New Zealand Official Yearbook 2002

Te Pukapuka Houanga Whaimana o Aotearoa

Statistics New Zealand

Statistics New Zealand operates an information service. In answer to a letter, email, visit, or telephone call, information analysts can provide statistical information, or tell you more about the department's other services, including access to statistics on the INFOS computer database and the SNZ website.


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The New Zealand flag

The New Zealand flag is the symbol of the realm, government and people of New Zealand. The flag features, on a royal blue background, a Union Jack in the first quarter and four five-pointed red stars of the Southern Cross on the fly. The stars have white borders. Its royal blue background is reminiscent of New Zealand's blue sea and clear sky, while the stars of the Southern Cross emphasise New Zealand's location in the South Pacific Ocean. The Union Flag gives recognition to New Zealand's historical foundations and the fact that the country was once a British colony and dominion.

Te Hakituatahi o Aotearoa
The first flag of New Zealand 1835

For a detailed history of Te Hakituatahi o Aotearoa, see Chapter 3: Government. Heraldic description: on a white field, a red St George's Cross; in the upper canton, next to the staff on a blue field, a smaller St George's Cross in red, severed from the blue by a fimbriation of black, half the width of the red and in the centre of each blue quarter a white eight-point star.

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 Lambton Quay, Wellington, which were built in 1875 to house the colony's public service, but which now house Victoria University's law school. 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 was approved by royal warrant on 26 August 1911. The coat of arms was revised in 1956 following further constitutional changes when the country became the ‘Realm of New Zealand’ instead of ‘Dominion’. Accordingly, the British lion holding aloft the Union Jack was 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’.

New Zealand Official Yearbook 2002
ISSN 0078 0170
ISBN 1-86953-517-0

This book is copyright. Except for the purpose of fair review, no part may be stored or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including recording or storage in any information retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publishers. No reproduction may be made, whether by photocopying or by any other means, unless a licence has been obtained from the publisher or its agent.

Copyright © Statistics New Zealand 2002.

Published in 2002 by David Bateman Ltd, 30 Tarndale Grove, Albany, Auckland, New Zealand.

Printed by PrintLink, Wellington, New Zealand.

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables


This 103rd edition of the New Zealand Official Yearbook continues the tradition of providing a comprehensive picture of life in New Zealand based on the most recent and accurate information available. This edition is the second Yearbook to be published formally on a two-year cycle. This longer publishing cycle allows for new kinds of analysis, and for this 2002 release has provided the opportunity for a specialist review of each chapter.

The theme for the 103rd edition is the information society, reflecting the tremendous growth and convergence of information and communications technologies in recent years. Sidebar stories and photographs illustrate the interface of technologies and people in New Zealand, highlighting changes in business, government, education, the home, culture, natural environment, sports and leisure, healthcare and other facets of daily life. Many of the historical time series graphs and tables remain, offering comparisons with the recent past as well as with previous centuries. Historian David Green's new article brings a 21st century perspective to the history of New Zealand. Preparation of this Yearbook has itself embraced information technology, with extensive use being made, for the first time, of electronic transfer of information to gather and prepare material for publication.

Information from Censuses of Population and Dwellings is always an important aspect of the Yearbook, and in this edition we are pleased to present some of the initial information produced from Census 2001. Availability of this material so soon after census day reflects the uptake and use by Statistics New Zealand of new technologies such as the electronic scanning and processing of census forms.

I would like to offer special thanks to the Yearbook team for the high standards they have achieved, and for working at a rapid pace during early 2002 to ensure Census 2001 information could be included. Our thanks also to publisher David Bateman for providing a high-quality finished product.

On behalf of Statistics New Zealand, I would also like to thank the more than 400 businesses, government departments, non-government organisations, academic institutions and individuals for their time, effort and goodwill in providing and updating contributions to the Yearbook. Finally, I again thank all New Zealanders and visitors to New Zealand who participated in Census 2001. The very high level of cooperation in not only the census but in all our other surveys ensures the continuing high quality of our official statistics.

Brian Pink
Government Statistician


The 2002 Yearbook was produced by the Information and Publishing Services Division of Statistics New Zealand, with the assistance of the many individuals and organisations listed in the ‘Contributors’ section at the end of each chapter, or below the sidebars. The department wishes to record its thanks to them and to the following:

Statistics New Zealand

Divisional managers: Helen Stott, Kevin Eddy

Publishing services managers: Chris Daish, Margaret O'Sullivan (acting), Geoffrey Mead, Mark McGann (acting), Angela Perkins

Yearbook Editor: Paul Cavanagh

Editor and production coordinator: Nicky McCreanor

Editorial support: Sandra Wasley, Antje Heymanns, Angela Papprill, Marie Smith

Design: Maureen Metcalfe, Merran Plunket

Typesetters: Merran Plunket, Teresa Ross, Janet Gudmun, Sandra McKenzie

Maps and diagrams: Maureen Metcalfe, Merran Plunket

Illustrations researcher: Margaret Low

Technical support: Kevin Tompson

Database design: Megan Hutchison

Database development: Irina Simeonov, Nestor Velasco

Bibliographic research: Beryl Anderson


Cover: Shelley Watson/Sublime Design

Photographer: Colin McDiarmid

Typesetter: Shelley Tildesley (PrintLink)

Indexers: Alison and Victor Lipski

Technical assistance: Brian Butler (Scitronic)

How to use the 2002 Yearbook

As a new reader of the New Zealand Official Yearbook you may be surprised at the range of information within its pages. The following notes are to help familiarise you with the book.

What is the Yearbook?

The New Zealand Official Yearbook is published as a compendium of facts and figures on New Zealand and to describe major changes in New Zealand's administrative framework in the two years preceding publication.

The Yearbook contains the latest available statistics on particular topics. It also tells its readers where further information can be found.

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 Contents (overleaf), which lists chapter headings and major sections within chapters. In approaching the book this way it is worth bearing in mind that the 28 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. The second section of the Yearbook begins with an overview of New Zealand's workforce and moves to a discussion of the nation in broad economic terms. Then follow descriptions of each of the constituent sectors, ending with a chapter on public sector finances.

If, on the other hand, your question is more specific, for example ‘How many people died in air accidents in 2000/01?’, then the book is thoroughly indexed. A brief note on the system used can be found at the beginning of the index.

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 in the year preceding Yearbook publication.


The source of a particular table is noted at the foot of the table. The following symbols may be used in the tables:

Figures are often rounded-off to the nearest thousand or some convenient unit. Sometimes this rounding results in tables with totals that disagree slightly with the total of the individual items shown. See sidebar on page 95 for more detail on rounding.

Statistics from 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 randomly rounded to base 3. Individual figures will therefore not necessarily add up to the stated totals.

A glossary of statistical terms used is given at the back of the book.


Statistics New Zealand has made every effort to obtain, analyse and edit the information and statistics used in the Yearbook. However, Statistics New Zealand gives no warranty that the information or data supplied contains no errors, and shall not be liable for any loss or damage caused by the use, directly or indirectly, of material contained in the Yearbook.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

New Zealand's scenery, creativity and technical capability was showcased to the world in December 2001 with the release of the first of director Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. To celebrate the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, New Zealand Post produced a range of stamps, postcards and presentation packs featuring scenes from the movie. The six ‘Maximum Cards’ shown here feature designs derived from scenes in the film, related stamps and the date stamp commemorating the first day of issue.

Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) with Arwen (Liv Tyler).

Balin's Tomb – the Fellowship prepares for an attack.

Gandalf the Grey
(Sir Ian Mckellan) in Rivendell.

The patrons of the bar at the Inn
of the Prancing Pony.

Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) in Rivendell.

Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) before the Mirror at Lothlorien.

Modern technology at work

Ecstasy suitcase

Security equipment used by the New Zealand Customs Service exposes the contents of this suitcase to customs officers – the case is full of the class B controlled drug commonly known as Ecstasy. Customs checks all passengers and crew entering New Zealand by sea or air, as well as associated craft and vessels.

Tuatara x-ray

Advances in medical technology developed for the benefit of human patients can often, with a little adaptation, benefit animal patients too. One of the more unusual clients of Wakefield Radiology in Wellington was this tuatara from Wellington Zoo, which needed an x-ray to confirm she was carrying fertile eggs. Wakefield Radiology provides the zoo with free x-ray and ultrasound services.

Fossil images

Images produced using the latest electron microscope technology clearly reveal the surface features and shape of these 0.4 to 1 million-year-old fossils. These planktic foraminifers are from a deep-sea drill-hole on the north-east slope of Chatham Rise, 1,000 kilometres east of New Zealand.

Design solutions by computer

Victoria University of Wellington design students use 3D digital design software as an aid to conceptualising, generating, defining and refining complex form and space in their design solutions. Experimental model-making techniques using computer-generated data are used alongside established design studio methods to allow greater experimentation, control and manipulation of form and space to create organic, fluid designs such as those shown here.

Design issues of scale, proportion, detail, colour, reflection, refraction, opacity and tactility are addressed using advanced modeling software. Computer simulation of materials, texture and light allow the student to experiment with the visual and aesthetic qualities of the object.

Chapter 1. Geography

The mountains of New Zealand strongly influence weather systems.


New Zealand is a long, narrow, mountainous country, surrounded by a large expanse of ocean. The nearest major land mass is Australia, about 1,600km 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 surrounding oceanic environment.

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

Day-to-day weather is mostly determined by a series of anticyclones and troughs of low pressure in the westerlies. Consequently, New Zealand's weather is changeable, typically with short periods 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 over 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 climates of regions west and east of the mountains. This contrast is much greater than north-south climatic differences.

Surrounding oceans have a moderating effect on temperatures in most northern and western regions. However, inland and eastern areas may experience large temperature variations. High temperatures usually occur in the east 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 cold fronts move up the east coast of both islands.

Many parts of New Zealand are subject to extremes of wind and rain, occasionally 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 enhancement of wind strength and/or rainfall. Figure 1.1 summaries weather details from 1971 to 2000. Climate extremes up to 31 May 2001 are presented in table 1.1.

Figure 1.1. Weather


Table 1.1. Summary of New Zealand climate extremes to 31 May 2001

Source: NIWA
PeriodAmount mmLocationDate
10 minutes34Tauranga17 April 1948
1 hour109Leigh30 May 2001
12 hours473Colliers Creek (Hokitika Catchment)22 January 1994
24 hours682Colliers Creek (Hokitika Catchment)21–22 January 1994
48 hours1,049Waterfall, Cropp River (Hokitika Catchment)12–13 December 1995
1 calendar month2,927Waterfall, Cropp River (Hokitika Catchment)December 1995
1 calendar year16,617Waterfall, Cropp River (Hokitika Catchment)January 1998–December 1988
365 days18,442Waterfall, Cropp River (Hokitika Catchment)29 October 1997–29 October 1998
3 months9Cape CampbellJanuary-March 2001
6 months52Cape CampbellNovember 2000–April 2001
12 months167AlexandraNovember 1963–October 1964
Temperature extremes
LocationTemperature (°C) Date
North Island39.2Ruatoria7 February 1973
South Island42.4Rangiora and Jordan, Marlborough7 February 1973
North Island-13.6Chateau Tongariro7 July 1937
South Island-21.6Ophir3 July 1995
LocationTotal (hours) Year
North Island2,588Napier1994
South Island2,711Nelson1931
Wind gusts
LocationSpeed (km/h) Date
North Island248Hawkins Hill, Wellington6 November 1959 and 4 July 1962
South Island250Mt John, Canterbury18 April 1970

Climate change in evidence

International climate change research reached a major milestone in January 2001 when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded there was now comprehensive evidence of climate change during the 20th century. Key points raised in the IPCC report were:

  • An increasing body of observations gave a collective picture of a warming world and other changes during the 20th century. The global average surface temperature increased by about 0.6°C. On islands east of about 160E and south of the equator, surface air temperatures increased by 0.3 to 0.8°C. Sea levels in the tropical Pacific rose by about 2mm/year.

  • Emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols due to human activities continued to alter the atmosphere in ways that were expected to affect the climate, and would continue to change atmospheric composition throughout the 21st century.

  • There was new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed during the past 50 years was attributable to human activities (emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols), and that anthropogenic (human-induced) climate change would persist for many centuries.

  • Confidence in the ability of models to project future climate has increased.

  • Global average temperature and sea levels were projected to rise under all IPCC greenhouse gas emission scenarios. Projected increases in global mean temperatures from 1990 to 2100 for a range of plausible emission scenarios lie between 1.4 and 5.8°C. Global mean sea level changes lie between 9 and 88cm.

  • Changes were expected in some extreme weather and climate events, including higher maximum temperatures and more hot days, more heavy rainfall events, and, in some areas, an increase in peak wind intensities and rainfall intensities in tropical cyclones. Projections showed little change, or a small increase, in amplitude for El Nino events during the next 100 years. However, even with little or no change in El Nino amplitude, global warming was likely to lead to greater extremes of drying, heavy rainfall and to increased risks of droughts and floods that occur with El Nino events in many different regions.

What the warming climate will mean in detail for the South Pacific is still the subject of investigation by scientific researchers, with key emerging issues being changes in rainfall patterns and associated shifts in water resources and agricultural growing conditions. Impact scenario studies will provide an important link between global climate dynamics and the ability of New Zealand and South Pacific communities to adapt to local changes that will affect everyday lives.

A hoarfrost in Alexandra, Central Otago, during the winter of 2001.

Following is a summary of knowledge gained in the past decade about the effect of climate change on New Zealand.

Projected climate changes. Temperatures in New Zealand are likely to increase faster in the North Island than in the South Island, but generally less than global average temperatures. Rainfall is projected to increase in the west of the country and to decrease in many eastern regions. In the long term, rising seas are expected to increase erosion of vulnerable beaches and breach coastal protection structures more often.

Agriculture. The agricultural sector could benefit under climate change, but also faces risks. The key benefit to agriculture is likely to be from increased carbon dioxide concentrations, which could lead to greatly increased growth rates and water-use efficiency. In addition, warmer conditions and lengthened growing seasons could allow the long-term southward shift of climate-limited activities, and new crops and related industries could be introduced. The most significant risks include more droughts and floods in some areas, particularly in the east of New Zealand. Warmer temperatures could also make the growing of some current fruit crops in some northern areas uneconomical.

Native ecosystems. Climate change may add to pressure on ecosystems already under threat. Fragmented native forests of drier lowland environments in Northland, Waikato and Manawatu, and in the east from East Cape to Southland, are probably the most vulnerable to climate change.

Urban environment, transport and energy. The main threat to the urban environment comes from possible increases in heavy rainfall, which would put pressure on drainage and stormwater systems and increase the risk of flooding in some areas. Warmer conditions will substantially reduce home heating costs, leading to reduced electricity demand during the peak winter season, but possibly increased demand for air conditioning during summer.

Health. Higher temperatures are expected to reduce winter illnesses, but could lead to higher death rates during summer. A warmer climate could also allow the spread of mosquitoes capable of transmitting diseases such as Ross River virus and dengue fever. Recent research has also found that climate change could lead to a delay in the recovery of the ozone layer. This would increase the period during which New Zealanders are exposed to high levels of ultraviolet radiation, which is known to lead to skin cancers. However, the possible effects of greenhouse gases on the ozone layer are still highly uncertain.

Pacific neighbours. New Zealand has close links with many Pacific Island countries. Many of these countries are highly vulnerable to rising sea levels caused by climate change. As a result, New Zealand may face increased demand for development aid and disaster relief.

Table 1.2 gives predicted changes to temperature and rainfall.

Table 1.2. Predicted changes in annual mean temperature (°C) and precipitation (%) between 1970–1999 and 2070–2099, based on averages from four global climate models

Source: MORST
Northland, Auckland+1.0° to +2.8°C-10% to 0%
Western North Island from Waikato to Wellington+0.8° to +2.7°C0% to +20%
Eastern North Island from Bay of Plenty to Wairarapa+0.9° to +2.7°C-20% to 0%
Nelson, Marlborough, to coastal Canterbury and Otago+0.8° to +2.5°C-20% to +5%
West Coast and Canterbury foothills+0.6° to +2.5°C+5% to +25%
Southland and inland Otago+0.6° to +2.2°C0% to +30%

The year's weather – 2001 and 2000

2001. New Zealand climate records continued to tumble in 2001, both for average and extreme temperatures. The year was one of the driest on record in many eastern South Island areas, as well as parts of Wellington, in spite of a wet October-December period.

The North Island bore the brunt of 11 rainfall/flooding extremes, while tornadoes also featured in 2001, with at least eight reported, along with an unusual number of high wind events, many of which caused property damage.

The year featured many new climate records and extremes, with five unusually warm months, and two much colder than average. There were six cold snaps in winter, four with snow and two with extreme frosts. There were at least two widespread and damaging hailstorms, with hailstones ‘the size of golf balls’.

Higher than average pressures occurred from the south Tasman Sea across the lower South Island and east past the Chatham Islands. Pressures were below average in the north Tasman Sea and to the north. This pattern resulted in more frequent easterlies and north-easterlies over the north of the North Island and more settled conditions elsewhere.

Analyses of month-by-month records for 2001 compared with recorded statistics for previous years show:

  • The year's national average temperature was 12.8°C (0.3°C above the 1961–1990 normal).

  • The highest annual mean temperature recorded for the year was 16.9°C at Cape Reinga.

  • The highest recorded extreme temperature for the year was 35.3°C at Timaru airport on 4 February and the lowest was −12.2°C at Hanmer forest on the morning of 5 July.

  • May, August, September, October and December were unusually warm months, January was rather cool and July was the coldest for more than 30 years.

  • December was unusually wet, with record low sunshine over the North Island.

  • The driest recorded centre was Alexandra, with only 299mm of rain for the year.

  • North Egmont was the wettest location with 7,546mm. Traditionally wet Milford Sound managed only 5,134mm.

  • Christchurch was the driest main centre with 405mm and Auckland the wettest with 1,256mm. Wellington received 1,053mm and Dunedin 515mm.

  • The capital was again the sunniest of the three largest centres, with 2,094 sunshine hours, followed by Christchurch (2,072 hours), and Auckland (1,981 hours). Nelson was the sunniest centre in 2001 with 2,550 hours, followed by Blenheim with 2,484 hours and Motueka with 2,430 hours.

Figure 1.2. Southern oscillation index
Air pressure recordings from Tahiti and Darwin

Southern oscillation indexAir pressure recordings from Tahiti and Darwin

2000. The year 2000 produced a wide variety of climate extremes and the second warmest winter since records began in the mid 1850s. Unusually high sunshine hours occurred in Taranaki. A drought in summer and early autumn contrasted with 15 high rainfall events producing floods in most other months. Two notable heatwaves occurred, and six cold snaps, five with snow. Three tornadoes were reported, and 11 high wind events all caused property damage. Severe hailstorms occurred on three separate occasions. More anticyclones than normal occurred east of New Zealand, resulting in more easterlies over the north of the North Island, and north-westerlies over the far south.

  • National average temperature for the year 2000 was 12.7°C (0.2°C above the 1961–1990 normal).

  • The highest recorded annual mean temperature for the year was 16°C at Whangarei.

  • The highest extreme temperature for the year was 35°C at both Darfield and Culverden on 4 March, and the lowest −12.4°C at Tekapo on the morning of 24 August.

  • The winter was the second warmest on record since reliable measurements were established in the 1850s. The national average winter temperature of 9.1°C was up 0.9°C on the 1961–1990 normal.

  • The driest recorded centre was Alexandra, with only 475mm of rain for the year.

  • The wettest recorded location was Milford Sound, with an annual total of 7,019mm.

  • Christchurch was the driest main centre with 706mm and Auckland the wettest with 1,130mm. Wellington received 994mm and Dunedin 926mm.

  • The capital was the sunniest of the three largest centres with 2,172 sunshine hours, followed by Christchurch (2,141 hours), and Auckland (1,962 hours).

  • Nelson was the sunniest centre in 2000 with 2,534 hours, followed by Blenheim with 2,435 hours and Tauranga with 2,347 hours.

  • New Plymouth's 2,334 hours of sunshine was the highest in the area since 1943.

Climate extremes. NIWA's annual climate summaries (available on its website contain detailed descriptions of extreme weather events for the year. These include extremes of temperatures and sunshine hours, and notable occurrences of snowfalls and frosts, droughts, floods and high rainfall, tornadoes, gales and high winds, and severe hailstorms.

Physical features

New Zealand lies in the south-west Pacific Ocean and comprises two main and a number of smaller islands. Their combined area of 270,500 square kilometres is similar in size to Japan or the British Isles. See table 1.3 for more details.

Table 1.3. Land area of New Zealand(1)

Land areaSize (sq km)

1Includes all internal waterways (lakes and rivers).

2Includes all offshore islands 20 sq km or larger, except those listed separately.

Source: Land Information New Zealand

North Island113,729
South Island150,437
Offshore islands(2)1,065
Stewart Island/Rakiura1,680
Chatham Islands963
Raoul Island34
Campbell Island/Motu Ihupuku113

The main North and South Islands are separated by Cook Strait, which, at its narrowest point, is 20km wide. The North and South Islands 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 160° east to 173° west longitude.

In addition to the main and nearby islands, New Zealand also includes the small inhabited outlying islands of the Chathams, 850km east of Christchurch; Raoul Island, in the Kermadec Group 930km north-east of the Bay of Islands; and Campbell Island, 590km south of Stewart Island. New Zealand also has jurisdiction over the territories of Tokelau and the Ross Dependency (see Chapter 4).

New Zealand is more than 1,600km long and 450km 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 (see table 1.4), with less than a quarter of the land less than 200m 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 2,300m.

Table 1.4. Principal mountains

Mountain or peakElevation

1Taranaki or Egmont is the correct format for the dual name as prescribed in the 1986 Gazette

2The height of Aoraki/Mt Cook was confirmed by Dr John Beavan, from the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, as 3,754m – this was determined photogrametrically after the 1991 slip from the peak.

Source: Land Information New Zealand

North Island:
Taranaki or Egmont(1)2,518
South Island:
Aoraki/Mt Cook(2)3,754
Hicks (St David's Dome)3,198
Malte Brun3,155
Elie de Beaumont3,117
La Perouse3,079
Glacier Peak3,007

There are also 360 glaciers in the Southern Alps. The largest are, on the east, the Tasman (29km in length), Murchison (13km), Mueller (13km), Godley (13km) and the Hooker (11km), and, on the west, the Fox (15km) and the Franz Josef (13km).

New Zealand's rivers (see table 1.5) are mainly swift and difficult to navigate. They are important as sources of hydroelectric power and artificial lakes have been created as part of major hydroelectric schemes. Table 1.6 describes the largest lakes.

Table 1.5. Principal rivers(1)


1More than 150km in length from the mouth to the farthest point in the river system irrespective of name, including estimated courses through lakes.

Source: Land Information New Zealand

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

Table 1.6. Principal lakes(1)

LakeMaximum depthArea

1More than 20 square kilometres in area.

Source: Land Information New Zealand and NIWA

msq km
North Island:
South Island:
Te Anau417352
Benmore (artificial)12075
Aviemore (artificial)6229
Dunstan (artificial)7027
Mahinerangi (artificial)3121

Geology and soils

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. The boundary between the Indo-Australian plate and the Pacific plate runs through New Zealand, and the processes from their collisions have had a profound effect on New Zealand's size, shape and geology.

Rock types

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. Nearly three-quarters of New Zealand is covered by sedimentary rocks, created by the interplay of earth movement and erosion. The most common forms of sedimentary rocks in New Zealand are sandstone, mudstone, greywacke, conglomerate and limestone. As well as 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). Volcanic rocks (basalt, andesite, rhyolite and ignimbrite) are products of the many volcanic eruptions that have characterised New Zealand's geological history.


Soil is a product of its environment. Its composition depends on the parent ingredient, the climate, the length of time it has weathered, topography and the vegetation under which it has formed. The complex soil pattern of New Zealand (see table 1.7) is a result of many different kinds of rock and the various conditions under which the soils have formed. Climate varies from such extremes as sub-tropical North Auckland to the cold uplands of the alpine regions and the semi-arid basins of Central Otago. The country's topography is equally varied, with 50 percent of the land classifiable as steep, 20 percent as moderately hilly and only 30 percent as rolling or flat. Natural vegetation ranges from kauri forest to sub-alpine scrub, and from tussock grassland to broadleaf forest. Occasionally, occurrences such as river floods on alluvial plains, sand drifts, or volcanic ash eruptions interrupt and alter the pattern of soil development.


Evidence of episodes of intense mountain building between one million and six million years ago are apparent in the New Zealand landscape of today. Mountain chains were pushed up during this period and there was movement and displacement of the earth's crust along faults. Due to this activity, well-preserved tilted fault blocks bounded by fault scarps (steep faces hundreds or even thousands of metres high) are visible in the landscape of some regions. Fault movements continue to the present day and have accompanied several major earthquakes of the past century.

A caver descends into Harwood Hole near Takaka in the Golden Bay district.

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 headlands and built beaches, spits and bars. Glaciers carved the fiords of Fiordland and valleys occupied by most of the South Island lakes. Sea level changes accompanied formation, and later melting, of global glacial ice. These changes affected the erosion and deposition of rivers and were responsible for the formation of many prominent river terraces.

Volcanic activity during the past few million years played an important part in shaping the landscape. The largest volcanic outpourings of late geological times were in the region between Tongariro National Park and the Bay of Plenty coast. The most recognisable volancoes in New Zealand now occur in the North Island, where a number are still active. They include Ruapehu, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, White Island and Mt Tarawera. Others such as Mt Taranaki or Egmont and Rangitoto may be considered dormant at present, although they are still regarded as significant hazards.


Living in New Zealand means living with earthquakes. There is an almost continuous belt of earthquake activity around the edge of the Pacific Ocean that affects the geological stability of many countries on the Pacific Rim, particularly New Zealand, west coast United States, Chile, Peru, Japan and the Philippines. New Zealand's level of activity is similar to that of California, but slightly lower than that of Japan. A magnitude 8 earthquake occurs in New Zealand about once a century, a magnitude 7 quake averages out at once a decade and there is an average rate of one magnitude 6 quake a year.

Sheep graze in the gentle rolling country of Southland.

