward to years of development, but was immediately reminded that New Zealand remained a small, dependent trading economy. Withdrawal of private capital combined with the expense of overseas-purchased machinery and supplies to reduce the country's sterling reserves from £29 million to £8 million in the six months before foreign exchange controls were introduced in December 1938. Minister of Finance Walter Nash won few concessions in months of negotiation with the British government and financiers. But bleak prospects were transformed by the outbreak of World War II. Britain rapidly agreed to bulk purchase arrangements at prices favourable to New Zealand for meat and dairy products, and later wool. Imports declined as European production was diverted to war purposes or made unobtainable by shipping difficulties. The exchange crisis was quickly succeeded by a healthy balance of payments surplus, which even allowed the repayment of some earlier loans.

As in World War I, the country's major contribution to the Allied effort was the provision of food, which went mostly to Britain and later to the Pacific theatre. While the war claimed some 12 000 New Zealand lives and saw 17 000 wounded, these were significantly lower casualties than World War I inflicted on a society of half a million fewer people. Nevertheless, some 150 000 were serving in the armed forces when they were at their peak, and civilians were mobilised in support of the war effort. Prices and wages were tightly controlled, and the labour force was subject to direction into essential occupations. Secondary industry, already stimulated by economic expansion, public works, and import licensing, was now boosted by the need for greater self-sufficiency. A ‘hot-house growth of manufacturing’ resulted as many small, previously marginal ventures secured a disciplined labour force and guaranteed markets. The strongest growth occurred in Auckland, which was the largest focus for the urbanisation which had resumed with the end of the Depression. With so many men in the armed forces, women entered the work-force in large numbers. The proportion of public service clerical workers who were female rose from 5 percent in 1939 to 25 percent in 1947. By 1945 nearly 15 percent of married women under 30 were in full-time employment, a percentage which was not to decline after the war ended. From national necessity, many women entered rural and industrial occupations previously assumed to be ‘men's work’.

As with perceptions of women's role in society, assumptions about New Zealand's place in the world were irrevocably altered by World War II. The Balfour Report of 1926 recognised that Britain's dominions were de facto independent stales. The Statute of Westminster of 1931 effectively relinquished the British parliament's power to make laws for the dominions. New Zealand was not to accept this formally until 1947. The Labour government, like its conservative predecessors, sought consultation with Britain rather than an independent foreign policy. In the late 1930s New Zealand's support for the League of Nations and collective security brought disagreement with the appeasement-minded British. In 1945 Prime Minister Peter Fraser was to be a leading advocate for the rights of the small nations represented in the new United Nations organisation. In the intervening years the limits of British power had been particularly brought home by the rapid capitulation to the Japanese in 1942 of the vaunted Singapore military base. The necessity of reliance on United States protection was underlined by the wartime presence of 100 000 American ‘GIs’ at New Zealand staging bases. Unlike Australia. New Zealand kept its best fighting troops in the Mediterranean theatre throughout the war. After participating in the unsuccessful defence of Greece and Crete in 1941, they endured the hardships of the North African desert and the slow, difficult advance through Italy. Although operating within the British command structure, New Zealand troops remained under New Zealand government control. The war also stimulated a redirection of New Zealand trade. New Zealand's exports to non-British markets doubled to about 40 percent of all its exports in the decade after 1941, and were never to return to the levels of the previous half-century.

While a multi-party War Cabinet made the major decisions, Labour's regular Cabinet continued its largely domestic business. Pragmatic politics counterpointed national sacrifice. The 1943 Servicemen's Settlement and Land Sales Act empowered the government to control prices in all land transactions, and to buy land suitable for subdivision. Farmers hoping to profit as before from a wartime rise in land values, and dissatisfied with the level of guaranteed prices, turned against the government. Despite its abolition of the country quota, Labour won a majority of only four seats in the 1946 election. In contrast with 1919, the reintegration of returning service personnel into the economy was impressively successful, backed as it was by full employment, enforced wartime savings, and guaranteed markets abroad. But the continuation of many wartime restrictions—symbolised by the 1948 Economic Stabilisation Act—was irksome. Maintaining supplies to impoverished Britain required continued rationing, electricity use was limited, and soaring marriage and birth rates outstripped house building.

National in office

The post-war National Party promised more efficient management of key Labour gains and greater personal freedom (such as the right of purchase for state house tenants). Led by Sidney Holland, National won the 1949 election. In 1951 it increased its majority in a rare snap election called to take advantage of the government's crushing termination of a major five-month-long industrial dispute which had been precipitated by a breakdown in relations between waterfront workers and their employers. The Labour Party, though clearly not laggards in their enthusiasm for the ‘Cold War’—they introduced peacetime compulsory military training in 1949—were outmanoeuvered by a government which consolidated its support around the popular themes of ‘law and order’, anti-communism, and curbing the unions. Labour's ambivalence towards the strikers reflected divisions within the union movement, inside which a militant Trade Union Congress had emerged in opposition to the cautious Federation of Labour.

National continued to present itself to the electorate as the party which would best defend the ‘national interest’ against divisive sectional concerns. Buoyed by continuing prosperity, it was interrupted in its self-described role as the ‘natural party of government’ only by the one-term Labour administrations of 1957–60 and 1972–75. Both these periods saw adverse alterations in New Zealand's terms of trade. Both Labour cabinets made changes too rapidly for the liking of an electorate more comfortable with the ‘steady-does-it’ approach epitomised by (later Sir) Keith Holyoake's term as Prime Minister in the 1960s. In that decade political life sometimes seemed to dimly reflect the American scene; New Zealand troops fought in Vietnam, New Zealand youth rebelled against their parents’ staidness and complacency, and the voices of New Zealand's indigenous inhabitants began to be heard by the wider society. Seen as more efficient at managing a mixed economy, the National Party retained power even in the troubled economic times between 1975 and 1984.

Economic and social modernisation

In the quarter-century after 1950, New Zealand for many at last lived up to Seddon's characterisation of it as ‘God's Own Country’. National wealth per head rose continuously, if at varying rates, until the ‘oil crisis’ of 1973 began a period of stagnation. Standards of living mirrored this ‘pervasive prosperity’. The proportion of houses owned rather than rented rose from 61 percent to 69 percent during the 1950s. Low-cost suburban bungalows of uniform style were furnished with a widening range of consumer durables. Electric stoves, refrigerators, and washing-machines, found in only about half of all houses in the 1940s, were nearly universal by the mid-1960s (as were radiograms and, eventually, television sets). New Zealanders had more choice in spending their increasing discretionary incomes. Although many men remained preoccupied with sport, home-centred leisure (gardening, reading, television watching) increased with suburbanisation. Car ownership and substantial expenditure on roading (secondary routes as well as showpiece motorways) brought unparalleled mobility to many. Passenger use of railways declined as air transport came to dominate long-distance personal travel.

The dream of creating a materialist Utopia in New Zealand was kept alive by the unprecedented continuation of full employment for 30 years after World War II, when for the first time there had been the possibility of a job for almost everyone who wanted one. More white-collar work balanced a continuing relative decline in rural employment. The proportion of the labour force employed in agriculture fell from about one-quarter in the mid-1930s to about one-eighth in the early 1970s, while farming productivity rose at about 1 percent annually, as all aspects of farm management became more sophisticated. Capital improvements compensated for a diminishing labour force; tractor numbers increased tenfold from 1938 to the 1970s, and aircraft were widely used to spread fertiliser. By 1972 the number of farms had fallen by nearly a third from the post-war peak of 92 000 reached in 1955. The number of dairy farmers declined particularly dramatically, from nearly 40 000 in 1950 to about 17 000 in 1976. This reflected changes in the relative profitability of different types of farming, as well as a general exodus from the ranks of the small farmer. Meanwhile, male blue-collar employment rose steadily, roughly in proportion to the overall growth of the labour force. By 1976 there were more than 400 000 blue-collar workers, 47 percent of the male work-force. Most rapid expansion came in white-collar employment, which occupied a quarter of working men in 1951, a third in 1971. The same proportions of all women aged over 15 were in paid employment in each of these years. In 1971, 62 percent of women in the labour force had white-collar jobs. Most of these jobs were in clerical occupations. In contrast, the major occupations for women at the beginning of the century had been domestic service, and tailoring and dressmaking. But despite the fact that the female occupational structure had changed, women still continued to work in jobs performed mostly by women.

The goal of ‘being one's own boss’ became less attainable; between 1951 and 1971 small proprietors fell from one-fifth to an eighth of the work-force. Small business operators, like small farmers, felt themselves vulnerable to growing pressure from larger rivals and increasing regulation. The resentments of these two groups were reflected in the support they gave the Social Credit party in the 1960s and 1970s (although this was too geographically diffuse for the party to gain more than token parliamentary representation). By the early 1970s about 40 percent of the work-force belonged to bureaucracies—organisations with specialised jobs structured in a hierarchy, and governed by formal rules and regulations. The public sector, with about 250 000 employees, had grown by 100 000 in 20 years although, contrary to widespread popular belief, it had not increased its share of the work-force or of national resources. Private bureaucracies now employed some 200 000 people. The growth of both sectors was closely linked to the expansion of post-primary education. Between 1945 and 1970 spending on education rose from 6 percent to 14 percent of government expenditure, and the number of secondary school students more than trebled. By 1971 one person in every three participated directly in the education system, as full-time student, teacher or administrator. Seven-eighths of all pupils attended state-run schools. Public education, like the state's housing policy, was based on an ethos which emphasised equality of access, social integration, and cultural uniformity. University students doubled in numbers in the 1960s, becoming 10 percent of the school-leaving age-group by the end of the decade.

The pakeha birth rate had fallen steadily from the 1880s to the mid-1930s, prompting fears of a near-stationary population, This at last came to pass in the late 1970s, but only after a period of unprecedented growth, from 1.7 million in 1945 to more than 3 million. One-third of the increase was due to immigration, at first from war-ravaged Europe, later from the Pacific Islands. Both Western Samoa and the Cook Islands gained effective independence in the 1960s, but their citizens retained rights of entry to New Zealand. By 1976, 61 000 Pacific Island Polynesians lived in New Zealand. The bulk of the population growth, however, came from natural increase—the postwar ‘baby boom’, which lasted until use of effective contraception became more widespread during the 1960s. By 1961 a third of New Zealanders were aged under 15. This generation put stress on the education system and then on the job market, and seemed likely to overload superannuation schemes and health resources as it aged. Other demographic trends were continued movements from country to town and from south to north. By 1976 only one-sixth of New Zealanders lived outside urban areas. In that year 73 percent of the population lived in the North Island. The Auckland conurbation alone had a quarter of the country's people and a third of those employed in manufacturing. Whereas the greatest number of Vogel-period immigrants had settled in Canterbury and Otago, the latest wave of European migrants went disproportionately to the cities of Auckland and Wellington, as did newly-arriving Pacific Islanders and Maori leaving rural areas.

Self-reliance and self-doubt

New Zealand's modernising society became more complex, more distinctive, and less self-confident as a Maori cultural renaissance began to affect the cities, more than a century of migration from Europe diminished to a trickle, and the country finally lost its secure place as Britain's offshore farm. In the 1970s greatly-increased oil prices, and the global economy's inability to distribute the world's food production effectively, led to an apparently irreversible decline in the terms of New Zealand's trade with the outside world. Primary products—wood-pulp and paper as well as wool, meat, and dairy produce—continued to be export staples, but their share of total exports fell to 60 percent by 1975. In that year Britain (which had cut the symbolic umbilical cord by joining the protectionist European Economic Community) took only one-fifth of New Zealand's exports, and the country's four major markets (the others were Australia, the United States, and Japan) only three-fifths between them. An increasing variety of agricultural and manufactured products were sold in a growing range of markets. Primary produce sales were increasingly handled by centralised producer boards. The main focus of secondary industry was still the further processing of imported goods for local markets. Although import licensing was said to shelter inefficient industries, the average level of protection was not high by world standards. Nor is it clear that New Zealand output or standards of living have lagged nearly as far behind other developed countries as figures based on exchange-rate comparisons suggest. At worst, the country's economic performance has been an average one.

Much the same could be said in social terms. In New Zealand many features of western social change have been experienced on a smaller scale. These have included the rise of youth culture (as both a new form of consumerism and a serious attempt to transform styles of living), the revitalisation of ethnic minorities, and the assertion by women of their right to participate fully in all aspects of economic and social life. Equal pay for equal work became a legal requirement in 1972, showing the extent of change since 1936, when the first minimum-wage legislation had set the female minimum rate at 47 percent of the male. But women remained over-represented in low-status occupations, and the twentieth-century idealisation of motherhood continued to be a potent source of guilt for mothers who, from necessity, took paid employment. As age, ethnic, and gender distinctions came to matter more, class divisions grew more subtle and apparently less important. Although extremes of wealth and poverty were rare, equality of income and status had been brought no closer by decades of formal equality of access to society's resources. And social consensus as to the desirability of relative equality and social security was being eroded by harsh economic realities and the diversification of individual aspirations.

Maori society after 1935

The state of Maori health still caused concern in the 1930s. In 1938 the Maori death rate was 24 per 1000, compared with 10 for pakeha, and the infant mortality rate was 153 for each 1000 live births, as against 37 for non-Maori. In 1940, 36 percent of Maori people were said to live in houses unfit for habitation by minimum pakeha standards. Funding by the first Labour government of the Native Housing Act 1935 resulted in the construction of some 3000 houses by 1951. More systematic efforts to improve Maori health saw experts such as H. B. Turbott combine with community leaders like Te Puea to introduce ‘health programmes. Effective control of diseases such as tuberculosis and typhoid, and falling infant mortality, led to a rise in Maori life expectancy from 46 years in 1925 to 58 in 1956. These factors, and a continuing high birth rate, saw the Maori population double in 30 years to reach 116 000 in 1951. In that year 57 percent of Maori people were aged under 21, compared with 35 percent of non-Maori. In 1955 the Maori birth rate was 44 per 1000, as against 25 for non-Maori. By 1966 half of all Maori were aged under 15. Continuing high fertility and improved health saw the Maori population reach 270 000 in 1976. Maori now comprised 9 percent of all New Zealanders.

Movement of Maori to the cities began during World War II, when manpower regulations and the work of the Maori War Effort Organisation opened up a variety of urban employment opportunities. In any case, fanning could not have sustained the rapid increase in numbers. Eleven percent of Maori people had lived in urban areas in 1936. Forty years later, three-quarters of the Maori people were urbanised, and a fifth lived in Auckland, the Maori population of which doubled during the 1960s. Migration to the cities meant improved housing conditions, but most Maori could not afford to live outside areas offering low-cost accommodation. Urbanisation was reflected in employment data. While 40 percent of male Maori had worked in agriculture, forestry and fisheries in 1951, only 16 percent did so by 1971. The respective figures for blue-collar employment were 52 percent and 70 percent. Over the same period, the proportion of Maori women in service occupations fell from 42 percent to 23 percent, while the percentage in blue-collar work rose from 24 percent to 36 percent. By the late 1960s, Maori and Pacific Islanders in Auckland and Wellington formed a ‘new under-class’, most holding poorly-paid jobs which offered little security or prospects for advancement.

Maori education benefited from the first Labour government's introduction of free secondary education and a school-leaving age of 15. By 1953, while special Maori schools (directly administered by the Department of Education) were still numerous, 60 percent of Maori children attended ordinary state primary schools. By 1960 most Maori children went on to secondary school; but they did so on average at a later age, and left earlier with fewer qualifications than pakeha children. In 1960, 5 percent of Maori pupils gained School Certificate, compared with 30 percent of non-Maori of the same age. The state school system was still almost entirely monocultural. Educational under-achievement was both a cause and an effect of low occupational status.

From 1943, with the defeat of Apirana Ngata, the Ratana-Labour alliance held all four Maori parliamentary seats. Much of the discrimination against Maori workers was removed by the first Labour government, and Maori shared in the general expansion of economic activity and in social security provisions. The Maori Social and Economic Advancement Act 1945 set up tribal committees and executives concerned especially with welfare and marae administration. In 1947 the word ‘Maori’ replaced ‘Native’ in all official usage, an acknowledgment that Polynesian New Zealanders now more than before saw themselves as one people. National organisations such as the Maori Women's Welfare League (formed in 1951) and the Maori Council (established in 1962) helped strengthen the authority of a postwar generation of leaders. Many had served with distinction in the Maori Battalion in North Africa and Italy, or in essential industries. Returning servicemen were able to demand equality with more success than had their counterparts in the World War I Pioneer Battalion, who had received no rehabilitation assistance. Maori sporting ability (demonstrated particularly in rugby union and league) also earned respect from the wider community.

In the 1940s Ngata spoke of the need for a ‘continuous attempt to interpret the Maori point of view to the pakeha in power’. Te Puea argued that ‘unity of Maori and Pakeha can only grow from each sharing the worthwhile elements in the other's culture’. As urbanisation brought the two races together, discrimination and the lack of equal opportunity grew more visible. Maori were told they must adapt to the pakeha way of life; there was no equivalent pressure on pakeha. From the late 1960s groups such as Nga Tamatoa (‘the young warriors’) challenged the continuing loss of land, declining use of the Maori language, and what came to be called ‘institutional racism’ in pakeha-dominated society. A cultural resurgence which emphasised tribal identity, traditions, and protocol developed in parallel with a drive to establish urban marae. Under the third Labour government, multiculturalism replaced integration as official policy. Maoritanga (the experience and expression of Maoriness) had an officially recognised place in the future of Aotearoa.

2.5 Chronology of main events

c 1000 Arrival of first Polynesian settlers in Aotearoa.

1642 European discovery by Abel Tasman.

1769 James Cook's first visit to New Zealand.

c 1790 First severe epidemic among Maori population.

1792 First sealing gang left on New Zealand coast at Dusky Sound.

1806 First pakeha women arrive in New Zealand.

1814 Arrival of Rev, Samuel Marsden, and establishment of Anglican mission station.

1820 Hongi's visit to England.

1826 Attempt at European settlement under Captain Herd.

1831 Tory Channel whaling station established.

1833 James Busby appointed British Resident at Bay of Islands.

1839 Governor of New South Wales authorised to annex New Zealand. Preliminary expedition of New Zealand Company under Colonel Wakefield to Port Nicholson.