Table 1.7. Classification of New Zealand soils

RegionSoilsVegetation and land use
Source: Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences
North Auckland Peninsula and Auckland regionLarge areas of infertile gumland soils formerly covered with kauri; granular, oxide and ultic soils from volcanic rocks and weathered sandstone.Patchy land use. Exotic forests on lowland country and remnant kauri forest on uplands. Intensive dairying on rolling lands around Kaipara Harbour, Whangarei, Kaikohe and Dargaville. Sheep and beef on hill country.
Bay of Plenty-Waikato-Thames-Hauraki PlainsVolcanic ash covers much of the area, giving rise to deep, granular soils with good physical properties. Peaty and gley soils with high ground water on Hauraki Plains and parts of Waikato Basin.Predominantly pastoral farming (mostly dairying), exotic forestry and several large tracts of indigenous forest. Kiwifruit along coastal Bay of Plenty. Scattered maize cropping.
Volcanic PlateauPumice soils, lacking in some essential trace elements, but mostly deep, friable and highly suited to tree growth.Important watershed with large areas protected as native forest. Extensive exotic forests. Topdressing of former scrub areas with trace elements has allowed widespread farming.
East Coast-WairarapaBrown soils. Significant areas of recent alluvial soils on Gisborne and Heretaunga Plains. Pallic soils on rolling land south of Hawke's Bay.Semi-extensive sheep farming (wool and store sheep) on dry hill country. Intensive lamb production on flat to rolling plains. Market gardens and orchards near Gisborne, Napier, and Hastings. Important pip-fruit production. Vineyards. Pockets of dairying close to main ranges from Norsewood south.
TaranakiVolcanic ring plain consists of allophanic soils, usually from deep volcanic ash, but stony in west. Soft-rock uplands in east Taranaki.Distinct contrast between intensive dairying on ring plain, and severely eroded inland hill country, with many steep ridges covered in second-growth forest or dense gorse.
Manawatu-HorowhenuaSand dunes and swampy hollows common along coast. Loess-covered terraces and river flats inland. Pallic soils on drier terraces with sand soils near coast and organic and recent alluvial soils on lower plains.Intensive sheep production and cropping on the terrace country; semi-intensive sheep and beef in hill country of Rangitikei. Exotic forestry on coastal sand country.
Marlborough Sounds-NelsonPockets of fertile, recent alluvial soils on Waimea and Motueka Plains. Large areas of steepland soils and stony soils on Moutere Gravels.Intensive orcharding and market gardens. Exotic forests in Marlborough Sounds and Moutere Gravels.
Marlborough-Kaikoura CoastPallic soils and brown soils with pockets of recent alluvial soils.Intensive sheep farming and cropping on river terraces, semi-intensive sheep and beef on hill country. Vineyards in lower Wairau Valley.
West CoastExtensive gleyed podzols and organic soils, with recent soils on alluvial flats.Indigenous forestry declining; national parks and reserves; exotic forestry on hill country of north Westland. Dairying on river flats.
CanterburyVery thick layer of gravel covered by variable thicknesses of fine material. Pallic soils and associated stony soils.Intensive cropping for cereals and fodder crops. Intensive sheep production, with widespread irrigation of pasture.
OtagoHigh-country brown soils on ranges, pallic soils at intermediate altitudes and semi-arid soils (often stony), in basins.Extensive sheep and beef farming in uplands. Intensive orcharding in Central Otago basins, especially for stonefruit; irrigation necessary. Market gardening in lower Taieri.
SouthlandSouthland Plain mainly deposits of gravel and silt. Brown soils and recent alluvial soils. Pallic soils inland in drier areas.Semi-intensive sheep and beef farming in rolling areas inland, and intensive fattening on plains. Dairying on plains near Invercargill.

New Zealand has many earthquakes because it straddles the boundary between two of the earth's great tectonic plates – the Pacific Plate in the east and the Australian Plate in the west. These two plates are converging obliquely at about 30mm/year in Fiordland, increasing to about 50mm/year at East Cape. The plates converge in different ways. In the North Island and the northern South Island, the Pacific Plate sinks below the Australian Plate. Earthquakes originating within the subducting Pacific Plate are less than 30km deep along the eastern coast, and become deeper westward. In Fiordland and the region to the south, the Australian Plate subducts beneath the Pacific Plate, so the earthquake sources are shallow in the west and deeper in the east under Fiordland.

Between these two subduction zones, the crust of both plates is too buoyant to subduct, so the convergence is accommodated by uplift, which created the Southern Alps, and horizontal movement along the Alpine Fault. This results in parts of Nelson and western Otago, adjacent five million years ago, now being 450km apart. The forces driving this sideways and upward movement create shallow earthquakes.

About two-thirds of New Zealand's earthquakes are deep, while shallow earthquakes originate within the earth's crust, which has an average thickness of 35km in New Zealand. Crustal quakes are responsible for almost all damage to property, and are widely scattered throughout New Zealand. In the Taupo volcanic zone, from White Island to Ruapehu, swarms of small earthquakes of similar magnitude are associated with the area's active volcanism. Although the number of shocks is alarming, they rarely cause damage.

Earthquake risk. The worst disaster that can reasonably be expected within a generation is a 7.5 magnitude earthquake on the segment of the Wellington fault within the city. It has a 12 percent probability of occurring within the next 30 years, and would affect 200,000 residential properties from Palmerston North to Nelson, as well as roads, bridges and dams, and services such as electricity, water and sewerage.

The Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS) in Lower Hutt runs the National Seismograph Network. A major upgrade to the equipment that monitors earthquakes and volcanoes in New Zealand was started in 2001. The Earthquake Commission is providing $5 million a year over 10 years to install upgraded equipment at new sites and replace existing equipment to more rapidly and reliably determine the location and magnitude of all significant earthquakes within the New Zealand region (see sidebar). Such information is rapidly broadcast to civil defence and emergency management authorities and international earthquake centres in the United Kingdom and the United States. New Zealand scientists also undertake a large body of research aimed at improving understanding of, and ways to mitigate, seismic hazard in New Zealand. Mitigation measures include improved engineering design of buildings and infrastructure, better prepared communities and better regional planning.

Principal earthquakes in New Zealand in 2001. New Zealand was hit by at least six potentially damaging earthquakes in 2001, but they were either too distant from population centres or too deep to cause harm.

In what GNS seismologists described as an average year in terms of size, number and distribution of earthquakes, the largest jolt was a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on August 21 centred offshore in the Kermadec Trench, 420km north-east of Gisborne. Although distant, its large size and relatively shallow depth meant it was felt throughout much of the North Island and as far south as Christchurch. It caused minor damage and a brief electricity blackout at Tolaga Bay, 56km north-east of Gisborne.

Also of note was a magnitude 6.2 earthquake centred 20km north of Taumarunui on May 24. It was felt throughout the eastern North Island, but its impact was not severe because of its depth of 260km.

A magnitude 6.1 earthquake on the morning of December 8 located 30km south-west of Haast, and shallower than 12km, was felt throughout the southern South Island, but was away from major population centres.

All of these larger earthquakes were followed by dozens of smaller aftershocks. In the case of the quake south-west of Haast, aftershocks occurred at the rate of up to 20 an hour during the first two days after the main shock. Accurate recordings of aftershocks give seismologists valuable information about the nature of the main shock and its relation to the geology of the area. In particular, aftershocks can indicate how the main shock may have increased or decreased the stress on neighbouring faults.

Only about 1 percent of the 16,000 earthquakes recorded in New Zealand each year are big enough or shallow enough to be felt by humans. As a general guide, shallow earthquakes above magnitude 5.0 are capable of causing damage and casualties in built-up areas.

During late September and early October 2001, a number of moderate-sized shallow earthquakes occurred in southern Hawke's Bay, off the coast at Porangahau. The largest of these, a magnitude 5.6 quake on September 24, was felt widely throughout the central and southern North Island.

Among other moderate-sized shallow earthquakes recorded in 2001 was a magnitude 5.0 event on April 4, 30km south-east of Blenheim. The largest of a cluster of eight earthquakes that occurred in that area on that day, it was felt throughout Marlborough, the Wellington region and as far north as Wanganui. On May 18, a magnitude 5.1 earthquake 50km west of Methven in Canterbury was felt on the West Coast and in inland Canterbury.

A number of moderate-sized deep earthquakes also occurred during 2001. On October 15, a magnitude 5.8 quake with an epicentre close to Hastings was felt widely. A magnitude 5.0 quake on October 24, 30km north-west of Taupo, was felt along the east coast of the North Island. On November 9, a magnitude 5.3 earthquake 30km south of Nelson was felt in the northern South Island and in the Wellington region. Finally, a magnitude 5.0 event on December 8, located 30km south-west of Gisborne, was felt in the East Cape and Hawke's Bay regions. There were also three earthquakes above magnitude 5.0 in the Bay of Plenty during the first half of the year, but all these events were too deep to cause damage.

Volcanic hazards

The New Zealand region is characterised by both a high density of active volcanoes and a high frequency of eruptions. Volcanic activity in New Zealand occurs within the North Island and offshore to the north-east in the Kermadec Islands. In the past 150 years, volcanoes have killed more people than earthquakes, yet the scale and style of historically recorded volcanic activity is dwarfed by events known to have occurred in the past 2,000 to 5,000 years.

Volcanism. New Zealand volcanism is confined to five areas in the North Island – the Bay of Islands, Whangarei, Auckland, White Island to Ruapehu, and Taranaki or Egmont. The area from White Island to Ruapehu is known as the Taupo volcanic zone and is by far the most frequently active. There are three major types of volcano in New Zealand:

  • Volcanic fields such as Auckland, where each eruption builds a single small volcano (eg Mt Eden), which does not erupt again. The next eruption in the field occurs at a different place, the site of which cannot be predicted until the eruption is imminent.

  • Cone volcanoes such as Taranaki or Egmont and Ruapehu, where a succession of small eruptions occurs from roughly the same point on the earth's surface. The products of successive eruptions accumulate close to the vent to form a large cone, which is the volcano itself. The site of future eruptions can generally be predicted.

  • Caldera volcanoes, such as Taupo and Okataina (Tarawera). Eruptions at these volcanoes are occasionally so large that the ground surface collapses into the ‘hole’ left behind. For example, Lake Taupo infills a caldera formed in two episodes about 1,800 and 26,000 years ago.

The Taupo volcanic zone (see Figure 1.3) contains three frequently active cone volcanoes (Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and White Island) and the two most productive caldera volcanoes (Taupo and Okataina) in the world.

Casualties. Deaths due directly or indirectly to volcanism (and associated hydrothermal explosions) represent the biggest single source of fatalities from natural disasters in New Zealand since 1846 (see table 1.8). Economic loss due to volcanism, however, has been low compared with that from earthquakes or flooding. The cost of the 1995 and 1996 eruptions of Ruapehu has been estimated at $130 million. However, an assessment of the size and style of volcanic eruptions in the geologically recent past, coupled with consideration of the economic development of New Zealand, especially in the central North Island, shows that the record since 1846 represents only a fraction of the type and size of hazard posed by New Zealand volcanism.

Table 1.8. Deaths in volcanic areas since 1846

YearLocation (eruption)Cause – hazardFatalities
Source: Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences
1846Waihi (Lake Taupo)Debris avalanche/mudflow from thermal areac 60
1886Tarawera RiftLarge volcanic eruption108
1903Waimangu (Tarawera)Hydrothermal explosion4
1910Waihi (Lake Taupo)Debris avalanche/mudflow from thermal area1
1914White IslandDebris avalanche from crater wall11
1917Waimangu (Tarawera)Hydrothermal explosion2
1953Tangiwai (Ruapehu)Lahar and flood from crater lake151

Crises. The term volcanic crisis is used to describe the entire time period associated with a major volcanic eruption. It includes precursors, the eruption and its aftermath. During all this time, people and property are at risk.

The onset of a volcanic crisis is often predictable, but the exact course of an eruption is not. Large volcanic eruptions are predictable because precursors like earthquakes, ground deformation and increased outputs of volcanic gas can be used to infer that an eruption is imminent, so enabling some site-specific planning or mitigation. Large volcanic eruptions are preceded by a period of days to years of high levels of seismicity, ground movements and changes to hot springs and gas vents. However, once an eruption has started, significant hazards can be present for much longer periods than with any other natural event. The eruption may be followed by months to decades of flooding, erosion and land instability.

A feature of volcanic crises compared with other kinds of natural hazards is that each eruption has a far wider range of possible outcomes, each, in turn, with a characteristic range of threats to life and property.

Major types of volcanic hazard are ash and pumice fall, ash and pumice currents, lavas, lahars/flooding and gases/acid rain. Volcanism on a relatively minor scale (eg Ruapehu 1945, 1995, 1996) causes disruption and damage on a regional scale, while some larger events (eg Taupo 1,800 years ago) adversely affect the entire national economy.

Figure 1.3. Taupo volcanic zone
Cone and caldera volcanoes

Taupo volcanic zoneCone and caldera volcanoes

Mt Ruapehu eruptions in 1995 and 1996 resulted in extensive ash falls throughout the North Island.

For each volcano, a hazard map of different potential eruptions can be drawn. Each map has a number of zones specific to a particular hazard (eg lahar, ash fall). The risk varies considerably depending on factors such as topography, wind direction at the time of the eruption, and the position of communities and infrastructure with respect to the erupting volcano. At all of New Zealand's volcanoes, with the possible exception of Ngauruhoe, the historic record is inadequate to assess the full range of activity. Therefore, to help assess the return intervals of any specific kind of eruption, studies are made of deposits left by prehistoric eruptions and interpretations are made of the size and style of each event, together with an estimation of the age. Such information is available to various extents for all of New Zealand's volcanoes. The probability of a future eruption from a wholly new site, or of a type of activity not represented in the past history of the volcano, is remote.

Surveillance. Volcanologists use three primary techniques to establish the ‘health’ of an active volcano:

  • Monitoring of volcanic earthquakes. This is done using closely-spaced networks of seismometers. These networks are designed to detect movement of magma (molten rock) below the surface and allow assessment of the possible onset and timing of eruptive activity. There are five volcano-seismic networks in New Zealand (Auckland, Bay of Plenty-Rotorua, Taranaki, Tongariro and Taupo).

  • Monitoring of ground deformation. This is done using precise geodetic surveys. The concept is that if magma is moving upwards before an eruption, it will cause the volcano to swell (ie the ground surface to rise), and this swelling can be detected. A novel version of this technique uses lakes at Taupo and Okataina as giant spirit levels.

  • Monitoring of volcanic gases. Magma at depth in the earth contains gases (carbon dioxide, together with various compounds of sulphur, chlorine and fluorine) dissolved in it. As the magma rises to shallow levels before an eruption, these gases are released and come to the surface via fumaroles. The temperatures and the abundance of the gases and their relative proportions give information on the state of the magma and how close to the surface it is.

In a volcanic crisis, practical steps can be taken to mitigate risk and lessen the threat to life, but this requires accurate perception of the onset of a crisis. This perception in turn depends on a knowledge of the ‘background’ or ‘normal’ levels of seismicity, ground movement and gas flux at the volcano, coupled with ‘real-time’ determination of any significant changes from this background. New Zealand has an active volcano surveillance programme to define these background levels.

Mitigation. Experiences at recent large volcanic eruptions like Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) and Pinatubo (Philippines) show it is possible to minimise loss of life during volcanic crises. On the other hand, Nevado del Ruiz and El Chichon showed that poor planning results in major loss of life. A major feature of mitigation is public education. An informed, knowledgeable population makes intelligent decisions, and ‘self-evacuation’ was a key feature at Rabaul and Pinatubo.

The principal tool to accomplish this in New Zealand is the Yellow Book series of the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management. Communities exposed to frequent volcanic hazards evolve simple measures to limit risk. One example is Whakapapa village, Mt Ruapehu, where posters and brochures give detailed precautions against lahar hazards on ski-fields.

Wildlife and vegetation

The islands of New Zealand separated from their nearest neighbours more than 80 million years ago. Some of the original inhabitants endured times of turbulent change and violent upheaval, evolving and adapting to become part of a unique natural biota (or region). Other species died out (either nationally or regionally), unable to compete or survive environmental disturbances such as ice ages. For example, coconut palms were once found in New Zealand, and kauri, now confined to the north of the North Island, used to grow as far south as Canterbury. Over the years, the earliest inhabitants were joined by other plants and animals carried across the oceans by wind and current.

The pre-human community was notable for the absence of snakes, land mammals (apart from three species of bat) and many of the flowering plant families.

Whole orders and families were found only in New Zealand, including tuatara, moa and kiwi, all of the native lizards, and nearly 200 species of native earthworms. Many remarkable plants, insects and birds evolved to fill ecological niches normally occupied by mammals. Others diversified to fill new territories created by sea-level fluctuations and land uplift. With no mammalian predators on the ground, but avian predators everywhere, flightlessness was not a handicap, nor was size. Moa (11 species, some up to 3m tall) became extinct in pre-European times, but many other large flightless birds still remain, including kiwi, the nocturnal kākāpō (the only flightless parrot in the world) and weka (of the rail family).

Flightless insects are numerous, including many large beetles and 70 or so species of the cricketlike weta, found only in New Zealand.

New Zealand, with 84 species, has the most diverse seabird fauna of any country. Nearly half of all native bird species depend on the ocean for food, the feeding zones of some extending as far south as the Antarctic continent. New Zealand's extensive coastline and many islands offer a huge range of habitat, from estuary and mud-flat, to rocky cliffs and boulder bank.

The ocean itself is marvellously rich. There are about 400 different marine fish in the waters around New Zealand, as well as various species of seals, dolphins and porpoises. Twenty-nine species of whale have been recorded, and three of the largest (sperm, humpback and right) regularly migrate to New Zealand waters in spring and autumn.

The most widespread and complex type of forest in New Zealand is a podocarp (conifer) broadleaf association. It is generally found at lower altitudes and is characterised by a variety of species, a stratified canopy and an abundance of vines and epiphytic plants. Beech and kauri forests, by contrast, are much simpler in structure. New Zealand's beech species have close relatives in Australia and South America and the five different types of species in New Zealand have exploited habitats from valley floor to mountain tops. Kauri, true forest giants, dominate only in the warmer climes to the north.

Some of the most specialised plants are those occupying the alpine zone. A remarkable 25 percent of all New Zealand's plants can be found above the treeline. Ninety-three percent of all alpine plants are found only in New Zealand, compared with 80 percent for the rest of the higher plant species. Snow tussock herbfields are one of the most distinctive elements in this cold, windswept environment. Remarkably long-lived, some larger specimens may be several centuries old. Like beech trees, they seed infrequently, but in profusion.

A definitive feature of New Zealand's land-based plants and animals is their degree of specialisation and narrow habitat requirements (eg takahē/tussock grasslands; blue duck/fast flowing rivers and streams) and their evolution in the absence of mammalian predators (birds) or browsers (plants). This specialisation, and the adaptations which make New Zealand's wildlife so unique, render them extremely vulnerable to introduced predators, such as rats and cats; competitors, such as deer and possums; and loss of habitat.

Introduced vegetation and wildlife

The arrival of people in New Zealand heralded times of rapid change. Introduction (intentionally or accidentally) of exotic plants and animals, and the modification of habitat, radically affected native species populations. In the pre-1800 period, following the arrival and expansion of Māori, forest cover was reduced and 34 species became extinct, including moa, the adzebill and the flightless goose. In the much shorter post-1800 period of European settlement, the forest area was further reduced to around 25 percent of the land, nine more birds became extinct and many more were threatened. Since 1840, more than 80 new species of mammals, birds and fish, and more than 1,800 plant species have been introduced, in many places totally changing the landscape and ecology.

Time zone

One uniform time is kept throughout mainland New Zealand. This time is 12 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and is called New Zealand Standard Time (NZST). It is an atomic standard maintained by the Measurement Standards Laboratory, part of Industrial Research Ltd, Lower Hutt. One hour of daylight saving, called New Zealand Daylight Time (NZDT), which is 13 hours ahead of UTC, is observed from 2am (NZST) on the first Sunday in October, until 2am (NZST) on the third Sunday in March. Time kept in the Chatham Islands is 45 minutes ahead of that kept in New Zealand.


  • 1.1 Dr Jim Salinger (NIWA); Ministry for the Environment; Ministry of Science, Research and Technology.

  • 1.2 Land Information New Zealand; National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd (NIWA); New Zealand Speleological Society.

  • 1.3 Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Ltd.

  • 1.4 Department of Conservation.

  • 1.5 Industrial Research Ltd.

Statistics New Zealand divisional manager responsible: Zane Colville.

Further information


Trotter M, and McCulloch B (1996). Digging up the Past: New Zealand's archaeological history, rev edition, Penguin, Auckland.


Climate Change Impacts on New Zealand (2001). Ministry for the Environment, Wellington.

Sturman A, and Tapper N (1996). The Weather and Climate of Australia and New Zealand, Oxford University Press, Auckland.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd (NIWA) operates an extensive climatological database and publishes the Monthly Climate Digest, as well as regional climatologies, maps and other publications.


McKinnon M (ed) (1997). Bateman New Zealand Historical Atlas: Ko Papatūānuku e takoto nei, Bateman, in association with historical branch, Department of Internal Affairs, Auckland.

Wards I (1976). New Zealand Atlas, Government Printer, Wellington.

Terralink International Ltd publishes topographical maps of New Zealand.


Aitken JJ, and Lowry MA (1995). More Earthquakes Explained, Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, Wellington.

Aitken JJ (1996). Plate Tectonics for Curious Kiwis, Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, Wellington.

Brazier R, Keyes I, and Stevens G (1990). The Great New Zealand Fossil Book: Pictures of ancient life in an evolving land, Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, Wellington.

Forsyth PJ, and Aitken JJ (1995). New Zealand Minerals and Rocks for Beginners, Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, Wellington.

Gregory J (1988). Ruamoko's Heritage: Volcanoes of New Zealand (video and kit), Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, Wellington.

Hayward, BW (1996). Precious Land: Protecting New Zealand's landforms and geological features, Geological Society of New Zealand, Lower Hutt.

Hicks G, and Campbell H (eds) (1998). Awesome Forces: The natural hazards that threaten New Zealand, Te Papa Press in association with the Earthquake Commission and the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, Wellington.

Thompson B, Brathwaite B, and Christie T (1995). Mineral Wealth of New Zealand, Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, Wellington.

The Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences publishes geological and geophysical maps covering all New Zealand, plus bulletins, reports, guidebooks and handbooks.

Vegetation and wildlife

Bishop N, and Gaskin C (1992). Natural History of New Zealand, Hodder and Stoughton, Auckland.

Dawson J (1988). Forest Vines to Snow Tussocks: The story of New Zealand plants, Victoria University Press, Wellington.

Heather BD, and Robertson HA (1996). The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand, Viking, Auckland.

King CM (1984). Immigrant Killers: Introduced predators and the conservation of birds in New Zealand, Oxford University Press, Auckland.

Meads M (1990). Forgotten Fauna, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Wellington.

Molloy L, and Cubitt G (1994). Wild New Zealand, New Holland, London.

Salmon JT (1998). The Native Trees of New Zealand, 2 vol, Reed, Auckland.

Salmon JT (1992). A Field Guide to the Alpine Plants of New Zealand, 3rd edition, Godwit,

Websites – Department of Conservation – Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Ltd – Land Information New Zealand – Metservice – National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd – Terralink International Ltd

Chapter 2. History

An artist's impression of the arrival of settlers at Port Nicholson, 1840.

A brief history of New Zealand

The Māori world

The Polynesian ancestors of the Māori (meaning ‘ordinary’) people settled the main New Zealand islands (Aotearoa) about 1,000 years ago. They arrived – whether initially by accident or design is unclear – in waka (canoes) blown across the subtropics by prevailing north-east winds.

The settlers soon lost contact with their home islands and were forced to adapt to Aotearoa's more challenging physical environment. Annual cultivation of kumara (sweet potatoes) – a perennial crop in the tropics – was possible in the north through the underground winter storage of tubers. Birds, fish and small animals were caught and the resources of forest and ocean gathered. The large moa (flightless birds similar to emu), which were numerous in Te Wai Pounamu (the South Island), were eventually hunted to extinction. Fires lit to flush them out removed much of the forest east of the Southern Alps and climatic changes made horticulture more difficult. Southern Māori increasingly lived in small hunter/gatherer groups and migrated seasonally to harvest resources.

Māori lived in groups of varying size that traced their descent from a common ancestor. Whānau (extended families of 10 to 30 people) were linked in hapū (subtribes), several of which made up an iwi. These distinctions were fluid: large whānau became hapū, and large hapū came to be seen as iwi, while other groups declined in status. Iwi said to have arrived on the same migratory canoe were linked in loose confederations.

All aspects of Māori life were interrelated, with economic and social activities carried out on behalf of the whole community. While land belonged to large groups, smaller groups had rights to use specific areas and resources. Families were headed by kaumātua (elders) and communities by rangatira (chiefs), whose persons and possessions were tapu (spiritually protected). Tapu also safeguarded cultivations and urupā (burial grounds) and helped maintain social order. Tapu was regulated by tohunga (experts), who mediated spiritual forces, retained tribal history and knowledge, and had expertise in carving, tattooing and canoe-building.

Tribal groups interacted through both trade and warfare. Regional products such as pounamu (jade) and tītī (shearwaters or petrels, known as ‘muttonbirds’) were often transported long distances for bartering. Information was also exchanged among tribes. Travel was by waka, or on foot along beaches, riverbeds and ridges. There were footpaths in more densely populated areas and tracks through forests.

One consequence of the slowness of travel was that even large iwi were unable to permanently conquer extensive areas. Instead, low-level warfare became endemic. Competition for mana (status) was complemented by competition for increasingly scarce land and resources. The concept of utu (reciprocity) generally ensured that at least one party to a dispute felt justified in maintaining it. Fighting usually occurred seasonally to fit in with cycles of subsistence. Most taua (raiding parties) made small-scale attacks, which caused few casualties. Sometimes, however, iwi were displaced into less desirable areas by military defeat or economic pressures. But many regions were occupied by the same descent group for long periods.

By the late 18th century, the Māori population was about 100,000. Most now lived in the north of Te Ika a Māui (the North Island), where pressure for land and other resources had become intense. Here communities became larger, with many pā (fortified settlements) sited on hilltops and protected by ditches and palisades. Hunting and trapping had declined as population density increased; fish and shellfish now complemented crops. Some iwi now numbered many thousands. Te Wai Pounamu remained sparsely populated.

Māori were generally relatively tall and sturdy, free from infectious diseases, adequately fed, and unlikely to die violently. Because of the dangers of childbirth, infant mortality and dietrelated dental problems, Māori life expectancy was about 30 years. This was similar to that of Europeans in the 17th century.

Te ao hou: The new world

The first Europeans to reach Aotearoa were probably Abel Tasman's Dutch East India Company expedition in 1642. After four men were killed by local Māori when a landing was attempted in Golden Bay, Tasman sailed up the west coast of Te Ika a Māui without finding the ‘treasures or matters of great profit’ he sought. While this experience discouraged other Europeans from following in his wake, the name of a Dutch province (Zeeland) was given to a jagged line on maps of the Pacific.

In 1769, two European expeditions visited Aotearoa. That of Frenchman Jean de Surville ill-treated Māori, provoking retaliation against later visitors. The arrival two months earlier of the English explorer James Cook, on a voyage with both scientific and economic goals, had enduring consequences. Cook's mostly peaceful interactions with ‘noble savages’ excited imaginations in Europe, and his discovery of Aotearoa's natural resources ensured it would not again be forgotten there.

Cook led two further expeditions which visited Aotearoa in the course of systematic exploration of the South Pacific. Following establishment of a penal colony at Sydney in 1788, New Zealand became an economic offshoot of New South Wales. Whaling and shore-based sealing began in the 1790s. Flax, timber, potatoes and pigs were being traded with visiting ships by the 1800s and Māori soon found they could barter this produce for firearms.

Muskets revolutionised Māori warfare. Fired in sufficient numbers, they generated enough terror to enable enemies who lacked them to be routed by traditional means. Unprecedently large and wide ranging Ngā Puhi taua settled old scores and generated new grievances across Te Ika a Māui during the 1820s. Other iwi exploited temporary leads in local arms races, in some cases using sailing ships to launch surprise attacks. Thousands were killed or enslaved, and tens of thousands displaced, provoking enduring disputes about land rights. By 1840, the ‘Musket Wars’ had subsided into an uneasy balance of terror.

Regular contact with Europeans had other negative consequences. Desired products could be purchased only through debilitating labour, often in unhealthy environments. Māori were vulnerable to infectious diseases, from which many died from the 1790s. The Māori population was halved during the 19th century.

Māori social structures were also disrupted. Mana became linked to the acquisition of European goods and the Pākehā (Europeans) who provided access to them. In the early 19th century, these were mostly whalers in the South Island – where communities soon included ‘half-caste’ children – and missionaries in the North Island. Māori initially resisted Christianity, but embraced the skills through which it was communicated – reading and writing. Literate slaves acquired status, while the mana of illiterate chiefs fell. Knowledge, previously held in common or tied to specific roles, could now be possessed and communicated by anyone.

Contact with the outside world also benefited Māori. Introduced animals and crops enabled improved diets. Knowledge gained through social interaction and literacy was supplemented by Māori who travelled the world as ships’ crew. Māori gradually developed some resistance to European diseases, and Pākehā settlers remained relatively few – 1,000 to 2,000 by 1839.

From 1840, however, when the British sovereignty first proclaimed by Cook was reasserted, Māori control over Aotearoa was threatened. Humanitarian concerns in Britain were assuaged by the signing of an agreement with some 500 chiefs. The differing and contested meanings in Māori and English of this Treaty of Waitangi clouded subsequent inter-racial relations. Māori ceded kāwanatanga (a word derived from ‘governorship’, but rendered as ‘sovereignty’ in the English text) to the British Crown, in exchange for rights as British subjects. They retained their taonga (‘treasured possessions’, including land, forests and fisheries) and could sell land only to the Crown. Māori accepted that the Crown's local representatives would have jurisdiction over immigrants who were arriving in increasing numbers, but the extent of their authority over Māori remained unclear.

Three main waves of settlers arrived in the next half-century. In the first, five separate ‘colonies’ were planted around the coast by 1850 under the auspices of the privately-owned New Zealand Company. A sixth was the most important: Auckland became the seat of government in 1841. These ‘mere encampments on the fringes of Polynesia’ existed on Māori terms. Several were saved from starvation in their first years by food grown by Māori. Communication between them was by ship and irregular – most had more frequent contact with Sydney than with each other.

Captain James Cook.

Racial tolerance was soon strained. The New Zealand Company had purchased land hastily and with scant regard for actual ownership. Māori increasingly resisted further sales –- especially at the low prices offered – of land which immigrants arrived expecting to occupy. Rumoured and actual wars in the 1840s were followed by a largely effective boycott of land sales from 1854. Māori remained a majority for whom the decisions of the new elected General Assembly were largely irrelevant.

Governor George Grey had bought land and created institutions to assimilate Māori into British ways during his first term (1845–53). On his return in 1861, he employed more direct methods of establishing control. A war over land in Taranaki in 1860 had ended in stalemate. Grey decided to challenge the Kīngitanga (Māori sovereignty) movement in its Waikato heartland. An 18,000-strong army fought its way up the Waikato River in 1863–64 against strong resistance. War spread to Tauranga and both coasts of the North Island as messianic Pai Marire and Ringatū movements, which promised to expel the Pākehā, flourished. The strongest threat was posed by Titokowaru, who won several battles in southern Taranaki in 1868 before internal dissension lost him his army. With the flight of guerrilla leader Te Kooti to the ‘King's country’ in 1872, armed Māori resistance to British authority ended. The land of ‘rebels’ was confiscated, and much land belonging to ‘loyal’ Māori was also soon lost under a Native Land Court system which imposed individualised titles.

The second wave of immigration had begun in 1861 after the discovery of gold in Central Otago. Thousands of miners poured into Otago and Westland, swamping the ‘old identities’ of the carefully-planned Otago and Canterbury settlements. From 1865, Chinese miners – the colony's first significant non-European immigrants – were brought in to rework the tailings.

The third influx of migrants, in the 1870s, was instigated by New Zealand's first ‘Think Big’ government, which provided assisted passages. Land opened for settlement by the wars required deforestation and conversion to farmland. The process was aided by railways, which linked the main South Island towns in the 1870s, and those of the southern North Island by the early 1880s. Improved communications encouraged the abolition of separate provincial governments in 1876.

The end of Māori autonomy was symbolised by the advance of a railway through the King Country in the 1880s. Because of difficult terrain, the Auckland–Wellington line was not completed until 1908. Dunedin and Auckland were now two days travel apart, compared with two weeks 40 years earlier. As use of telephones also increased – there were 33,000 by 1910 – New Zealand became more meaningfully a single country. From 1876, information that took up to 10 weeks to convey by letter could be transmitted to Britain instantaneously by undersea telegraph cable.

From the 1890s, refrigeration transformed New Zealand farming. Much of Waikato and Taranaki was soon covered by small family-run dairy farms producing milk, and butter and cheese for export to Britain. Large runs in drier eastern areas had been growing wool for export since the 1850s; sheepmeat now also became a major export commodity. Coal steadily supplanted gold as the most important extracted mineral.

Chinese gold miner with cradle, Central Otago.

Politics, too, was transformed in the 1890s, when the ‘Continuous Ministry’ of runholders and businessmen was replaced by a Liberal government supported by small farmers and the skilled workers of the growing and increasingly industrialised towns. New Zealand became the first country to grant women the vote in 1893. By 1900, when the Māori population had fallen to 46,000, the 750,000 Pākehā were evenly divided between the North and South islands.

The Liberals placed ‘ordinary working men’ and their families on farms – which promised them physical and mental health, and prosperity – by buying and subdividing large estates, and by acquiring much of the remaining Māori-owned land. Concern for the welfare of ageing ‘pioneers’ encouraged the introduction of old-age pensions for the ‘deserving poor’ in 1898; they were to be joined in the next 40 years by other worthy but narrowly defined groups, including war veterans and widows. Job security of urban workers was improved by provisions for the compulsory arbitration of employment disputes and regulation of wages.

The 20th century

Around 1900, Pākehā New Zealanders underlined their new sense of identity by rejecting an offer to join the new Australian federation, and accepting a change of status from ‘colony’ to ‘dominion’. They also seized a chance to prove themselves ‘better Britons’ by fighting Boers in South Africa. Living far from centres of culture and knowledge, ‘Maorilanders’ were proud of their adaptability and resourcefulness. Most of their innovations, such as mechanising the separation of cream from milk, were motivated by pragmatism. The imagination of the South Canterbury farmer Richard Pearse, who probably flew before the Wright brothers, was exceptional.

The Liberal coalition began to unravel in the 1900s as the interests of small farmers and urban workers diverged. Farmers joined forces with urban employers in a Reform Party, while militant workers withdrew from the arbitration system and the ‘Liberal–Labour’ alliance. Social tensions came to a head in 1912–13, when Reform replaced the Liberals in power and crushed strikes led by a ‘red’ Federation of Labour. As in other settler societies, class war seemed imminent. But the threat had subsided by the time World War I broke out in mid-1914.

One hundred thousand New Zealanders served in the Great War alongside British forces. One in six were killed, many more came home as invalids, and another 8,000 to 9,000 New Zealanders died at the end of the war in the ‘Spanish flu’ pandemic. As their soldiers fought with distinction on Gallipoli, in Palestine and on the Western Front, New Zealanders’ sense of identity within the Empire grew.

Still tied to Britain economically, New Zealand was buffeted by volatile commodity prices in the 1920s. Working-class aspirations now found political expression in the Labour Party, while Reform continued the tradition of activist government by creating producer boards to coordinate exports, and building a countrywide hydroelectric system. A conservative coalition failed to cope effectively with the Great Depression, and Labour won office in 1935.

Labour introduced a minimum wage, a 40-hour working week, compulsory unionism, a substantial state housing programme, and a comprehensive system of social security, which provided a safety net ‘from the cradle to the grave’. Labour also articulated an independent foreign policy. But this had limits: a balance of payments crisis in 1938 necessitated import and financial controls which had the advantage of stimulating local industries.

New Zealand casualties in World War II were similar to those in World War I. While New Zealanders fought in North Africa and Europe, the country was garrisoned by United States forces training for the Pacific war. They made a substantial impression, not least on women. Aided by radio, the cinema and, later, television, the American invasion broadened New Zealanders’ cultural horizons.

During World War II, Labour ‘manpowered’ both sexes and took control of the country's resources. Māori supported the war with unparalleled unanimity. A Māori Battalion was raised on tribal lines and a Māori War Effort Organisation coordinated civilian contributions. For the first time, Māori migrated to the cities in significant numbers, a trend which was to continue until the 1980s, when manufacturing employment plummeted and rural life seemed more attractive. Successive governments worked to assimilate Māori into mainstream New Zealand life.

Young people were a higher proportion of the population in the ‘baby-boom’ years after 1945. Growing up with British and American music, fashions and television programmes, they chafed at the modest expectations of their parents. There were jobs, homes, education and health care for all, although some consumer goods remained scarce. Family life in the suburbs, which transformed areas such as West Auckland and Wellington's Hutt Valley, was both satisfying and stultifying. Wider choices did become available: the contraceptive pill and recreational drugs brought new freedoms, experiences and dangers in the 1960s. The need to enlarge the paid workforce widened opportunities for women, and low-cost tertiary education expanded those of many working-class teenagers.

National held power for most of the second half of the century. Until 1975, the terms of trade for New Zealand's primary exports (wool, meat, dairy products, timber) were high, and so was the standard of living. Local manufacturing industries protected from foreign competition expanded further. After the energy crises of the 1970s, the terms of trade turned against most primary products and full employment disappeared. From the late 1970s, National attempted to increase New Zealand's energy self-sufficiency while subsidising farming incomes. Both policies largely failed, expensively.

The 1984–90 Labour government, and its National successor, challenged much that New Zealanders took for granted. Many government activities were corporatised and then privatised. Some fared poorly in private ownership – in 2001, the national airline and part of the railway system reverted to state control. Public education and health care, the social welfare system, and employees’ rights were all constrained. The removal of most restrictions on economic activity encouraged both entrepreneurship and cultural diversity; the physical environment was more strongly protected; and New Zealand remained nuclear-free and robustly independent in foreign policy. Urban culture thrived as society was deregulated, and an influx of Pacific Islands and East Asian immigrants increased New Zealand's ethnic diversity.

A Labour-led coalition government took office in 1999, promising to maintain these benefits while reasserting the role of the state. Its greatest challenge lay in Māori-Pākehā relations. Having suffered disproportionately when full employment ended, Māori continued to fall behind in education, health and other social indicators. Māori confronted the dominant culture directly from 1975, when a march reiterating land grievances generated much support. A statutory tribunal was established in the same year to investigate breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi. Others saw cultural renaissance as the key to empowerment: schools in which only Māori was spoken, and Māori-language radio stations, sprang up from 1981.

In the 1990s, the government negotiated settlements of up to $170 million with individual iwi, and Māori entrepreneurship flourished. But many Māori want a bigger share of national wealth. Occupations of land whose ownership is disputed have continued, as have actions such as disrupting the sale of artefacts. Māori increasingly assert rights to intellectual property under international law. Many argue that the Treaty of Waitangi requires the equal sharing of power between Māori and Pākehā; some, that Māori sovereignty over Aotearoa has never been extinguished. Most New Zealanders, however, assume that all citizens have equal political rights, an attitude reinforced by the introduction of an electoral system based on proportional representation. This debate seems likely to continue.

David Green, History Group, Ministry for Culture and Heritage

World War I troops leaving from Lyttelton.

Chronology of New Zealand events

c1300Archaeological evidence indicates Polynesian settlement established by this date.
1642Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman discovers a land he calls Staten Landt, later named Nieuw Zeeland.
1769British explorer James Cook makes first of three visits to New Zealand, taking possession of the country in the name of King George III.
1790sSealing, deep-sea whaling, flax and timber trading begins, with some small temporary settlements. First severe introduced epidemic among Māori population.
1791First visit by a whaling vessel, the William and Ann, to Doubtless Bay.
1806First Pākehā women arrive in New Zealand.
1814British missionary Samuel Marsden makes first visit to New Zealand. Anglican mission station established. Sheep, cattle, horses and poultry introduced.
1815First Pākehā child, Thomas Holloway King, born in New Zealand.
1819Raids on Taranaki and Te Whanganui-a-Tara regions by Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Toa people led by chiefs Patuone, Nene, Moetara, Tuwhare and Te Rauparaha.
1820Hongi Hika, Ngā Puhi chief, visits England, meets King George IV and secures supply of muskets.
1821Musket wars begin with raids by Hongi Hika and Te Morenga on southern iwi and continue throughout the decade.
1822Ngāti Toa migration south to Cook Strait region, led by Te Rauparaha, begins.
1823Wesleyan Missionary Society mission established. First Church of England marriage between Pākehā and Māori: Phillip Tapsell and Maria Ringa.
1824Te Heke Niho-Puta migration of Taranaki iwi to the Kapiti Coast. Rawiri Taiwhanga in Bay of Islands sells dairy produce and other food supplies to visiting ships.
1827Te Rauparaha's invasion of the South Island from Kapiti begins.
1830First acorn planted at Waimate North where agricultural mission and school established.
1831Whaling stations established at Tory Channel and Preservation Inlet.
1833James Busby, appointed British Resident in New Zealand, arrives at the Bay of Islands.
1834United Tribes’ flag adopted by some 25 northern chiefs at Busby's suggestion.
1835Declaration of Independence by the ‘United Tribes of New Zealand’ signed by 34 northern chiefs.
1837New Zealand Association formed in London, becoming the New Zealand Colonisation Society in 1838 and the New Zealand Company in 1839, under the inspiration of Edward Gibbon Wakefield. William Colenso completes printing the New Testament in Māori, the first book printed in New Zealand.
1838Bishop Pompallier founds Roman Catholic Mission at Hokianga.
1839William Hobson instructed to establish British rule in New Zealand, as a dependency of New South Wales. Colonel William Wakefield of the New Zealand Company arrives on the Tory to purchase land for a settlement.

Reverend Samuel Marsden, died 1838.

1840Treaty of Waitangi signed at Bay of Islands and later over most of the country. British sovereignty proclaimed. Hobson becomes first governor and sets up executive and legislative councils. New Zealand Company settlers arrive at Port Nicholson, Wellington. French settlers land at Akaroa.
1841European settlements established at New Plymouth and Wanganui. Capital shifted from Russell to Auckland.
1842Main body of settlers arrive at Nelson.
1843Twenty-two European settlers and four Māori killed at a confrontation at Tua Marina, near Wairau, in Marlborough. Robert FitzRoy becomes governor.
1844Hone Heke begins the ‘War in the North’. New Zealand Company suspends colonising operations due to financial difficulties.
1845George Grey becomes governor.
1846War in the north ends with capture of Ruapekapeka. First New Zealand Constitution Act passed. Heaphy, Fox and Brunner begin exploring the West Coast. First steam vessel, HMS Driver, arrives in New Zealand waters.

Hongi Hika, 1823.

1848Settlement founded by Scottish Otago Association. Provinces of New Ulster and New Munster established. Coal discovered at Brunner on the West Coast. Earthquake centred in Marlborough damages most Wellington buildings.
1850Canterbury settlement founded.
1852Second New Zealand Constitution Act passed creating general assembly and six provinces with representative government.
1853Idea of a Māori King canvassed by Tamihana Te Rauparaha and Matene Te Whiwhi.
1854First session of general assembly opens in Auckland.
1855Governor Thomas Gore Browne, appointed in 1854, arrives. Severe earthquake on both sides of Cook Strait.
1856Henry Sewell forms first ministry under responsible government and becomes first premier. Edward Stafford forms first stable ministry.
1858New Provinces Act passed. Te Whero-whero installed as first Māori King, taking name Potatau I.
1859First session of new Hawke's Bay and Marlborough provincial councils. Gold discovered in Buller River. New Zealand Insurance Company established.
1860Waitara dispute develops into general warfare in Taranaki.
1861Grey begins second governorship. Gold discovered at Gabriel's Gully; Otago goldrushes begin. First session of Southland provincial council. Bank of New Zealand incorporated at Auckland.
1862First electric telegraph line opens – from Christchurch to Lyttelton. First gold shipment from Dunedin to London.
1863War resumes in Taranaki and begins in Waikato when General Cameron crosses the Mangatawhiri stream. New Zealand Settlements Act passed to effect land confiscation. First steam railway in New Zealand opened.
1864War in the Waikato ends after battle of Orakau. Land in Waikato, Taranaki, Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay confiscated. Gold discovered in Marlborough and Westland. Arthur, George and Edward Dobson are the first Pākehā to cross what becomes known as Arthur's Pass.
1865Seat of government transferred from Auckland to Wellington. Native Land Court established. Māori resistance continues. Auckland streets lit by gas for first time.
1866Cook Strait submarine telegraph cable laid. Christchurch to Hokitika road opens. Cobb and Co coaches run from Canterbury to the West Coast.
1867Thames goldfield opens. Four Māori seats established in parliament. Lyttelton railway tunnel completed. Armed constabulary established.
1868Māori resistance continues through campaigns of Te Kooti Arikirangi and Titokowaru. New Zealand's first sheep breed, the Corriedale, developed.

The Dunedin carried New Zealand's first exports of frozen meat to Britain in 1882..

1869New Zealand's first university, the University of Otago, established.
1870The last imperial forces leave New Zealand. Vogel's public works and immigration policy begins. New Zealand University Act passed, establishing a federal system which lasts until 1961. Vogel announces national railway construction programme; more than 1,000 miles constructed by 1879. First rugby match. Auckland to San Francisco mail service begins.
1871Deer released in Otago.
1872Te Kooti retreats to the King Country and Māori armed resistance ceases. Telegraph communication links Auckland, Wellington and southern provinces.
1873New Zealand Shipping Company established.
1874First New Zealand steam engine built at Invercargill.
1876Abolition of the provinces and establishment of local government by counties and boroughs. New Zealand–Australia telegraph cable established.
1877Education Act passed, establishing national system of primary education.
1878Completion of Christchurch–Invercargill railway.
1879Triennial Parliaments Act passed. Vote is given to every male aged 21 and over. Kaitangata mine explosion; 34 people die. Annual property tax introduced.
1881Parihaka community forcibly broken up by troops. Te Whiti, Tohu Kakahi and followers arrested and imprisoned. Wreck of SS Tararua; 131 people die. Auckland and Christchurch telephone exchanges open.
1882First shipment of frozen meat leaves Port Chalmers for England on the Dunedin.
1883Te Kooti pardoned, Te Whiti and other prisoners released. Direct steamer link established between New Zealand and Britain.
1884King Tawhiao visits England with petition to the Queen and is refused access. First overseas tour by a New Zealand rugby team, to New South Wales. Construction of King Country section of North Island main trunk railway begins.
1886Mt Tarawera erupts and Pink and White Terraces destroyed; 153 people die. Oil discovered in Taranaki.
1887New Zealand's first national park, Tongariro, is presented to the nation by Te Heuheu Tukino IV. Reefton becomes first town to have electricity. First inland parcel post service.
1888Birth of writer Katherine Mansfield.
1889Abolition of non-residential or property qualification to vote. First New Zealand-built locomotive completed at Addington.
1890Maritime strike involves 8,000 unionists. ‘Sweating’ Commission reports on employment conditions. First election on a one-man one-vote basis.
1891John McKenzie introduces the first of a series of measures to promote closer land settlement. John Ballance becomes premier of first Liberal government.
1892First Kotahitanga Māori parliament meets.
1893Franchise extended to women. John Ballance dies and is succeeded by Richard John Seddon. Liquor licensing poll introduced. Elizabeth Yates becomes first woman mayor, of Onehunga. Banknotes become legal tender.
1894Compulsory arbitration of industrial disputes and reform of employment laws. Advances to Settlers Act. Clark, Fyfe and Graham become the first people to climb Mt Cook.
1896National Council of Women founded. Brunner mine explosion; 67 people killed. Census measures national population as 743,214.
1897First of series of colonial and later imperial conferences in London.
1898Old Age Pensions Act. First cars imported to New Zealand.
1899New Zealand army contingent sent to South African war. First celebration of Labour Day.
1900Māori Councils Act passed. Public Health Act passed setting up Department of Public Health in 1901.
1901Cook and other Pacific Islands annexed. Penny postage first used.
1902Pacific cable begins operating between New Zealand, Australia and Fiji.
1903Richard Pearse achieves semicontrolled flight near Timaru.
1905New Zealand rugby team tours Britain and becomes known as the All Blacks.
1906Seddon dies and is succeeded by Joseph Ward as premier.
1907New Zealand constituted as a dominion. Fire destroys parliament buildings.
1908Auckland to Wellington main trunk railway line opens. Ernest Rutherford awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry. New Zealand's population reaches 1 million.
1909‘Red’ Federation of Labour formed. SS Penguin wrecked in Cook Strait; 75 people die. Compulsory military training introduced. Stamp-vending machine invented and manufactured in New Zealand.
1912William Massey wins vote in the house and becomes first Reform Party prime minister. Waihi miners strike.
1913Waterfront strikes in Auckland and Wellington.
1914World War I begins and German Samoa occupied. New Zealand Expeditionary Forces despatched to Egypt. Huntly coal mine disaster; 43 people die.
1915New Zealand forces take part in Gallipoli campaign. Reform and Liberal parties form National War Cabinet. Britain announces its intention to purchase all New Zealand meat exports during war.
1916New Zealand troops transfer to Western Front. Conscription introduced. Labour Party formed. Lake Coleridge electricity supply scheme opened.
1917Battle of Passchendaele – about 1,000 New Zealanders die. Six o’clock public house closing introduced.
1918New Zealand division on Western Front. End of World War I. Influenza epidemic in which an estimated 8,500 die. Creation of power boards for electricity distribution. Prohibition petition with 242,001 signatures presented to parliament.
1919Women eligible for election to parliament. Massey signs Treaty of Versailles. First official airmail flight from Auckland to Dargaville.
1920Anzac Day established. New Zealand gets League of Nations mandate to govern Western Samoa. First aeroplane flight across Cook Strait.
1921New Zealand division of Royal Navy established.
1922Meat producers’ board placed in control of meat exports.
1923Otira tunnel opens. Ross Dependency proclaimed. Death of Katherine Mansfield.
1926National public broadcasting begins under auspices of Radio Broadcasting Co Ltd.
1928General election won by new United Party. Kingsford-Smith completes first trans-Tasman flight.
1929Depression deepens. Severe earthquake in Murchison–Karamea district; 17 people die. First health stamps issued.
1930Unemployment Board set up to provide relief work.
1931Newly formed Coalition government under George Forbes wins general election. Hawke's Bay earthquake; 256 die. Substantial percentage reductions in public service wages and salaries. Airmail postage stamps introduced.
1932Compulsory arbitration of industrial disputes abolished. Unemployed riot in Auckland, Dunedin and Christchurch. Reductions in old age and other pensions.
1933Elizabeth McCombs becomes first woman MP. Distinctive New Zealand coins first issued.
1934Reserve Bank and Mortgage Corporation established. First trans-Tasman airmail.
1935First Labour government elected under Michael Joseph Savage. Air services begin across Cook Strait.
1936Reserve Bank taken over by state. State housing programme launched. Guaranteed prices for dairy products introduced. National Party formed from former Coalition MPs. Inter-island trunk air services introduced. Jack Lovelock wins Olympic gold medal. Jean Batten's record flight from England. Standard working week reduced from 44 to 40 hours for many workers.
1937Federation of Labour unifies trade union movement. RNZAF set up as separate branch of armed forces.
1938Social Security Act establishes revised pensions structure and the basis of a national health service. Import and exchange controls introduced.
1939World War II begins. Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force formed. Bulk purchases of farm products by Great Britain. HMS Achilles takes part in Battle of the River Plate.

Early railway construction, by pick and shovel.

1940Michael Joseph Savage dies and is succeeded by Peter Fraser. Sidney Holland becomes leader of opposition. Conscription for military service. German mines laid across Hauraki Gulf.
1941Japan enters the war. Māori War Effort Organisation set up. Pharmaceutical and general practitioner medical benefits introduced.
1942Economic stabilisation. New Zealand troops in Battle of El Alamein. Food rationing introduced. Mobilisation of women for essential work.
1943New Zealand troops take part in invasion of Italy.
1944Australia–New Zealand Agreement provides for cooperation in the South Pacific.
1945War in Europe ends on 8 May and in the Pacific on 15 August. New Zealand signs United Nations charter. Māori Social and Economic Advancement Act passed. National Airways Corporation founded.
1946Family benefit of £1 a week becomes universal. Bank of New Zealand nationalised.
1947Statute of Westminster adopted by New Zealand parliament. First public performance by National Orchestra. Mabel Howard becomes first woman cabinet minister. Fire in Ballantyne's department store, Christchurch; 41 people die.
1948Protest campaign against exclusion of Māori players from 1949 rugby tour of South Africa. Polio epidemic closes schools. Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe erupt. Meat rationing ends.
1949Referendum agrees to compulsory military training. National government elected. New Zealand gets first four navy frigates.
1950Naval and ground forces sent to Korean War. Legislative Council abolished. Wool boom. Empire Games held in Auckland.
1951Prolonged waterfront dispute – state of emergency proclaimed. ANZUS Treaty signed between United States, Australia and New Zealand. Māori Women's Welfare League established.
1952Population passes 2 million.
1953First tour by a reigning monarch. Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing Norgay first to climb Mt Everest. Railway disaster at Tangiwai; 151 people die. World sheep-shearing record set by Godfrey Bowen.
1954New Zealand signs South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty. New Zealand gains seat on United Nations Security Council. Social Credit gets 10 percent of vote in general election, but no seat in parliament.
1955Pulp and paper mill opens at Kawerau. Rimutaka rail tunnel opens.
1956New Zealand troops deployed in Malaya. Roxburgh and Whakamaru power stations in operation.
1957National loses election; Walter Nash leads second Labour government. Last hanging. Scott Base established in Ross Dependency. Court of Appeal constituted. Dairy products gain 10 years of unrestricted access to Britain.
1958PAYE tax introduced. Arnold Nord-meyer's ‘Black Budget’. First geothermal electricity generated at Wairakei. First heart-lung machine used at Greenlane Hospital, Auckland.