1840 Arrival of New Zealand Company's settlers at Port Nicholson. New Zealand annexed, Captain Hobson arrives as Lieutenant-Governor, and Treaty of Waitangi signed. Settlements formed in the Far North, and at Akaroa.

1841 New Zealand proclaimed independent of New South Wales. Arrival of New Plymouth and Wanganui settlers.

1842 Settlement founded at Nelson.

1843 Affray at Wairau.

1845 ‘Northern War’.

1846 Fighting near Wellington. New Zealand divided into two provinces. New Munster and New Ulster. Exploration of West Coast by Thomas Brunner party begins.

1848 Otago settlement founded.

1850 Canterbury settlement founded.

1852 Constitution Act passed by Imperial Parliament, granting representative institutions to New Zealand, and dividing country into six provinces.

1854 Opening at Auckland of first session of General Assembly.

1855 First members elected to the House of Representatives under system of responsible government. Severe earthquake on both sides of Cook Strait.

1856 Appointment of first ministry under system of responsible government.

1858 Te Wherowhero (Potatau) becomes Maori King.

1860 ‘Taranaki War’.

1861 Bank of New Zealand incorporated. Gold discovery at Gabriel's Gully, Otago.

1862 First electric telegraph line opened—Christchurch to Lyttelton.

1863 Commencement of ‘Waikato War’, Wreck of HMS Orpheus on Manukau Bar. First steam railway in New Zealand opened.

1864 Hostilities in Waikato end. Discovery of gold on West Coast.

1865 Seat of Government transferred to Wellington.

1866 Cook Strait submarine telegraph cable laid.

1867 Opening of Thames gold-field. Lyttelton railway tunnel completed. Four Maori seats provided in House of Representatives. Armed Constabulary established.

1868 Campaigns of Titokowaru and Te Kooti.

1869 Government Life Insurance Office founded.

1870 Last pitched battles of ‘New Zealand Wars’. First rugby match in New Zealand. Commencement of San Francisco mail service. Inauguration of Vogel public works policy.

1873 Establishment of New Zealand Shipping Co.

1876 New Zealand-Australia cable. Provinces abolished.

1877 Education Act passed, providing for free, compulsory education.

1878 Completion of the Christchurch-Invercargill railway.

1879 Triennial Parliaments Act passed. Universal male suffrage introduced. Kaitangata coal mine explosion. Annual property tax introduced.

1881 Parihaka community forcibly broken up. Wreck of s.s. Tarawa.

1882 First shipment of frozen meat from New Zealand.

1883 Direct steamer link established between New Zealand and Britain.

1884 Construction of King Country section of North Island main trunk railway begins.

1886 Tarawera eruption and destruction of Pink and White Terraces.

1887 First national park created.

1888 Birth of writer Katherine Mansfield.

1889 Abolition of non-residential or property qualification to vote.

1890 Great maritime strike. First election on one-man-one-vote basis; Liberal government elected.

1891 Land and Income Assessment Act passed.

1892 Land for Settlements Act passed.

1893 Franchise extended to women. Liquor licensing poll introduced. Elizabeth Yates elected Mayor of Onehunga.

1894 Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act passed. Government Advances to Settlers Act passed. Wreck of s.s. Wairarapa. First ascent of Mt Cook/Aoraki.

1896 Brunner Mine explosion. National Council of Women founded.

1898 Old-age Pensions Act passed.

1899 New Zealand army contingent sent to South African War.

1901 Cook and other Pacific Islands annexed.

1902 Pacific cable opened. Wreck of s.s. Elingamite.

1903 Richard Pearse achieves semi-controlled flight near Timaru.

1905 State Insurance Office founded.

1906 Death of Premier Seddon.

1907 New Zealand given name of Dominion.

1908 North Island main trunk railway opened. Ernest Rutherford awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

1909 S.s. Penguin wrecked in Cock Strait, with loss of 75 lives. Battle cruiser presented by New Zealand to Imperial Government. System of compulsory military training introduced.

1911 Wireless telegraphy installed in New Zealand. Widows' Pensions Act passed. First poll on national prohibition taken.

1912 Civil service placed under control of Public Service Commissioner. Waihi strike. Reform ministry formed.

1913 Extensive strikes with confrontations in Auckland and Wellington.

1914 World War I begins. German Samoa occupied. New Zealand Expeditionary Force despatched.

1915 Gallipoli campaign.

1916 New Zealand Division transferred to Western Front. Battle of the Somme. Conscription introduced. Lake Coleridge electricity supply scheme opened.

1917 Battle of Passchendaele.

1918 End of World War I. Great influenza epidemic kills 6700 New Zealanders.

1919 Women eligible for Parliament. New Zealand represented at Peace Conference by Prime Minister.

1920 First aeroplane flight across Cook Strait. League of Nations mandate to administer Western moa.

1921 New Zealand Division of Royal Navy established.

1922 Meat export trade placed under control of a board.

1923 Death of writer Katherine Mansfield. Opening of Otira Tunnel. Ross Dependency proclaimed. Dairy Produce Export Control Act passed.

1924 Direct radio communication with England.

1925 Death of Prime Minister Massey.

1926 Department of Scientific and Industrial Research founded.

1928 First flight across Tasman Sea. United government elected.

1929 Severe earthquake in Murchison-Karamea district

1930 Legislation provides for relief of unemployment.

1931 Hawkes Bay earthquake. General reduction of 10 percent in wages and salaries. Mortgagors' relief legislation passed.

1932 Reductions in old-age and other pensions, in salaries of state employees, and in rentals, interest rates and other fixed charges. Sporadic rioting in main centres. Ottawa Conference.

1933 Elizabeth McCombs becomes first woman M.P.

1934 First trans-Tasman airmail. Reserve Bank incorporated.

1935 First Labour government elected.

1936 Inauguration of inter-island trunk air services. Reserve Bank nationalised. System of basic prices for butter and cheese introduced. 40-hour week introduced.

1937 Royal New Zealand Air Force established.

1938 Social Security Act passed. Introduction of import control.

1939 Second World War begins. HMS Achilles takes part in Battle of the River Plate.

1940 Death of Prime Minister Savage. 2nd NZEF despatched.

1941 War with Japan begins.

1942 Complete mobilisation. Rationing introduced. Mobilisation of women for essential work. Battle of El Alamein.

1943 New Zealand Division serves in Italy.

1945 War in Europe ends (8 May). War in Pacific ends (15 August). National Airways Corporation founded.

1946 Family benefit of £1 per week made universal as from 1 April. Bank of New Zealand nationalised.

1947 Statute of Westminster adopted by New Zealand Parliament.

1949 Referendum agrees to compulsory military training. National government elected.

1950 Legislative Council Abolition Act passed. Naval and ground forces sent to Korean War. Wool boom.

1951 Prolonged waterfront dispute. United Slates, Australia, and New Zealand sign ANZUS Treaty. Maori Women's Welfare League established.

1953 Railway disaster at Tangiwai. First tour by reigning monarch.

1954 New Zealand signs South-east Asia Collective Defence Treaty.

1955 Pulp and paper mill at Kawerau opened. Rimutaka rail tunnel opened.

1956 Roxburgh and Whakamaru power stations in operation. New Zealand troops sent to Malaya.

1957 Scott Base established in Ross Dependency. Last hanging in New Zealand. Labour government elected.

1958 PAYE taxation introduced.

1959 Auckland Harbour Bridge opened. Antarctic Treaty signed.

1960 Regular television programmes began in Auckland. Government Service Equal Pay Act passed. National government elected.

1961 New Zealand joins International Monetary Fund.

1962 Cook Strait rail-ferry service commenced with Aramoana. Western Samoa becomes independent.

1964 Cook Strait power cables laid. Oil refinery opened at Whangarei.

1965 Limited free trade agreement negotiated with Australia. Cook Islands became self-governing, Combat force sent to Vietnam.

1966 National Library of New Zealand created.

1967 Decimal currency introduced. Referendum extends hotel hours.

1968 T.e.v. Wahine founders in Wellington Harbour.

1969 Vote extended to 20-year-olds.

1970 Natural gas from Kapuni supplied to Auckland.

1971 Negotiations by Britain with members of European Economic Community secure New Zealand's butter and cheese exports to the United Kingdom. Bluff aluminium smelter in commercial operation. Generators installed at Manapouri hydroelectric station. Metric conversion for weights and measures.

1972 Labour government elected.

1973 Britain joins European Economic Community. Colour television introduced. First step of Equal Pay Act in effect. First United Women's Convention.

1974 Death of Prime Minister Norman Kirk. Commonwealth Games, Christchurch.

1975 Waitangi Tribunal established. National government elected.

1976 Cuts in subsidies on electricity, rail charges, and Post Office charges. Subsidies on bread, eggs, butter, and flour abolished. New Zealand's sporting links with South Africa resulted in walk-out at Olympic Games in Montreal.

1977 National superannuation scheme begins. New Zealand signs Gleneagles agreement on sporting contacts with South Africa, 200-mile exclusive economic zone established.

1978 National government re-elected.

1979 First stage of Maui gasfield development completed. Severe landslip at Abbotsford. Air New Zealand crash on Mount Erebus.

1980 Expansion of Marsden Point oil refinery. New methanol plant and expansion of New Zealand Steel Ltd plant approved. Saturday retail trading legalised.

1981 Butter deal concluded with EEC. Controversial tour of New Zealand by South African rugby team. National government re-elected.

1982 Twelve-month wage, price, and rent freeze imposed. Kohanga reo (language nurseries) established to encourage revival of Maori.

1983 Signing of Closer Economic Relations Agreement with Australia. New Zealand's triple A international credit rating reduced by Standard and Poor's Corporation. Wage-price freeze extended until 1984. Phased deregulation of land transport begins.

1984 Price freeze lifted. The Labour Party wins snap General Election. Government devalues the New Zealand dollar by 20 percent and re-imposes price freeze. Economic summit conference. Maori summit conference. Budget introduces Family Care and tax surcharge on national superannuation, and lifts price freeze. Queen Street riot, Auckland. New Zealand ratifies the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

1985 United States request for visit by USS Buchanan declined. New Zealand dollar floated. University Entrance examinations abolished. Greenpeace protest vessel Rainbow Warrior bombed and sunk by French agents.

1986 Soviet cruise ship Mikhail Lermontov sinks in Marlborough Sounds. Property qualifications for voting in local body elections abolished. United Nations Secretary-General rules on sinking of the Rainbow Warrior. Homosexual Law Reform Bill passed. Notice given that School Certificate to be abolished and replaced with internal assessment within four years. (Oct) Goods and services tax (GST) comes into effect. (Nov) First visit by Pope.

1987 (Feb) Ansett Airlines begins services on New Zealand domestic routes. United States ends special arrangement that allowed New Zealand to buy military equipment at wholesale rates. (Mar) Flooding in Southland. Bay of Plenty earthquake causes widespread damage. New Zealand Forest Service abolished. (Apr) Soviet diplomat expelled. (May) Air New Zealand 747 hijacked at Nadi Airport. (Jun) Non-nuclear legislation becomes law. Commission of enquiry ordered into cervical cancer research programme at National Women's Hospital. First Budget surplus in 35 years announced. Court of Appeal ruling' that Maori land claims would not be affected by transfer of assets to new state-owned enterprises. (Jul) $1.5 billion modernisation programme for Navy announced. (Aug) First lotto draw. General Election returns Labour government. Council of Trade Unions formed. Sharemarket crash. (Nov) Australian Prime Minister Hawke visits. (Dec) New Zealand's first heart transplant performed. Waitangi Tribunal given power to decide which Crown land has Maori claimants. Economic package introduces, among other things, major lax reforms.

1988 (Feb) Oil strike at Kupe South field. Number of unemployed exceeds 100 000. (Mar) Public servants strike. Cyclone Bola strikes northern North Island. (Apr) State Sector Act became law. Report of task force on hospitals and related services released. Electricity Corporation pays $6.3 billion to government for assets. Broadcasting deregulation announced. (May) Oil industry deregulated. Floods at Greymouth. (Jun) Waitangi Tribunal reports on Muriwhenua Incorporation's claim to Northland fisheries. Australia-New Zealand free trade policy brought forward to July 1990. North Island main trunk railway electrification completed. (Jul) Import duty and excise cut. Budget announces further sales of state assets. (Aug) New Zealand sends 10 observers to UN peacekeeping force in Persian Gulf. (Sep) Floods in Greymouth. New Zealand wins 3 gold. 2 silver and 8 bronze medals at Seoul Olympics. (Oct) EC announces butter sales to Britain to be cut by 25 percent over four years. Fisheries quota package announced for Maori tribes. (Nov) Minister for State-owned Enterprises replaced. South Island affected by drought. System of youth and student support announced. (Dec) Government sells its interest in Motunui synthetic petrol plant and brokerage rights for Maui gas. Minister of Finance replaced. Terms of sale of Air New Zealand and Postbank announced.

1989 (Jan) Committee of inquiry recommends introduction of casinos. Equiticorp Group placed under statutory receivership. (Feb) Government indicates its intention to sell Bank of New Zealand. South Westland rain forest protected from logging. (Mar) Defence review released. Tax and excise changes announced. Shipping Corporation sale finalised. National superannuation and benefit adjustment changes announced. Establishment of Serious Fraud Office outlined. (Apr) Audit Office report criticises administration of Waitemata City. Prime Minister suggests New Zealand's withdrawal from Anzus Council. (May) New Labour Party launched. Reserve Bank Act sets bank's role as maintenance of price stability. First school board elections under Tomorrow's Schools' reforms. East coast drought forecast to affect exports. (Jun) GST rate increases to 12.5 percent. Government refuses entry to Soviet research ship. Police numbers cut. BNZ records country's worst corporate loss to date—$634 million, sale proceeds. Announcement that police recruiting and training to be deferred. (Jul) Government and Maori groups sign agreement over sale of state forests. Changes to national superannuation and other welfare measures announced in Budget. NZ Steel sold to BHP-led consortium. (Aug) Former finance minister, Roger Douglas returns to Cabinet. Prime Minister Lange resigns and is replaced by Geoffrey Palmer, with Helen Clarke, first women Deputy Prime Minister. First balance of payments surplus in 17 years announced. Rural Bank sold to Fletcher Challenge Ltd. (Sep) Anzac frigate deal reached. Increases in tertiary student fees announced. Fletcher Challenge Ltd records highest corporate profit to date—$653 million. (Oct) First elections under revised local government structure. Court of Appeal disallows sale of Coalcorp without safeguards and recompense to Tainui. DFC New Zealand Limited placed under statutory management, sees reaction to Japanese finance markets. (Nov) Review of police force released. Sale of State Insurance Office announced. Third television channel begins. (Dec) Sunday trading begins. Second Maui production platform approved.


  • 2.1–2.4 Historical Branch, Department of Internal Affairs.

  • 2.5 Department of Statistics and Historical Branch, Department of Internal Affairs.


Department of Statistics; Historical Branch.

Chapter 3. Government

3.1 Constitution

New Zealand is a monarchy with a parliamentary government. The Crown is vested in the same person as the British Crown and Queen Elizabeth II has the title Queen of New Zealand.

Although an independent state today, New Zealand's constitutional history can be traced back to 1840 when by the Treaty of Waitangi the Maori people exchanged their sovereignty for the guarantees of the treaty and New Zealand became a British colony.

A constitution is concerned with the establishment and composition of the legislative, executive, and judicial organs of government, their powers and duties, and the relationship between these organs. In New Zealand, the constitution is not contained in a single document that can be referred to as ‘the Constitution’, although the Constitution Act 1986 brought together in one statute the most important statutory constitutional provisions. Some United Kingdom statutes, constitutional conventions, and case law add to the body of New Zealand constitutional law.

A feature of constitutional documents in some countries is that their provisions are safeguarded by requiring a special procedure to amend them. Only two New Zealand constitutional statutes have a requirement of this nature. They are the Electoral Act 1956 and the Constitution Act 1986. Some sections of the Electoral Act 1956 require a 75 percent majority in Parliament to change them, o a majority of votes cast at a referendum. However, the 75 percent requirement could itself be removed by a simple majority in Parliament. In this sense, the protection is political rather than legal. One of the entrenched, or protected, sections in the Electoral Act 1956 was transferred to the Constitution Act 1986, where it retains the protection previously provided.

Important sources of constitutional law include, the Constitution Act 1986, which replaced the Constitution Act 1852 (the 1986 Act is discussed in more detail below); the United Kingdom Habeas Corpus Act 1679, and Bill of Rights 1689, which respectively protect the individual against arbitrary detention, and define some of the relative powers of the Crown and Parliament; the Electoral Act 1956, which provides procedures for parliamentary elections; the Letters Patent 1983, which set out the Governor-General's powers, and the Imperial Laws' Application Act 1988, which defines those United Kingdom statutes that are still part of New Zealand law.

The Crown and Governor-General

The Governor-General is the representative of the Sovereign in New Zealand and exercises the royal powers derived from statute and the general law (prerogative powers). The Governor-General possesses only those prerogative powers delegated in the Letters Patent, and the courts may decide on the limits of them. Almost all of the Governor-General's powers are now statutory, and this has the effect of abridging any of the prerogative powers that cover the same ground. The Sovereign appoints the Governor-General on the Prime Minister's recommendation, normally for a term of five years.

The Governor-General's main constitutional function is to arrange for the leader of the majority party in Parliament to form a government. By constitutional convention and the Letters Patent, the Governor-General is required to follow the advice of ministers. By convention the Governor-General can in extraordinary circumstances reject advice if he or she believes that a government is intending to act unconstitutionally—known as the reserve power. The extent of these powers in New Zealand is unclear, and events in Australia in 1975 demonstrated how controversial the use of the reserve powers can be.

Parliamentary tradition

A feature of New Zealand's constitution is that, although it is a monarchy in form, it operates democratically because of a long political tradition of parliamentary government and a network of constitutional principles. This tradition developed during the course of British history, and was transferred to New Zealand. Some principles have legal status, and some exist as constitutional conventions.