Jack Lovelock, Olympic gold medallist 1936.

1959Antarctic Treaty signed with other countries involved in scientific exploration in Antarctica. Auckland harbour bridge opened.
1960Regular television programmes begin in Auckland. National government elected. Government Service Equal Pay Act passed.
1961New Zealand joins the International Monetary Fund. Capital punishment abolished.
1962Western Samoa becomes independent. Sir Guy Powles becomes first ombudsman. New Zealand Māori Council established. Cook Strait rail ferry service begins. Taranaki gas well opens. Peter Snell establishes mile and half-mile world athletic records.
1964Marsden Point oil refinery opens near Whangarei. Cook Strait power cables laid. Auckland's population reaches half a million.
1965Free trade (NAFTA) agreement negotiated with Australia. Government support for United States in Vietnam. New Zealand combat forces sent to Vietnam amid public protests. Cook Islands becomes self-governing.
1966International airport officially opens at Auckland. New Zealand labour force reaches 1 million. Te Ata-i-rangi-kaahu becomes first Māori Queen.
1967Referendum extends hotel closing hours to 10pm. Decimal currency introduced. Lord Arthur Porritt becomes first New Zealand-born governor-general. Breath and blood tests introduced for suspected drinking drivers.
1968Inter-island ferry Wahine sinks in storm in Wellington Harbour; 51 people die. Three die in Inangahua earthquake.
1969Vote extended to 20-year-olds. National government wins fourth election in a row. First output from Glenbrook Steel Mill.
1970Natural gas from Kapuni supplied to Auckland.
1971New Zealand secures continued access of butter and cheese to the United Kingdom. Ngā Tamatoa protest at Waitangi celebrations. Tiwai Point aluminium smelter begins operating. Warkworth satellite communications station begins operation.
1972Labour government led by Norman Kirk elected. Equal Pay Act passed.
1973Great Britain becomes a member of the EEC. Naval frigate despatched in protest against French nuclear testing in the Pacific. New Zealand's population reaches 3 million. Rugby tour by South Africa cancelled. Oil price hike means worst terms of trade in 30 years. Colour television introduced.
1974Prime minister Norman Kirk dies. Commonwealth Games held in Christ-church.
1975Robert Muldoon becomes prime minister after National election victory. Māori land march protests against land loss. The Waitangi Tribunal is established. Second television channel starts broadcasting.
1976Matrimonial Property Act passed. Pacific Islands overstayers deported. EEC import quotas for New Zealand butter set until 1980. Introduction of metric system of weights and measures. Subscriber toll dialling introduced.
1977National superannuation scheme begins. New Zealand's 200-mile exclusive economic zone established. Bastion Point occupied by Māori land protesters.
1978Registered unemployed reaches 25,000. National government re-elected.
1979Air New Zealand plane crashes on Mt Erebus, Antarctica; 257 people die. Carless days introduced to reduce petrol consumption.
1980Social Credit wins East Coast Bays by-election. Saturday trading partially legalised. Eighty-day strike at Kinleith pulp and paper mill.
1981South African rugby team's tour brings widespread disruption.
1982Closer Economic Relations (CER) agreement signed with Australia. First kohanga reo established. Year-long wage, price and rent freeze imposed – lasts until 1984.
1983Visit by nuclear-powered United States Navy frigate Texas sparks protests. Official Information Act replaces Official Secrecy Act. New Zealand Party founded.
1984Labour Party wins snap general election. Finance Minister Roger Douglas begins deregulating economy. New Zealand ratifies the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Te Hikoi ki Waitangi march and disruption of Waitangi Day celebrations. Auckland's population exceeds that of the South Island. Government devalues New Zealand dollar by 20 percent.
1985Anti-nuclear policy leads to refusal of visit by American warship USS Buchanan. Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior bombed and sunk by French agents in Auckland harbour. New Zealand dollar floated. Author Keri Hulme wins Booker Prize for The Bone People. First case of locally-contracted AIDS reported. Waitangi Tribunal given power to hear Māori land grievances arising since 1840.
1986Homosexual Law Reform Bill passed. Royal Commission reports in favour of MMP electoral system. Jim Bolger becomes National Party leader. Soviet cruise ship, the Mikhail Lermontov, sinks in Marlborough Sounds. Goods and Services Tax introduced. First visit to New Zealand by the Pope.
1987Share prices plummet by 59 percent in four months. Labour wins general election. Māori Language Act passed making Māori an official language. Anti-nuclear legislation enacted. First Lotto draw. New Zealand's first heart transplant performed. New Zealand wins first Rugby World Cup.
1988Number of unemployed exceeds 100,000. Bastion Point land returned to Māori ownership. Cyclone Bola strikes northern North Island. Electrification of North Island's main trunk line completed. New Zealand Post closes 432 post offices. Fisheries quota package announced for Māori iwi.
1989Prime minister David Lange suggests formal withdrawal from ANZUS. Jim Anderton founds New Labour Party. Lange resigns and Geoffrey Palmer becomes prime minister. First annual balance of payments surplus since 1973. Reserve Bank Act sets bank's role as one of maintaining price stability. First school board elections under Tomorrow's Schools reforms. First elections under revised local government structure. Sunday trading begins. Third television channel begins. Māori Fisheries Act passed.

Edmund Hillary, mountaineer.

1990New Zealand celebrates its sesqui-centennial. Māori leaders inaugurate National Congress of Tribes. Dame Catherine Tizard becomes first woman governor-general. Geoffrey Palmer resigns as prime minister and is replaced by Mike Moore. National Party has landslide victory. Jim Bolger becomes prime minister. One and two cent coins withdrawn from circulation. Commonwealth Games held in Auckland. Telecom sold for $4.25 billion. Welfare payments cut.
1991Welfare payments further reduced. Alliance Party formed. Employment Contracts Act passed. Consumers price index has lowest quarterly increase for 25 years. Number of unemployed exceeds 200,000 for first time. New Zealand troops join multi-national force in the Gulf War. An avalanche reduces the height of Mt Cook by 10.5m.
1992Government and Māori interests negotiate Sealords fisheries deal. Public health system reforms. State housing commercialised. Watties Foods is bought by American company Heinz. New Zealand gets seat on United Nations Security Council.
1993Centennial of women's suffrage celebrated. New Zealand First Party launched. National wins election without majority – Opposition MP Peter Tapsell becomes Speaker of the House, thus giving the government a majority. Referendum favours MMP electoral system.
1994Government commits 250 soldiers to peacekeeping duty in Bosnia. Government proposes $1 billion cap in plan for final settlement of Treaty of Waitangi claims. Sharemarket reaches highest level since 1987 crash. New Zealand's first casino opens in Christchurch. First fast-ferry passenger service begins operation across Cook Strait.
1995Team New Zealand wins America's Cup. Occupation of Moutua Gardens, Wanganui. Waikato Raupatu Claims Settlement Act passed. Conservative, Christian Heritage and United New Zealand political parties launched. Renewal of French nuclear tests results in New Zealand protest flotilla and navy ship Tui sailing for Mururoa Atoll. Common-wealth Heads of Government meeting in Auckland. New Zealand contingent returns from Bosnia.
1996Thirteenth National Park, Kahurangi, opens in north-west Nelson. Waitangi Tribunal recommends settlement of Taranaki land claims. First legal sports betting at TAB. A $170 million Ngāi Tahu settlement proposed. Government makes an offer to settle the Whakatāhea claim; debate continues. First MMP election brings National/New Zealand First coalition government.
1997The Winebox Inquiry concludes with a recommendation of tighter tax laws and the finding that all allegations of fraud raised in the inquiry were unable to be substantiated. The $170 million Ngāi Tahu settlement signed. Jim Bolger resigns as prime minister after a National Party coup while he is overseas. Bolger replaced by New Zealand's first woman prime minister, Jenny Shipley. Taranaki farmers drive tractors to parliament to protest passage of the Māori Reserved Land Amendment Act.
1998Auckland city businesses hit by power cut which continues for more than a month. New Zealand women's rugby team, the Black Ferns, becomes world champions. Coalition government dissolved, leaving Shipley's National Party as a minority government. Several cases of tuberculosis discovered in South Auckland in the worst outbreak for a decade. The Hikoi of Hope marches to parliament calling for more support for the poor.
1999Dame Sian Elias becomes New Zealand's first female chief justice. New Zealand sends peacekeeping troops to East Timor. Auckland hosts the APEC world leaders’ conference, attended by United States President Bill Clinton. Former prime minister Mike Moore becomes head of the World Trade Organisation. The minority National government loses the November election and Labour leader Helen Clark becomes first elected woman prime minister, in coalition with the Alliance party and with the support of the Green party. The Greens enter parliament for the first time with seven seats. Legal drinking age lowered from 20 to 18 years.
2000Air New Zealand gains ownership of Ansett Australia. Team New Zealand beats Italy's Prada 5–0 in the final series to retain the America's Cup. Labour government abolishes knighthoods from future honours lists. Auckland's One Tree Hill loses its pine after vandalism attack. Dr Alan G MacDiarmid wins Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his part in the discovery and development of conductive polymers.
2001New Zealand-born Russell Crowe wins best actor Academy Award for his performance in Gladiator. Dame Silvia Cartwright sworn in as governor-general. For the first time, the governor-general, prime minister, attorney-general, leader of the opposition and chief justice are all women. New Zealand's largest company, Fonterra, is formed from merger of the New Zealand Dairy Group and Kiwi Dairies. Qantas New Zealand and Ansett collapse. Government injects $550 million to keep Air New Zealand flying after the company announces a $1.4 billion loss – the largest in New Zealand's corporate history. Government disbands RNZAF combat wing. Shipley resigns and Bill English becomes Leader of the National Party. New Zealand-filmed and produced The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring opens to world-wide acclamation.


  • 2.1 David Green, History Group, Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

  • 2.2 Statistics New Zealand.

Statistics New Zealand divisional manager responsible: Kevin Eddy.

Further information


Bassett J, Sinclair K, and Stenson M (1985). The Story of New Zealand, Reed Methuen, Auckland.

Belich J (1996). Making Peoples: A history of the New Zealanders from Polynesian settlement to the end of the nineteenth century, Allen Lane/The Penguin Press, Auckland.

Belich J (2001). Paradise Reforged: A history of the New Zealanders from the 1880s to the year 2000, Allen Lane/The Penguin Press, Auckland.

Bohan E (1997). New Zealand: The Story So Far: A short history, HarperCollins, Auckland.

Brooking TWH, and Enright P (1988). Milestones: Turning points in New Zealand history, Mills Publications, Lower Hutt.

Cumberland K (1981). Landmarks, (video recordings), Television New Zealand, Wellington.

Dalley B (2000). Living in the 20th Century: New Zealand history in photographs, 1900–1980, Bridget Williams Books/Craig Potton Publishing, Wellington/Nelson.

Keith H (1984). New Zealand Yesterdays: A look at our recent past, Reader's Digest Services, Sydney.

McKinnon M (ed) (1997). New Zealand Historical Atlas, David Bateman in association with Historical Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, Auckland.

Rice G (ed) (1992). The Oxford History of New Zealand, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press, Auckland.

Richardson L (ed) (2000). Bateman New Zealand Encyclopedia, updated and expanded 5th (millennium) edition, David Bateman, Auckland.

Sinclair K (1998). A History of New Zealand, revised edition, Penguin, Auckland.

Sinclair K (ed) (1990). The Oxford Illustrated History of New Zealand, Oxford University Press, Auckland.

Smith P, and Callan L (1999). Our People, Our Century, 1900–2000, Hodder Moa Beckett, Auckland.


Watson J (1996). Links: A history of transport and New Zealand society, GP Publications, Wellington.

Wilson AC (1994). Wire and Wireless: A history of telecommunications in New Zealand, 1860–1987, Dunmore Press, Palmerston North.

Website – History Group, Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Chapter 3. Government

Parliament buildings and the Beehive in Molesworth Street, Wellington.


New Zealand's constitutional history can be traced back to 1840 when, by the Treaty of Waitangi, the Māori people exchanged their sovereignty for the guarantees of the treaty and New Zealand became a British colony. Five years earlier, on 28 October 1835, an assembly of the Confederation of Chiefs of the United Tribes of New Zealand had proclaimed the country independent and signed a Declaration of Independence.

New Zealand is an independent state: a monarchy with a parliamentary government. Queen Elizabeth II has the title Queen of New Zealand.

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. New Zealand's Constitution Act 1986 brings together in one act the most important statutory constitutional provisions and clarifies rules relating to the governmental handover of power. The act deals with the principal components of New Zealand's statutory constitutional provisions: the sovereign, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.

A number of United Kingdom acts (referred to as Imperial acts) remain in force as part of the law of New Zealand. Some are historic constitutional acts, such as the Magna Carta. These acts are listed and defined in the Imperial Laws Application Act 1988.

Table 3.1 lists Sovereigns of New Zealand since signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Table 3.1. Sovereigns of New Zealand


1Abdicated; reigned 325 days.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

House of Hanover
House of Saxe-Coburg
Edward VII19011910689
House of Windsor
George V191019367025
Edward VIII119361972....
George VI193619525615
Elizabeth II1952   

The Crown and the governor-general

The Governor-General of New Zealand is the representative of the Sovereign in New Zealand and exercises the royal powers derived from statute and the general law (prerogative powers). The powers of the governor-general are set out in the Letters Patent 1983 and it is for the courts to decide on the limits of these powers.

The governor-general's main constitutional function is to arrange for the leader of the majority party in parliament to form a government. The Crown is part of parliament and the governor-general's assent is required before bills can become law. The governor-general is required, however, by constitutional convention and the Letters Patent, to follow the advice of ministers. In extraordinary circumstances, the governor-general can reject advice if he or she believes a government is intending to act unconstitutionally. This is known as the reserve power.

The Sovereign appoints the governor-general on the prime minister's recommendation, normally for a term of five years.

Table 3.2 lists Lieutenant-Governors, Governors and Governors-General of New Zealand since signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

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. The government cannot act effectively without parliament, because it cannot raise or spend money without parliamentary approval. For most categories of expenditure, this approval takes the form of an annual vote of funds to the government. Parliament has to be assembled regularly, therefore, and thus has the opportunity to hold the government to account.

Electoral system

The general election in 1996 was the first held in New Zealand under the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system, where voters have a party vote and an electorate vote. Voters choose what party they want in parliament with their party vote and which person they want to represent their electorate with their electorate vote.

Table 3.2. Vice-regal representatives

Vice-regal representative1Assumed officeRetired

1Honours are specified only if held on retirement from office.

Source: Office of the Governor-General

Captain William Hobson, RN30 Jan 18403 May 1841
Crown colony
Captain William Hobson, RN3 May 184110 Sep 1842
Captain Robert FitzRoy, RN26 Dec 184317 Nov 1845
Captain George Grey18 Nov 184531 Dec 1847
Governor-in-Chief Sir George Grey, KCB1 Jan 18487 Mar 1853
Self-governing colony
Governors of New Zealand
Sir George Grey, KCB7 Mar 185331 Dec 1853
Colonel Thomas Gore Browne, CB6 Sep 18552 Oct 1861
Sir George Grey, KCB4 Dec 18615 Feb 1868
Sir George Ferguson Bowen, GCMG5 Feb 186819 Mar 1873
Rt Hon Sir James Fergusson, Bt14 Jun 18733 Dec 1874
Marquess of Normanby, GCB, GCMG, PC9 Jan 187521 Feb 1879
Sir Hercules George Robert Robinson, GCMG17 Apr 18798 Sep 1880
Hon Sir Arthur Hamilton Gordon, GCMG29 Nov 188023 Jun 1882
Lieutenant-General Sir William Francis Drummond Jervois, GCMG, CB20 Jan 188322 Mar 1889
Earl of Onslow, GCMG2 May 188924 Feb 1892
Earl of Glasgow, GCMG7 Jun 18926 Feb 1897
Earl of Ranfurly, GCMG10 Aug 189719 Jun 1904
Lord Plunket, GCMG, KCVO20 Jun 19047 Jun 1910
Lord Islington, KCMG, DSO, PC22 Jun 19102 Dec 1912
Earl of Liverpool, GCMG, MVO, PC19 Dec 191227 Jun 1917
Governors-General of New Zealand
Earl of Liverpool, GCB, GCMG, GBE, MVO, PC28 Jun 19177 Jul 1920
Admiral of the Fleet Viscount Jellicoe, GCB, OM, GCVO27 Sep 192026 Nov 1924
General Sir Charles Fergusson, BT, GCMG, KCB, DSO, MVO13 Dec 19248 Feb 1930
Viscount Bledisloe, GCMG, KBE, PC19 Mar 193015 Mar 1935
Viscount Galway, GCMG, DSO, OBE, PC12 Apr 19353 Feb 1941
Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Cyril Louis Norton Newall, GCB, OM, GCMG, CBE, AM22 Feb 194119 Apr 1946
Lieutenant-General the Lord Freyberg, VC, GCMG, KCB, KBE, DSO17 Jun 194615 Aug 1952
Lieutenant-General the Lord Norrie, GCMG, GCVO, CB, DSO, MC2 Dec 195225 Jul 1957
Viscount Cobham, GCMG, TD5 Sep 195713 Sep 1962
Brigadier Sir Bernard Fergusson, GCMG, GCVO, DSO, OBE9 Nov 196220 Oct 1967
Sir Arthur Espie Porritt, BT, GCMG, GCVO, CBE1 Dec 19677 Sep 1972
Sir (Edward) Denis Blundell, GCMG, GCVO, KBE, QSO27 Sep 19725 Oct 1977
Rt Hon Sir Keith Jacka Holyoake, KG, GCMG, CM, QSO26 Oct 197727 Oct 1980
Hon Sir David Stuart Beattie, GCMG, GCVO, QSO, QC6 Nov 198010 Nov 1985
Most Reverend Sir Paul Alfred Reeves, GCMG, GCVO, QSO20 Nov 198529 Nov 1990
Dame Catherine Tizard, GCMG, GCVO, DBE, QSO13 Dec 19903 Mar 1996
Rt Hon Sir Michael Hardie Boys, GNZM, GCMG, QSO21 Mar 199621 Mar 2001
Dame Silvia Cartwright, PCNZM, DBE4 April 2001 

Governor-General of New Zealand Dame Silvia Cartwright.

Prime Minister Helen Clark greets Green MP Nandor Tanczos during the opening session of the 46th parliament in December 1999.

For the 2002 election, New Zealand was divided geographically into 62 general electorates and seven Māori ones. There were also 51 seats for list Members of Parliament. The number of general electorates changes as the population changes. Electors vote in the electorate in which they live.

People of Māori descent can choose whether to be on the Māori or general electoral rolls. The number of Māori seats changes as the number of voters on the Māori roll changes.

The Electoral Act 1993, which sets out the way the New Zealand electoral system works, is the only statute in New Zealand with entrenched provisions. Being entrenched means that if certain changes to the act are made, for example the length of the parliamentary term, they must be passed by either 75 percent of MPs, or a majority vote in a referendum of all voters on the electoral rolls. Usually, a simple majority (51 percent) of MPs is all that is required to make changes to an act.

Parliament and the cabinet

House of Representatives

The power to make laws lies at the heart of New Zealand's parliamentary system. This power is vested in the Parliament of New Zealand by the Constitution Act 1986. Parliament consists of the Sovereign (normally represented by the governor-general) and an elected House of Representatives.

The principal functions of parliament are to enact laws, to supervise the government's administration, to vote supply, to provide a government and to redress grievances by way of petition. The act forbids the house allocating public funds for any purpose unless first recommended by the Crown. At the same time, the law forbids the Crown taxing citizens without express parliamentary approval. Private members are now able, under standing orders, to initiate proposals involving expenditure or taxation. However, the government has an absolute right to veto such proposals if in its view they would have more than a minor impact on the government's fiscal aggregates.

Perhaps the most important privilege of the house is that of freedom of speech, guaranteed by the Bill of Rights 1688 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. The session is either terminated by prorogation or, as is now usually the case, directly by dissolution of parliament. Unless there is a new session, the prime minister's statement at the start of business in the second and third years of the parliamentary term reviews public affairs and outlines the government's legislative and other policy intentions for the year ahead.

The Speaker, elected by the house, is the principal presiding officer, maintaining order in proceedings and ensuring 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.

Standing orders. The current standing orders, or rules of procedure, of the New Zealand House of Representatives came into force on 20 February 1996 in anticipation of a house elected under the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system at the general election of 1996. The background to the changes is set out in the Report of the Standing Orders Committee on the Review of Standing Orders (Parl paper I.18A, 1995). Amendments were made in August 1996 (Parl paper I.18B, 1996) and in September 1999 (Parl paper I.18B, 1999).

Role of parties. Traditionally in New Zealand it has been the role of the opposition party with the highest number of seats to present itself to the people as an alternative government, attacking government policy and attempting to demonstrate inefficiency of government or departmental mismanagement.

Under an electoral system providing majority governments, 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 New Zealand Parliament since 1928. The New Zealand House of Representatives has been characterised in the past by two large, dominant parties, with the majority party forming the government and the minority party forming the opposition.

In recent years, however, members of other parties have been elected to parliament and, from time to time, members have left one of the parties and continued to sit as independent members, or have formed new parties.

It is less likely under the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting system that any single party will command an absolute majority in the house and be able to form a government on its own account.

Current standing orders provide expressly for parties to be recognised in the house. This is reflected in various procedures, for instance in relation to voting. The principle of proportionality to party membership in the house is accorded weight, such as for participation in debate and the asking of oral questions.

Because of the importance that 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) has become a primary means of developing policies and tactics.

Table 3.3 shows seats held by political parties after general elections since 1890.

Figure 3.1 illustrates the growth in the number of women in parliament from 1933 to 1999.

Table 3.3. Seats held by political parties after general elections

ElectionTotalLiberal ConservativeLaborACTNZ FirstAllianceGreenOthersIndependent

1Country Party.


3Social Credit/Democrats.

4New Labour.

5Includes Speaker of the House.


Source: Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives

18907438 25      7
18937451 13      6
18967439 25      6
18997449 19      2
19028047 19      10
19058058 16      6
19088050 261     3
19118033 374     6
19148033 416     0
19198021 478     4
19228022 3717     4
19258011 5512     2
19288027 2719    116
193180 51 24    114
193580 19 53+22    214
193880 25 53     2
194380 34 45     1
194680 38 42      
194980 46 34      
195180 50 30      
195480 45 35      
195780 39 41      
196080 46 34      
196380 35 35      
196680 44 35    13 
196984 45 39      
197287 32 55      
19758755 32       
197892 51 40    13 
198192 47 43    23 
198495 37 56    23 
198797 40 57      
199097 67 29    14 
199399 50 455 22   
1996120 445 3781713 16 
1999120 39 499510716 

Party representation. The general election on 12 October 1996, the first under Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) representation, did not produce an outright majority of seats for either of the two main political parties, National (previously in coalition with the United New Zealand Party) or Labour. A coalition agreement was concluded between National and New Zealand First on 11 December 1996 and the new ministry was sworn in on 16 December 1996. Following termination of the coalition agreement, a National-led ministry was reconstituted on 31 August 1998. The first House of Representatives to be elected under MMP consisted of: National 44 (30 electorate, 14 party list); Labour 37 (26 electorate, 11 party list); New Zealand First 17 (6 electorate, 11 party list); Alliance 13 (1 electorate, 12 party list); Act New Zealand 8 (1 electorate, 7 party list); and United New Zealand (1 electorate). When parliament dissolved on 18 October 1999, the state of the parties recognised for parliamentary purposes was: National 44; Labour 36; Alliance 9; New Zealand First 9; ACT New Zealand 8; Mauri Pacific 5; Green Party 2; Christian Heritage 1; Mana Wahine Te Ira Tangata 1; Te Tawharau 1; United New Zealand 1; Independents 2; vacant (formerly Labour) 1.

The general election on 27 November 1999 resulted in the formation of a minority coalition government consisting of Labour and the Alliance. The new ministry was sworn in on 10 December 1999. The second House of Representatives elected under MMP consisted of: Labour 49 (41 electorate, 8 party list); National 39 (22 electorate, 17 party list); Alliance 10 (1 electorate, 9 party list); ACT New Zealand 9 party list; Green 7 (1 electorate, 6 party list); New Zealand First 5 (1 electorate, 4 party list); United New Zealand 1 electorate.

Figure 3.1. Women in parliament
At beginning of parliamentary term

Women in parliamentAt beginning of parliamentary term

Legislative procedure. The legislative procedure starts in New Zealand when proposed laws are presented to the House of Representatives in the form of draft laws known as ‘bills’. Classes of bills are:

  • Government bills, which deal with matters of public policy and which are introduced by a minister.

  • Members’ bills, which deal with matters of public policy and which are introduced by a Member of Parliament who is not a minister.

  • Local bills, which are promoted by local authorities to give them special powers or validate unlawful actions they may have taken and which affect particular localities.

  • Private bills, promoted by individuals or bodies (such as companies or trusts) for their particular interest or benefit.

All types of bills follow a similar procedure in the house, with every bill being required by standing orders of the house to be ‘read’ three times. A local bill or a private bill must also comply with prescribed preliminary procedures, which entail advertising the bill before its introduction into the house. The number of members’ bills that may be introduced and proceed at any one time to first reading is limited to four, chosen by ballot.

Under standing orders, a government bill is introduced by the Leader of the House informing the Clerk of the House on any working day, or by 1pm on a sitting day, of the government's intention to introduce the bill. A member's bill or a local bill is introduced after notice of intention to introduce it is given and the bill's introduction has been announced to the house. A private bill is introduced by presentation of a petition for the bill to the house. The bill is then set down for first reading on the third sitting day following. Debate on the first reading is limited to 12 speeches in the case of a government bill, or six speeches of 10 minutes each for other bills, with the member in charge getting a five-minute right of reply.

After its first reading, a bill is referred to a select committee of the house for consideration, unless it is an appropriation bill, an imprest supply bill, or a bill that has been accorded urgency for its passing. Private, local and members’ bills, in certain circumstances, may be introduced while the house is adjourned, deemed read a first time and referred directly to a select committee for consideration.