The Crown is still the formal legal repository of much power. The Crown is part of Parliament, and the Governor-General's assent is required before bills can become law. Government administration is formally carried out by the Crown through its ministers and state servants. However, the Crown must act according to its ministers' wishes, and they, in turn, must retain parliamentary support. The Government cannot act effectively without Parliament, because it cannot raise or spend money without parliamentary approval, and for most categories of expenditure this approval takes the form of an annual vote of funds to the Government. Parliament therefore has to be assembled regularly and has the opportunity to hold the Government to account. Under the modern two-party system, however, the Government effectively controls proceedings in Parliament and cases of Government members voting with the Opposition are very uncommon.

Judges are also appointed by the Crown, and there is a strong tradition of independence for judges and various mechanisms to protect it.

Recent constitutional reform

Events immediately after the July 1984 general election highlighted a need for constitutional reform. Difficulties experienced by the incoming government, in taking what was considered urgent action, revealed uncertainties in the rules for the handing over of power from an outgoing to an incoming government.

An officials committee was set up to examine and report on the rules for the handing over of power and to carry out a general reorganisation of statutory constitutional provisions. The committee's recommendations included a draft bill which eventually led to the Constitution Act 1986.

The Act, which came into effect on 1 January 1987, clarified the rules relating to the handover of power and brought together in one Act the most important statutory constitutional provisions. It deals with the principal components of New Zealand's constitutional arrangements; the Sovereign, the Executive, the legislature and the judiciary.

Part I of the Act concerns the Sovereign. It contains the essence of the Royal Titles Act 1974 and replaces the Royal Powers Act 1983. It deals with the Sovereign as the Head of State of New Zealand and expressly recognises the role of the Governor-General. Part I also deals with the exercise of royal powers by either the Sovereign or the Governor-General, and with the legal effects of a death of the Sovereign (the demise of the Crown).

Part II deals with the Executive. It restates the rule that no person may be a minister of the Crown or member of the Executive Council unless that person is a member of Parliament. However, due to the uncertainties in applying this rule created by the events of 1984, an exception was provided. A non-member of Parliament may now be appointed as a minister or member of the Executive Council if that person was a candidate at the general election immediately before appointment. However, if within 40 days that person does not become a member of Parliament he or she must vacate office.

There is a further exception which re-enacts, with some amendment, a provision authorising ministers of an outgoing government to continue to hold office for 28 days after ceasing to be members of Parliament. Part II also deals with the power of ministers to act for other ministers, and the appointment and powers of parliamentary under-secretaries.

Part III of the Act concerns the law-making body, the legislature: what it does and how it is to do it. The Act confirms the existing power of the New Zealand Parliament to make laws. It declares that the Parliament of New Zealand ‘continues to have full power to make laws’. It also removed the residual power of the United Kingdom Parliament to make laws for New Zealand, which is now inappropriate given New Zealand's independent status. To this end the Act also repealed the Statute of Westminster 1931 (in relation to New Zealand) and other linked legislation. Under the Statute of Westminster the United Kingdom Parliament could legislate for New Zealand.

The Act also altered the composition of Parliament to consist of the Sovereign in right of New Zealand, rather than, as previously, the Governor-General, and the House of Representatives. The new description is more appropriate to New Zealand's independent constitutional status. Part III also deals with matters such as the election and term of the Speaker, the royal assent to bills, and the procedure for the summoning, proroguing, and dissolution of Parliament. It also requires Parliament to meet not later than six weeks after the date fixed for the return of the writs from the election. This embodies the important constitutional principle that parliaments should meet frequently, as set out in the Bill of Rights 1689.

There remain a number of United Kingdom Acts (referred to as ‘imperial Acts’) which are in force as part of the law of New Zealand. Those which are still in force have been listed in the Imperial Laws Application Act 1988, which clarifies the effect of Imperial laws in New Zealand. Some are historic constitutional Acts, such as the Magna Carta, the Habeus Corpus Act 1679, and the Bill of Rights 1689.

In Part IV of the Act are found some of the important constitutional rules governing the judiciary, their tenure, and salaries. The Act also empowers the Sovereign, or the Governor-General, to remove High Court judges and sets out how, and on what grounds, they can be removed. The Constitution Act 1986 made some changes to the law on these matters. It enabled the Governor-General in Council to remove judges and abolished the power of suspension. It also clarified uncertainties about the method and grounds for removal.

In summary, although the Constitution Act 1986 is not, and does not purport to be, a ‘written’ constitution in the technical sense, it contains most of the provisions found in written constitutions of unitary (i.e., non-federal) countries. However, as mentioned above, only one of its provisions is specially protected. Nor does it include one feature of a number of written constitutions of other countries, namely, a statement of fundamental human rights, such as freedom of religion, speech, and assembly. This was the subject of a White Paper on a Bill of Rights for New Zealand, which was tabled in the House of Representatives in 1985. The paper contained a draft bill which would protect fundamental civil and political rights.

A parliamentary select committee considered the white paper in detail. It recommended that a Bill of Rights be introduced, but with numerous amendments to the white paper's draft bill. The most important differences are, firstly the Bill of Rights would not be an entrenched statute. Instead, it would be an ordinary statute that can be repealed or amended by a majority in Parliament. Secondly, the courts would not have the power to strike down legislation that is inconsistent with the rights expressed in the bill. Instead, the Attorney-General would be charged with the responsibility of alerting Parliament when any legislation or provision in the bill before Parliament is inconsistent with those rights. Thirdly, the Treaty of Waitangi of 1840 would not be included in the bill.

The New Zealand Bill of Rights Bill, with these changes, was introduced to the House of Representatives on 10 October 1989 and referred to the Justice and Law Reform Select Committee.

3.2 Parliament and the Cabinet

House of Representatives

At the heart of the parliamentary system lies the power to make laws that is vested by the Constitution Act 1986 in the Parliament of New Zealand, which consists of the Sovereign in right of New Zealand (normally represented by the Governor-General) and an elected House of Representatives.

The principal functions of Parliament are to enact laws, supervise the Government's administration, vote supply, provide a government, and redress grievances by way of petition.

The Constitution Act 1986 forbids the House to allocate public funds for any purpose unless first recommended by the Crown. Although the reasons for this provision are historical, it is also used by governments to defeat legislation brought forward by individual members which ministers are unwilling to support or adopt. On the other hand, the law forbids the Crown to tax citizens without express parliamentary approval.

Constitutional law includes the law and custom of Parliament, itself derived from a variety of sources. The Bill of Rights 1689 saves any proceeding in Parliament from being questioned in any forum, other than the House itself, and the Legislature Act 1908 provides that the powers, privileges, rights, and immunities of the House (and its committees and members) are those possessed by the British House of Commons on 1 January 1865. One aspect of the powers of the House is the ability to make rules for the conduct of its business. Most of these are contained in the Standing Orders, although some are made on a sessional, and others on an ad hoc basis. The traditional three readings given to a bill are part of Standing Orders, but it is open to the House to alter or suspend its rules at any time. The House has retained the right to punish breaches of its privileges, whether by members or citizens. There is no right of appeal (although the courts could be asked to decide whether the privilege claimed is one recognised by law).

Perhaps the most important privilege of the House is that of freedom of speech, guaranteed by the Bill of Rights 1689, and claimed by the Speaker upon confirmation in office by the Governor-General.

The House meets in answer to a summons from the Governor-General. Sessions of Parliament are marked by a formal opening when the Government's legislative programme is described in the Speech from the Throne, read by the Governor-General in the absence of the Sovereign, and a closing prorogation by proclamation. Unless the House, by resolution made under the authority of the Constitution Act 1986, carries forward business to the next session, all business before the House on prorogation lapses. Parliament is either dissolved by the Governor-General or expires after three years, and another general election is held.

Because control of the House's business lies with the Government, many of the rules and customs of the House are designed to ensure that members are given a full opportunity to debate any aspect of government proposals. A central figure in Parliament is the Speaker, who is elected to act as an impartial chairman when the House is in session. The Speaker controls debates and the conduct of members, and ensures the Standing Orders are complied with. The Speaker is assisted by the Clerk of the House of Representatives who notes all proceedings of the House and of any committee of the House, and provides advice on parliamentary law and custom.

Parliamentary opposition. As the name suggests, it is the job of the opposition party with the highest number of seats to oppose the Government. Its role is to present itself to the people as an alternative government. It will attack government policy and attempt to demonstrate inefficiency, and government or departmental mismanagement. The party system means it is unlikely that the Opposition could bring down a government by a no-confidence vote—there has been no instance of a successful no-confidence vote in the history of the New Zealand Parliament since 1928.

In modern times the House of Representatives has been characterised by having two large, dominant parties, with the majority party forming the Government and the minority party forming the Opposition. In recent years, however, members of a third party have been elected to Parliament, and from time to time members have left one of the parties and have continued to sit as independent members. Because of the growth of a largely two-party system and the importance that the parties have assumed within the political framework, the party caucus (a meeting of each party's members of Parliament in closed session at regular intervals, once a week when Parliament is in session) is a primary means of developing policies and tactics. Caucus committees of the parties travel around the country frequently, investigating issues of interest or concern to them. Although the existence of the caucuses and their committees is not recognised by the law, indirect recognition has been given. For example, travelling allowances are payable to members when travelling as members of a caucus committee.

ElectionTotalLiberalConservativeLabourOthers Independent

* Country Party


Social Credit/Democrats.

1890743825  7 (4)
18937451136 (4)
18967439256 (4)
18997449192 (4)
190280471910 (4)
19088050261 3

Process of legislation. Proposed laws are placed before the House in the form of draft laws known as ‘bills’. There are three types of bill: public bills, which deal with the most important subjects of a public and general nature (most public bills are introduced by the Government); local bills, which are promoted by local authorities to give themselves special powers or validate unlawful action they may have taken; and private bills, which are promoted by private individuals or companies also to give themselves special powers.

The procedure for passing a public bill in the House of Representatives is for it to receive a first reading, which is a formal introductory stage. This will have a maximum debating time of two hours, although often no debate occurs. Almost all bills are then sent to a select committee. Detailed scrutiny of legislation and facets of executive activity, e.g., expenditure of public money, is carried out by select committees which consist of a small number of members, and report their findings and recommendations to the House. Since 1980 all Government bills are referred to a select committee unless they are certified by the Speaker as ‘money bills’ (or are particularly urgent). The procedure is intended to enable the public and interested bodies to make submissions, in the expectation that better laws will result. Following its deliberations the select committee will report the bill back with any proposed amendments. On the second reading the formal debate will occur on the substance of the bill. Following this the bill is considered by the whole House ‘in committee’, when the Committee of the whole House considers the bill clause by clause. This may involve considerable debating time. The entire bill is considered in this way and formally reported back to the House for its third reading, with any amendments that have been agreed. Debate may also take place on the bill's third reading, after which it is forwarded to the Governor-General for his approval. On receiving the royal assent the bill becomes an act of parliament and part of the law of New Zealand.

The various stages of the bill do not always follow any set time pattern. Weeks or even months can elapse between readings. Bills normally have explanatory notes on the front, which detail the contents. These do not appear on the act. Local and private bills pass through similar stages to those for a public bill, however in these two types of bills the person or body promoting the bill must also advertise the bill before it can be introduced.

Sessions of Parliament. The first session of the forty-second New Zealand Parliament was called following the general election of 15 August 1987. The last sitting day of that session was on 12 December 1989. Queen Elizabeth II opened the second session on 14 February 1990. The session will continue, with short breaks, until the next election is called.

During the first session of the forty-second Parliament, 414 public acts were passed. Other aspects of parliamentary activity are summarised in the following tables, and a list of public acts in force and their administering departments was published in the 1988–89 edition of the Yearbook.


ParliamentPeriod of session
Thirty-ninth17 May 1979–14 December 1979
15 May 1980–12 December 1980
20 May 1981–23 October 1981
Fortieth7 April 1982–17 December 1982
7 April 1983–16 December 1983
31 May 1984–14 June 1984
Forty-first15 August 1984–12 December 1985
26 February 1986–21 July 1987
Forty-second16 September 1987–12 December 1989
14 February 1990—
Source: Clerk of the House of Representatives.



* Second session, Forty-first Parliament.

First session, Forty-second Parliament.

Source: Clerk of the House of Representatives.

Sitting days135184
Public bills introduced by Government107180
Public bills referred to select committees83150

Parliamentary Service. Established in 1985 to replace the Legislative Department, the Parliamentary Service provides administrative and support services to the members of Parliament and the House of Representatives.

The Parliamentary Service is not a department of the executive government and is not responsible to a minister, it is controlled by the Parliamentary Service Commission which consists of the Speaker of the House of Representatives as chairperson, and six members, three of whom are members of the Government and three of the Opposition.

Among the services provided by the Parliamentary Service are:

  • Parliamentary Library—to provide library, information and research facilities to members of Parliament;

  • Hansard—to provide an official record of the proceedings of the House of Representatives.

  • Security, secretarial, messenger and other services needed for the day-to-day running of Parliament; and

  • Personnel, finance and administrative services to members of Parliament and other agencies operating within Parliament House including the Office of the Clerk, the parliamentary party research offices, the Parliamentary Counsel Office, and Bellamy's.

Salaries and allowances of parliamentarians. These are set out in table 3.3 below. An electorate allowance is also paid at a rate dependent on the nature of each member's electorate, e.g., urban, rural, or semi-rural, and ranges from $7 600 to $18 600. A day allowance of $48 is payable where indicated for each day on which a member attends a sitting of Parliament or a committee, and a night allowance of up to $110 for each night a member requires overnight accommodation away from home by reason of such attendance. In addition to the allowances in the table, a once-only setting-up allowance is paid towards the purchase of a motor vehicle to members elected for the first time. The amount paid varies between $6 840 and $16 740 depending on the nature of the member's electorate.


 Annual salary or
allowance payable
from 1 July 1989
Members of the Executive
Prime Minister156,000
Deputy Prime Minister122,000
Minister of the Crown109,000
Minister of the Crown without portfolio88,000
Parliamentary under-secretary84,750
Officers of the House of Representatives
Chairman of Committees87,000
Deputy Chairman of Committees65,750
Leader and Deputy of the Opposition
Leader of the Opposition109,000
Deputy Leader of the Opposition84,750
Chief Government Whip75,000
Chief Opposition Whip75,000
Junior Government Whip70,750
Junior Opposition Whip70,750
Members of Parliament
Member of Parliament61,000
Prime Minister27,300
Deputy Prime Minister12,100
Minister of the Crown11,300
Minister of the Crown without portfolio8,900
Parliamentary under-secretary8,900
Minister of Foreign Affairs (additional)6,000
     (additional allowance as Speaker; plus electorate allowance abated by one-third of the appropriate rate, and day allowance)9,200
Chairman of Committees5,750
     (additional allowance as Chairman plus electorate allowance abated by one-third of the appropriate rate, and day allowance)5,250
Deputy Chairman of Committees5,750
     (additional allowance as Deputy Chairman, and day allowance)625
Leader of the Opposition (plus house and travelling allowances)11,300
Deputy Leader of the Opposition5,750
     (plus additional allowance as deputy and electorate, night, and day allowances at appropriate rates)4,450
Members (plus electorate, day, and night allowances at appropriate rates)5,750
Source: Clerk of the House of Representatives.

Members of Parliament. Table 3.4 shows the percentage of women members of Parliament, and members of both sexes of various ages elected in the 1987 general election compared to the voting population.


 Percentage of
total members
of Parliament
Percentage of
total voting-age

* As at 31 December 1989.

Source: Clerk of the House of Representatives.

Age groups, both sexes—
     18–29 years28.4
     60 years and over8.221.1

Table 3.5 lists members of the House of Representatives at the end of December 1989. The final results of the 1987 general election were printed in the Report of the General Election (also Parl. paper E.9). Amended statistics, including the result of an electoral petition which saw the Government member for Wairarapa replaced by a National Party candidate during 1988, were printed subsequently (also Parl. paper E.9).

                                                            Prime Minister—Rt. Hon. Geoffrey Palmer.
Leader of the Opposition—Hon. J. B. Bolger
Speaker—Hon. Kerry Burke.
Chairman of Committees—J. J. Terris.
Clerk of the House—D. G. McGee.


Member of Parliament*Year of birthPrevious occupationElectoral district

* Names are given in the form in which individual members prefer to be addressed.

Government member.

Source: Clerk of the House of Representatives.

Anderson, Robert1936FarmerKaimai
Anderton, J. P.1938Company directorSydenham
Angus, D. A.1938Freezing company stock buyerWallace
Austin, Margaret1933TeacherYaldhurst
Banks, John1946RestaurateurWhangarei
Bassett, Hon. Dr Michael1938LecturerTe Atatu
Birch, Hon. W. F.1934Consultant surveyor-engineerMaramarua
Bolger, Hon. J. B.1935FarmerKing Country
Braybrooke, G. B.1935Sales managerNapier
Burdon, P. R.1939Company directorFendalton
Burke, Hon. Kerry1942TeacherWest Coast
Butcher, Hon. David1948Research officerHastings
Carter, John1950Local government officerBay of Islands
Caygill, Hon. David1948Barrister and solicitorSt Albans
Clark, Hon. Helen1950LecturerMt Albert
Collins, Anne1954TeacherEast Cape
Cooper, Hon. Warren1933MotelierOtago
Creech, W. B.1946AccountantWairarapa
Cullen, Hon. Dr M.1945LecturerSt Kilda
Davies, Sonja1923Vice-president of Federation of LabourPencarrow
de Cleene, Hon. Trevor1933Barrister and solicitorPalmerston North
Dillon, Bill1933Barrister and solicitorHamilton East
Douglas, Hon. R. O.1937Company secretaryManurewa
Dunne, P. F.1954Deputy chief executive officerOhariu
Duynhoven, Harry1955TeacherNew Plymouth
East, Paul1946Barrister and solicitorRotorua
Elder, Jack1949TeacherWest Auckland
Falloon, Hon. J. H.1942Farm management consultantPahiatua
Gair, Hon. G. F.1926Personal assistant to general manager, Air New ZealandNorth Shore
Gerard, R. J.1937FarmerRangiora
Gerbic, F. M.1932Industrial conciliatorOnehunga
Goff, Hon. P. B.1953LecturerRoskill
Graham, D. A. M.1942Banister and solicitorRemuera
Grant, Jeff1958FarmerAwarua
Gray, R. M.1931FarmerClutha
Gregory, Dr B.1937Doctor of medicineNorthern Maori
Hunt, Rt. Hon. Jonathan1938TeacherNew Lynn
Jeffries, Hon. W. P.1945Banister and solicitorHeretaunga
Keall, Judy1942TeacherGlenfield
Kelly, Graham1941Trade unionistPorirua
Kidd, Doug1941Barrister and solicitorMarlborough
King, Hon. Annette1947Dental tutorHorowhenua
Kirk, Jenny1945JournalistBirkenhead
Kyd, Warren1939Barrister and solicitorClevedon
Lange, Rt. Hon. David1942Barrister and solicitorMangere
Lee, G. E.1935Company directorCoromandel
Luxton, John1946FarmerMatamata
McClay, R. N.1945TeacherWaikaremoana
McCully, Murray1953Public relations consultantEast Coast Bays
McKinnon, D. C.1939Real estate agentAlbany
McLean, I.1935FarmerTarawera
McTigue, M. P.1940FannerTimaru
Mallard, Trevor1954TeacherHamilton West
Marshall, Hon. Russell1936Minister and teacherWanganui
Marshall, Denis1943Farmer and company directorRangitikei
Matthewson, Clive1944Civil engineerDunedin West
Maxwell, Ralph1934TeacherTitirangi
Maxwell, R. F. H.1941FarmerTaranaki
Meurant, Ross1947Police inspectorHobson
Moore, Hon. Mike1949Freezing workerChristchurch North
Movie, Hon. Colin1929Teacher/farmerOtara
Muldoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert, G.C.M.G., C.H.1921AccountantTamaki
Munro, R. J. S.1946Barrister and solicitorInvercargill
Neilson, Hon. Peter1954Civil servantMiramar
Northey, Richard1945Advisory officerEden
O'Regan, Katherine1946FarmerWaipa
Palmer, Rt. Hon. Geoffrey1942LecturerChristchurch Central
Peters, W. R.1945Barrister and solicitorTauranga
Prebble, Hon. Richard1948Banister and solicitorAuckland Central
Richardson, Ruth1950Legal adviser/farmerSelwyn
Robertson, H. V. Ross1949Industrial engineerPapatoetoe
Robinson, Dave1951Probation officerManawatu
Rodger, Hon. Stan1940M.O.W.D. employeeDunedin North
Scott, Hon. Noel1929Education administratorTongariro
Shields, Hon. Margaret1941Research workerKapiti
Shipley, Jenny1952FarmerAshburton
Shirley, K. L.1950ScientistTasman
Simpson, Dr Peter1942LecturerLyttelton
Smith, Dr Lockwood1948Managing directorKaipara
Storey, W. R.1936President of Federated FarmersWaikato
Sutherland, Larry1951Trade unionistAvon
Sutton, J. R1941FannerWaitaki
Sutton, Dr Bill1944ScientistHawkes Bay
Tapsell, Hon. Dr Peter M.B.E.1930Doctor of medicineEastern Maori
Tennet, Elizabeth..Trade unionistIsland Bay
Terns, J. J.1939BroadcasterWestern Hutt
Tirikatene-Sullivan, Hon. Mrs T. W. M.1932Political scientistSouthern Maori
Tizard, Rt. Hon. R. J.1924TeacherPanmure
Upton, S. D.1958Student/teacherRaglan
Wallbank, A. R.1937FannerGisborne
Wellington, Hon. M. L.1940TeacherPapakura
Wetere, Hon. K. T.1935FarmerWestern Maori
Wilde, Hon. Fran1948JournalistWellington Central
Williamson, Maurice1951Planning analystPakuranga
Woollaston, Hon. P. T. E.1944TeacherNelson
Young, T. J.1925General superintendent of New Zealand AllianceEastern Hutt
Young, Hon. V. S.1929FarmerWaitotara

Executive government

The executive government of New Zealand is carried out on behalf of the Sovereign by the ministers of the Crown, who make up the members of the Cabinet and the Executive Council, and control the state services. Ministers are responsible to Parliament for their official actions by constitutional convention, and are required to be members of Parliament by the Constitution Act 1986.

After a general election the Governor-General invites the leader of the majority party in the House of Representatives to accept office as Prime Minister, and form a government. On the new Prime Minister's advice the Governor-General appoints a number of members of Parliament as ministers, generally with responsibilities for various areas of government administration (portfolios). The Governor-General may also appoint parliamentary undersecretaries, who are not ministers and not members of the Executive Council, to assist ministers.

Cabinet and the Executive Council. The Cabinet and the Executive Council have separate functions. All members of Cabinet are members of the Executive Council, as are the ministers not in the Cabinet.

The Executive Council is a formal body with formal functions, whereas the Cabinet is an informal body with deliberative functions; the Executive Council tenders advice to the Governor-General on the basis of policy formulated in the Cabinet. The council is established under Clause VII of the Letters Patent and is the main legal vehicle for promulgating government decisions that will form part of the law, such as statutory regulations, which are made by Order-in-Council.

The Cabinet is in effect the highest council of government. In it the government of the day decides on administrative and legislative proposals and policies, and co-ordinates the work of ministers. The Cabinet has a system of subcommittees with authority to examine subjects in detail and decide specific policy.

The proceedings of the Cabinet are informal and confidential, which encourages consensus decisions. By constitutional convention the Cabinet accepts collective responsibility for its decisions, which ensures that ministers will have the support of the Government as a whole in Parliament for their legislative and other proposals. The Cabinet Office provides services for the Cabinet and its committees. The current Secretary of the Cabinet is also the Clerk of the Executive Council.

Premier/Prime Minister*Term(s) of office
* Honours are specified only if held on retirement from office.
Henry Sewell7.5.1856–20.5.1856
William Fox20.5.1856–2.6.1856
Edward William Stafford2.6.1856–12.7.1861
Alfred Domett6.8.1862–30.10.1863
Frederick Whitaker, M.L.C.30.10.1863–24.11.1864
Frederick Aloysius Weld24.11.1864–16.10.1865
George Marsden Waterhouse, M.L.C.11.10.1872–3.3.1873
Sir Julius Vogel, K.C.M.G.8.4.1873–6.7.1875
Daniel Pollen, M.L.C.6.7.1875–15.2.1876
Sir Harry Albert Atkinson, K.C.M.G.13.9.1876–13.10.1877
(ministry reconstructed)
Sir George Grey, K.C.B.13.10.1877–8.10.1879
John Hall8.10.1879–21.4.1882
Sir Robert Stout, K.C.M.G.16.8.1884–28.8.1884
John BallanceLiberal24.1.1891–d27.4.1893
Rt. Hon. Richard John SeddonLiberal1.5.1893–d10.6.1906
Prime Ministers—
William Hall-JonesLiberal21.6.1906–6.8.1906
Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph George Ward, Bt., K.C.M.G.Liberal6.8.1906–28.3.1912
Thomas MacKenzieLiberal28.3.1912–10.7.1912
Rt. Hon. William Ferguson MasseyReform10.7.1912–12.8.1915
Sir Francis Henry Dillon Bell, G.C.M.G., K.C., M.L.C.Reform14.5.1925–30.5.1925
Rt. Hon. Joseph Gordon Coates, M.C.Reform30.5.1925–10.12.1928
Rt. Hon. George William ForbesUnited28.5.1930–22.9.1931
Rt. Hon. Michael Joseph SavageLabour6.12.1935–d27.3.1940
Rt. Hon. Peter Fraser, C.H.Labour1.4.1940–13.12.1949
Rt. Hon. Sidney George Holland, C.H.National13.12,1949–20.9.1957
Rt. Hon. Sir Keith Jacka Holyoake, G.C.M.G., C.H.National20.9.1957–12.12.1957
Rt. Hon. Walter Nash, C.H.Labour12.12.1957–12.12.1960
Rt. Hon. John Ross Marshall (later Sir)National7.2.1972–8.12.1972
Rt. Hon. Norman Eric KirkLabour8.12.1973–d31.8.1974
Rt. Hon. Wallace Edward Rowling (later Sir)Labour6.9.1974–12.12.1975
Rt. Hon. Sir Robert David Muldoon, G.C.M.G., C.H.National12.12.1975–26.7.1984
Rt. Hon. David Russell LangeLabour26.7.1984–8.8.1989
Rt. Hon. Geoffrey Winston Russell PalmerLabour8.8.1989.


His Excellency The Most Reverend Sir Paul Reeves, G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O.
Official Secretary: Paul Canham
Executive Council
Membership of the Executive Council comprises all ministers with the Governor-General presiding. The Clerk of the Executive Council is Marie Shroff.
The Cabinet
Rt. Hon. Geoffrey Palmer, Prime Minister, Minister for the Environment.
Rt. Hon. Helen Clark, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Health, Minister of Labour.
Rt. Hon. M. K. Moore, Minister of External Relations and Trade, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Overseas Trade and Marketing.
Hon. D. F. Caygill, Minister of Finance.
Hon. R. W. Prebble, Minister of State-owned Enterprises, Minister of Police, Minister of Railways, Minister of Pacific Island Affairs.
Hon. K. T. Wetere, Minister of Maori Affairs.
Hon. Dr. Michael Cullen, Minister of Social Welfare, Associate Minister of Health, Associate Minister of Labour.
Hon. P. B. Goff, Minister of Education.
Rt. Hon. J. L Hunt, Minister of Housing, Minister of Communications, Minister of Broadcasting.
Hon. W. P. Jeffries, Minister of Justice, Minister of Transport, Minister of Civil Aviation and Meteorological Services.
Hon. Margaret Shields, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Minister of Statistics, Minister of Women's Affairs, Associate Minister of Education.
Hon. P. Tapsell, M.B.E., Minister of Defence, Minister of Lands.
Hon. D. J. Butcher, Minister of Commerce, Minister of Energy.
Hon. Annette King, Minister of Employment, Minister of Immigration, Minister of Youth Affairs.
Hon. Fran Wilde, Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, Minister of Tourism, Associate Minister of External Relations and Trade, Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Hon. P. T. E. Woollaston, Minister of Conservation, Minister of Local Government, Associate Minister of Justice.
Hon. P. Neilson, Minister of Customs, Minister of Revenue, Minister of Works and Development, Associate Minister of Finance, Associate Minister for State-owned Enterprises.
Hon. J. R. Surton, Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Forestry.
Hon. C. D. Matthewson, Minister of Science (DSIR), Minister of State Services, Associate Minister of Labour, Associate Minister of Energy, Associate Minister of Commerce, Associate Minister for State-owned Enterprises.
Hon. Margaret Austin, Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister of Arts and Culture, Minister of Civil Defence, Minister of Research, Science and Technology.
Ministers not in Cabinet
Rt. Hon. D. R. Lange, Attorney-General, Minister of State.
Hon. Noel Scott, Minister without portfolio, Associate Minister of Education, Associate Minister of Employment, Minister of Recreation and Sport.
Hon. P. F. Dunne, Minister of Regional Development, Associate Minister for the Environment, Associate Minister of Justice.
Hon. F. Gerbic, Associate Minister of Transport, Associate Minister of Civil Aviation and Meteorological Services, Associate Minister of Immigration.
Hon. Ralph Maxwell, Minister without portfolio, Associate Minister of Agriculture, Associate Minister of External Relations and Trade.
Hon. Ken Shirley, Minister of Fisheries, Associate Minister of Agriculture, Associate Minister of Health. Associate Minister of Forestry.
Other responsibilities
Ministers with other vote or statutory responsibilities are indicated below. Statutory titles are shown in italics.
Rt. Hon. Geoffrey Palmer, Minister in Charge of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service.
Hon. M. K. Moore, Member, New Zealand Planning Council, Minister for the America's Cup.
Hon. D. F. Caygill, Earthquake and War Damage Commission.
Hon. R. W. Prebble, Airways Corporation of New Zealand Ltd, Coal Corporation of New Zealand Ltd, Electricity Corporation of New Zealand Ltd, GCS Ltd, Government Printing Office, Government Property Services Ltd, Government Supply Brokerage Corporation (NZ) Ltd, Land Corporation Ltd. New Zealand Forestry Corporation Ltd, New Zealand Post Ltd, Minister in Charge of Public Trust Office, State Insurance Office, Telecom Corporation of New Zealand Ltd, Works and Development Services Corporation (NZ) Ltd.
Hon. K. T. Wetere, Minister in Charge of the Iwi Transition Agency.
Hon. Dr. Michael Cullen, Minister in Charge of War Pensions.
Hon. P. B. Goff, Education Review Office.
Rt. Hon. J. L Hunt, Leader of the House.
Hon. Margaret Shields, Minister responsible for the National Library.
Hon. P. Tapsell, M.B.E., Minister of Survey and Land Information, Minister in Charge of Valuation Department.
Hon. Annette King, Minister assisting the Prime Minister.
Hon. C. D. Matthewson, Audit Department, Radio New Zealand Ltd, Television Corporation of New Zealand Ltd.
Hon. Margaret Austin, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Ltd.
Rt. Hon. D. R. Lange, Serious Fraud Office.
Source: Cabinet Office.

Parliamentary elections

Persons 18 years and over have the right to vote in parliamentary elections. Enrolment as an elector is compulsory, but voting is not. To qualify for enrolment persons must (i) be at least 18 years old; (ii) be New Zealand citizens or permanent residents; (iii) have lived continuously in New Zealand for at least a year at some time; and (iv) have last lived continuously for one month in the electorate they are to be enrolled in. Maoris, including persons of Maori descent, may choose to enrol for either a Maori or general electorate, but may make the choice only at certain times. The electoral rolls are maintained by New Zealand Post.

Voting. The conduct of polls is the responsibility of the Department of Justice, and is controlled by a returning officer in each electorate, who arranges voting facilities and staff, conducts the election, supervises counting of votes, and declares the result. Generally only persons whose names are validly enrolled before an election are qualified to vote. General elections and by-elections are held on Saturdays, and polling booths are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Most electors cast their votes at polling booths in their electorates on polling day, but they may vote as special voters at booths outside their electorate. Special votes may also be cast before polling day at issuing offices or at home because of sickness, travel, or similar reasons. Provision is also made for voting overseas.

Voting is by secret ballot. The method of voting has been changed by the Electoral Amendment Act 1990. Ballot papers list the surnames of candidates for the electorate concerned, and electors indicate their choice by putting a tick in the circle immediately after the name of the candidate they choose. A preliminary count of ordinary votes is available for each electorate on election night, and final results are normally available a fortnight later, once special and overseas votes have been received and counted. The candidate with the most votes is elected member of Parliament for the electorate concerned.

YearElectors enrolledElectors votingInformalVoter turnout percentVotes disallowed
Contested seatsUncontested (seats in brackets)

* Includes 500 estimated as enrolled in New Plymouth, Grey and Bell and Omata electorates.

No figure for Otago Goldfields where miners' right gave vote. Estimated 6000 holders.

Actual votes cast including second and third votes in four three-member constituencies.

§ Civilian votes only.

Forces votes.

These are added to electors enrolled inorder to give total number entited to vote.

** There was considerable duplication of electors enrolled. 360 870 deletions were made in 1979–80. This would reduce the number enrolled to 2 126 724 and increase percentage of those voting to 79.86.

185510 024*
186633 338
   (150 025) 
   (304 176) 
  (359 404) 
   (387 629) 
  (416 962)  
1914616,043 521,5255,61884.66
1928844,633 743,6918,30088.05
1935919,798 834,6826,88790.75
19431 000 197§20 837 (2)828 39359,95782.82§ 
   92 934  
19461 081 8981 019 0867,99993.46
19491 113 8521 041 7946,72493.53
19511 205 762Additional votes allowed1 074 0704,27989.08
19541 209 6701 105 6098,71691.40
19571 244 7487,581 1 163 0615,69692.87
19601 303 9556,7871 176 9636,46089.79
19631 322 37113,4651 205 3227,27789.56
19661 399 7209,8801 212 1277,03285.99
19691 503 95215,9371 351 81311,64588.94
19721 569 93713,3191 410 2409,08889.0742,179
19751 938 10814,9421 612 0208,24382.5376,252
19782 487 594**28,9001 721 44311,27069.1550,175
19812 034 747 1 801 3038,99888.5250,263
19842 111 6511 936 7667,56591.7142,032
19872 114 6561 842 96111,18487.1540,433

Electoral boundaries. The boundaries of electorates are revised even' five years after the Census of Population and Dwellings, and the new boundaries come into effect at the expiry of the parliamentary term during which the revision is finalised. The Department of Statistics supplies figures for revision purposes on the general electoral population. This is defined as the total electoral population except: (a) the Maori electoral population (This is the number of adult Maoris enrolled in the four Maori electorates, adjusted to include children. Maoris have been defined since 1980 as persons of the Maori race of New Zealand including any of their descendants.); and (b) some temporary' residents of various kinds.

The Representation Commission is responsible for defining the boundaries of electorates based on the population census. The commission has eight members. Five are officials, the Surveyor-General, the Government Statistician, the Chief Electoral Officer, and (until 1987) the Director-General of the Post Office, and the Chairman of the Local Government Commission (the latter cannot vote). Two members are nominated by the House of Representatives to represent the Government and Opposition respectively, and the final member is appointed to chair the commission on the nomination of the other members. The appointments of the unofficial members lapse at the next census.

The number of general electorates is based on a formula that allocates 25 electorates to the South Island. The general electoral population of the South Island is divided by 25, and the population quota for each South Island electorate is divided into the general electoral population of the North Island to give the number of electorates required in the North Island. In addition there is a fixed number of four Maori electorates. Once the provisional electoral boundaries have been settled, maps of the proposals are drawn, and boundary details published in the New Zealand Gazette. Objections may be lodged within one month of publication. They are then published, and there are a further two weeks for lodging counter-objections. The objections and counter-objections are considered by the Representation Commission, which makes a final decision on the boundaries that define the new electoral districts.