Select committee consideration of bills provides an opportunity for the public and interested bodies to make submissions in the expectation that better law will result. Committees also carry out scrutiny functions in relation to such matters as estimates, financial reviews and petitions. A committee must finally report to the house on a bill within six months of the bill being referred to it, unless the house extends that time. In its report recommending amendments to a bill, the committee must distinguish between those adopted unanimously by the committee and those adopted by a majority.

Following presentation of a select committee report on a bill, the report is set down for second reading on the third sitting day following. At the conclusion of debate on the report, the house decides whether to agree to the amendments recommended by the select committee by majority. The house then decides whether the bill should be read a second time. The second reading of a bill is directed to the principles and objects of the bill.

A bill to which the house gives a second reading is set down for consideration in a committee of the whole house next sitting day, unless the business committee decides that the bill does not require consideration in committee. In committee, the bill is considered clause by clause or, if so instructed, part by part.

Once a bill has been fully considered by the committee, it is reported to the house with any amendments that have been agreed to. The house having adopted the report, the bill is then set down for third reading next sitting day. Debate on the third reading is limited to 12 speeches of 10 minutes each. After a third reading has been given, a bill that has been passed by the house is forwarded to the governor-general for the Royal Assent. The bill then becomes an Act of Parliament and part of the law of New Zealand.

Sessions of parliament. The first session of the 46th New Zealand Parliament was called following the general election of 27 November 1999 and began sitting on 20 December 1999. It concluded on 18 June 2002.

Parliamentary Service: Te Ratonga Whare Pāremata

Parliamentary Service provides administrative support services to Members of Parliament and the House of Representatives and is responsible to the Speaker as Vote Minister and Chairman of the Parliamentary Service Commission.

Under the Parliamentary Service Act 2000, the commission is a policy advisory and consultative body to the Speaker. The act provides that all parties having representation in parliament will be represented on the commission. Formal voting on the commission is proportional to the number of members each party has in the House of Representatives. Representation on the commission is restricted to Members of Parliament. The Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition (or their representatives) are specified members of the commission and there are eight other members, including the Speaker as chairman.

Services provided by Parliamentary Service are:

  • Personal staff to assist Members of Parliament in the parliamentary complex and in their out-of-parliament offices.

  • Parliamentary information services, library services and computing facilities to Members of Parliament and their staff.

  • Catering services (Bellamys) for members, staff and guests.

  • Buildings operations, security, messenger, reception and visitor services within the parliamentary complex.

  • Personnel, finance and administrative services to Members of Parliament and other agencies operating within the parliamentary complex, including the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Parliamentary Counsel Office.

  • Administering determinations of the Higher Salaries Commission as they relate to salaries and allowances payable to Members of Parliament.

  • Policy advice to the Speaker and to the Parliamentary Service Commission.

Table 3.4 lists recent parliamentary sessions of the New Zealand House of Representatives.

Table 3.4. Parliamentary sessions

ParliamentPeriod of session
Source: Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives
Forty-first{15 August 1984–12 December 1985
 26 February 1986–21 July 1987
Forty-second{16 September 1987–12 December 1989
 14 February 1990–6 September 1990
Forty-third{29 November 1990–18 January 1991
 22 January 1991–30 September 1993
Forty-fourth21 December 1993–6 September 1996
Forty-fifth12 December 1996–18 October 1999
Forty-sixth20 December 1999–18 June 2002

Table 3.5 shows a summary of parliamentary proceedings by session.

Table 3.5. Summary of parliamentary proceedings


1Second session. 42nd parliament.

2First session, 43rd parliament.

3Second session, 43rd parliament.

444th parliament.

545th parliament.

Source: Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives

Sitting days561022420399
Government bills
Referred to select committees339124117152
Members’ bills
Referred to select committees4322926
Local bills
Referred to select committees525189
Private bills
Referred to select committees311117

Salaries and allowances of parliamentarians. Salaries and allowances of parliamentarians are set by the Higher Salaries Commission and are shown in table 3.6.

A constituency allowance is paid at a rate dependent on whether the member's electorate is urban, rural, or semi-rural and ranges from $8,000 to $20,000. Every member is paid an allowance of $7,000 a year.

A day allowance of $56 is paid for each day on which a member attends a sitting of parliament or a committee, and a night allowance of up to $160 for each night a member requires overnight accommodation away from home by reason of such attendance. Instead of receiving night allowances for each night spent in Wellington on parliamentary business, a member may elect to receive a Wellington accommodation allowance to cover costs incurred in retaining or maintaining accommodation. The maximum amount that can be claimed in a period of six months is $9,100.

Travel allowances are set out in Parliamentary Salaries and Allowances Determination 2000, published in the statutory regulations series.

Table 3.6. Parliamentary and ministerial salaries and allowances

 Annual salary or allowance payable from 1 July 2000 to 30 June 200111from 1 July 2001

1Parliamentary Salaries and Allowances Determination (S.R. 2000/246).

Source: Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives

Members of the Executive
Prime Minister222,400231,400
Deputy Prime Minister165,200172,300
Minister of the Crown in Cabinet149,200154,900
Minister of the Crown with portfolio outside
Ministers without portfolio110,000110,000
Parliamentary Under-Secretary107,000107,000
Officers of the House of Representatives
Deputy Speaker109,000111,000
Assistant Speaker92,20094,000
Chairpersons of Select Committees91,50094,000
Deputy Chairpersons of Select Committees86,00088,000
Leader of the Opposition and other party leaders
Leader of the Opposition149,200154,900
Leader of other parties (depending on number of MPs)92,300+95,400+
Deputy leader of party with 35 MPs or more102,000105,000
Senior Government Whip97,700+100,000+
Other Whips (depending on number of MPs)91,500+94,000
Other Members of Parliament
Member of Parliament85,00087,000
Prime Minister29,50029,500
Deputy Prime Minister13,00013,000
Minister of the Crown12,00012,000
Parliamentary Under-Secretary9,5009,500
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade (additional)6,0006,000
Speaker – basic expenses allowance12,00012,000
        –additional allowance8,5008,500
Deputy Speaker – basic expenses allowance9,5009,500
          –additional allowance7,5007,500
Assistant Speaker – basic expenses allowance7,0007,000
            –additional allowance1,0001,000
Leader of the Opposition – basic expenses allowance12,00012,000
Leaders of other parties (depending on number of MPs) 7,000–10,000
Deputy Leader – basic expenses allowance7,0007,000
additional allowance2,0002,000
Constituency Members – basic expenses allowance7,0007,000
constituency allowance (depending on classification of electoral district) 8,000–20,000
List Members7,0007,000

Table 3.7 lists Members of the House of Representatives during the 46th parliament.

Table 3.7. House of Representatives, 46th parliament

Prime Minister – Rt Hon Helen Clark

Leader of the Opposition – Rt Hon Jenny Shipley;

– Hon Bill English (from 9 October 2001)

Speaker – Rt Hon Jonathan Hunt

Deputy Speaker – Geoffrey Braybrooke

Clerk of the House – D G McGee

Member1Year of birthPrevious occupationElectorate/listParty

1Names are given by which individual members prefer to be addressed.

2Declared elected 14 March 2000, replacing Rt Hon Don McKinnon.

3Resigned with effect from 6 March 2000.

4Declared elected 12 January 2001. replacing Rt Hon Simon Upton.

5Resigned with effect from 11 January 2001.

Source: Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives

Anderton, Hon Jim1938Company directorWigramAlliance
Anae, Arthur21945Managing directorlistNational
Ardern, Shane1960FarmerTaranaki/King CountryNational
Awatere Huata, Donna1949Māori development consultantlistACT
Barker, Rick1951Trade unionistTukitukiLabour
Barnett, Tim1958Vol. sector managerChristchurch CentralLabour
Benson-Pope, David1950TeacherDunedin SouthLabour
Beyer, Georgina1957MayorWairarapaLabour
Bradford, Hon Max1942Administrator, consultantlistNational
Bradford, Sue1952Community development workerlistGreen
Braybrooke, Geoff1935Sales managerNapierLabour
Brown, Peter1939Company directorlistNZF
Brownlee, Gerry1956TeacherIlamNational
Bunkle, Phillida1944University lecturerlistAlliance
Burton, Hon Mark1956Community education organiserTaupoLabour
Campbell, Kevin1949Barrister and solicitorlistAlliance
Carter, Chris1952Electorate secretaryTe AtatuLabour
Carter, Hon David1952Businessman, farmerlistNational
Carter, John1950Local government officerNorthlandNational
Chadwick, Steve1949Nurse/midwifeRotoruaLabour
Clark, Rt Hon Helen1950University lecturerMt AlbertLabour
Cosgrove, Clayton1970Public relations executiveWaimakaririLabour
Creech, Rt Hon Wyatt1946AccountantlistNational
Cullen, Hon Dr Michael1945University lecturerlistLabour
Cunliffe, David1963Management consultantTitirangiLabour
Dalziel, Hon Lianne1960Trade unionistChristchurch EastLabour
Donald, Rod1957Vol. sector administratorlistAlliance
Donnelly, Hon Brian1949School principallistNZF
Duncan, Helen1941Teacher, trade unionistlistLabour
Dunne, Hon Peter1954Deputy chief executive officerOhariu/BelmontUnited
Duynhoven, Harry1955TeacherNew PlymouthLabour
Dyson, Hon Ruth1957Employment consultantBanks PeninsulaLabour
Eckhoff, Gerrard1947FarmerlistACT
English, Hon Bill1961FarmerClutha/SouthlandNational
Ewen-Street, Ian1950Organic farmerlistGreen
Field, Taito Phillip1952Trade unionistMangereLabour
Fitzsimons, Jeanette1945Organic farmer, environmental consultantCoromandelGreen
Franks, Stephen1951Barrister and solicitorlistACT
Gallagher, Martin1952Company director, teacherHamilton WestLabour
Gillon, Grant1954EngineerlistAlliance
Goff, Hon Phil1953University lecturerMt RoskillLabour
Gordon, Liz1955University lecturerlistAlliance
Gosche, Hon Mark1955Trade unionistlistLabour
Harré, Hon Laila1966Barrister and solicitorlistAlliance
Hartley, Ann1942Real estate agentNorthcoteLabour
Hasler, Hon Marie1948BusinesswomanlistNational
Hawke, Joe1940Marae worker, housing consultantlistLabour
Hawkins, Hon George1946TeacherManurewaLabour
Heatley, Philip1967EngineerWhangareiNational
Herlihy, Gavan1947FarmerOtagoNational
Hide, Rodney1956Economic consultantlistACT
Hobbs, Hon Marian1947TeacherWellington CentralLabour
Hodgson, Hon Pete1950VeterinarianDunedin NorthLabour
Horomia, Hon Parekura1950Public servant, farmerIkaroa-RawhitiLabour
Hunt, Rt Hon Jonathan1938TeacherlistLabour
Hutchison, Dr Paul1947GynecologistPort WaikatoNational
Jackson, Willie1961Trade unionistlistAlliance
Jennings, Owen1945FarmerlistACT
Keall, Judy1942ConsultantOtakiLabour
Kedgley, Sue1948Author, local authority memberlistGreen
Kelly, Graham1941Trade unionistManaLabour
Kidd, Hon Doug1941Barrister and solicitorlistNational
King, Hon Annette1945Chief executive officerRongotaiLabour
Kyd, Warren1939Barrister and solicitorHunuaNational
Laban, Luamanuvao Winnie1955Family therapistlistLabour
Lee, Hon Sandra1952Local authority memberlistAlliance
Locke, Keith1945Retail managerlistGreen
Luxton, Hon John1946FarmerKarapiroNational
Mackey, Janet1953Real estate agentMahiaLabour
McCully, Hon Murray1953Public relations consultantAlbanyNational
McKinnon, Rt Hon Don31939Real estate agentlistNational
Maharey, Hon Steve1953University lecturerPalmerston NorthLabour
Mahuta, Nanaia1970Archivist librarianTe Tai HauauruLabour
Mallard, Hon Trevor1954Executive assistantHutt SouthLabour
Mapp, Dr Wayne1952Law lecturerNorth ShoreNational
Mark, Ron1954Businessman, ex army officerlistNZF
Neeson, Brian1945Real estate agentWaitakereNational
Neill, Alec41950Barrister and solicitorlistNational
Newman, Dr Muriel1950Tertiary and secondary teacher, businesslistACT
O’Connor, Damien1958Tourism operatorWest Coast/TasmanLabour
Okeroa, Mahara1946Regional directorTe Tai TongaLabour
Peck, Mark1953Trade unionistInvercargillLabour
Peters, Rt Hon Winston1945Barrister and solicitorTaurangaNZF
Pettis, Jill1952Education administratorWanganuiLabour
Power, Simon1970Barrister and solicitorRangitikeiNational
Prebble, Hon Richard1948Barrister and solicitorlistACT
Rich, Katherine1968BusinesswomanlistNational
Ririnui, Mita1951Minister of religionWaiarikiLabour
Robertson, H V Ross1949Industrial engineerManukau EastLabour
Robson, Hon Matt1950Barrister and solicitorlistAlliance
Roy, Eric1948Farmer/company directorlistNational
Ryall, Hon Tony1964AccountantBay of PlentyNational
Samuels, Hon Dover1939Company directorlistLabour
Scott, Lynda1956GeriatricianKaikouraNational
Shipley, Rt Hon Jenny1952FarmerRakaiaNational
Shirley, Hon Ken1950Executive directorlistACT
Simcock, Bob1946Deer farmerlistNational
Simich, Hon Clem1939General managerTamakiNational
Smith, Hon Dr Lockwood1948Managing directorRodneyNational
Smith, Hon Nick1964EngineerNelsonNational
Sowry, Hon Roger1958Retail managerlistNational
Steel, Tony1941TeacherHamilton EastNational
Sutton, Hon Jim1941FarmerAorakiLabour
Swain, Hon Paul1951Trade unionistRimutakaLabour
Tamihere, John1960Chief executive, barrister and solicitorHaurakiLabour
Tanczos, Nandor1966Business owner/directorlistGreen
te Heuheu, Hon Georgina1943Consultant, advocate Treaty issueslistNational
Tich, Lindsay1947Management consultantKarapiroNational
Tizard, Hon Judith1956Electorate secretaryAuckland CentralLabour
Tolley, Anne1953BusinesswomanlistNational
Turia, Hon Tariana1944Iwi development workerlistLabour
Upton, Rt Hon Simon51958Student, teacherlistNational
Vernon, Belinda1958Financial controllerMaungakiekieNational
Webster, Penny1947Farmer, teacherlistACT
Williamson, Hon Maurice1951Planning analystPakurangaNational
Wilson, Hon Margaret1947University lecturerlistLabour
Wong, Pansy1955AccountantlistNational
Woolerton, R Doug1944FarmerlistNZF
Worth, Richard1948Barrister and solicitorEpsomNational
Wright, John1945Motor mechaniclistAlliance
Yates, Dianne1943Education officerlistLabour
Young, Annabel1956Business advisorlistNational

Table 3.8 lists New Zealand's premiers and prime ministers.

Table 3.8. Premiers and prime ministers

Premier/Prime minister1Term(s) of office

1Honours are specified only if held on retirement from office.

Source: Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives

Henry Sewell 7 May 1856–20 May 1856
William Fox 20 May 1856–2 Jun 1856
  12 Jul 1861–6 Aug 1862
  28 Jun 1869–10 Sep 1872
  3 Mar 1873–8 Apr 1873
Edward William Stafford 2 Jun 1856–12 Jul 1861
  16 Oct 1865–28 Jun 1869
  10 Sep 1872–11 Oct 1872
Alfred Domett 6 Aug 1862–30 Oct 1863
Frederick Whitaker, MIX 30 Oct 1863–24 Nov 1864
  21 Apr 1882–25 Sep 1883
Frederick Aloysius Weld 24 Nov 1864–16 Oct 1865
George Marsden Waterhouse, MLC 11 Oct 1872–3 Mar 1873
Sir Julius Vogel, KCMG 8 Apr 1873–6 Jul 1875
  15 Feb 1876–1 Sep 1876
Daniel Pollen, MLC 6 Jul 1875–15 Feb 1876
  1 Sep 1876–13 Sep 1876
Sir Harry Albert Atkinson, KCMG 13 Sep 1876–13 Oct 1877 (ministry reconstructed)
  25 Sep 1883–16 Aug 1884
  28 Aug 1884–3 Sep 1884
  8 Oct 1887–24 Jan 1891
Sir George Grey, KCB 13 Oct 1877–8 Oct 1879
John Hall 8 Oct 1879–21 Apr 1882
Sir Robert Stout, KCMG 16 Aug 1884–28 Aug 1884
  3 Sep 1884–8 Oct 1887
John BallanceLiberal24 Jan 1891–d 27 Apr 1893
Rt Hon Richard John SeddonLiberal1 May 1893–d 10 Jun 1906
Prime ministers
William Hall-JonesLiberal21 Jun 1906–6 Aug 1906
Rt Hon Sir Joseph George Ward, Bt, KCMGLiberal6 Aug 1906–28 Mar 1912
 United10 Dec 1928–28 May 1930
Thomas MacKenzieLiberal28 Mar 1912–10 Jul 1912
Rt Hon William Ferguson MasseyReform10 Jul 1912–12 Aug 1915
 National12 Aug 1919–d 10 May 1925
Sir Francis Henry Dillon Bell, GCMG, KC, MLCReform14 May 1925–30 May 1925
Rt Hon Joseph Gordon Coates, MCReform30 May 1925–10 Dec 1928
Rt Hon George William ForbesUnited28 May 1930–22 Sep 1931
 Coalition22 Sep 1931–6 Dec 1935
Rt Hon Michael Joseph SavageLabour6 Dec 1935–d 27 Mar 1940
Rt Hon Peter Fraser, CHLabour1 Apr 1940–13 Dec 1949
Rt Hon Sidney George Holland, CHNational13 Dec 1949–20 Sep 1957
Rt Hon Sir Keith Jacka Holyoake, GCMG, CHNational20 Sep 1957–12 Dec 1957
  12 Dec 1960–7 Feb 1972
Rt Hon Walter Nash, CHLabour12 Dec 1957–12 Dec 1960
Rt Hon John Ross Marshall (later Sir)National7 Feb 1972–8 Dec 1972
Rt Hon Norman Eric KirkLabour8 Dec 1973–d 31 Aug 1974
Rt Hon Wallace Edward Rowling (later Sir)Labour6 Sep 1974–12 Dec 1975
Rt Hon Sir Robert David Muldoon, GCMG, CHNational12 Dec 1975–26 Jul 1984
Rt Hon David Russell LangeLabour26 Jul 1984–8 Aug 1989
Rt Hon Geoffrey Winston Russell Palmer (later Sir)Labour8 Aug 1989–4 Sep 1990
Rt Hon Michael Kenneth MooreLabour4 Sep 1990–2 Nov 1990
Rt Hon James Brendan BolgerNational2 Nov 1990–12 Oct 1996
 Coalition12 Oct 1996–8 Dec 1997
Rt Hon Jennifer Mary ShipleyCoalition8 Dec 1997–10 Dec 1999
Rt Hon Helen ClarkLabour10 Dec 1999–

Executive government

The executive government of New Zealand is carried out on behalf of the Sovereign (represented by the governor-general) by Ministers of the Crown who make up membership of the cabinet and the Executive Council. 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 party, or parties, with the confidence of 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 ministers, generally with responsibilities for various areas of government administration (portfolios). The governor-general may also appoint parliamentary under-secretaries, 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 ministers are members of the Executive Council, but not all ministers are in cabinet. The Executive Council is a formal body with formal functions, whereas cabinet is an informal body with deliberative functions. The Executive Council tenders advice to the governor-general on the basis of policy formulated in cabinet. The council is established under Clause VII of the Letters Patent and is the main vehicle for law-making by the executive. Authority to make statutory regulations, for example, is delegated by parliament to the governor-general in council.

The cabinet is, in effect, the highest policy making body of government. It is the main vehicle by which the executive decides on major policy issues and legislative proposals, and it coordinates the work of ministers. The cabinet has a system of committees, which can examine subjects in detail and recommend specific policy measures to cabinet. Proceedings of cabinet are informal and confidential, and decisions are usually made by consensus. By convention, cabinet accepts collective responsibility for its decisions, which ensures that, unless the matter is agreed to be one of party differentiation, once a decision is made, it will be publicly supported by all members of the government.

The Cabinet Office provides support services for the cabinet and its committees. The current Secretary of the Cabinet is also Clerk of the Executive Council.

The makeup of the New Zealand Government at 15 October 2001 is shown in table 3.9.

Table 3.9. New Zealand Government, at 15 October 2001

Source: Cabinet Office
Her Excellency The Honourable Dame Silvia Cartwright, PCNZM, DBE (assumed office 4 April 2001). Official Secretary: Hugo Judd. CVO
Executive Council:
Membership of the Executive Council comprises all ministers with the governor-general presiding. The Clerk of the Executive Council is Marie Shroff, CVO.
The Cabinet:
1 Rt Hon Helen Clark, Prime Minister, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Minister Responsible for Ministerial Services, Minister in Charge of the NZ Security Intelligence Service.
2 Hon Jim Anderton, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Industry and Regional Development, Minister in Charge of the Public Trust Office.
3 Hon Dr Michael Cullen, Treasurer, Minister of Finance [includes responsibility for the Government Superannuation Fund], Minister of Revenue, Leader of the House.
4 Hon Steve Maharey, Minister of Social Services and Employment, Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education), Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector.
5 Hon Phil Goff, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Minister of Justice.
6 Hon Annette King, Minister of Health, Minister for Racing.
7 Hon Sandra Lee, Minister of Conservation, Minister of Local Government, Associate Minister of Māori Affairs.
8 Hon Jim Sutton, Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity, Minister for Trade Negotiations, Minister for Rural Affairs.
9 Hon Trevor Mallard, Minister of Education, Minister of State Services, Minister for Sport, Fitness and Leisure, Minister for the America's Cup, Associate Minister of Finance, Minister Responsible for the Education Review Office, Minister for Adult and Community Education.
10 Hon Pete Hodgson, Minister of Energy, Minister of Fisheries, Minister of Forestry, Minister of Research, Science and Technology, Minister for Crown Research Institutes, Minister for Small Business, Associate Minister for Economic Development, Associate Minister for Industry and Regional Development, Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Minister Responsible for Timberlands West Coast Ltd.
11 Hon Margaret Wilson, Attorney-General [includes responsibility for Serious Fraud Office], Minister of Labour, Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Minister Responsible for the Law Commission, Associate Minister of Justice, Associate Minister of State Services.
12 Hon Parekura Horomia, Minister of Māori Affairs, Associate Minister of Social Services and Employment (Employment), Associate Minister of Education, Associate Minister of Fisheries, Associate Minister of Tourism.
13 Hon Matt Robson, Minister of Corrections, Minister for Courts, Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, Minister for Land Information, Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Official Development Assistance).
14 Hon Lianne Dalziel, Minister for Accident Insurance, Minister of Immigration, Minister for Senior Citizens, Associate Minister of Education.
15 Hon George Hawkins, Minister of Police, Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister of Civil Defence, Minister for Ethnic Affairs.
16 Hon Mark Burton, Minister of Defence, Minister for SOEs [responsible for all SOEs except TVNZ Ltd and Timberlands West Coast Ltd], Minister of Tourism, Minister of Veterans’ Affairs, Deputy Leader of the House.
17 Hon Paul Swain, Minister of Commerce, Minister of Communications, Minister for Information Technology, Associate Minister of Finance, Associate Minister of Revenue, Associate Minister of Energy, Associate Minister of Justice, Associate Minister for Land Information.
18 Hon Marian Hobbs, Minister for the Environment, Minister of Broadcasting [includes responsibility for Television New Zealand Ltd, Radio New Zealand Ltd, and NZ on Air], Minister Responsible for Archives New Zealand, Associate Minister for Biosecurity, Associate Minister of Education, Minister Responsible for the National Library.
19 Hon Mark Gosche, Minister of Transport, Minister of Housing [includes responsibility for Housing New Zealand Corporation], Minister of Pacific Island Affairs, Minister Responsible for Civil Aviation.
20 Hon Laila Harré, Minister of Women's Affairs, Minister of Youth Affairs, Minister of Statistics, Associate Minister of Commerce, Associate Minister of Labour.
Ministers outside Cabinet:
21 Hon Judith Tizard, Minister of State, Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Associate Minister of Transport, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Auckland Issues.
22 Hon Ruth Dyson, Minister of State, Minister for Disability Issues, Associate Minister for Accident Insurance, Associate Minister of Health, Associate Minister of Social Services and Employment.
23 Hon Tariana Turia, Minister of State, Associate Minister of Māori Affairs (Social Development), Associate Minister of Corrections, Associate Minister of Health, Associate Minister of Housing, Associate Minister of Social Services and Employment (Social Services).
Parliamentary Under-Secretaries:
Hon Dover Samuels, MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the: Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Industry and Regional Development.
Mr John Wright, MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the: Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Industry and Regional Development, Minister of Revenue, Minister for Racing.

An elector casts a vote in the general election.

Parliamentary elections

People 18 years and over have the right to vote in New Zealand's parliamentary elections. Enrolment as an elector is compulsory, but voting is not. To qualify for enrolment people must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.

  • Be New Zealand citizens or permanent residents.

  • Have lived continuously in New Zealand for at least a year at some time.

  • Have last lived continuously for one month in the electorate they are to be enrolled in.

Māori and people of Māori descent may choose to enrol for either a Māori or a general electorate, but may make the choice only at certain times. Māori may make the choice the first time they enrol or at the time of the five-yearly Māori option exercise, which occurs normally during the time of a census. There was a Māori option exercise in 2001. At that time, all registered and identified Māori electors were sent a form for the purpose of exercising their choice.

Electoral rolls are maintained by the electoral enrolment centre, a division of New Zealand Post.

Voting patterns in recent general elections are shown in table 3.10.

Table 3.1. Voting patterns: 1981–1999

YearElectors on master rollValid votesInformal votesSpecial votes disallowedPercentage of votes cast to electors on master roll

1Party votes rather than electorate votes.

2There were 2,047,473 valid electorate votes cast in 1999, and 37,908 informal electorate votes.

Source: Ministry of Justice


Voting. The conduct of polls is the responsibility of the Chief Electoral Office of the Ministry 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. Only people whose names are validly enrolled before an election are qualified to vote. 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. 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.

Figure 3.2. 2002 General electoral districts

2002 General electoral districts

Figure 3.3. 2002 Māori electoral districts

2002 Māori electoral districts

Electoral boundaries. The boundaries of electorates are revised every 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 revision is based on figures for the electoral population provided by Statistics New Zealand. Electoral boundaries are defined by the Representation Commission, which has seven members: a chairperson; four officials (the Surveyor-General, the Government Statistician, the Chief Electoral Officer, and the Chairman of the Local Government Commission); and two members nominated by parliament to represent the government and the opposition. Figures 3.2 and 3.3 show the 2002 electoral boundaries for the general and Māori electoral districts. The internet can be used to identify the appropriate electorate for a given street address (see sidebar below the map of Māori electorates).