General election results. A triennial general election of members of Parliament was last held on 15 August 1987. The previous election was held on 14 July 1984. The total number of electors on the master roll for the 1987 election was 2 114 656. A total of 1 842 961 votes were cast; representing 87.15 percent of electors on the master roll.


Political partyNumber of MPs

* Includes result of electoral petition which was upheld and saw Wairarapa seat pass from Labour to National in July 1988.

Source: Department of Justice.



Political partyValid votesPercentage of total valid votes

* Includes adjustments consequent upon the Wairarapa Election Petition Judgment Dated 12 July 1988.

Excludes special votes disallowed.

Source: Department of Justice.

Mana Motuhake8,3325,9899,7890.460.310.53
New Zealand Party236,3855,30611250.29
    Total valid votes1 710 1731 801 3031 929 2011 831 777100.00100.00100.00100.00
Informal votes11,2708,9987,56511,184
    Totals1 721 4431 810 3011 936 7661 842 961


Political partySeats Contested

* All those contesting one seat only.

Source: Department of Justice

New Zealand Party31
McGillicuddy Serious19
Mana Motuhake7
Imperial British Conservative3
Independent Labour3
Labour Independent2
Socialist Action League2
                Total candidates424

General Licensing Poll. The licensing poll held in conjunction with the 1987 General Election was the twenty-second at which the three options—national continuance, state purchase and control, and national prohibition (without compensation)—were submitted to the electors.


Voting issue197219751978198119841987
For national continuance931,7781 094 4451 053 2681 124 2581 3195181 212 989
For state purchase and control244,003235,374252,154247,217222,049217,290
For national prohibition203,791250,640374,194384,780352,949372,364
Source: Department of Justice.

Royal commissions and commissions of inquiry

The Commissions of Inquiry' Act 1908, provides that the Governor-General may, by Order-in-Council, appoint any person or persons to be a commission to inquire into and report upon any question arising out of, or concerning: (a) the administration of the Government; (b) the working of any existing law; (c) the necessity or expediency of any legislation; (d) the conduct of any officer in the service of the Crown; (e) any disaster or accident (whether due to natural causes or otherwise) in which members of the public were killed, injured, or were or might have been exposed to risk of death or injury; and (f) any other matter of public importance.

A royal commission is appointed by the Governor-General pursuant to the Letters Patent, but in other respects derives its powers from the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1908. Royal commissions are generally regarded as having greater prestige. A committee of inquiry may be set up by a minister to investigate some matter, but such a committee normally has no statutory basis, although there are ancillary powers in some instances.

Amendments to the legislation in 1979 and 1980 conferred new rights upon any person if he or she is a party to the inquiry or satisfies the commission that he or she has an interest in the inquiry apart from any interest in common with the public. Usually the terms of reference for a commission are quite specific. While there is frequently a final term of reference which appears to include everything else, this term of reference must be considered in context. It does not confer the right on almost anyone to become a party or participant in the inquiry.

The Department of Internal Affairs administers the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1908 and provides basic services to commissions. These inquiries are not pan of the justice system, nor are they part of the conventional administrative bureaucracy. The department retains important constitutional responsibilities, and is held responsible to ensure that complete independence and impartiality of the investigations is maintained.

Commissions of inquiry must report to the Governor-General, who in turn refers the findings to his or her ministers. The reports are usually published.

3.3 State sector

The state sector is responsible for putting the policies of the Government into effect. It comprises government departments, the parliamentary, education, health and defence services and statutory organisations (quangos).

At 30 June 1989, the number of staff employed in the public service, that is government departments, was 58 038 — this compares with 89 105 at 31 March 1986.

Government departments may, and often do, work with and through local authorities, statutory boards and government-sponsored organisations operating under various degrees of government control. A change of government does not necessarily affect the general functions of government departments, although a radical change in policy may be accompanied by organisational change. Departments are required to produce an annual report for parliamentary and public scrutiny.

Recent reform

Until recent years several government departments and other government-owned organisations combined trading and regulators' or policy functions. This was seen as an impediment to organisations fulfilling either of these roles, and a major thrust of recent public sector reform has been clarification of the distinction between public service departments with regulatory, social and other functions on the one hand, and trading enterprises owned by government, on the other. A significant stage in this process was the establishment of several state-owned enterprises from former government departments or divisions of departments from 1 April 1987. These were:

Airways Corporation of New Zealand Limited;

Coal Corporation of New Zealand Limited;

Electricity Corporation of New Zealand Limited;

Government Life Insurance Corporation;

Government Property Services Limited;

Land Corporation Limited;

New Zealand Forestry Corporation Limited;

New Zealand Post Limited;

Post Office Bank Limited; and

Telecom Corporation of New Zealand Limited.

Other state-owned enterprises already in existence, such as Air New Zealand Limited, and the Shipping Corporation of New Zealand Limited, also came under the provisions of the State Owned Enterprises Act 1986.

The process has continued, and the Works and Development Services Corporation, Government Computing Service Limited, Government Supply Brokerage Corporation of New Zealand Limited, Radio New Zealand Limited and Television New Zealand Limited were established in 1988. An overview of the State Owned Enterprises Act 1986, and the formation of these organisations is given in the 1987–88 edition of the Yearbook. In this edition the activities of the various state-owned enterprises are described in the relevant chapters, e.g., New Zealand Railways Corporation, New Zealand Post Limited, and Telecom Corporation of New Zealand Limited are described in chapter 20, Transport and communications.

The specialised government services, i.e., the armed forces, police, health, and education, are also described in the relevant chapters.

The state-owned enterprises have returned dividends to the Government as a shareholder, but it is recognised that public ownership may limit the potential for further efficiency gains and government policy is to sell state assets which it has no reason to retain. The sale of state assets is part of fiscal strategy to reduce public debt. Hence, several state-owned enterprises as well as trading units of government departments have been sold. These include the Health Computing Service of the Department of Health; Communicate New Zealand of the Tourist and Publicity Department; the Government Printing Office; Air New Zealand Limited; Shipping Corporation of New Zealand; Development Finance Corporation Limited; New Zealand Steel Limited; Petroleum Corporation of New Zealand Limited; Post Office Bank Limited; and the Rural Bank. The sale of other state-owned enterprises, such as Telecom Corporation of New Zealand Limited was pending at the time of going to press (April 1990). See also section 25.1, Central Government Finance.

Reform of the state sector, as distinct from the state-owned enterprises described above, has continued and is another major element of the Government's policy to improve the efficiency of the public sector.

The State Sector Act 1988, which became law on 1 April 1988, replaced the State Services Act 1962 and the State Services Conditions of Employment Act 1977 (which set common conditions of employment for all departments). The new legislation provides senior Public Servants with increased flexibility, but this is linked to greater accountability.

The Act aligned the public service with the private sector by bringing it under the provisions of the Labour Relations Act 1987 (see section 12.5, Labour relations). It redefined the role of the State Services Commission (see below) and reshaped senior levels of the public service, with new appointment provisions for senior executives.

Heads of departments, previously known as ‘permanent heads’, are now known as ‘chief executives’, although they may retain specific designations required by departmental legislation. A Senior Executive Service was established to provide a core of key senior managers. Members of this service may number up to 500. Both chief executives and members of the Senior Executive Service are engaged on contract for a maximum term of five years. The office of the State Services Commission provides training and development opportunities for the Senior Executive Service.

Within departments the broader personnel functions formerly discharged by the State Services Commission are now the responsibility of each chief executive. The Act also removed the preference which formerly existed for public service applicants for departmental vacancies.

Operating under the State Sector Act 1988, the State Services Commissioner retains a review capacity and thus serves as a source of advice to the Government on the performance of the public service. With the former emphasis on centralised controls diminished, the office of the commissioner is expected to concentrate on the provision of specialist advice and support to departments in the personnel and industrial relations fields.

State Services Commissioner

The State Sector Act 1988 (as amended in December 1989) provides for a State Services Commissioner and a deputy to replace the former commission. The commissioner is also the chief executive of the department now known as the The Office of the State Services Commission. The main functions of the commissioner are:

  • To review the machinery' of government, including the allocation of functions to and between departments and the desirability of, or need for, the creation, amalgamation or abolition of departments:

  • To review the performance of each department including the discharge by the chief executive of his or her functions:

  • To appoint chief executives of departments and to nominate their conditions of employment and maintain, in association with chief executives, a senior executive service for the public service;

  • To negotiate conditions of employment of employees in the public service;

  • To promote and develop personnel policies and standards of personnel administration for the public service, including equal employment opportunity policies and programmes:

  • To advise on management systems and structures, career development and training within the public service;

  • Other functions with respect to the administration and management of the public service as directed by the Prime Minister.

A further feature of the restructuring of government departments has been the separation of the policy and advisory functions from the operations, and the establishment of general policy ministries, e.g., Education, Health, Maori Affairs, Science and Defence.

Equal employment opportunities. The Office of the State Services Commission has overall responsibility for the promotion and monitoring of equal employment opportunity policies, programmes and practices within the public service.

The Office of the Commission works with departments at central and regional levels. In every government department, the senior management responsible for the promotion, development, and co-ordination of equal employment opportunity policy reports progress achieved in accordance with the policy, and each department is required to develop a plan which outlines specific action to be taken.

The commission promulgates positive action programmes which target the most employment-disadvantaged groups in the public service. Regular seminars and workshops are organised on equal employment principles and strategies for departmental managers, equal employment opportunities liaison officers, and training staff.

Table 3.11 lists the departments of the public service as set out in the first schedule of the State Sector Amendment (No. 2) Act 1989.


* As at 1 December 1989.
Agriculture and Fisheries, Ministry ofDirector-GeneralR. Ballard
AuditController and Auditor-GeneralB. H. C. Tyler
Commerce. Ministry ofSecretaryM. J. Belgrave
Conservation, Department ofDirector-GeneralW. R. Mansfield
Crown Law OfficeSolicitor-GeneralJ. J. McGrath QC
CustomsComptrollerM. W. Taylor
Defence. Ministry ofActing SecretaryD. J. Swallow
Education, Ministry ofChief ExecutiveM. L. O'Rourke
Education Review OfficeChief ExecutiveM. G. Gianotti
Energy. Ministry ofActing SecretaryP. J. McCarthy
Environment. Ministry for theSecretaryR. W. G. Blakeley
External Relations and Trade, Ministry ofSecretaryG. K. Ansell
Forestry, Ministry ofSecretaryT. R. Cutler
Government Printing OfficeGovernment PrinterV. R. Ward
Government Superannuation FundActing Chief ExecutiveR. Wilderspin
Health, Department ofDirector-GeneralG. C. Salmond
Housing CorporationDirector-GeneralR. A. Carter
Inland RevenueCommissionerD. Henry
Internal Affairs, Department ofSecretaryP. W. Boag
Iwi Transition AgencyGeneral ManagerW. Gardiner
Justice, Department ofSecretaryD. Oughton
Labour. Department ofSecretaryC. J. McKenzie
Lands, Department ofActing Director-GeneralJ. Bishop
Maori Affairs, Ministry ofChief ExecutiveJ. H. Clarke
National LibraryNational LibrarianP. G. Scott
National Provident FundChief ExecutiveW. J. Perham
PoliceCommissionerJ. A. Jamieson
Prime Minister and Cabinet, Department ofChief ExecutiveD. K. McDowell
Public Trust OfficePublic TrusteeW. B. R. Hawkins
Research Science and Technology, Ministry ofChief ExecutiveB. V. Walker
Scientific and Industrial Research, Department ofDirector-GeneralA. J. Ellis
Serious Fraud OfficeChief ExecutiveC. Sturt
Social Welfare, Department ofDirector-GeneralJ. W. Grant
State Insurance OfficeGeneral ManagerJ. F. Stirton
State Services Commission, Office of theState Services CommissionerD. K. Hunn
Statistics, Department ofGovernment StatisticianS. S. R. Kuzmicich
Survey and Land Information, Department ofDirector-GeneralW. A. Robertson
Transport, Ministry ofSecretaryM. C. Bazley
The TreasurySecretaryG. C. Scott
Tourist and PublicityGeneral ManagerW. N. Plimmer
ValuationValuer-GeneralH. F. McDonald
Women's Affairs. Ministry ofSecretaryJ. E. Aitken
Youth Affairs, Office ofChief ExecutiveJ. Y. Quinnell

Functions of government departments

The functions of central government are under a continual process of review. The following account of departments was correct at the time of going to press (April 1990).

Agriculture and Fisheries, Ministry of. (Te Manatū Ahuwhenua, Ahumoana.) The ministry implements the Government's policies and programmes to derive maximum benefit to the nation from farming, horticulture, and fishing. Its programmes aim to improve; productivity, through research, advisory and management services; protection, by monitoring animals, fish and plants and preventing the introduction of exotic pests and diseases; and quality assurance, by ensuring that export primary produce meets agreed standards. The ministry also provides policy advice to the Government. See chapter 15, Agriculture and chapter 16, Forestry and fishing.

Audit Office. See ‘Controller and Auditor-General’ below.

Ministry of Commerce. (Te Manatū Tauhokohoko.) The Ministry of Commerce, which came into being on 1 December 1988, has advisory, programme and administrative functions in competition policy, business and intellectual property law, business development, tariff policy, trade remedies, communications, regional development and, from 1 January 1990, energy and resources.

Activities which were transferred to the ministry when it was established were: tariff policy (from the Customs Department), the Weights and Measures Service, now the Trade Measurement Unit (from the Department of Labour); and the Patent Office (from the Department of Justice).

Included in the Ministry of Commerce is the Ministry of Consumer Affairs which operates as a separate division reporting to the Minister of Consumer Affairs. See section 21.1, Controls on trading.

The ministry' services the portfolios of Commerce, Broadcasting, Consumer Affairs, Regional Development, and Energy.

Conservation, Department of. (Te Papa Atawhai.) The department is responsible for the management of much of New Zealand's natural lands and water, as well as historic places and wildlife. In addition to managing national parks and reserves, farm and forest parks, the public aspects of harbours and foreshores, and marine reserves, the department is also the Government's advocate in conservation issues. See chapter 14, Land and environment.

Crown Law Office. The Crown Law Office is the legal adviser to, and provides counsel in court for, the Government and ministers in matters affecting the Crown and government departments. The Solicitor-General, who heads the office, performs most of the statutory and ex-officio duties of the Attorney-General and is entrusted by statute with various specific rights, duties and functions. The range of the Crown Law Office's legal work corresponds with the activities of the Government itself.

Customs Department. The department is charged with the administration of border control and some indirect taxation, and the tendering of advice to the Government on these and associated matters. The department performs a number of roles under the Customs Acts and other enabling legislation. These include; the administration of the tariff at the border; protecting New Zealand's borders by exercising the required control over the export and import of goods and international passengers in accord with the immigration, emigration, quarantine, and other statutory and government policy requirements (with particular attention to controlled drugs); and providing a service to commerce through the effective administration of customs procedures, and the facilitation of cargo movements. In managing its role the department balances these requirements to ensure that there is movement of people and trade, while the border is maintained. See chapter 22, Overseas trade.

Defence, Ministry of. The ministry provides advice on defence policy, reports to the Minister of Defence on the performance of the armed forces, and is responsible for all capital procurement, replacement expenditure or repairs which entail major changes to capability or involve major re-equipment. See section 4.4, Defence.

Education, Ministry of. (Te Tāhuhu o te Matauranga.) The primary function of the department is to ensure that suitable education programmes, facilities, staffing, and services are readily available for: pre-school children; children of compulsory school age (6–15 years); children who by choice start school at the age of 5 years; pupils over the age of 15 who stay on at school; suitably qualified school-leavers who seek education and training at teachers colleges or polytechnics; and adults wishing to continue their education, whether for vocational or non-vocational purposes. See chapter 9, Education.

Education Review Office. This office was established on 1 October 1989 to report to the Minister of Education on how learning institutions are meeting their goals, as set out in their charters. The office also reports on the policy advice of the Ministry of Education and the quality of policy implementation as it affects the performance of institutions, and carries out reviews of services and assistance provided by parts of the education system (see section 9.1, Administration of education).

Energy, Ministry of. The Ministry of Energy was merged into an Energy and Resources Division within the Ministry of Commerce in December 1989.

Environment, Ministry for the. (Te Manatū mō te Taiao.) The ministry advises Government on all forms of environmental administration. This includes; policies for influencing the management of natural and physical resources and ecosystems, so as to achieve the objectives of the Environment Act 1986; possible consequences for the environment of proposed developments by either the private or public sector, particularly any developments not adequately covered by legislative or other environmental assessment requirements; and ways of providing effective public participation in environmental planning and policy formulation.

To carry out its role, the ministry' gathers information and may conduct and commission research necessary for formulating advice to the Government. It also provides the Government, its agencies, and other public authorities, with advice on: the application, operation, and effectiveness of legislation relevant to achieving the objectives of the Environment Act; procedures for assessing and monitoring environmental impacts; pollution control and the management of pollutants; identification and likelihood of natural hazards, and the reduction of their effects; and the control of hazardous substances, during the management of their manufacture, storage, transport, and disposal.

As well, the ministry works towards the resolution of conflicts relating to policies and proposals which may affect the environment. It also provides and disseminates information on environmental policies.

Besides the Environment Act 1986, the ministry administers the Town and Country Planning Act 1977, the Water and Soil Conservation Act 1967, and the Soil Conservation and Rivers Control Act 1941. The Resource Management Bill, introduced to Parliament in December 1989, has major implications for the ministry.

External Relations and Trade, Ministry of. (Te Manatū Āhuatauga Tāwāhi, Tauhoko.) The ministry assists the Government in the conduct of all its external relations and the formulation and conduct of trade policy, and administers the network of diplomatic and consular posts overseas. See chapter 4, International relations and defence.

Forestry, Ministry of. The ministry is responsible for providing forestry sector services and policy advice to the Government. Its mission is to ‘promote the national interest through forestry, including the wood-based industries’. Its functions include research, advice on forestry policy to the Government, advisory services, and the collection of forestry related statistics. Other responsibilities of a regulatory nature include quarantine and forest disease control, and timber inspection and grading.

Government Printing Office. In December 1989 the Government announced the sale of the Government Printing Office to the Rank Group Limited.

Government Superannuation Fund. Previously part of Treasury, the Government Superannuation Fund was set up as a separate department in October 1988. Its function is to administer the Government Superannuation Fund Act 1956.

Health, Department of. (Te Tari Ora.) The principal functions of the Department of Health are: (a) to administer all public acts relating to the promotion or conservation of human health; (b) to offer policy advice to the Minister of Health, area health boards and other agencies; (c) to prevent, limit, and suppress communicable and other diseases; (d) to promote or carry out research and investigation in public health fields and in the prevention and treatment of disease; (e) to monitor health status and health services; (f) to publish reports, information, and advice concerning public health; (g) to organise and control medical, dental, and nursing services, so far as such services are paid for out of public moneys; (h) generally to take all such steps as may be desirable to secure the preparation, effective carrying out, and co-ordination of measures conducive to public health; and (i) to provide advisory information and processing services to area health boards and various health agencies. See chapter 8, Health and safety.

Housing Corporation. (Te Kaporeihana Whare.) The corporation is the primary government agency for providing subsidised housing assistance and is the Government's principal adviser on housing issues. Its major activities are the provision of rental housing and housing finance for low- and modest-income earners. It also provides home improvement loans, mortgage guarantees and refinance/'second chance' lending. Other activities include the purchase, development and sale of land; construction and sale of houses; management of its rental housing stock; loans and subsidies for housing for the elderly; and assistance for urban renewal and redevelopment.

The corporation administers the ‘Homestart’ scheme, which provides deposit-gap assistance for first home purchase. A programme for lending on multiply-owned Maori land uses the house rather than the land as security.

A number of lending activities are administered by the corporation either on an agency basis or in its own right. These include: loans to state servants on transfer; rehabilitation concessions to ex-service personnel; subsidies for hostel accommodation for young people; and loans for private schools and medical centres.

The corporation also administers the Residential Tenancies Act 1986. It provides information on tenancy law for landlords and tenants, maintains a tenancy mediation service and acts as an office for the Tenancy Tribunal. See chapter 19, Housing and construction.

Inland Revenue Department. (Te Tari Taake.) The main function of the Inland Revenue Department is to assess and collect various taxes and duties. The principal tax is income tax, which is collected in part by pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) deductions from salaries and wages, in part by the payment of provisional tax during the year of derivation of income, and in part by an end-of-year assessment. Of the other revenues collected the most significant are goods and services tax, stamp duty, estate and gift duties, land tax, fringe benefit tax, and totalisator duty. The department also collects accident compensation levies on behalf of the Accident Compensation Corporation. See chapter 25, Public sector finance.

Internal Affairs, Department of. The department has a variety of responsibilities related to New Zealand's national identity, cultural heritage and community wellbeing. It reports to the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and seven Cabinet portfolios (actually four cabinet ministers); Arts and Culture, Civil Defence, Internal Affairs, Local Government, Pacific Island Affairs, Recreation and Sport, and Youth Affairs. Services are provided in the following five main areas:

Constitutional services—The department provides constitutional services to central government and citizens, including: issuing passports and granting New Zealand citizenship; protection of national emblems, flags and names; arranging some documentation of Parliament and elections as required by constitution; ministerial services; administering commissions of inquiry; and reception of distinguished visitors.

Local government services—The department provides the main link between central and local government and is responsible for; local government legislation, research and reviews; the Local Government Commission; and related functions.

Cultural heritage and community development services—The department works to promote national and cultural identity, enhance wellbeing and preserve the people's heritage. This involves responsibility for a wide range of activities including: the 1990 Commission, Historical Publications Branch and the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography; film and video recording censorship; control of gaming, racing and lotteries; the Museum of New Zealand Planning Committee; the Ministry of Civil Defence; and the National Archives.

Government agency and statutory body services—The department provides financial and/or administrative services to organisations such as the Pacific Island Affairs Unit; the Board of Trustees of the National Art Gallery, Museum and War Memorial; the Hillary Commission for Recreation and Sport; and a number of others.

Commercial services—The department provides a translation service for government departments and exporters; a government cleaning service operated on a commercial basis; and National Archives, which provides records management consultancy on a cost-recovery basis.

Many of the functions of the department are described in the relevant chapters of this book.

Iwi Transition Agency. (Te Tira Ahu Iwi.) The agency was established on 1 October 1989. Its functions are to maintain the programmes of the former Department of Maori Affairs and to facilitate the transfer of responsibility for them to iwi authorities. (See section 6.4, Maori society.)

Justice, Department of. The department's functions may be classified broadly under the following headings; administration of courts; registration of land transactions, births, deaths and marriages; control of prisoners, probationers and parolees; law reform; commercial affairs (including administration of the Companies Act 1955); electoral work; and administrative work for the many authorities and tribunals. The tribunals, authorities, and committees serviced by the department help administer Acts, or advise the Government. The Department of Justice is responsible for the administration of about 160 acts of Parliament.

Labour, Department of. The principal responsibilities of the Department of Labour are to promote full employment through the provision of an employment service; to ensure, through the work of its field staff, that workers are employed under safe and healthy working conditions; to assist and promote good industrial relations; and to administer immigration legislation. Among the most important legislation administered are the Labour Relations Act 1987, the Factories and Commercial Premises Act 1981, the Construction Act 1959 and the immigration Act 1987.

Lands, Department of. This department ceased to exist on 31 January 1990. Its residual functions were taken over by the Department of Survey and Land Information. See section 14.1, Land resources and ownership.

Maori Affairs, Department of. This department was disestablished on 30 September 1989. Most functions were taken over by the Iwi Transition Agency (see section 6.4, Maori society).

Maori Affairs, Ministry of. (Te Manatū Māori.) This ministry was established on 1 July 1989. Its functions are to monitor and advise government on the responsiveness of government agencies to Maori issues, to formulate policy of interest to Maori, and to comment on government proposals where it determines a Maori perspective is necessary. See section 6.4, Maori society.

National Library of New Zealand. (Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa.) The Library's functions are to: coordinate the New Zealand network of libraries and provide collections to ensure there is sufficient depth in the country's collections to satisfy users' needs and that information is accessible and available; compile and make available in New Zealand and overseas bibliographic records of all published New Zealand material; advise the minister on all issues relating to libraries and library development; and to be the principal New Zealand link in international and co-operative library development. See section 11.3, Books and libraries.

National Provident Fund. This fund was, until 1988, part of Treasury. It mainly provides superannuation to employees of local authorities, area health boards, and other governmental and quasi-governmental entities. See section 21.3, Insurance and superannuation.

Police, New Zealand. (Ngā Pirihimana o Aotearoa.) The mission of the police is protecting life and property; preventing crime; maintaining the peace; detecting offenders by assisting and working together with the community and other agencies; and maintaining a police organisation capable of providing a high quality of service. See section 10.4. Police.

Prime Minister and Cabinet, Department of. This department was established in October 1989. It is made up of an advisor)' group and an analytical group responsible respectively for the provision of short- and long-term policy advice to the Prime Minister; the Cabinet Office, responsible for constitutional advice and secretariat services for the Cabinet and Cabinet Committee system; and the Domestic and External Security Secretariat, which services the Officials and Cabinet Committees on Domestic and External Security. The overall function of the department is to help co-ordinate the work of the Government across departmental lines, to test the quality of advice coming from departments and to act as an ‘honest broker’ where there are conflicts over policy advice being offered by different parts of the bureaucracy.

Public Trust Office. The Public Trust Office provides a wide range of services as trustee, executor, manager, and attorney. It also acts as sinking fund or depreciation fund commissioner for many local authorities when so appointed, and additionally holds other funds on their behalf. It is also required to provide a number of statutory services irrespective of whether these are income earning.

Research, Science and Technology, Ministry of. Established in October 1989, the ministry's primary role is to provide advice to government on the development of research, science and technology policy. Other functions include the development and funding of national priorities; the review and assessment of research science and technology activity and opportunities; and the promotion of research, science and technology, including science education. See section 13.2, Organisation of science.

Rural Banking and Finance Corporation. The sale of the bank to Fletcher Challenge Limited was completed in October 1989.

Serious Fraud Office. The office was established on 1 April 1990. Its role is to investigate cases of serious or complex fraud and to prosecute offenders. It also has the objectives of; deterring serious or complex fraud; liaising with other agencies investigating fraudulent conduct to ensure the use of the best available expertise in the conduct of enquiries; and educating the public and promoting the understanding and recognition of serious or complex fraud. The office consists of a nucleus of lawyers, accountants and investigators, and a corporate services unit. See section 21.2, Commercial framework.

Scientific and Industrial Research, Department of. The department's role is to advance, maintain, and apply scientific and technical knowledge for the benefit of New Zealand's social and economic development. See section 13.2, Organisation of science.

Social Welfare, Department of. (Te Tari Toko i te Ora.) The principal functions of the Department of Social Welfare are: (a) to administer the Department of Social Welfare Act 1971, the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1989, Parts I and III of the Social Security Act 1964, and to provide for the effective administration and servicing of the War Pensions Act 1954, the Rehabilitation Act 1941, and the Disabled Persons Community Welfare Act 1975; (b) to advise the minister on the development of social welfare policies; (c) to provide such social welfare services as the minister may from time to time direct; (d) to provide for the training of persons to undertake social welfare activities; (e) to maintain close liaison with and encourage co-operation and co-ordination among any organisations and individuals engaged in social welfare activities; and (f) to undertake and promote research into aspects of social welfare. See chapter 7, Social welfare.

State Insurance Office. The State Insurance Office transacts all classes of fire, accident, and marine insurance. Its function is to maintain a competitive insurance service. It also administers the Export Guarantee Office, which provides credit insurance for exporters. In May 1990 the Government announced the sale of the office to the Norwich Union Life Insurance Society.

State Services Commission, Office of the. (Te Kōmihana o ngā Tari Kāwanatanga.) See ‘State Services Commissioner’ above.

Statistics, Department of. (Te Tori Tatau.) The main functions of the department are: (a) to provide a statistical service relevant to the needs of governmental and community users, covering economic, demographic, and social activity; (b) to advise the Minister of Statistics on statistical policy matters; (c) to define and promote standard concepts, procedures, definitions, and classifications for use in official statistics; (d) to examine proposals by government departments for commencing or commissioning new statistical surveys, and to prepare submissions to the Minister of Statistics for approval or otherwise; (e) to review the collection, compilation, analyses, abstraction, and publication of official statistics produced in both the department and other government departments; and (f) to maintain liaison with international organisations or agencies requiring or making use of New Zealand official statistics.

Survey and Land Information, Department of. (Te Puna Kōrero Whenua.) The department is the principal government (civil and military) survey and mapping, and land information agency. In 1990 it celebrates the 150th anniversary of the New Zealand Surveyor-General. The department's work includes control surveys as the basis for cadastral surveys and basic topographic mapping, land title surveys, investigations into the status of Crown land and Maori land, large scale topographical surveys for engineering and management purposes, land development servicing, fixing of marine and air navigation aids, aerodrome obstruction surveys earth deformation studies, environmental planning of land, and a graphic support for the electoral system.

The main acts administered by the department are the Survey Act 1986, the New Zealand Geographic Board Act 1946, and the Crown Grants Act 1908. Proposals for the Reserves and Other Lands Disposal Bill are also collated by the department each year. See also section 14.1, Land resources and ownership.

Tourist and Publicity Department, New Zealand. The main functions of the New Zealand Tourist and Publicity Department are to promote travel to, within, and beyond New Zealand; to develop domestic tourism and stimulate off-season travel; to promote New Zealand overseas in the interests of tourism industry development; to administer schemes for financial assistance for the provision of tourist facilities and to undertake research into overseas tourism markets and into domestic tourism. It also provides research services for the New Zealand Tourism Council, an advisory body reporting and making recommendations to the Minister of Tourism on all aspects of tourism. See also section 11.6, Tourism.

Trade and Industry, Department of. The Department of Trade and Industry was disestablished on 30 November 1988. Responsibility for international trade relations passed to the newly-formed Ministry of External Relations and Trade; the division known as the New Zealand Trade Commission was merged with the Market Development Board to become the New Zealand Trade Development Board; and responsibility for a range of business-related work passed to the Ministry of Commerce.

Transport, Ministry of. (Te Manatū Waka.) The ministry' is responsible for promoting safe and efficient transport in New Zealand.

In 1988 the ministry's eight divisions (four operational and four support) were reorganised into four independent divisions: land transport, air transport, maritime transport and the New Zealand Meteorological Service. A small corporate head office was also created to provide support to the chief executive. (See chapter 20, Transport and communications.)

The Meteorological Service is responsible for providing information and advice to all sections of the community on the atmosphere, environment, weather, climate conditions, and pollution of the air. It also promotes meteorological research and aereal science, and advises the Government on meteorological matters.

Treasury. The principal functions of Treasury are to: provide the Government with independent economic and financial advice; implement the Government's economic and financial policies; control and account for the receipt and payment of government finances; and to provide financial information on the operations of the Government.

The Treasury assists informed public discussion of economic and financial matters, subject to the discretion required by its constitutional position, and administers the coinage. It also includes the Government Actuary's Office.

Valuation New Zealand. The major activity of the department is to prepare valuation rolls for all districts in New Zealand, to keep these rolls up to date with changes in property holdings, ownership, occupancy, and development, and to revise the values at not more than five-yearly intervals. Since 1988 the department has been progressively introducing a three-yearly cycle. Between the five-yearly general revaluations, current market values of individual properties are assessed as required. Values set by the department are used by other authorities to levy rates, land tax, estate, stamp and gift duties, and also by most government departments and agencies involved in land transactions. The department does research work on real estate markets and compiles section, house, and farmland price indexes. It provides an advisory service to local authorities on all matters relating to rating. The department's extensive property record system is used to furnish data for land use, town planning and similar surveys both to local authorities and other public sector organisations. See section 14.1, Land resources and ownership.

Women's Affairs, Ministry of. (Te Minitatanga mō ngā Wāhine.) This ministry was established in 1984 to assist the Government to improve the status of women and to work towards the achievement of equality in all spheres of social, political and economic activity. The ministry's primary function is to advise the Minister of Women's Affairs. In carrying out this function the ministry provides specialist advice on legislative and other policy matters affecting the status of women and undertakes educational and informative programmes designed to increase women's knowledge of and familiarity with the scope and processes of public policy-making (see section 6.3, Human rights, immigration and citizenship).

Youth Affairs, Office of. (Te Tari Taiohi.) This office was established on 1 July 1989 to provide a co-ordinated and informed approach to the development of government policies, services, and legislation affecting youth.

Non-departmental public bodies (quangos)

In addition to the state service organisations there is a multitude of advisory bodies, statutory corporations, companies, councils, commissions, committees, tribunals and other organisations loosely connected to the Government.

They are popularly known as quangos (quasi-autonomous non-government organisations) and include: (a) some public corporations; (b) agricultural marketing boards; and (c) other non-departmental public bodies such as: (i) bodies with executive, administrative, regulatory, or commercial functions; (ii) bodies whose role is to advise ministers or departments; and (iii) tribunals and other judicial bodies.

These types of organisations have been established for various reasons such as: independence from political control and direct ministerial responsibility, freedom from departmental procedures and controls; impartiality in carrying out regulatory functions; participation of non-departmental personnel in advisory and decision-making functions; and representation of special interests in administration.

New Zealand Planning Council

The Planning Council provides a focus for better information and consultation on the key medium-term issues in New Zealand's development. It was set up in 1977 as a result of recommendations by a Task Force on Economic and Social Planning which aimed to produce a more relevant planning framework for New Zealand. The New Zealand Planning Act 1982 provided the basis for the council to be independent of government in its choice of work and in publishing its reports. The council's main task is to monitor and report on trends, prospects, issues, and options in relation to social, economic and cultural development. An amendment passed in 1987 added environmental development to the council's sphere of operation. This amendment also gave the council the status of body corporate and made several changes which enhance the independence of the Planning Council. As well as reporting directly to the Government and working with government departments, the council uses published reports to foster understanding and discussion of issues among private organisations and the public generally.

The council itself has 12 members, including two co-opted members, drawn from different disciplines and areas of interest. The membership therefore reflects wide experience in many fields rather than representing particular sectional interests. A minister of the Crown nominated by the Prime Minister is a member of the council in an ex-officio capacity. There is also a full-time multi-disciplinary secretariat of around 17 people and a network of about 100 people are involved in monitoring and support groups.

The council's work is built around these expert monitoring and support groups. An Economic Monitoring Group (EMG), analyses and stimulates discussion on issues of continuing concern in management of the economy. A Population Monitoring Group (PMG) identifies important population issues, monitors trends, and examines their implications for planning and policy-making. The Social Monitoring Group (SMG) documents trends relevant to social development in New Zealand, explores their implications and significance and comments on the social implications of economic policies. The Income Distribution Group monitors aspects of income and wealth distribution in New Zealand.

The Maori Round Table reviews changes in policy on Maori matters and in 1990 will concentrate on Treaty of Waitangi issues. The National Sectoral Programme Producers forecasts, after consultation with industry, using computerised economic models. The Employment Programme is currently examining trends and information with the goal of developing policies to return New Zealand to full employment. The Environmental Programme monitors natural resources and the development of environmental policy.

During 1989 the council concentrated on two key issues, the Treaty of Waitangi and in particular Iwi development, and employment.

Also during 1989 the council published six overview reports. These were; From Birth to Death II (SMG Overview Report); For Richer or Poorer (IDG Overview Report No. 1); Prospects: Economic and Sectoral trends to 1997 (NSP); Diversity and Change: Regional Populations in New Zealand (PMG Report No. 5); The Economy in Transition: Restructuring to 1989 (EMG Report No. 9); Work Today: Employment Trends to 1989 (EWS Report).