Table 3.11 shows votes and percentages obtained by the various political parties in recent general elections.

Table 3.11. General elections – votes for political parties

Political partyValid votesPercentage of total valid votes

1Party votes.

2Christian Coalition 1996.

Source: Ministry of Justice

Christian Heritage238,74989,71649,1542.024.332.38
Mana Motuhake9,78910,8690.530.60
New Labour94,1715.16
New Zealand First161,481276,60387,9268.4013.354.26
United New Zealand18,24511,0650.880.54
Total valid votes1,8317771,824,0921,922,7962,072,3592,065,494100.00100.00100.00100.00100.00
Informal votes11,18410,18011,3648,18319,887...............

When determining boundaries of the Māori electoral districts, the commission is joined by the Chief Executive Officer of Te Puni Kōkiri and two Māori who are not public servants directly concerned with the administration of the Electoral Act or Members of the House of Representatives and who are selected by the parties. These two are nominated by parliament to represent the government and the opposition. After proposed boundaries are drawn up and published, objections and counter-objections are considered by the commission, which makes a final decision.

Under the Electoral Act 1993, the South Island is allocated 16 general electorates. The numbers of North Island general and of Māori electorates are then calculated so that their electoral populations are approximately the same as those for South Island general electorates. The commission is also required to give consideration to community of interest, facilities of communications, topographical features and any projected variation in the general electoral population of the electorates.

Based on the South Island general electoral population of 868,923, the South Island general electorate quota for the 2002 general election was 54,308, resulting in 46 North Island general electorates (quota 54,296) and 7 Māori electorates (quota 53,099). All electorates have an allowance of 5 percent above or below their electoral population quota.

General election voting. There were 2,509,365 electors on the master roll for the 1999 general election. A total of 2,085,381 votes were cast, representing a turnout of 83.10 percent of electors on the master roll. Figure 3.4 shows the percentage of enrolled voters voting in general elections from 1879 to 1999.

General licensing poll. The national triennial liquor licensing poll was abolished in 1990. Three local restoration poll votes were held at the same time as the 1999 general election, in Eden, Roskill and Tawa. Local restoration received a majority in all three no-licence districts.

Party affiliations of Members of Parliament elected in recent general elections are shown in table 3.12.

Figure 3.4. Voter turnout
Percentage of enrolled electors1 voting at general elections

Voter turnoutPercentage of enrolled electors1 voting at general elections

1Excludes Māori population before 1951.

Table 3.12. General election results1

Political partyNumber of MPs

1The election dates were: 14 July 1984, 15 August 1987, 27 October 1990, 6 November 1993, 12 October 1996, 27 November 1999.

2Includes result of electoral petition which was upheld and saw the Wairarapa seat pass from Labour to National in July 1988.

Source: Ministry of Justice

Green Party7
New Labour1
New Zealand First2175
United New Zealand11

State sector

The state sector comprises all organisations included in the annual financial statements of the Crown. These include:

  • The New Zealand Public Service – departments and ministries listed in the first schedule to the State Sector Act 1988. At 31 July 2001, there were 38 departments/ministries in the public service.

  • Departments outside the public service – departments in terms of the Public Finance Act 1989, but not listed in the first schedule to the State Sector Act 1988 and, consequently, not part of the public service. At 31 July 2001, there were seven departments outside the public service: New Zealand Defence Force; New Zealand Police; Office of the Clerk; Parliamentary Counsel Office; Parliamentary Service; New Zealand Security Intelligence Service; and the Government Communications Security Bureau.

  • State-owned enterprises (SOEs) – companies listed in the first schedule to the State-Owned Enterprises Act 1986. At 31 July 2001, there were 17 SOEs.

  • Crown entities – organisations listed in the fourth schedule to the Public Finance Act 1989. Crown entities make up a significant part of the state sector and include a wide variety of statutory corporations, statutory boards, statutory offices, Crown companies and trusts. At 31 July 2001, Crown entities included 66 separate legal entities, as well as 21 district health boards, 33 reserves boards, 14 fish and game councils, 37 tertiary education institutions, 2,624 schools, 14 Crown-owned companies that included nine Crown Research Institutes, and six trusts.

  • Offices of Parliament – The Office of the Ombudsmen, the Audit Office and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment are not part of the executive branch of the government, as their primary function is to provide a check on the executive's use of power and resources, but they report to parliament under the Public Finance Act

  • The Reserve Bank of New Zealand – a stand-alone organisation included in the annual financial statements of the Crown.

At 30 June 2001, the number of staff employed in public service departments (excluding Crown entities and SOEs) was 30,355 (calculated on a full time equivalent basis). When reform of the state sector began in the 1980s, about 70,000 people were permanent employees in government departments. Many jobs in government departments have shifted to Crown entities, SOEs or the private sector. The public service today is characterised by relatively small departments, which have quite sharply defined roles in policy advice, service delivery, regulatory, or sectoral funding functions. Some bigger departments perform a combination of roles.

The State Services Commissioner and the State Services Commission

The State Sector Act 1988 provides for a State Services Commissioner appointed by the governor-general in council on the recommendation of the prime minister. The commissioner is required by the act to:

  • Review the machinery of government, including allocation of functions among departments, the need for new departments, the amalgamation or abolition of departments and coordination among departments.

  • Appoint chief executives of departments and negotiate their conditions of employment.

  • Review the performance of departments and their chief executives.

  • Provide and maintain, in association with chief executives, a senior executive service for the public service.

  • Negotiate conditions of employment for public service employees.

  • Promote and develop personnel policies and standards of personnel administration for the public service.

  • Promote, develop and monitor equal employment opportunities policies and programmes for the public service.

  • Advise on training and career development of public servants.

  • Provide advice on management systems, structures and organisations.

  • At the direction of the prime minister, exercise other functions in relation to the administration and management of the public service.

In a number of cases, the commissioner delegates authority to others to fulfil a particular responsibility. For example, negotiating conditions of employment for public service staff is delegated to public service chief executives, and negotiating conditions of employment for education sector staff is delegated to the Secretary for Education.

The State Services Commission exists to assist the State Services Commissioner fulfil the commissioner's statutory functions. The commission:

  • Assists the State Services Commissioner in appointing public service chief executives and operates the chief executive performance management system.

  • Provides advice and business analysis to the Minister of State Services and other ministers with ownership responsibilities in respect of public service departments.

  • Advises the government about collective state sector ownership issues, including public management systems, the machinery of government and human resource requirements.

  • Promotes appropriate values and standards of behaviour for the public service.

Table 3.13 lists the chief executives of government departments, as at 30 June 2001.

Table 3.13. Chief executives of government departments


1As at 30 June 2001.

Source: State Services Commission

Ministry of Agriculture and ForestryActing Chief ExecutiveLarry Fergusson
Archives New ZealandChief Archivist and Chief ExecutiveDianne Macaskill
Audit DepartmentController and Auditor-GeneralDavid MacDonald
Department of Child, Youth & Family ServicesChief ExecutiveJackie Brown
Department of ConservationDirector-General and Chief ExecutiveHugh Logan
Department of CorrectionsChief ExecutiveMark Byers
Department for CourtsChief ExecutiveWilson Bailey
Crown Law OfficeSolicitor-General and Chief ExecutiveTerrance Arnold QC
Ministry for Culture & HeritageChief ExecutiveMartin Matthews
Ministry of DefenceSecretary of Defence and Chief ExecutiveGraham Fortune
Ministry of Economic DevelopmentChief ExecutiveGeoff Dangerfield
Ministry of EducationSecretary of Education and Chief ExecutiveHoward Fancy
Education Review OfficeActing Chief Review Officer and Acting Chief ExecutiveKaren Sewell
Ministry for the EnvironmentSecretary for the Environment and Chief ExecutiveDenise Church
Ministry of FisheriesChief ExecutiveWarwick Tuck
Ministry of Foreign Affairs & TradeSecretary of Foreign Affairs & Trade and Chief ExecutiveNeil Walter
Ministry of HealthDirector-General and Chief ExecutiveDr Karen Poutasi
Ministry of HousingChief ExecutiveDavid Smyth
Inland Revenue DepartmentCommissioner of Inland Revenue and Chief ExecutiveDavid Butler
Department of Internal AffairsSecretary for Internal Affairs and Chief ExecutivePeter Hughes
Ministry of JusticeSecretary of Justice and Chief ExecutiveBelinda Clark
Department of LabourSecretary of Labour and Chief ExecutiveJohn Chetwin
Land Information NZChief ExecutiveDr Russ Ballard
Ministry of Māori DevelopmentChief ExecutiveLeith Comer
National LibraryChief ExecutiveChris Blake
NZ Customs ServiceComptroller and Chief ExecutiveRobin Dare
Ministry of Pacific Island AffairsChief ExecutiveFuimaono Les McCarthy
Department of Prime Minister & CabinetChief ExecutiveDr Mark Prebble
Public Trust OfficePublic Trustee and Chief ExecutiveDavid Hutton
Ministry of Research, Science & TechnologyChief ExecutiveDr James Buwalda
Serious Fraud OfficeDirector and Chief ExecutiveDavid Bradshaw
Department of Social WelfareChief ExecutiveDame Margaret Bazley
State Services CommissionState Services CommissionerMichael Wintringham
Department of StatisticsGovernment Statistician and Chief ExecutiveBrian Pink
Ministry of TransportSecretary of Transport and Chief ExecutiveAlastair Bisley
The TreasurySecretary to the Treasury and Chief ExecutiveDr Alan Bollard
Ministry of Women's AffairsChief ExecutiveJudy Lawrence
Department of Work and IncomeChief ExecutiveChristine Rankin
Ministry of Youth AffairsChief ExecutiveAnne Carter

Functions of government departments

Functions of central government are under a continual process of review. The following departmental descriptions were correct at March 2002.

Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of: Te Manatū Ahuwhenua, Ngaherehere. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) was established on 1 March 1998 following merger of the Ministries of Agriculture and Forestry. Core MAF consists of nine business groups: Policy, operations, forest management, corporate services, human resources, corporate finance, information management, MAF Food Assurance Authority and MAF Biosecurity Authority. MAF exists to create opportunities for, and manage risk to, New Zealand's food, fibre, forestry and associated industries. MAF's roles are to provide policy advice on the trading environment, on sustainable resource use and on regulation of product safety, biosecurity and related matters, to administer regulation of product safety, biosecurity and related matters, and to provide other services where necessary. MAF's programmes aim to protect New Zealand's competitive advantage as an export nation by monitoring and protecting its animals, plants, forests and seafood against introduction of exotic pests and diseases. See Chapter 18: Agriculture and Chapter 19: Forestry and Fishing. The ministry's website is

Archives New Zealand. Archives New Zealand (formerly National Archives in the Department of Internal Affairs) is responsible for preserving government records of long-term value and making them available to the general public. It also provides advice on management of records created by government agencies. Established in 2000 as a government department in its own right, Archives New Zealand represents the memory of government because it provides evidence of its functions, policies, transactions, decisions and areas of responsibility. The original Treaty of Waitangi is preserved by Archives New Zealand, as is the Women's Suffrage Petition of 1893. Both documents have been placed on Unesco's World Heritage List as being of international significance.

Audit New Zealand: Te Mana Arotake. See Controller and Auditor-General section further on in this chapter.

Child, Youth and Family Services, Department of: Te Tari Āwhina I te Tamaiti, tae atu ki te Whānau. The Department of Child, Youth and Family Services was established on 1 October 1999 following integration of two Department of Social Welfare business units, the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Service and the New Zealand Community Funding Agency. The department has statutory responsibility for children and young people whose family circumstances put them at risk of abuse and neglect, who have offending behaviours, or poor life outcomes. The department's statutory role is defined by the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989, the Adoption Act 1955, the Adult Adoption Information Act 1985, the Adoption (Inter-country) Act 1997 and the Guardianship Act 1968. The department provides direct services for children and young people in need of care and protection, who have committed offences, or who are involved in adoption processes. The department also approves and contracts with community organisations for social services for children, young people and their families. The department's website is

Civil Defence and Emergency Management, Ministry of: Te Rākau Whakamarumaru. The ministry's role is to lead the way in making New Zealand and its communities resilient to hazards and disasters through a risk management approach to reduction, readiness, response and recovery. The ministry aims to put the right tools, knowledge and skills in the hands of those responsible for designing and implementing solutions at the local level. It does this by working closely with local government, utilities and emergency services involved in civil defence and emergency management. The ministry is a semi-autonomous body within the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA). The Chief Executive of the DIA is the Secretary for Civil Defence and is the employer of the Director of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, who heads the ministry. The DIA is responsible for administration of the Civil Defence Act 1983. The role of the ministry is to:

  • Provide strategic policy advice on New Zealand's capability to manage and be resilient to the social and economic costs of disasters.

  • Ensure establishment of structures to provide the capability to manage and respond to disasters in New Zealand.

  • Provide support to sector stakeholders in their delivery of civil defence emergency management.

  • Ensure a coordinated approach, at both national and community level, to planning for reduction, readiness, response and recovery.

  • Manage central government response and recovery functions for large scale events beyond the capacity of local authorities.

The ministry's website is

Commerce, Ministry of: Te Manatū Tauhokohoko. See Ministry of Economic Development.

Conservation, Department of: Te Papa Atawhai. The Department of Conservation (DOC) administers most of the Crown land in New Zealand protected for scenic, scientific, historic or cultural reasons, or set aside for recreation. This is almost a third of New Zealand's land area, including national, forest and maritime parks, marine reserves, nearly 4,000 other reserves, river margins, some coastline and many offshore islands. Its aim is to conserve New Zealand's natural and historic heritage for the public to enjoy. DOC's work with natural heritage includes saving threatened native species, managing threats like possums and weeds, ecosystem restoration, caring for marine life and protecting natural heritage with help from landowners. It also looks after historic heritage on public conservation land. Providing for recreation is a major part of DOC's core work and covers family picnic sites to rugged backcountry tracks. In all areas, DOC works with local communities, other organisations and iwi where it can. The department's website is

Consumer Affairs, Ministry of: Manatū Kaihokohoko. The vision of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs is well-informed consumers, fair trading practices and safe products used safely. The outcomes the ministry seeks are:

  • Consumer interests well represented in public and private sector policies and decisions.

  • Appropriate, accurate and accessible information, education and advice available for consumers and businesses.

  • Information available to help consumers make comparisons between goods, services, prices and production processes.

  • Goods and services sold using fair rules and ethical practices.

  • Appropriate redress, remedies and penalties available for consumers when things go wrong.

  • Accurate, informed and effective measures in trade transactions.

  • Safe products used safely.

  • Safe production, distribution, installation and use of electricity and gas.

The ministry is divided into four sections:

  • The policy unit provides policy advice to the government on laws, practices and policies affecting consumers. It also works with consumer, industry and government agencies to promote compliance with self-regulatory policies and codes.

  • The consumer information service provides consumer information and education, including activities aimed at Māori, Pacific peoples and low-income consumers.

  • The trading standards service seeks to ensure that trade in goods is conducted on the basis of fair and accurate measurement, and that goods and services are safe and used safely.

  • The energy safety service seeks to ensure the safe production, distribution, installation and use of electricity and gas. It also oversees the supply, quality and measurement of gas, and the quality of petroleum fuels.

The ministry's website is

Corrections, Department of. The Department of Corrections manages all custodial and community-based sentences and orders imposed by the courts. This includes prison sentences, periodic detention, home detention, community service and supervision. The department has more than 4,500 full and part-time staff responsible for managing offenders. The department's operations include providing work programmes and activities to help reduce re-offending; giving specialist psychological advice and assistance with offenders’ needs; providing information to judges to assist them in sentencing offenders; administering the parole board and district prisons boards; and providing advice to the government about the most effective policies for corrections services. There are eight services and groups in the department working to reduce re-offending: The public prisons service; the community probation service; the psychological service; the service purchase and monitoring group; the policy development group; the strategic development group; the finance group, including Corrland Inmate Employment (which manages farms and forests owned by the department); and the internal audit group. See Chapter 10: Justice and Law. The department's website is

Courts, Department for: Te Tari Kooti. The Department for Courts was established on 1 July 1995. Its predecessor was the courts and tribunals group of the Department of Justice. The department has three operational units, the courts’ business unit (responsible for the administration of courts and for providing support to the judiciary), collections (responsible for enforcement of financial court orders) and special jurisdictions, which covers tribunals, the Māori Land Court (responsible for the administrative support of the Māori Land Court and the Māori Appellate Court and for administration of Māori land records of ownership and title) and the Waitangi Tribunal (responsible for administrative support to the Waitangi Tribunal). See Chapter 10: Justice and Law. The department's website is

Crown Law Office. The Crown Law Office is a government department which provides legal advice and representation to the Crown on matters affecting executive government, particularly in areas of criminal, public and administrative law. Services provided include judicial review of government actions, constitutional questions, including Treaty of Waitangi issues, enforcement of criminal law and protection of the revenue. The office administers the prosecution process in the criminal justice system, in particular trials on indictment before juries. The office has two primary purposes in providing its services: to ensure the operations and responsibilities of executive government are conducted lawfully, and to ensure that the government is not prevented, through legal process, from lawfully implementing its policies and discharging its responsibilities. The work of the Crown Law Office contributes to the government's strategic goals of protecting the legal interests and supporting the responsibilities of the executive government and its agencies, maintaining law and order and serving the interests of justice in the community. See Chapter 10: Justice and Law. The office's website is

Culture and Heritage, Ministry for: Te Manatū Taonga. The Ministry for Culture and Heritage provides advice to the government on culture and heritage matters and assists the government in provision and management of cultural resources for the benefit of all New Zealanders. The ministry is also responsible for advising and providing services to the Minister of Broadcasting in relation to non-commercial broadcasting issues, as well as providing services to the Minister for Sport, Fitness and Leisure. See Chapter 12: Arts and Cultural Heritage. The ministry's website is

Customs Service, New Zealand: Te Mana Arai O Aotearoa. The New Zealand Customs Service is responsible for the policy, administration and enforcement of the Customs and Excise Act 1996 and for administering border-related policies prescribed by other legislation relating to the legitimate movement of goods, craft and people. See Chapter 25: Overseas Trade, Chapter 13: Leisure and Tourism and Chapter 28: Public Sector Finance. The service's website is

Defence, Ministry of: Manatū Kaupapa Waonga. The Ministry of Defence is the government's principal source of advice on defence policy. It also carries out audits and assessments on the performance of defence organisations and manages procurement projects which entail a significant change to New Zealand's defence capability. The ministry works jointly with the New Zealand Defence Force in many matters. See Chapter 4: International Relations and Defence. The ministry's website is

An RNZAF troop forms a guard of honour at Government House, Wellington.

Defence Force, New Zealand: Te Ope Kaatua O Aotearoa. The primary purpose of the New Zealand Defence Force is to protect the sovereignty and advance the well-being of New Zealand by maintaining a level of armed forces sufficient to deal with small contingencies affecting New Zealand and its region. The force must also be capable of contributing to collective efforts where New Zealand's wider interests are involved. See Chapter 4: International Relations and Defence. Defence force websites are

Economic Development, Ministry of: The Ministry of Economic Development, established on 29 February 2000, is the principal successor department to the Ministry of Commerce and leads implementation of the government's economic development policies. The ministry managed establishment in October 2000 of Industry New Zealand, a Crown entity and the primary delivery vehicle for the government's industry and regional development programmes. The ministry's policy and operational functions include offering regulatory advice on the telecommunications and energy sectors, a major reform programme on business law, consumer policy issues, plus operation of the Companies Office, the Intellectual Property Office, the Insolvency and Trustee Service, Crown Minerals and Radio Spectrum Management. The ministry reports to 11 portfolio ministers on the discharge of its responsibilities for Votes: Economic Development; Industry and Regional Development; Commerce; Communications; Energy; Sport, Fitness and Leisure; Tourism; and Consumer Affairs. The ministry's website is

Education, Ministry of: Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga. The Ministry of Education is responsible for providing policy advice to the government on early childhood, compulsory and post-compulsory education, including employment-related education and training; ensuring the effective, efficient and equitable implementation of the government's policies; advising on the optimal use of resources allocated to education; and providing an education policy perspective to a range of economic and social policy issues. See Chapter 9: Education. The ministry's website is

Education Review Office: Te Tari Arotake Mātauranga. The Education Review Office (ERO) reports publicly on the quality of education in all New Zealand schools and early childhood centres, including private schools, kura kaupapa Māori (Māori language immersion schools) and ngā kōhanga reo (Māori language early childhood groups). The ERO actively supports and promotes high quality decision making on the education provided for New Zealand's young people. See Chapter 9: Education. The office's website is

Table 3.14 shows how the representation of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) groups in the public service and in the employed labour force have generally increased since 1996.

Table 3.14. Representation of EEO groups in the public service and labour force

EEO groups199619971998199920002001

1Public service ethnicity data double counts people with more than one ethnicity, so that a person who is Māori and Samoan will be counted in both Māori and Pacific peoples. The labour force figures shown, which are sourced from the Household Labour Force Survey, use a priority system that has the effect of slightly reducing the figure for Pacific peoples.

2Representation is calculated as a proportion of known ethnicities, which is consistent with Statistics New Zealand practice. Ethnicity is known for 86.5 percent of public service staff.

3In 1998 a new definition of disability was introduced, based on internationally accepted standards. Data collected under the previous definition are not comparable to the data currently collected.

Source: State Services Commission

Ethnicity1,2MāoriPublic service14.514.715.516.116.917.0
  Employed labour force7.
 Pacific peoplesPublic service5.
  Employed labour force3.
Disability3 People with disabilities  10.610.19.78.1
GenderWomenPublic service54.754.854.556.356.256.5
  Employed labour force44.944.944.945.445.145.7

Environment, Ministry for the: Te Manatū mō te Taiao. The Ministry for the Environment works with others to identify and act on New Zealand's environmental problems. It advises the government on New Zealand's environmental laws, policies, standards and guidelines, monitors how they work in practice, and takes any action needed to improve them. Through reporting on the New Zealand environment, it helps raise community awareness and provides information needed by decision makers. The ministry also plays a part in international action on global environmental issues. The ministry is responsible for government policies covering resource management; air and water quality and contaminated sites; protection of the ozone layer; and climate change. Local bodies, particularly regional councils, manage most day-to-day environmental matters. Besides the Environment Act 1986 under which it was set up, the ministry is responsible for the Soil Conservation and Rivers Control Act 1941, the Resource Management Act 1991, the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 and the Ozone Layer Protection Act 1996. On behalf of the Minister for the Environment, who has duties under various laws, the ministry reports on local government performance on environmental matters and on the work of the Environmental Risk Management Authority and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority. The ministry's website is

Fisheries, Ministry of: Te Tautiaki i ngā tini a Tangaroa. The Ministry of Fisheries is responsible for the sustainable use of fisheries. This involves managing the resource so that it provides for the social, economic and cultural well-being of New Zealanders. The ministry advises the government on development of fisheries policies, develops laws to manage fisheries, administers the quota system that regulates commercial fishing activity, and gives effect to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi as they relate to fisheries. See Chapter 19: Forestry and Fishing. The ministry's website is

Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of: Manatū Aorere. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade conducts the government's business with other countries and their governments, and with international organisations. It advises the government on where New Zealand's advantage lies in relation to other countries. On behalf of the government, it influences other governments in New Zealand's favour. It draws together various aspects of New Zealand's national interests, including relevant domestic interests, to achieve most benefit for New Zealand in relation to the government's security, political, trade and economic objectives. The ministry operates 47 posts overseas. Their primary task is to develop the official relationship between the New Zealand Government and the country or international organisation concerned through discussion and contacts with local political leaders, officials, business executives and media representatives. See Chapter 4: International Relations and Defence. The ministry's website is

Housing, Ministry of: Te Whare Āhuru. The Ministry of Housing helps the government protect the rights of residential landlords and tenants through the Residential Tenancies Act 1986. See Chapter 22: Housing and Construction. The ministry's website is

Inland Revenue, Department of: Te Tari Taake. The main function of the Inland Revenue Department is to assess and collect taxes and duties. It collects more than 80 percent of New Zealand Government revenue. Along with taxes such as income tax, goods and services tax, fringe benefit tax and resident withholding tax, Inland Revenue also administers family assistance, child support and student loan repayment programmes. See Chapter 28: Public Sector Finance. The department's website is

Internal Affairs, Department of: Te Tari Taiwhenua. The Department of Internal Affairs issues passports; registers births, deaths and marriages; administers citizenship applications; ensures gambling is fair, legal and honest; contributes to community development by administering lottery grants, community grants schemes and trusts; and provides support services and policy advice for ministers of the Crown. The department also oversees the Office of Ethnic Affairs, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, and local government commissioners. The department's website is

Justice, Ministry of: Te Manatū Ture. The Ministry of Justice provides leadership across the justice sector; research, evaluation and advice on justice-related matters for ministers and other departments; purchases advice during the government's annual budget round; and negotiates and advises on settlement of Treaty of Waitangi claims. Through the Chief Electoral Office, the ministry is responsible for the conduct of parliamentary elections and referenda. The ministry provides advice for the attorney-general on consistency between proposed legislation and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. It also provides advice on appointments to the judiciary. The ministry monitors and provides advice (including advice on appointments) to the Minister of Justice on the Crown entities and other bodies funded through Vote: Justice. The ministry is responsible for the administration of 140 acts and numerous regulations. See Chapter 10: Justice and Law. The ministry's website is

Labour, Department of: Te Tari Mahi. The Department of Labour delivers services across a range of labour market related areas, including employment relations, workplace health and safety and immigration and community employment. It provides input into broader policy advice to the government on issues with labour market impacts, such as accident insurance and rehabilitation, disability, education and economic development policies. The department's purpose is to link social and economic issues to enable people to develop and use their potential for the advantage of themselves and New Zealand. It is the government's main labour market agency and principal advisor on the labour market. The Department of Labour consists of five services: The Employment Relations Service; the Community Employment Group; Workplace Safety and Health; the New Zealand Immigration Service and the Labour Market Policy Group; plus an Office of the Chief Executive with responsibilities across the department, including accountability and monitoring.

Department of Labour activities cover:

  • Accident insurance – providing purchase, policy and monitoring advice to the government on accident prevention, compensation and rehabilitation issues. Maintaining an accident insurance database and monitoring accident insurance claims made against contracts entered into in 1999/2000.

  • Employment – providing policy, purchase and monitoring advice to the government on employment and related issues. Helping to build the capacity of communities and to assist them to identify and achieve new opportunities for sustainable economic and employment outcomes.