A number of special interest papers were also published.

Controller and Auditor-General

The Controller and Auditor-General is an officer of the Crown appointed by the Governor-General under the Public Finance Act 1977. Much like the judiciary, he or she is independent of the executive government and can only be removed from office by the Governor-General upon an address from the House of Representatives. There is also a Deputy Controller and Auditor-General, whose mode of appointment and tenure of office are the same. The Controller and Auditor-General, and persons acting under delegation from him or her, are collectively called ‘the Audit Office’. No minister is in any way responsible for the carrying out or exercise by the Audit Office of its functions, duties and powers.

The constitutionally important role of the Audit Office is to act as a monitor on behalf of Parliament, and take part in the procedures laid down in the Public Finance Act 1989 to control issues of money out of the Crown Bank Account. The Audit Office has to be satisfied that all issues from the Crwon Bank Account to meet the Government's expenditure requirements are within the appropriations and other authorities granted by Parliament. This role is crucial to the ability of Parliament to control the supply of funds to the Crown, and in certain circumstances the Audit Office may prevent the issue of money.

The Audit Office audits the financial statements of government departments, local authorities, and most government-controlled corporations, boards and companies. As auditor of organisations in the public sector, the Audit Office plays a key part in the process of accountability by those organisations, and accordingly it has a range of responsibilities much more extensive than that accepted by auditors whose role is confined to the traditional financial audit. In addition to carrying out audits leading to the expression of an opinion on financial statements, the Audit Office conducts periodic reviews of financial control systems and of selected programmes or operations to ascertain whether resources have been applied effectively and efficiently in a manner consistent with the policies of the governing bodies.

The Audit Office also places considerable emphasis on reporting the results of its work. The most visible result of that emphasis is the reports tabled in Parliament each year, which deal with issues ranging from those arising from particular audits to matters concerning financial management and administration in the public sector.

To enable it to carry out its functions, the Audit Office has a number of powers. These include rights of access to the books, accounts, and property of its clients, and the right to require persons to supply information or deliver up books and accounts in their possession or under their control.

The Controller and Auditor-General has no general power of sanction to remedy shortcomings discovered during an audit. The principal recourse is to report to the management of the organisation either by letter or in the formal audit opinion on financial statements, to a minister, or to Parliament and its select committees. If there is a deficiency or loss of public money or stores, the Controller and Auditor-General has the power to surcharge the persons responsible to recover the amount involved. This power is rarely used.

Official information

The Official Information Act 1982 is based on to the principle that information shall be made available unless there is good reason for withholding it. It establishes a flexible mechanism, capable of contributing to and being responsive to changing altitudes and circumstances, and leading to increased availability of information. The purposes of the Act are: (a) to increase progressively the availability of official information to the people of New Zealand to encourage participation in the making and administration of laws and policies; and to promote the accountability of ministers and officials, and thereby enhance respect for the law and promote the good government; (b) to provide for proper access by each person to official information relating to that person; and (c) to protect official information to the extent consistent with the public interest and the preservation of personal privacy.

With the exception of the Parliamentary Service, the Act covers all government departments—but it does not include courts, tribunals (in relation to their judicial functions), or some other judicial bodies. The Act also covers state-owned enterprises, and a range of statutory bodies.

In addition, statutory boards and all local authorities are now covered by official information legislative requirements, either in the form of the Official Information Act 1982 or the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987.

The acts provide special rights of access to personal information, which means any official information held about an identifiable person. A ‘person’ is defined as including a sole corporation and a body of persons, whether corporate or unincorporate. Where it is necessary to make a distinction between a human being, and other entities legally described as ‘persons’, the former is referred to as a ‘natural person’.

Withholding information. In legislating for increased openness in the release and dissemination of information. Parliament recognised that there may be good reasons for withholding some information. The criteria which may justify not releasing information are set down in sections 6 and 7 of the Official Information Act 1982 and cover information which, if released, would be likely to prejudice: (a) the security, defence, or international relations of New Zealand; (b) the entrusting of information to the Government of New Zealand on a basis of confidence by the government or a government agency of another country, or any international organisation; (c) the maintenance of law and order; (d) the safety of any person; (e) the economic interests of New Zealand; and (f) the security or defence of the Cook Islands, Tokelau, Niue, or the Ross Dependency. Section 9 sets out other good reasons for withholding official information, unless in the circumstances of the particular case the withholding of that information is outweighed by other considerations which render it desirable in the public interest to make that information available.

Applications for access. Requests for information do not have to be made in any prescribed form. They may be made by telephone, in person, or in writing. Requests should however provide sufficient detail to allow the relevant material or documents to be identified. Sometimes applicants will need assistance with this task and the Act makes the provision of reasonable assistance a duty. Information guides concerning access to personal and official information are available. Organisations covered by the Act are required to respond to requests within specified time limits.

To assist the lodging of requests, reference can be made to the Directory of Official Information, published every two years and available at public libraries and Citizens' Advice Bureaux. The directory gives a complete list of organisations covered by the Act, their structure and function, a general description of all kinds of documents held; a list of all manuals, and similar types of documents which contain policies, principles, rules, or guidelines, in accordance with which decisions are made; and how to obtain access to information, including details of contact officers.

Review by an ombudsman. The Ombudsman can review a decision to refuse information. There is no charge and the investigation is private. The Ombudsman's formal recommendations are binding unless overridden by a minister in accordance with a formal procedure. That procedure requires that where a minister declines to accept an ombudsman's recommendation, the decision, the grounds for it, and (except on the grounds of national security), the source and purport of any advice on which it was based are to be published in the New Zealand Gazette. If an ombudsman concludes that any complaint made under the Act cannot be sustained, he or she will explain the reasons to the complainant.


The position of Parliamentary Commissioner for Investigations (Ombudsman) was created in 1962. Until 1968 the principal function of the Ombudsman was to enquire into complaints relating to administrative decisions of government departments and related organisations. In 1968 the jurisdiction was extended to hospital boards and education boards. Under the Ombudsmen Act 1975 the jurisdiction was further extended to all local authorities. Under the 1975 Act, provision was made for the appointment of a Chief Ombudsman and one or more other ombudsmen, whose appointments could be permanent or temporary.

Ombudsmen's investigations are conducted in private and an ombudsman may decide not to investigate a complaint where there appears to be an alternative administrative avenue of redress available to the complainant; where the complaint relates to a matter which has been within the complainant's knowledge for more than 12 months; where the complaint is trivial; or where the complainant has not a sufficient personal interest in the subject-matter of the complaint. The Ombudsmen have no authority to investigate certain complaints, for example, complaints against private companies and individuals, decisions of judges, complaints directed at ministerial decisions, or at the full council or board of a local organisation. However, an ombudsman may investigate recommendations made to a minister by any government department, organisation or employee, or to a full council by any committee, sub-committee, officer, employee, or member. An ombudsman may not investigate a complaint where the complainant has a statutory right of appeal on the merits of the case to a court or statutory tribunal, unless there are special circumstances why it would not be reasonable to expect that person to have exercised the right of appeal.

Where an ombudsman forms the opinion that a complaint can be sustained, he or she reports his or her opinion to the government department or government organisation concerned with any recommendation that he or she may make for remedial action. A copy of the report is also made available to the responsible minister. In the case of a local organisation, the ombudsman reports the opinion to that organisation and makes a copy of his report available to the mayor or chairperson.

The Ombudsmen also have certain responsibilities under the Official Information Act 1982 and Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987. On receipt of a complaint an ombudsman has a responsibility to investigate any decision made on a request for information: for example, a refusal of the whole or part of the request; or a decision on what charge is to be made for providing the information. An ombudsman may also investigate undue delays in responding to requests.


Action on complaintOmbudsmen
Act 1975
Act 1982
Local Government
Official Information
and Meetings Act 1987

* Year ended 31 March.

Source: Office of the Ombudsmen.

Declined, no jurisdiction315202
Declined or discontinued section 17430816
Resolved in course of investigation19621341
Resolved informally805014
Sustained, recommendation made60153
Sustained, no recommendation made5015
Not sustained36610417
Formal investigation not undertaken, explanation, advice, or assistance given5968914
Still under investigation as at 31 March52517930
                        Total2 618766127

3.4 Local government

New Zealand has a separate system of local government, made up of many local authorities. It is mainly independent of the central executive government. However, it has a subordinate role in the constitution because the powers of local authorities are conferred on them by Parliament, and do not originate in the authorities themselves. Local authorities fall into three categories: regional authorities, territorial authorities, and special purpose authorities.

Many territorial authority areas also contain one or more communities, administered by community boards. These are not separate local authorities. The boards have a statutory role of advocacy for their communities and also have such powers as may be delegated to them by their parent territorial authorities.

Local government in general is characterised by six principles:

  • Every local authority is created by act of Parliament (either by a special or local statute or, more commonly, general legislation);

  • Every local authority has its powers defined in the Act under which it is established, and under other general local government legislation;

  • Each local authority has a specific district in which it operates;

  • Every local authority is controlled by its own council or board;

  • All local authorities, except for area health boards (which are totally funded by central government), rely on one or more of the following sources of funding: local taxes on land (rates); levies on other local authorities; and/or charges derived from trading utilities under their control; and

  • All local authorities can determine their own expenditure priorities, and are free to set their own overall levels of expenditure except for area health boards.

Local government in New Zealand is not involved in the funding, administration or management of education, social welfare, police, traffic control and enforcement, or urban fire services. These services are either the responsibility of central government, or specialised agencies closely associated with central government. For example, urban fire services are provided by the New Zealand Fire Service, and education is provided through school boards of trustees which are funded by central government.

The emphasis in local government is on local accountability to electors. This precludes central government from becoming directly involved in local government decision-making. The decisions of local authorities cannot be reviewed or overturned by central government. Although area health boards are funded from central government, they are locally responsible for meeting the health needs of their districts.

Although decisions by local authorities are not subject to review by central government, local authorities are subject to other types of review. There is provision for the Ombudsmen to investigate allegations of maladministration in local government. There is also provision for the Controller and Auditor-General to investigate financial misconduct or conflict of interest on the part of local government officers or elected members. Such investigations can result in automatic forfeiture of office and/or prosecution under the Local Authorities (Members Interests) Act 1968 or the Local Government Act 1974. There is further scope for review of local government decisions in a limited number of areas by appeal to the courts or various judicial tribunals. For example, the Planning Tribunal is the appeal body on land-use planning and related issues.

Local authorities are subject to the general power of judicial review by the High Court. The Administrative Division of the High Court has jurisdiction to consider appeals from the Planning Tribunal on points of law, in addition, the Administrative Division has general jurisdiction to review the exercise of any statutory power by any local authority. Under the Bylaws Act 1910, the Administrative Division of the High Court can quash or amend local authority bylaws on the grounds that they are ultra vires the local authority, repugnant to the laws of New Zealand, or unreasonable.

The ability of a local authority to incur debts is also subject to control. All local authorities were subject to loan-raising controls exercised by a Local Authorities Loans Board. Since 1986, however, many local authorities and categories of loans have been exempted by central government on the recommendation of the board.

The provisions of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 parallel closely those of the Official Information Act 1982 (see above section). Local authorities are required to supply official information on request, subject to certain safeguards, and give proper access to any person to official information relating to them. The Act is intended to promote more open conduct of local authority meetings and protect official information consistent with the public interest and personal privacy. The 1987 Act meant that all local authorities are covered by some form of official information legislation.

Local government reform

Until 1989 the last major reform of the system of local government in New Zealand had occurred in 1876 with the abolition of the provinces.

Before 1876, local administration had been carried out by municipal councils in a handful of major settlements (11 in 1865, 36 in 1876), and by numerous road boards (314 in 1876). Outside the few municipalities, most local functions other than roading were carried out, if at all, by six (later up to nine) provincial councils.

With the abolition of the provinces, the country was divided into 63 counties (originally 39 had been proposed) and the 45 municipalities already in existence. The number of authorities grew rapidly, and by 1920 there were 129 counties and 117 municipalities. By 1950, the numbers respectively were 125 and 134. From 1950 the numbers gradually decreased as the result of reorganisation schemes organised by the Local Government Commission.

Parallel to the growth of these multi-purpose territorial authorities, a large number of special purpose local authorities grew and multiplied. The first were harbour boards, of which the first was established in Auckland in 1871. Others have included hospital boards, rabbit boards (later termed pest destruction boards), land drainage boards and electric power boards. By 1950, there were 537 special purpose authorities. The major reason for their development was the view that the many relatively small territorial authorities had neither the resources nor the inclination to undertake and develop many newly required services and activities.

The growth of particularly special purpose authorities gave rise to a situation of confusing, multifarious and often irrelevant local authority boundaries when compared to the patterns of settlement and the actual delivery of services.

Various attempts at reform between 1876 and 1989 met with little success, and the only major change to the structure of local government during that time was the establishment of regions and regional authorities (see section on regional government below).

On 17 December 1987, as part of a government economic statement, the Minister of Local Government announced a complete and comprehensive review of all aspects of local government—functions, structure, funding, organisation and accountability. This would be the first time that all aspects of local government were looked at in an integrated manner.

Organisations subject to review included not only regional and territorial authorities but also special purpose authorities and other sub-national organisations. However, a number of special purpose authorities, including education, electric power, hospital, and area health boards, were later excluded from the remainder of the reform programme.

The review was to be undertaken in two phases: policy development and implementation.

Policy development. To guide the review, the Government established a Cabinet Committee on Reform of Local Government and Resource Management Statutes. Also established, to report to the Cabinet committee on the issues involved, was an Officials Co-ordinating Committee on Local Government.

In February 1988 the committee of officials published a general discussion document on all aspects of local government, and invited submissions from organisations and individuals. These submissions were then reported to the Cabinet committee.

In August 1988 the Minister of Local Government issued a policy statement outlining the Government's decisions on the issues raised in the discussion document and the submissions. Significant features of the policy—prepared as a set of legislative provisions in the Local Government Amendment Act (No. 3) 1988—were:

  1. There would be two principal types of local authorities:

    1. Directly elected regional councils with a major role in resource management functions; and

    2. Directly elected territorial authorities responsible for broadly the same range of functions as at present; and

  2. Special purpose authorities would exist only in a limited range of circumstances.

The policy statement also set the programme for the implementation of the reform, which would proceed along two paths: reform of the structure of local government by the Local Government Commission; and a concurrent reform of the legislation applying to local government. In particular it was stated that future legislation would require local authorities to make appropriate organisational and accounting arrangements to ensure clear separation between regulatory and service delivery functions, and between trading and other activities.

Reorganisation. Also in August 1988, all reorganisation schemes in progress were suspended and the Local Government Commission was required to prepare final reorganisation schemes for the reform of the structure of local government. The object was to enable substantial reform of local government to take place before the next triennial general elections in October 1989.

There was no longer any right for public surveys to ascertain opposition to the commission's reorganisation proposals. Also, the formal objection procedures for local authorities were replaced by a requirement for the commission to consult with all local authorities affected by a scheme.

With the exception of some provisions relating to regional government, the Act left a wide area of discretion to the commission to prepare reorganisation schemes to improve local government in New Zealand. (Chatham Islands County was specifically placed outside the jurisdiction of the commission and as mentioned above, special purpose authorities, such as hospital and area health boards, electric power boards and licensing trusts, did not fall within it.)

In preparing its final reorganisation schemes, the commission was directed to observe a number of provisions set out in a schedule to the Act. The most significant of these was the requirement that the boundaries of every region conform, as far as practicable, to water catchment areas. This recognised a new emphasis intended for regional councils in resource management.

In fixing local authority boundaries the following factors were to be considered:

  • The area of impact of the functions, duties and powers of the local authority concerned;

  • The area of benefit of the services provided;

  • The likely effect on any local authority of the exclusion of any area from its district:

  • Community of interest; and

  • The efficient and effective exercise of the functions, duties and powers of the local authority concerned.

Apart from a standard set of statutory functions listed in the Act, the commission was required to prescribe the functions, duties, and powers of each local authority. It was also required to divide each territorial authority district with a population of more than 20 000 into electoral wards.

Before releasing its final, reorganisation schemes, the commission issued ‘possible’, ‘indicative’ and ‘draft’ schemes, and at each stage requested submissions from local authorities affected. Following the release of draft schemes in December 1988, the commission heard submissions from each local authority affected which desired a meeting.

The commission's decisions on the restructuring of local government were contained in the final reorganisation schemes, issued on 12 June 1989. The main features were:

  1. A reduction in the number of regions from 22 to 14, with directly elected regional councils in 13 of those regions (the Gisborne region is unique in being administered by a district council which also has regional powers) undertaking statutory functions such as regional planning and civil defence, maritime planning, and those functions formerly exercised by catchment boards, pest destruction beards, noxious plants authorities and, in many cases, harbour boards;

  2. A reduction in the number of territorial authority districts from 204 to 73 (excluding Chatham Islands County);

  3. A reduction in the number of special purpose authorities under the commission's jurisdiction from around 400 to seven: and

  4. Provision for 159 community boards.

Legislative reform. The Local Government Amendment Act (No. 2) 1989 inserted new parts in the Local Government Act 1974 dealing with the general structure of local government, its constitutional and electoral basis, and its organisational and accountability provisions.

For the first time, the legislation includes a statement on the purposes of local government, by which local authorities are to provide for; the recognition of the existence of different communities in New Zealand; the efficient and effective exercise of local government functions, duties and powers; and the effective participation of total people in local government.

Various provisions for sub-district government (community councils and district community councils) have been abolished and replaced with provisions for a single structure known as a community board (see below).

The Act contains provisions relating to the optional ‘corporatisation’ of local authority trading activities, excluding airports, seaports and any energy supply operation. Corporatisation is discretionary, but local authorities must consider any benefits, and be able to justify a decision—to the public or to competitors—not to corporatise. The Act has also been amended to require: (a) the corporatisation of any local authority organisation carrying out subsidised road construction work; (b) the sale or other disposal by regional councils of any interest in the provision of public passenger transport; and (c) the corporatisation of any territorial authority public transport undertaking.

Local authorities are required (from 1 July 1990) to conduct their affairs in a transparent and open manner. They are required by law to establish clear objectives and resolve conflicting objectives in a clear and proper manner, separate their regulator)' and non-regulatory activities, and keep local communities adequately informed of their activities. Emphasis is placed on setting objectives and measuring performance, with each local authority being required to, firstly, prepare a report outlining what it proposes to do over the next year, and how this will be financed, and, secondly, at the end of the year, report on what it has achieved in terms of its objectives. Clearer lines of accountability are also required and each local authority must operate a personnel policy that complies with the principle of being a ‘good employer’ set out in the Labour Relations Act 1987.

At the time of going to press (April 1990) three main areas remained to be covered in the reform of local government: Maori involvement in local government and the application of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi; local authority funding; and local authority functions.

Territorial authorities

Territorial authorities in New Zealand are directly elected, general purpose authorities with responsibility for a wide range of functions. These include: reading, water supply, sewage disposal, rubbish disposal, parks and reserves, libraries, community development, land subdivision, land-use planning, pensioner housing, health and building inspection, urban passenger transport, parking controls, and civil defence.

The present system of territorial government in New Zealand has evolved since the abolition of the provinces in 1876 (see above). In that year a system of locally-elected general purpose territorial local authorities funded from local taxes on land (rates) was established. Municipalities were provided for in urban areas, and the remainder of North, South and Stewart Islands was divided into counties. Counties were later established for the Chatham Islands, Great Barrier Island, and Waiheke and nearby islands. In sparsely settled counties, councils were not established immediately, and the last to come under the control of a county council was Fiord County in 1981, when it was merged with Wallace County. Only some small, generally uninhabited, offshore islands remain outside territorial authority boundaries.

Prior to the reform of local government referred to above, New Zealand was covered by 205 elected territorial authorities of five different types: borough, city, county, district and town councils; all constituted under the Local Government Act 1974.

Borough and city councils. Borough councils looked after the needs of urban areas. Until 1978, there had to be a population of at least 1500 with an average density of at least one person per 4000 square metres before a new borough could be constituted. There were 78 borough councils immediately prior to 1 November 1989.

In legal terms, a city was a borough which had a population of more than 20 000 and had been designated a city by proclamation. There were 28 city councils prior to November 1989. Every borough and city council was headed by a mayor, who was elected by the residents. Except for specific responsibilities under the Civil Defence Act 1983, the legal powers of mayors are no greater than the powers of council members, apart from presiding at all council meetings.

County councils. County councils looked after the needs of rural areas. They were headed by a chairman, who was elected by council members every three years following the triennial general elections of that council. There were 67 county councils prior to November 1939.

District councils. Many territorial authorities were neither entirely rural or entirely urban, and the district council type of authority was introduced in 1974 in recognition of this fact. There were 31 district councils prior to November 1989. A district council could either be formed by a Local Government Commission reorganisation scheme when boroughs, counties or cities united, or when a borough or county council decided to redesignate itself as a district council. Some district councils were headed by a chairman, who was elected in the same manner as the chairman of a county council, while other district councils had a mayor, who was elected by residents every three years in the same manner as mayors of borough or city councils.

Town councils. Town councils looked after the needs of some urban areas that did not have enough residents to justify the forming of a borough, though legally it has not been possible to constitute a new town council since 1978. Only the Hikurangi Town Council still remained prior to November 1989. Town councils were headed by a chairperson, who was elected by the council members every three years.

Cities and districts at 1 November 1989. After the reform of the structure of local government outlined above, territorial government now comprises only two types of councils; city councils and district councils. (The Chatham Islands County Council remains distinct and is undergoing separate review).

The Local Government Commission's final reorganisation schemes constituted 14 cities and 59 districts, with councils all headed by mayors.

New cities can now only be constituted by a reorganisation scheme where a new district is formed and that district; has a population of at least 50 000, is predominantly urban, and is a distinct entity and a major centre of activity within the region.


North Island
North Shore City18
Waitakere City16
Auckland City24
Manukau City24
Hamilton City17
Napier City12
Palmerston North City15
Porirua City13
Upper Hutt City12
Lower Hutt City15
Wellington City21
Far North District13
Whangarei District13
Kaipara District10
Rodney District10
Papakura District12
Franklin District14
Waikato District14
Waipa District13
Otorohanga District10
Waitomo District10
Thames-Coromandel District13
Hauraki District12
Matamata-Piako District12
South Waikato District14
Taupo District15
Tauranga District14
Western Bay of Plenty District12
Rotorua District16
Whakatane District15
Kawerau District10
Opotiki District10
Gisborne District16
Wairoa District9
Hastings District14
Central Hawkes Bay District12
New Plymouth District16
Stratford District12
South Taranaki District12
Ruapehu District14
Wanganui District14
Rangitikei District11
Manawatu District13
Horohenua District12
Tararua District12
Kapiti Coast District14
Masterton District15
Carterton District12
South Wairarapa District10
South Island
Nelson City14
Christchurch City24
Dunedin City21
Tasman District16
Marlborough District17
Kaikoura District7
Buller District11
Grey District12
Westland District12
Hurunui District9
Waimakariri District13
Selwyn District13
Bank's Peninsula District10
Ashburton District18
Timaru District16
Mackenzie District10
Waimate District13
Waitaki District15
Queenstown-Lakes District15
Central Otago District15
Clutha District15
Southland District15
Gore District11
Invercargill District15
Source: Department of Internal Affairs

Community government

Prior to 1 November 1989, the system of sub-district government in New Zealand consisted of a number of communities with either community councils or district community councils. These bodies were not local authorities and were established within the districts of their parent territorial authorities.

There were a number of restrictions upon the constitution of communities, relating, in some cases, to their population, to the nature of particular territorial authorities, and to their location within the districts of territorial authorities.

Community councils were not represented directly on their parent territorial authorities. They derived their powers by discretionary delegation from their parent authorities, except that powers dealing with finance, staff and planning could not be delegated. The general purpose of community councils was to co-ordinate and express the views of the community on any matter of concern to it and to undertake, encourage and co-ordinate activities for their general wellbeing. Community councils were entitled to have one of their members attend meetings of their parent authorities, with speaking rights on community issues. There were 118 community councils prior to November 1989.

District community councils could be established only for communities with populations of no fewer than 1500 and were represented directly on their parent territorial authorities. District community councils could exercise all the powers and functions of their parent authorities, except for certain reserved powers dealing with finance, staff and planning. There were 13 district community councils prior to November 1989.

Community boards. With the passing of the Local Government Amendment Act (No. 2) 1989, community boards can now be established anywhere in New Zealand to serve any number of inhabitants, although the consent of the Local Government Commission is required. The commission's final reorganisation schemes abolished all existing community councils and established 159 new community boards. Most of these communities cover the entire area of a ward or wards, but some only-cover part of a ward.

Community boards must consist of between six and 12 members, with at least six elected. Boards may include up to four appointed members, chosen from among the elected representatives of the territorial authority representing the ward or wards in which the community is situated.

The purposes of community boards are:

  • The consideration of and reporting on all matters referred to it by the territorial authority or any matter of interest or concern to the board:

  • The overview of road works, water supply, sewerage, stormwater drainage, parks, recreational facilities, community activities, and traffic management within the community;

  • The preparation of an annual submission to the budgetary process of the territorial authority for expenditure within the community; and

  • Communication with community organisations and special interest groups within the community.

Other functions may be delegated to a community board by the parent territorial authority, but such functions as borrowing money, levying rates, making bylaws, the owning of property and appointing staff cannot be delegated.

Regional government

Prior to the reform of the structure of local government, all of New Zealand, except for the Great Barrier Island and Chatham Islands Counties, was divided into 22 regions, administered by three regional councils and 19 united councils.

The first unit of regional government in New Zealand was the Auckland Regional Authority, established in 1963 as a directly elected regional authority to carry out a range of functions in the Auckland metropolitan area and adjoining rural districts. The authority's functions included regional responsibility for urban passenger transport, planning, parks and reserves, urban water supply, drainage, refuse collection and disposal, reading, community development, civil defence, assistance to beach patrol and rescue services, and a regional orchestra. The Auckland Regional Authority was also the catchment authority for its region.

The Wellington Regional Council was established in 1980, and carried out catchment authority responsibilities in its region. It was also responsible for regional planning, civil defence, parks and reserves, urban water supply, forestry and urban public passenger transport planning. The Northland Regional Council was established in March 1987, through the union of the Northland United Council and the Northland Catchment Board.

Between 1977 and 1983, united councils were established in 20 regions (including the Northland United Council referred to in the previous paragraph). They were seen as providing a form of regional government for regions either unwilling to establish, or not warranting the expense of, a regional council. Particular features of united councils, which distinguished them from regional councils, were: (a) the members were appointed by the territorial authorities of the region, not elected; (b) the finance of the united council was by levy on the territorial authorities, not by rates; and (c) a united council required the prior consent of the majority of territorial authorities in its region before it could take on any new function.

Most united councils had their staff seconded to them by one of the territorial authorities of the region, which was known as ‘the administering authority’. Regional councils employed their own staff and resources.

Every united and regional council had three mandatory functions: regional planning, regional civil defence and petrol rationing planning. United or regional councils could also undertake functions relating to regional reserves, forestry, reading, and community development, with qualifications in some cases. They could, in certain circumstances, undertake the functions of a territorial authority or special purpose authority. United or regional councils were empowered to undertake, exclusively, any new regional function which was not already undertaken by any other local authority in the region, and could also enter into an agreement with a constituent authority to undertake any function of that authority where, in the opinion of either party, that function would be more effectively and economically undertaken by the regional body. Finally, united or regional councils could enter into agreements with the Crown whereby they could exercise any function or provide any service for the Crown.

The 1989 reform of the structure of local government saw the number of regions reduced from 22 to 14, and now only the Chathams Islands County, because of its isolation, remains outside any region. All regional authorities are now directly elected regional councils, with the normal powers described above and the additional powers of maritime planning, water and soil conservation, animal pest destruction and noxious plants control. Some regional councils have also been allocated other functions, such as those formerly undertaken by harbour boards (other than those functions of harbour boards transferred to port companies) and land drainage boards.



* District regional council.

Source: Department of Internal Affairs.

North Island
Bay of Plenty12
Gisborne District*16
Hawkes Bay14
South Island
West Coast10

Special purpose authorities

From the early 1870s, various special purpose local authorities were established to carry out specific tasks thought beyond the capacity or desire of territorial authorities. Special purpose authorities were charged with only one major function, and their boundaries often had little relationship to the districts of territorial authorities or other special purpose authorities in the same area. Sometimes territorial authorities undertook the same functions as special purpose authorities, or functioned as a special purpose authority under a different name.

Prior to 1 November 1989, the special purpose authorities included those administering harbours, hospital services, retail distribution of electricity, and soil conservation and river control. Other special purpose authorities were involved in water supply, urban drainage and transport, animal pest destruction, nassella tussock control, land drainage and, in some areas, the liquor and hotel trade.

However, many types of special purpose authorities were affected by the reform of the structure of local government. Of the around 400 special purpose authorities placed under the Local Government Commission's jurisdiction during the reform, only seven remain. Whole classes of special purpose authorities (most notably catchment boards, harbour boards, pest destruction boards and land drainage boards) disappeared on 1 November 1989. The functions of those authorities abolished were reallocated by the commission to either regional or territorial authorities. Area health boards, electric power boards and licensing trusts were among those not placed under the commission's jurisdiction.

Most special purpose authorities are directly elected, although a minority are indirectly elected as their members are representatives from other local authorities.

The major categories of special purpose local authorities remaining include 14 area health boards and 37 electric power boards. These categories are directly elected and are found throughout New Zealand.

There are various minor categories of special purpose authorities which are found only in some parts of New Zealand. These include 28 elected licensing trusts, two elected charitable land trusts and three museum trust boards.

Powers of local authorities

Local authorities derive their power from governing statutes. The Local Government Act 1974 is the main statute for territorial authorities, regional councils, and community boards. Special purpose authorities come under other statutes.

Several statutes apply to all local authorities, e.g., the Local Authorities (Members Interests) Act 1968, and the Local Authorities Loans Act 1956. Other statutes apply to territorial, regional and various other types of local authorities, e.g., the Rating Powers Act 1988, the Local Elections and Polls Act 1976, the Public Bodies Leases Act 1969, the Town and Country Planning Act 1977, the Public Works Act 1981, the Reserves Act 1977, the Health Act 1956, and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987.

Local authorities' powers to levy local taxes on land (rates) are contained within the Rating Powers Act 1988. Local authorities can make bylaws within limits defined in their governing Acts. Special purpose authorities' bylaws must be approved by the Minister of Local Government. Territorial authorities and regional councils do not need approval from the minister if their bylaws have been made solely under the Local Government Act 1974, except for fire bylaws.

Local authorities can promote legislation about matters affecting areas within their jurisdiction which they are not empowered to deal with already. This legislation is of two main types: transient and permanent. Usually, routine matters, such as permitting the sale of a parcel of land, are included in a section of the annual Local Legislation Act. Where permanent or major additional powers are sought, a local bill must be prepared for the consideration of Parliament. If this is enacted it becomes a local Act, and applies only to the particular authority or authorities which promoted it.

Local government elections and membership

Local government elections are held on the second Saturday in October every third year. The next elections will be held in 1992. All regional council, territorial authority, special purpose authority and community board elections will be conducted at the same time.

Every territorial authority district with a population of 20 000 or more (prior to 1989 the figure was 70 000) must be divided into separate electorates, known as wards. Where a territorial authority has a population of less than 20 000, it may decide whether its district should be divided into wards, or whether all members should be elected from the district as a whole.

The districts of regional councils and most special purpose authorities are divided into separate electorates, which usually coincide with territorial district or ward boundaries. Regional council electorates are known as constituencies. Ward boundaries and the constituencies of regional councils, must be reviewed even' three years by their councils and finally determined by the Local Government Commission after consideration of various statutory factors. However, in accordance with particular legislation, the Auckland Regional Council's electorates coincide with the parliamentary electorates in the region.

Voting procedures. Any territorial authority may decide whether an election is to be conducted by attendance at a polling booth or by post. If the election is at a polling booth, the council may decide to conduct it over a period of not more than 11 consecutive days instead of on a single day. For the 1989 elections, however, the Local Government Commission determined that all elections (with the exception of the Chatham Islands County Council, which conducted its elections at polling booths) would be conducted by post.

The method of casting a vote is similar to parliamentary elections. The names of candidates are printed on the ballot paper and the elector must indicate on the paper the candidates he or she wishes to vote for. The number of candidates chosen must not exceed the number of positions available, as shown on the ballot paper. An elector may not allocate more than one vote for any candidate, nor is there any provision for an elector to indicate a preference where multiple candidates are voted for.

Local authority franchise. Every parliamentary elector is automatically qualified as an elector of a regional council, a territorial authority and a community board if the address at which the person is registered as a parliamentary elector is within a region, district, ward or community.

Ratepayer voting (the right to vote in as many territorial districts as one was a ratepayer) was discontinued by the Local Government Amendment Act 1986, which also ended the requirement that people often had to enrol separately for local government and parliamentary elections. Territorial authorities are responsible for compiling their own electoral rolls, and the data for these rolls must be taken from the computerised parliamentary electoral database.

Membership of local authorities. A parliamentary elector anywhere in New Zealand may stand for election for any local authority, although he or she cannot stand for election in more than one constituency of the same district. Only in licensing trusts is eligibility for membership still restricted to electors of that trust's district. The Local Government Amendment Act (No. 2.) 1989 provides that any person who is a parliamentary elector may be elected to any number or combination of regional councils, territorial authorities and community boards.

Vacancies in the elected membership of the council of the local authority may be filled either by election or appointment, depending on the Act under which the local authority is constituted. In the case of a territorial authority or regional council, a petition by 5 percent of the electors is sufficient to require a by-election. Extraordinary vacancies on the Auckland Regional Council must be filled by election. In the case of most special purpose authorities, any vacancy in membership is filled by appointment by the relevant territorial authorities. The number of women members of local authorities has increased steadily over recent years. Since the 1989 local government elections, nine of 73 mayoralties (four of the 14 cities and five of the 59 districts) are held by women.

Remuneration of members. Payment of mayors, chairpersons, and members of regional, territorial and special purpose authorities is governed by the Local Government Act 1974. Most boards and councils pay their chairperson or mayor an annual salary, while other members are paid a combination of a daily meeting allowance and an annual salary.

Rates of remuneration for members of local authorities are determined by the Minister of Local Government. Where appropriate, that minister must also consult with the minister who has some responsibility for a particular type of local authority, for example the Minister of Health in respect of remuneration for the members of area health boards. All remuneration rates determined by the minister are maxima so it is up to the discretion of the council or board to decide the actual remuneration rate within the prescribed limits.

Local Government Commission

The present (seventh) Local Government Commission comprises six members appointed by the Minister of Local Government. The commission's main function has always been to review the structure of local government and prepare reorganisation schemes for the constitution of new local authorities.

Prior to July 1988, amalgamations were largely voluntary and supported by the local authorities involved, as survey provisions meant that a reorganisation proposal voted against by more than 50 percent of the electors affected could not proceed. The present commission issued 24 final reorganisation schemes uniting local authorities or constituting new local authorities under these conditions.

The Local Government Commission played a major role in the implementation of the reform of local government described earlier in this section. The Local Government Amendment Act (No. 3) 1988 suspended existing reorganisation procedures (including surveys) and required the Commission to prepare final reorganisation schemes for the entire country by 1 July 1989, and this was completed by the month before.

With the completion of the necessary structural reform of local government, from 1 April 1990, the commission was reduced to three members. Future reorganisation proposals will largely be dealt with by local authorities themselves, and the commission's role will include the determination of the membership of regional and territorial councils, the boundaries of regional constituencies and territorial wards, and the representation of these constituencies and wards. The Commission will also consider, report, and make recommendations to the Minister of Local Government on other matters it considers appropriate, or as referred to it by the minister.