  • Employment relations – providing information to employers, employees and unions about employment relations matters and assistance to employers and employees in resolving problems in workplaces. Supporting operation of employment legislation policy, monitoring the regulatory framework of employment relations and providing policy advice to the government.

  • Immigration – managing the flow of people, including migrants and visitors, across New Zealand's borders; issuing visas and permits for people entering the country; taking responsibility for New Zealand's refugee programme and providing immigration policy advice to the government.

  • International labour issues – managing the government's relationship with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and other international institutions with an interest in the labour market.

  • Labour market analysis, research and policy advice – providing analysis on labour market trends and the economic outlook, evaluating the effectiveness of policies and programmes, and undertaking research on labour market dynamics to inform policy advice. Providing policy advice to the government on labour market impact of a wide range of policy initiatives.

  • Workplace health and safety – working to lower work-related death and injury rates; providing information to workplaces on occupational safety and health issues; enforcing health and safety legislation and providing policy advice to the government.

Among legislation administered by the department are the Accident Insurance Act 1998, the Accident Insurance Amendment Act 2000, the Employment Relations Act 2000, the Equal Pay Act 1972, the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, the Holidays Act 1981, the Immigration Act 1987 and the Minimum Wage Act 1983. The department's website is

Land Information New Zealand: Toitū te whenua. Land Information New Zealand is responsible for land-related policy and regulatory and core government service delivery functions. Land Information New Zealand advises the government, administers the Crown's interests in land and makes government-held information available to the public. Its areas of responsibility are land titles (land registration and search facilities), survey systems (administration of the survey infrastructure), Crown property (administration of Crown land and disposal of surplus Crown land), topography/hydrography (provision of digital databases, core topographic mapping and hydrographic charts) and rating valuations (standard setting for rating valuations). See Chapter 16: Land and Environment. The Land Information New Zealand website is

Māori Development, Ministry of: Te Puni Kōkiri. The Ministry of Māori Development was established as a policy ministry on 1 January 1992, replacing the Ministry of Māori Affairs (Manatū Māori) and the Iwi Transition Agency (Te Tira Ahu Iwi). The ministry is responsible under the Ministry of Māori Development Act 1991 for promoting increases in the levels of achievement attained by Māori with respect to education, training and employment, health, and economic resource development. It also monitors and liaises with departments and agencies providing services for Māori to ensure the adequacy of those services. The ministry's functions are to provide high quality policy advice on the Crown's relationship with iwi, hapū and Māori and on the government's objectives, interests and obligations relating to Māori. In particular, it advises on strategic leadership, sectoral issues, and intervention and risk management of Crown/Māori issues. The ministry's website is

National Library of New Zealand: Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa. The role of the National Library is to collect and maintain literature and information resources that relate to New Zealand and the Pacific, to make this information readily available, and to preserve the documentary heritage of New Zealand for future generations. The National Library creates better access to information for New Zealanders by supporting the activities of other New Zealand libraries, including public, university and school libraries, and by collecting and preserving material which is the ‘memory’ of New Zealand. The library also gives policy advice to the government on access to information in New Zealand. See Chapter 12: Arts and Cultural Heritage. The library's website is

National Provident Fund. The National Provident Fund provides superannuation schemes for employer/employee groups and for individual members. The National Provident Fund has been closed to new members since 1991. The fund comprises 14 separate superannuation schemes. The fund's website is

The Office of Treaty Settlements: Te Tari Whakatau Take e pa ana ki te Tiriti o Waitangi. The Office of Treaty Settlements provides policy advice to the government on historical claims under the Treaty of Waitangi, negotiates settlements of specific historical treaty claims and implements those settlements. It also acquires, manages, transfers and disposes of Crown-owned land for use in treaty settlements and related purposes. The office's website is

Pacific Island Affairs, Ministry of. The Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs exists to promote development of Pacific peoples in New Zealand in a way that recognises and reflects Pacific cultural values and aspirations, so that Pacific peoples can participate in, and contribute fully to, New Zealand's social, cultural and economic life. The ministry provides policy advice to the government and other agencies on key policies and issues impacting on Pacific peoples and is responsible for communicating information and government policy advice to and from Pacific communities and other agencies. See Chapter 6: Social Framework. The ministry's website is

Police, New Zealand: Ngā Pirihimana o Aotearoa. New Zealand Police is a state agency serving all New Zealand. The two strategic goals of New Zealand Police are community safety and crime reduction. The vision of New Zealand Police is to build ‘safer communities together’, which gives direction to the principal operational strategy of community-oriented policing. The police mission is to serve the community by reducing the incidence and effects of crime, detecting and apprehending offenders, maintaining law and order and enhancing public safety. The police website is

Prime Minister and Cabinet, The Department of the. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet provides advice to the prime minister on policy, constitutional and administrative issues and provides secretariat support to the executive council and cabinet. It provides support services to the governor-general and manages the governor-general's residences. Through the External Assessments Bureau, it provides intelligence assessments to the government on developments overseas. The department contributes to the effective coordination of government across departmental lines, tests the quality of advice coming from departments and acts as an ‘honest broker’ where there are conflicts about policy advice being offered by different parts of the public sector. The department from time to time undertakes special operational functions. Examples have included the Crime Prevention Unit and the Prime Ministerial Taskforce on the Year 2000. The department's website is

Public Trust Office. The Public Trust Office is a self-funding government department providing a wide range of financial services and services as trustee, executor, manager and attorney. It is also required to provide a number of statutory services. The office's website is

Quotable Value New Zealand Ltd. Valuation New Zealand was replaced in July 1998 by the Crown entity Quotable Value New Zealand Ltd and the Office of the Valuer General. The Office of the Valuer General is a statutory office of the Crown created under the Rating Valuations Act 1998. It is located within the structure of Land Information New Zealand. See Chapter 16: Land and Environment. Quotable Value's website is

Research, Science and Technology, Ministry of: Te Manatū Pūtaiao. The mission of the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology is to ‘inspire and assist New Zealanders to create a better future through research and innovation.’ Its main roles are providing advice to the government on research and innovation policies, including investment priorities, science matters and international science issues; applying innovation policies to grow New Zealand's economy; managing contracts on behalf of the Minister of Research, Science and Technology with agencies that directly invest in research and innovation; raising the profile of research and innovation with New Zealanders making career choices and with the social, environmental and business sectors. See Chapter 15: Science and Technology. The ministry's website is

Serious Fraud Office, The: Te Tari Hara Tāware. The Serious Fraud Office, established as an operational department in 1990, has the primary role of detecting and investigating cases of serious or complex fraud and expeditiously prosecuting offenders. Based in Auckland, the office is the only government department to have its head office outside Wellington. See Chapter 24: Commerce and Services. The office's website is

Social Development, Ministry of: Te Manatū Whakahiato ora. The Ministry of Social Development was established on 1 October 2001 to provide strategic social policy advice to the New Zealand Government and to deliver income support and employment services to more than a quarter of all New Zealanders. The ministry's income support and employment services are delivered by 170 service centres trading under the name Work and Income and offer a single point of contact for New Zealanders needing work-search support, income support and in-work support. Work and Income employs about 5,000 people and had more than 1 million clients in the 2000/01 financial year. An average 1,600 applications for income support or pensions are processed each day, while nationally Work and Income handles approximately 66,000 transactions a day by mail, telephone and personal contact. See Chapter 7: Social Welfare. The ministry's website is

State Services Commission: Te Komihana O ngā Tari Kāwanatanga. The State Services Commission exists to assist the State Services Commissioner carry out his/her statutory functions. The commission's website is

Statistics New Zealand: Te Tari Tatau. The main function of Statistics New Zealand is to provide and distribute statistical information about the economic, demographic, social and environmental circumstances of New Zealand. It also provides advice to the Minister of Statistics on statistical policy matters and on the relevance of official statistics. On behalf of the minister, the department ensures that the official statistical system is efficiently integrated and coordinated to cover all government-produced statistics. Output from the organisation's databases is formatted into a range of products and services appropriate to the requirements of government, as well as to the general public and commercial users. Cooperation with other national statistical offices and international agencies fosters availability of high-quality, internationally-comparable statistical information. Statistics New Zealand operates under the Statistics Act 1975, which defines collection authorities, as well as setting out confidentiality safeguards. Statistics New Zealand's website is

Transport, Ministry of: Te Manatū Waka. The ministry's core functions are largely policy oriented – ensuring that the government receives high quality advice and information relating to the promotion of safe, sustainable transport at reasonable cost. As the Minister of Transport's agent, the ministry plays an important role in negotiating and monitoring contracts with the stand alone Civil Aviation, Maritime Safety and Land Transport Safety Authorities, the Aviation Security Service, Transit New Zealand, Transfund New Zealand and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission. It also monitors the government's contract for weather services with MetService New Zealand Ltd and manages the Motor Vehicle Registry and Revenue Management business. Development of any legislation for the transport sector is the ministry's responsibility. Its other significant function is to formulate and implement policy relating to the development of New Zealand's international air transport links. It also advises the government in relation to the Crown's interests in joint venture airports operated in partnership with local authorities. See Chapter 23: Transport.

Treasury, The: Kaitohutohu Kaupapa Rawa. The Treasury manages the Crown's finances and is the government's lead advisor on economic and financial policy. At an operational level, it manages the Crown's liabilities, monitors significant assets, manages and publishes Budget documents and Crown financial statements, and manages New Zealand's relationships with international financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The Treasury also provides wide-ranging policy advice, reports on most expenditure proposals being considered by the government, and monitors and analyses developments in New Zealand and international economies. See Chapter 28: Public Sector Finance. The Treasury's website is

Women's Affairs, Ministry of: Te Minitatanga mō ngā Wāhine. The Ministry of Women's Affairs is the government's primary provider of gender-specific advice. The ministry advises the government on all aspects of policy development and implementation with regard to women in areas of strategic policy, economic autonomy, safety, justice and well-being. The ministry manages the government's international obligations in relation to the status of women. A priority for 2001/02 was preparation of New Zealand's fifth report on the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The ministry recommends suitably qualified women for positions on government-appointed boards and committees, with the aim of increasing the number of women, including Māori and Pacific women, in decision making roles. The ministry's website is

Youth Affairs, Ministry of: Te Tari Taiohi. The role of the Ministry of Youth Affairs is to advise the government on involvement with people aged 12 to 25 years. It combines policy advice and operational roles in support of this task. The ministry works to promote the direct participation of people aged between 12 and 25 in the social, educational, economic and cultural development of New Zealand, both locally and nationally. The ministry's website is

Non-departmental public bodies

Crown entities. Crown entities are organisations or offices listed in the Fourth Schedule of the Public Finance Act 1989. The fourth schedule can be amended to add, remove or change the name of a Crown entity by order-in-council. The act establishes financial management and accountability provisions for bodies set up by the government or by legislation that depend wholly or partly on public funds. There are nearly 3,000 Crown entities, including school and reserve boards. Crown entities generally have regulatory, purchasing and service provision functions. Most are run by boards, which appoint chief executives who have responsibility for settling terms and conditions for employees. Some Crown entities are companies and are subject to the Companies Act 1993 and to monitoring on the government's behalf by the Crown Company Monitoring Advisory Unit (CCMAU).

State-owned enterprises. State-owned enterprises (SOEs) are government-owned organisations operating on commercial lines and are companies under the Companies Act 1993. They are required under statute to operate as successful businesses and to be as profitable and efficient as comparable businesses in the private sector. The government's interest in SOEs is substantially in their ownership. The government may purchase services from SOEs, but generally will do so on the same basis as other purchasers. The State Owned Enterprises Act 1986 specifies principles governing the operation of SOEs, authorises formation of companies and establishes accountability requirements. The government's shareholding interests are supported by the Crown Company Monitoring Advisory Unit (CCMAU), which is part of Treasury. SOEs are named in the first schedule to the act. Since 1986 there have been numerous changes to the first schedule as new SOEs have been added and as others have been sold. In addition to 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.

Crown Company Monitoring Advisory Unit. The increasing number and diversity of limited liability companies owned by the Crown led it to establish the Crown Company Monitoring Advisory Unit (CCMAU) in 1993 as a centre of expertise in the monitoring of these entities. CCMAU advises and supports primarily the Minister for State-owned Enterprises and the Minister for Crown Research Institutes. The shareholding ministers of other Crown companies (such as Radio New Zealand, Housing New Zealand, Animal Control Products and airport companies) receive advice from the unit in their role as monitors of the Crown's ownership interest, as does the Minister of Finance, who, as a shareholding minister, receives unit advice via the responsible minister and in joint reports from the unit and the Treasury.

CCMAU's mission is to be the government's pre-eminent ownership monitoring, advisory and governance agency. One of the unit's chief functions is the provision of advice to shareholding ministers relating to the performance of Crown companies against their objectives and associated statement of corporate intent/statement of intent targets (including market, financial, investment and enterprise-specific objectives) and the appropriateness of those objectives and targets. Other functions include the provision of administrative support, including facilitation of information flows between shareholding ministers and Crown company boards, and coordination of the Crown company monitoring regime, including operating processes and facilitating advice from other advisors.

The unit, while independent for advice purposes, is attached to the Treasury for administrative purposes. Its executive director is accountable to the Treasurer, through the Secretary of the Treasury, for management of the unit and appointment, remuneration and performance of staff. Some of the principal issues facing the unit are:

  • The need for advice from a commercial perspective to assist ministerial decision making in relation to Crown companies.

  • Issues of shareholder and director accountability.

  • Changes in information management and monitoring methodologies.

  • The long-term creation of shareholder value.

  • Pressures from Crown companies to expand or change their activities and, as a consequence, changing the Crown's ownership risk profile.

Controller and Auditor-General

The Controller and Auditor-General is an officer of parliament appointed by the governor-general under the Public Audit Act 2001. The position is independent of the executive government and only the governor-general, upon an address from the House of Representatives, can end tenure. The Controller and Auditor-General and the people acting under his or her delegation comprise the Audit Office. The constitutionally important controller function of the Audit Office, as set out in the Public Finance Acts 1977 and 1989, is to act as a monitor on behalf of parliament and to control issues of money from the Crown bank account. The Audit Office has to be satisfied that all issues from the account for the government's expenditure requirements are within 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. The office plays a key part in ensuring adequate accountability by these organisations. It also conducts periodic performance audits to ascertain whether public entities are carrying out their activities effectively and efficiently, are complying with their statutory obligations and are acting with due regard for probity and financial prudence. Considerable emphasis is placed on reporting the results of this work. The most visible results are the audit reports on public entity financial statements tabled in parliament each year. If shortcomings are discovered during an audit, the principal recourse of the Audit Office is to report to the management of the organisation, to a minister, or to parliament and its select committees. Other reports are also tabled on the results of performance audits and inquiries conducted by the Controller and Auditor-General.

The Controller and Auditor-General uses a mix of his own staff and private sector auditors to carry out individual audits in accordance with requirements laid down by him.

Official information

The Official Information Act 1982 is based on the principle that information shall be made available unless there is good reason for withholding it. The purposes of the act are to:

  • Increase availability of official information to the people of New Zealand.

  • Provide for proper access by bodies corporate to official information relating to themselves (access by individuals to information relating to them is now governed by the Privacy Act 1993).

  • Protect official information consistent with the public interest and preservation of individual privacy.

With the exception of the Parliamentary Counsel Service, the Official Information Act covers all government departments, state-owned enterprises and a range of statutory bodies. It does not include courts, tribunals (in relation to their judicial function) or some judicial bodies. All local authorities and statutory boards are covered under either the Official Information Act 1982 or the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987. These acts provide special rights of access by bodies corporate to personal information about themselves.

Requests for access to official information can be made by a corporation sole and by a body of people whether corporate or unincorporate. Protection of the privacy of natural persons may be overturned if it is in the public interest to make information available.

Among criteria to be considered when judging whether information should be withheld are whether, if the information were released, it would prejudice the security, defence or economic international relations of New Zealand; the maintenance of law and order; the effective conduct of public affairs; trade secrets and commercial sensitivity; personal privacy and the safety of any person.

Ombudsmen can review a decision to refuse information. This investigation is private and free. The formal recommendation of an ombudsman is binding unless overridden by the governor-general by order-in-council.

An information guide concerning access to personal and official information is available from the Ministry of Justice. The Directory of Official Information is a comprehensive guide to organisations covered by the act, including their structure, functions, policies, documents held, contact officers and other listings which facilitate access of information.


The principal function of ombudsmen is to enquire into complaints relating to administrative decisions of government departments and related organisations, hospitals and health authorities. Under the Ombudsmen Act 1975, there is provision for the appointment of a Chief Ombudsman and one or more ombudsmen in temporary or permanent positions.

All investigations undertaken by ombudsmen are conducted in private. When an ombudsman believes a complaint can be sustained, his opinion is reported to the government department or organisation concerned, along with any recommendation for action. A copy of this report is made available to the responsible minister. At the local government level, the ombudsman reports his finding to the organisation and provides a copy to the mayor or chairperson.

Ombudsmen also investigate recommendations made to ministers by government departments, organisations or employees. Similarly, they look into recommendations made to local body councils or boards by any committee, subcommittee, officer, employee or member.

It is also the responsibility of ombudsmen to investigate complaints on decisions for the request of official information.

Under the Protected Disclosures Act 2000, ombudsmen can provide guidance and information to employees who have made, or who are considering making, a protected disclosure pursuant to the act, and they fulfil the ‘appropriate authority’ requirements of the act.

Ombudsmen have no authority to investigate complaints against private companies and individuals, decisions of judges, complaints directed at ministerial decisions, or at the full council of local government. They can also decide that certain complaints, although within their sphere, are better suited to other avenues of administrative redress.

Table 3.15 details complaints made to the ombudsmen for the year to June 2001.

Table 3.15. Complaints to the ombudsmen, 20011

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

1Year ended 30 June.

Source: Office of the Ombudsmen

Declined, no jurisdiction9319
Declined or discontinued (section 17)50410525
Resolved in course of investigation23028559
Sustained, recommendation made44
Sustained, no recommendation made2516
Not sustained13813122
Formal investigation not undertaken, but explanation, advice or assistance given2,60144783
Complaints transferred to:
Privacy Commissioner2285
Health & Disability Commissioner7
Police Complaints Authority102
Still under investigation as at 30 June45932645
Total 20004,0041,309206

Privacy commissioner

The functions of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner: Te Mana Matapono Matatapu are set out in the Privacy Act 1993. The office is independent of the executive and of parliament. One of the main purposes of the act is the promotion and protection of individual privacy. The act establishes 12 information privacy principles and four public register privacy principles. Both sets of principles are subject to any other law and apply to both public and private sectors. Information privacy principles deal with the collection, security, use and disclosure of personal information, access to and correction of personal information, and the assignment and use of unique identifiers. Public register privacy principles place some controls on the availability of public register information and its subsequent use.

The privacy commissioner has the power to issue codes of practice which may modify information privacy principles by prescribing different standards. Codes of practice can also prescribe how information privacy principles are to be applied or complied with. Codes replace the principles in particular contexts. The most important code issued by the commissioner is the Health Information Privacy Code 1994, which provides stringent controls on the collection, use and disclosure of medical and health information by health sector agencies.

The Privacy Act also lays down rules controlling statutory information matching programmes in the public sector. Information matching involves one government department comparing personal information collected for specific purposes with databases of personal information in other government departments held for different purposes. The act requires notice to be given to an affected individual before adverse action is taken on the basis of a match.

The commissioner investigates complaints alleging breaches of privacy principles, codes of practice and information matching rules. The investigation process emphasises conciliation. If a complaint cannot be settled, the privacy commissioner may refer it to the proceedings commissioner, who may issue proceedings before the Complaints Review Tribunal. If either of the commissioners do not do so, the aggrieved person may issue proceedings before the tribunal. The tribunal has the power to award a number of remedies (including a declaration that an action has caused interference with privacy), orders, damages and costs. In 1999/2000, the privacy commissioner referred four complaints to the proceedings commissioner, and 27 complainants commenced proceedings on their own initiative.

The privacy commissioner performs a general ‘watchdog’ role over privacy. In 1999/2000, he made a number of reports to the Minister of Justice, and public statements on a range of issues affecting individual privacy. The commissioner peruses new legislation and prepares reports on privacy issues. He also appears before parliamentary select committees considering bills. The Official Information Act 1982 and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 require ombudsmen to consult with the commissioner on official information access requests where privacy is a possible ground for withholding information. During the 1999/2000 year, 52 formal consultations under the two acts were completed. The commissioner's website is

Table 3.16 details complaints made to the privacy commissioner for the years to June 1999 and 2000.

Table 3.16. Complaints to the privacy commissioner

 Year ended June
Source: Office of the Privacy Commissioner
New complaints received1,003798
Complaints current at start of year1,0681,126
Number of complaints under process2,0711,924
Number of complaints closed during year895956
No jurisdiction5645
Complaints resolved without final opinion708775
Final opinion (substance 44 – no substance 102)131146

Human Rights Act 1993

The Human Rights Act 1993 amalgamated the Race Relations Act 1971 and the Human Rights Commission Act 1977 and added five new prohibited grounds of discrimination. There are 13 prohibited grounds of discrimination: sex, marital status, religious belief, ethical belief, colour, race, ethnic or national origins, disability, age, political opinion, employment status, family status and sexual orientation. Areas in which it is unlawful to discriminate are employment; access to places, vehicles and facilities; provision of goods and services; provision of land, housing and other accommodation; and access to educational establishments. The act also contains provisions relating to racial disharmony, sexual harassment and racial harassment.

An amendment to the act in 2001 made most public sector activity subject only to the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 anti-discrimination standard. This standard is incorporated into the Human Rights Act for this purpose (part IA). However, government employment policies and practices and the related areas of racial and sexual harassment and victimisation continue to be regulated by the standard in part II of the Human Rights Act.

The 2001 amendment also combined the Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Race Relations Conciliator into a new Human Rights Commission. This organisation is strategically focussed on general human rights education and advocacy, while retaining some discrimination complaints roles. The Human Rights Commission's role in complaints is as the publicly-funded entry point for all complaints of discrimination whether relating to government or non-government activity. The commission attempts to assist the parties to resolve complaints using mediation or other low-level dispute resolution mechanisms. If low-level resolution fails or is inappropriate, the complainant may approach the independent Director of Human Rights Proceedings for possible litigation assistance. Complainants may also take their own litigation or engage their own legal counsel.

The Human Rights Review Tribunal is the specialist tribunal to determine discrimination proceedings. Where a complaint is upheld, including complaints about government policies and practices, a wide range of remedies are available, for example damages and orders of specific performance. When a complaint concerns legislation or validly-made regulations, and the complaint is upheld, the sole remedy available is a declaration of inconsistency. This does not invalidate the legislation, but the responsible minister is required to bring the declaration to the attention of the House of Representatives, along with the executive's response to that declaration.

There are appeal rights from the tribunal to the high court and proceedings may also be removed to the high court if appropriate.

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment was established by the Environment Act 1986 following reform of environmental administration in New Zealand. The commissioner is an independent officer of parliament whose role is to review and provide advice on environmental issues and on the agencies and processes established by the government to manage the environment. The primary objective of the commissioner's office is to maintain and improve the quality of the environment by providing advice to parliament, local councils, business, tangata whenua, communities and other public agencies. The commissioner may investigate any matter where the environment may be, or has been, adversely affected; assess the capability, performance and effectiveness of the New Zealand system of environmental management; and provide advice and information that will assist people to maintain and improve the quality of the environment.

During 2000/01, the commissioner initiated investigations into the urban environment; into biosecurity; into the interaction between land use, biodiversity and sustainability goals; into the environmental management capacity of small local authorities; into urban water systems management; and into native plants on private land. Two environmental management audits were completed. The first reviewed the management of biosecurity risks to the environment, and the second was a progress report on hazardous waste management. The commissioner produced a background paper and a submission to the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification and was involved in a number of workshops, strategy planning sessions and responses to policy statements. The commissioner responded to 328 communications from citizens, non-government organisations, select committees, public authorities and international correspondents requesting information or assistance on environmental issues. The commissioner's website is

Table 3.17 lists the number of reports and papers produced by the commissioner during four comparable years.

Table 3.17. Reports and papers by the commissioner

Source: Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment
Investigation reports34583237
Information transfer papers or presentations278306242291

Public Trust

Public Trust, the first organisation of its kind in the world, was launched in 1873 by an act of parliament to provide New Zealanders with the opportunity of writing a will, thereby decreasing the number of intestacies, and to provide executor and trustee services. Before its inception, problems had arisen with unscrupulous individuals cheating beneficiaries out of their inheritances.

Public Trust has been a self-funding government department operating, most recently, under the Public Trust Office Act 1957. However, the Public Trust Bill proposes changes to the office's status and structure. The bill proposes that:

  • The operations and undertakings of the Public Trust Office will be vested in a new statutory corporation to be known as Public Trust.

  • The existing corporation sole (the Public Trustee), the Public Trust Office and the Public Trust Investment Board will be dissolved, and the new corporation will be their successor.

  • Public Trust will no longer be a government department, but will become a Crown entity subject to accountability and reporting arrangements under the Public Finance Act 1989.

  • Public Trust will have a board responsible to the minister for the management and operation of the organisation, including appointment of its chief executive.

  • Public Trust will continue to be responsible for carrying out existing public and social functions and to provide free wills and other non-commercial services when so requested and funded by the Crown.

  • Crown ownership of Public Trust is confirmed.

  • Provision is made for payment of dividends to the Crown and also for a one-off payment of surplus capital immediately prior to establishment of the new corporation.

  • The independence of Public Trust in client matters is preserved and enhanced by a specific direction that it must, when managing and administering estates and in fulfilling any other fiduciary obligations, act in an independent manner free from any instruction or direction from the Crown.

With 36 outlets throughout New Zealand, Public Trust administers about 50,000 estates, trusts, funds and agencies. On behalf of individuals, it has a trustee role in relation to approximately $2 billion of assets, of which $1 billion is managed funds. In the corporate trustee area, Public Trust has a supervisory or trustee responsibility in relation to approximately $10 billion of assets. Public Trust's Common Fund stands at about $425 million, its Group Investment Funds at around $300 million and the retail Public Trust Investment Funds at about $250 million. Public Trust also holds the statutorily-required deposits of insurance companies.

Most Public Trust activities are commercial in nature, but it is also required to provide a number of statutory services which may not be income earning. These are of a regulatory, quasi-judicial, trustee of last resort, trustee-guardian and representative (ie in the case of legal incapacity) nature.

Local government

New Zealand has a system of local government largely independent of the central executive government. The system has, however, a subordinate role in the constitution, as the powers of local authorities are only those conferred by parliament. Local authorities fall into three categories, regional, territorial and special purpose authorities. Many territorial authorities contain one or more communities administered by community boards, but these are not separate local authorities.

Six special purpose authorities are constituted under their own acts and one, Infrastructure Auckland, is constituted under the Local Government Act 1974, which is the statute constituting regional councils and territorial authorities. Boundaries are usually defined by the Local Government Commission, or the Minister of Local Government. Local authorities have their own sources of income, independent of central government, with the basic source (apart from the income of trading activities under the control of territorial authorities) local taxes on landed property (rates). Rates are set by local authorities themselves, subject to the Rating Powers Act 1988.

Several important statutes apply not only to local authorities as defined in the Local Government Act, but to a wider range of public bodies. These include the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, the Local Authorities (Members’ Interests) Act 1968 and the Local Elections and Polls Act 1976. Local authorities derive their functions and powers not only from local government legislation, but from numerous other acts, such as the Resource Management Act 1991, the Transit New Zealand Act 1989, and the Building Act 1991.

Under Parliamentary Standing Orders, local authorities can promote legislation about matters affecting areas within their jurisdiction which they are not empowered to deal with already. When 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 body or bodies which promoted it.

Local authorities are answerable to their electorates through triennial local body elections.

Legislation includes numerous provisions for local authorities to give public notice and receive public submissions before making certain important decisions. The Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 promotes open conduct of local authority meetings and sets out rights of access to official information. Local authorities may also come under the scrutiny of the ombudsmen, the Controller and Auditor-General and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

The Minister of Local Government may appoint a review authority when it is considered there has been serious mismanagement by a local authority, and may require the local authority to implement the review authority's recommendations. Any decision by a local authority may be reviewed by appeal to the high court, and decisions under the Resource Management Act 1991 may be appealed to the environment court.

Local government organisation

New Zealand has 12 regional councils, 74 territorial authorities, 147 community boards and seven special authorities. The Local Government Act 1974 as amended in 1989 holds as central recognition of the existence of different communities in New Zealand, their separate identities and values, and the effective participation of local people in local government. Local authorities are required by statute to conduct their affairs in an open and proper manner, to separate their regulatory and non-regulatory activities and to adequately inform local communities of their activities. Emphasis is placed on setting objectives and measuring performance. Local authorities are permitted to corporatise or privatise their trading activities and may put out the delivery of services to competitive tender as an alternative to using in-house business units. Table 3.18 lists territorial authorities and council members.

Regional councils. Regional councils are directly elected, set their own rates and have a chairperson elected by their members. Their main functions are matters under the Resource Management Act 1991 and the Soil Conservation and Rivers Control Act, the control of pests and noxious plants, harbour regulations and marine pollution control, regional aspects of civil defence, an overview of transport planning, and control of passenger transport operators. Some regional councils also have other functions, such as those formerly undertaken by land drainage boards.

Table 3.18. Territorial authorities

Cities/districtsCouncil members1

1Based on October 1998 elections. Figures include mayors.

2Unitary authority.

Source: Local Government New Zealand

North Island
North Shore16
Palmerston North16
Upper Hutt11
Far North11
South Waikato11
Western Bay of Plenty13
Central Hawke's Bay11
New Plymouth17
South Taranaki13
Kapiti Coast14
South Wairarapa10
South Island
Banks Peninsula10
Central Otago14
Chatham Islands Council9

Table 3.19 shows regional councils and council members based on the October 1998 elections.

Table 3.19. Regional councils

RegionCouncil members1

1Based on October 1998 elections.

Source: Local Government New Zealand

North Island
Bay of Plenty11
Hawke's Bay9
South Island
West Coast6

Territorial authorities. New Zealand's 74 territorial authorities consist of 15 city councils, 58 district councils and the Chatham Islands Council. Territorial authorities are directly elected, set their own rates and have a mayor elected by the people. They have a wide range of functions, including land use consents under the Resource Management Act 1991, noise and litter control, roading, water supply, sewage reticulation and disposal, rubbish collection and disposal, parks and reserves, libraries, land subdivision, pensioner housing, health inspection, liquor licensing, building consents, parking controls and civil defence. New cities can now be constituted only by a reorganisation scheme where a new district is formed and that district has a population of at least 50,000, is predominantly urban, is a distinct entity and a major centre of activity within the region.

Figure 3.5. Local government boundaries – North Island
With effect from 1 July 1992

Local government boundaries – North IslandWith effect from 1 July 1992

Figure 3.6. Local government boundaries – South Island
With effect from 1 July 1992

Local government boundaries – South IslandWith effect from 1 July 1992

Unitary authorities. Unitary authorities are territorial authorities which also have regional powers. Legislation in 1989 prevented any unitary authorities being established, other than in Gisborne. However, an amendment in 1992 not only created three more unitary authorities (Marlborough District, Tasman District and Nelson City), but made it possible for others to be created by submitting proposals to the Local Government Commission.

Community boards. A community board is primarily an advocate for its community and a means whereby the territorial authority can consult with the community. Any power the community board has is delegated by the territorial authority, but cannot include such powers as levying rates, appointing staff or owning property. Community boards are partly elected by the community and partly appointed by the territorial authority from among its own members, or are entirely elected. Community boards can be established anywhere in New Zealand to serve any number of inhabitants. They may be established upon the initiative either of a given number of electors of the territorial authority, or as provided in a reorganisation scheme. Community boundaries often coincide with those of wards (divisions of the district for electoral purposes). Boards have between four and 12 members.

Special purpose local authorities

The number of special purpose local authorities was greatly reduced following local body reform in 1989. Catchment boards, harbour boards, pest destruction boards and land drainage boards, among others, disappeared, with their functions reallocated either to regional councils or, to a lesser extent, to territorial authorities. Categories remaining include scenic and recreation boards. There are also some one-off authorities such as the Aotea Centre Board of Management, the Canterbury Museum Trust Board, the Council of the Auckland Institute and Museum, the Otago Museum Trust Board, the Masterton Lands Trust, the Greytown Lands Trust and Infrastructure Auckland.

Infrastructure Auckland. Infrastructure Auckland was created in 1998 to help address the Auckland region's land and passenger transport and stormwater problems. As successor to the Auckland Regional Services Trust, Infrastructure Auckland inherited the assets of the trust, except those of Watercare Services Ltd, which were transferred to Auckland local authorities. Infrastructure Auckland's assets are estimated to be worth around $1 billion and include 80 percent of the shares in Ports of Auckland Ltd and 100 percent of America's Cup Village Ltd and Northern Disposal Systems Ltd. The mandate for this wealth as defined by legislation is to benefit the community as a whole by making grants to land and passenger transport and stormwater projects. When Infrastructure Auckland was initially set up, it was controlled by nine members, six former members of the Auckland Regional Services Trust and three appointed by an electoral college. From 1 July 1999, that number was reduced to seven members and from 1 January 2000, the electoral college has had sole power to appoint all members and the chairperson. The electoral college comprises eight members, made up of one member from each of the seven territorial authorities in the Auckland region and one from the Auckland Regional Council. Members representing Manukau and Auckland City Councils have three votes, members representing Waitakere and North Shore City have two votes, with the other four council representatives each having one vote. Apart from appointing and discharging members and the chairperson of Infrastructure Auckland, they also, among other things, monitor Infrastructure Auckland's performance.

A sketch perspective of the proposed Britomart underground railway station in Auckland.

Local government elections

Local government elections are held on the second Saturday in October every third year. The next elections will be in 2004. All regional council, territorial authority, special purpose local authority and community board elections are conducted at the same time. In the year before an election, regional and territorial authorities are required to review the number of members and the number and size of their electorates. Electorates are known as wards in the case of territorial authorities and constituencies in the case of regions. Territorial authorities have the option of deciding whether members will be elected by the electors of the district as a whole. Regions must be divided into constituencies. The purpose of the review is to give effective representation to communities of interest and fair representation to electors. The review process provides for objections and appeals by the public. When necessary, final decisions are made by the Local Government Commission.

Voting procedures. Although postal voting is now universal, any territorial authority may decide whether an election is to be conducted by attendance at a polling booth, or by post. The method of casting a vote is similar to parliamentary elections. The surnames of candidates are printed on the ballot paper and electors place a tick after the name of the candidate they wish to vote for. The voting system currently used is ‘first past the post’. From 2004, however, elections for district health boards will use the single transferable vote (STV) system, while other local authorities will have the option of using STV.

Local authority franchise. Every parliamentary elector is automatically qualified as a residential elector of a local authority if the address at which the person is registered on the electoral roll is within the district of the local authority. Ratepayers who are not residents are entitled to enrol and vote in any region, district or community in which they pay rates. Rolls are compiled by territorial authorities, who usually compile rolls and conduct elections for other authorities as well. Information for the residential electoral roll is obtained from the parliamentary electoral database, and the ratepayer roll is compiled from enrolment forms received from ratepayers.

Membership of local authorities. Subject to meeting certain residency and citizenship requirements, any person who is a parliamentary elector may be elected to a regional council or territorial authority or community board. In 1992, a prohibition was introduced on a person being a candidate for both a regional council and a territorial authority or community board within that region. Vacancies may be filled either by an election or by appointment, depending upon the type of council, the circumstances of the vacancy and the wishes of electors.

Remuneration. 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. Maximum and minimum salary and allowance levels are set by the Higher Salaries Commission, giving the council or board the discretion to decide the actual rate within the prescribed limits.

Local Government Commission

The Local Government Commission comprises three members, one of whom is the chairperson, appointed by the Minister of Local Government. The commission has two major functions. Firstly, as a quasi-judicial appeal authority, to hear and determine appeals against decisions of local authorities on proposed boundary alterations; appeals and counter-objections relating to ward and membership proposals of a local authority following its triennial review of representation and membership; proposals for the constitution of communities; and proposals for the reorganisation, or abolition, of communities where there is disagreement between a community board and its parent authority. Secondly, the commission has responsibilities relating to the consideration and processing of reorganisation proposals for the union or constitution of districts or regions. The commission may also carry out investigations of particular matters affecting local government and report on them to the Minister of Local Government.

National emblems and anthems

New Zealand coat of arms

The New Zealand coat of arms is protected under the Flags, Emblems, and Names Protection Act 1981 and its lawful use is confined to official purposes.

New Zealand flag

Under the Flags, Emblems, and Names Protection Act 1981, the flag previously known as the New Zealand ensign was declared the national flag of New Zealand. It is the symbol of the realm, government and people of New Zealand. The basis of the New Zealand Flag is the Union Flag (Jack) in the upper left quarter, and, on a blue ground to the right, the Southern Cross represented by four five-pointed stars with white borders.

National anthems

New Zealand has two national anthems: God Defend New Zealand and God Save the Queen. God Defend New Zealand is a poem written by Thomas Bracken set to music composed by John J Woods. It was first performed in public on Christmas Day 1876 and formally adopted as the national hymn in 1940. In 1977, with the permission of Queen Elizabeth II, the government adopted both God Defend New Zealand and God Save the Queen as national anthems of equal status to be used in the order appropriate to the occasion.

Māori and English texts of the New Zealand national anthem

AotearoaGod Defend New Zealand
Source: Ministry for Culture and Heritage

1. E Ihowā Atua,

O ngā iwi mātou rā

Āta whakarongona;

Me aroha noa

Kia hua ko te pai;

Kia tau tō atawhai;

Manaakitia mai


1. God of Nations at Thy feet,

In the bonds of love we meet,

Hear our voices, we entreat,

God defend our free land.

Guard Pacific's triple star

From the shafts of strife and war,

Make her praises heard afar,

God defend New Zealand.

2. ōna mano tāngata

Kiri whero, kiri mā,

Iwi Māori Pākehā,

Rūpeke katoa,

Nei ka tono ko ngā hē

Māu e whakaahu kē,

Kia ora mārire


2. Men of every creed and race,

Gather here before Thy face,

Asking Thee to bless this place,

God defend our free land.

From dissension, envy, hate,

And corruption guard our State,

Make our country good and great,

God defend New Zealand.

3. Tōna mana kia tū!

Tōna kaha kia ū;

Tōna rongo hei pakū

Ki te ao katoa

Aua rawa ngā whawhai

Ngā tutū a tata mai;

Kia tupu nui ai


3. Peace, not war, shall be our boast,

But, should foes assail our coast,

Make us then a mighty host,

God defend our free land.

Lord of battles in Thy might,

Put our enemies to flight,

Let our cause be just and right,

God defend New Zealand.

4. Waiho tona takiwā

Ko te ao mārama;

Kia whiti tōna rā

Taiāwhio noa.

Ko te hae me te ngangau

Meinga kia kore kau;

Waiho i te rongo mau


4. Let our love for Thee increase,

May Thy blessings never cease.

Give us plenty, give us peace,

God defend our free land.

From dishonour and from shame,

Guard our country's spotless name,

Crown her with immortal fame,

God defend New Zealand.

5. Tōna pai me toitū

Tika rawa, pono pū;

Tōna noho, tana tū;

Iwi nō Ihowā.

Kaua mōna whakamā;

Kia hau te ingoa;

Kia tū hei tauira;


5. May our mountains ever be

Freedoms ramparts on the sea,

Make us faithful unto Thee,

God defend our free land.

Guide her in the nations’ van,

Preaching love and truth to man,

Working out Thy glorious plan,

God defend New Zealand.


  • 3.1 Ministry of Justice; Statistics New Zealand; Office of the Governor-General.

  • 3.2 Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives; Parliamentary Service; Cabinet Office; Chief Electoral Office; Ministry of Justice.

  • 3.3 State Services Commission; government departments as listed; Office of the Controller and Auditor-General; Crown Company Monitoring Advisory Unit; Office of the Ombudsmen; Office of the Privacy Commissioner; Ministry of Justice; Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment; Public Trust.

  • 3.4 Local Government Commission; Department of Internal Affairs; Local Government New Zealand.

  • 3.5 Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

Statistics New Zealand divisional manager responsible: Ian McLeod.

Further information


Burrows JF (1999). Statute Law in New Zealand, Butterworths, Wellington.

Chen M, and Palmer G (1993). Public Law in New Zealand: Cases, materials, commentary and questions, Oxford University Press, Auckland.

Harris P, and Levine S (1994). The New Zealand Politics Source Book 3rd ed, Dunmore Press, Palmerston North.

James C (ed) (2000). Building the Constitution. Institute of Policy Studies, Victoria University of Wellington.

Joseph PA (2000). Constitutional and Administrative Law in New Zealand 2nd ed, Brookers, Wellington.

Joseph PA (ed) (2001). Essays on the Constitution, 2nd ed, Brookers, Wellington.

Miller R (ed) (2001). New Zealand Government and Politics, Oxford University Press, Auckland.

Mulholland RD (1995). Introduction to the New Zealand Legal System, 8th ed, Butterworths, Wellington.

Palmer G, and Palmer M (1997). Bridled Power: New Zealand Government under MMP, Oxford University Press, Auckland.

Vowles J, and others (2002). Proportional Representation on Trial: The 1999 New Zealand general election and the fate of MMP, Auckland University Press, Auckland.

Parliament and the cabinet

Boston J et al (ed) (1999). Electoral and Constitutional Change in New Zealand: An MMP source book, Dunmore Press, Palmerston North.

Cabinet Manual (2001). Cabinet Office, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Wellington.

General Election (Parl paper E.9).

New Zealand Electoral Compendium (2001). 2nd ed, Electoral Commission, Wellington.

Parliamentary Bulletin. Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, Wellington.

Public Service Principles, Conventions and Practice (series). States Services Commission, Wellington.

Report of the Department of Internal Affairs (Parl paper G.7).

Report of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Parl paper G.48).

Report of the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives (Parl paper A.8).

Report of the Parliamentary Service Commission (Parl paper A.2).

Standing Orders of the House of Representatives (1996, amended 1999). New Zealand Parliament, Wellington.

Step by Step Guide: Cabinet and cabinet committee processes (2001). Cabinet Office, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Wellington.

Tables of New Zealand Acts and Ordinances and Statutory Regulations in Force (annual). Parliamentary Counsel Office, Wellington.

State sector

Anderson A (1990). The Quest for Efficiency: The origins of the State Services Commission, State Services Commission, Wellington.

Bassett M (1997). The Mother of All Departments, Auckland University Press and Historical Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.

Boston J et al (1996). Public Management: The New Zealand model, Oxford University Press, Auckland.

Boston J (ed) (1995). The State Under Contract, Bridget Williams Books, Wellington.

James C (1997). Under New Sail: MMP and public servants, Institute of Policy Studies, Wellington.

Reports of the Controller and Auditor-General (Parl papers B.28 and B.29).

Report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (Parl paper C.12).

Report of the Ombudsmen: Nga Kaitiaki Mana Tangata (Parl paper A.3).

Report of the State Services Commission (Parl paper G.3).

The New Zealand Government Directory (2000). Ministry of Justice, Wellington.

Websites – Electoral Commission – Institute of Policy Studies – Law Commission – Local Government New Zealand – Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives – Office of the Ombudsmen – Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment – Parliamentary Counsel Office – Parliamentary Service – State Services Commission

Chapter 4. International Relations and Defence

An RNZAF Hercules arrives with supplies at Suai airport, East Timor.

Relations with other countries

The New Zealand Government established the then Department of External Affairs and began to station diplomatic representatives overseas in 1943. Today, New Zealand has 56 diplomatic and consular posts in 42 countries and territories and more than 50 honorary consuls. Multiple accreditation allows New Zealand representatives to cover 76 other countries and states from their bases (see Figure 4.1).

On behalf of the government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), Te Manatū Aorere is responsible for all major policy functions related to New Zealand's external relations. The main thrust of the ministry's work is directed at management of New Zealand's bilateral relations with other countries and interests in international institutions. Other functions include management of development assistance, provision of consular services to New Zealanders abroad, and provision of operational and administrative support services to other New Zealand government agencies overseas.

The ministry is the official channel of communication between the New Zealand Government and other governments. It also administers Tokelau and undertakes external affairs and defence functions for the Cook Islands and Niue, after consultations with their heads of government.

The ministry consults closely with other government departments and agencies on domestic and international developments and their interrelationships. The New Zealand Trade Development Board is a particularly important partner in developing and implementing programmes to promote foreign exchange earnings.

The ministry also operates and administers the diplomatic and consular posts that represent and pursue New Zealand's interests overseas. The posts perform services on behalf of all government departments, offer assistance to New Zealanders overseas whether travelling in official or private capacities, and issue passports and visas overseas. The ministry's website is

The Pacific

The Pacific is a key area in New Zealand's international relations. New Zealand enjoys a close association with Pacific Island nations, with 11 diplomatic missions and consulates in the region and accreditation to a further eight. A special relationship exists between New Zealand and the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau. The Cook Islands became a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand in 1965, and Niue followed in 1974. Tokelau is a non self-governing territory of New Zealand under the purview of the United Nations Committee on Decolonisation. Cook Islanders, Niueans and Tokelauans are New Zealand citizens.

Inside the New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.

Security issues in New Zealand's regional neighbourhood are characterised by internal security challenges stemming from factors including ethnic differences, economic disparities, land disputes and transnational crime. New Zealand's involvement with these challenges, in particular in Bougainville, the Solomon Islands and Fiji, has been to encourage negotiated settlements and to join in regional efforts to support them, once achieved, by contributing to peace monitoring and reconstruction efforts. Regional cooperation in security matters has been centred on the Pacific Islands Forum and its regional security committee. A significant development was the ‘Biketawa Declaration’ made by forum leaders in 2000, under which the forum secretary-general was assigned a specific role in monitoring possible sources of conflict and developing methods of dispute settlement and conflict avoidance to prevent their developing into open conflict.

Trade with the Pacific region, though small compared with other regions, is important to New Zealand. Exports to the region totalled $490 million for the year ending June 2001, and imports for the same period amounted to $134 million. Imports from Pacific countries have duty-free access on a non-reciprocal basis to New Zealand and Australian markets under the South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (SPARTECA).

In 2001, the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER), a framework agreement covering all forum countries including Australia and New Zealand, and the Pacific Island Countries Free Trade Agreement (PICTA) among Pacific Island countries of the forum, were concluded. The PACER represents an important step in New Zealand's relations with Pacific Island countries, providing a framework for the development, over time, of modern arrangements to achieve closer trade and economic integration in the Pacific region.

New Zealand has developed extensive links with Pacific regional organisations. It was a founding member of the South Pacific Forum, formed in 1971 to promote regional cooperation, particularly in trade and economic development. Renamed in 1999, the Pacific Islands Forum now comprises 16 Pacific countries and provides an opportunity to discuss other regional and international issues of interest to the region, such as regional security, environmental issues, fisheries and economic development. Pacific Islands Forum countries meet annually at heads of government level, with meetings throughout the year at ministerial and officials level to consider a variety of specific issues. An important aspect of the forum's work is the annual Forum Economic Ministers’ Meeting (FEMM). Since the first meeting in 1995, ministers have agreed on an action plan covering accountability principles, public sector reform initiatives, tariff reform and investment reform. The 2001 FEMM endorsed a plan for a stocktake of regional economic reform.

Other regional organisations of which New Zealand is a member include the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), which assists members with management and conservation of the region's marine resources; the Pacific Community (formerly the South Pacific Commission), which helps promote economic and social development in the region through work in agriculture, marine resources, health, socio-economic and statistical services and community education; the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), which focuses on protection and management of environmental resources; the Pacific Forum Line (PFL), which facilitates regional trade through improved shipping links; and the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), which assists countries in the assessment, exploration and development of mineral and other non-living resources.

The importance of fisheries as an economic resource in the Pacific led to the negotiation, completed in September 2000, of a convention covering conservation and management of highly migratory fish stocks (mostly tuna) in the western and central Pacific. This convention, the first regional fisheries management arrangement to base itself on the 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement, envisages establishment of a broad-based fisheries management organisation in the Pacific region, including both coastal states and distant water fishing nations. The first preparatory conference for establishment of the new fisheries management organisation was held in Christchurch in April 2001 and a further conference was held in Papua New Guinea in February 2002.

New Zealand has other links with the Pacific covering official development assistance, defence, and disaster coordination. The France, Australia, New Zealand (FRANZ) arrangement is an important element in the provision of rapid emergency assistance to the region in the event of natural disasters such as tropical cyclones.


New Zealand enjoys no closer partnership than that shared with Australia. The relationship is central to New Zealand's trade and economic interests, its defence, security and foreign policy interests, and to the country's overall economic and social well-being.

The political framework for management of the relationship includes regular dedicated meetings of prime ministers and Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence. New Zealand is represented in Australia by a high commission in Canberra and a consulate general in Sydney.

Figure 4.1. Overseas representation

Overseas representation

The Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement (TTTA) enables New Zealand citizens to travel, live and work in Australia, and Australian residents to receive similar access to New Zealand. A new social security agreement negotiated with Australia, covering superannuation and severe disability, came into effect on 1 July 2002. The new arrangement preserves the ability of New Zealanders to live and work in Australia (and vice versa) under the TTTA, while allowing both governments to determine their own policies regarding access to all other social welfare benefits. There are more than 400,000 New Zealanders living in Australia and about 55,000 Australians in New Zealand. More than a million New Zealanders and Australians cross the Tasman on short-term visits each year.

Australia is New Zealand's most important trading partner and New Zealand is Australia's second largest market for manufactured goods. The Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement (ANZCERTA or CER), signed in 1983, is the main instrument governing trade and economic relations between the two countries. The economies of the two countries have become increasingly integrated since signing of the agreement. Complete free trade in goods was achieved five years ahead of schedule, on 1 July 1990. The 1988 CER Protocol on Services provides for free trade in nearly all services sectors.

The CER relationship also addresses a range of non-tariff measures, such as customs requirements, standards, business law regulations and occupational registration requirements. A Joint Food Standards Treaty was signed in 1995. The following year CER was further expanded to include the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement and the Arrangement on Food Inspection Measures, and, in 2000, an agreement on coordination of business law was signed. The 1996 Single Aviation Market Arrangement was expanded in 2000 to an ‘open skies’ agreement, which is currently in interim effect.

Australia is also New Zealand's closest and most important security partner. The alliance with Australia, founded in the Canberra Pact (1944), formalised in the ANZUS Treaty (1952), and finding current expression in the Closer Defence Relations (1991) concept, remains central to New Zealand's defence policies. Both governments are committed to achieving the highest possible level of interoperability with each other, while acknowledging the need for each to meet its own defence priorities. Australia and New Zealand are currently working together closely and effectively in East Timor, Bougainville and the Solomon Islands.


New Zealand has a long association with Asia, dating back to its military involvement in the region during World War II and, later, the Korean War. New Zealand was a founding member of the Colombo Plan and contributed significant levels of development assistance to many Asian countries throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Assistance continues today.

With the reindustrialisation of Japan and the rapid development of a number of Asian economies in the post-war period, the Asian region offered New Zealand emerging markets for its exports as Britain moved to join the European Community in the early 1970s. Burgeoning trade formed a base for developing a relationship with Japan that has become one of New Zealand's closest and most mature. By virtue of shared size and strategic interests, New Zealand has developed a similarly high degree of cooperation with Singapore. In the year ending June 2001, Asia took 37 percent of all New Zealand's exports and provided 31 percent of imports. Trade in tourism and education services has been increasing rapidly, especially with the large economies of North Asia. There are also significant flows of direct investment between Asia and New Zealand.

Shanxi drummers from China perform at the 2001 Festival of Asia in Auckland.

The strong growth in New Zealand's economic links with Asia was dinted by the region's economic crisis in 1998. Most of the key markets affected by the crisis have since recovered, but some faced fresh uncertainties as a result of the slowdown in the United States economy in 2001. With New Zealand's economic future now inextricably linked with Asia, stability of the region remains integral to New Zealand's well-being. New Zealand invests considerable resources in developing closer political relations with neighbours in the Asian region. New Zealand is well represented in Asia by a network of 15 offices in Bangkok, Beijing, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, New Delhi, Osaka, Seoul, Singapore, Shanghai, Taipei and Tokyo.

Establishment of the Asia 2000 Foundation (see sidebar) in 1991 has seen New Zealand's relations with Asia expand beyond the trade and economic prism. Support for sister city links, cultural exchanges and Asian language programmes in New Zealand schools has helped promote closer cultural ties with Asia. New Zealand's increasing Asian orientation has resulted in greater numbers of people from Asia coming to New Zealand to holiday, study, work or live. Auckland has become the focus of New Zealand's Asian community, with one in eight people now of Asian descent.

At the political level, New Zealand is one of the original dialogue partners of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) and cooperates with members on a range of regional trade facilitation and economic development activities. A Closer Economic Partnership agreement between AFTA (ASEAN Free Trade Area) and CER (New Zealand and Australia) is being explored and has resulted in increased cooperation in a number of fields.

In the security arena, New Zealand takes part in the ASEAN Regional Forum, which provides ministers from throughout the Asia/Pacific region with an opportunity to focus collectively on regional security issues. New Zealand is also a member of the Five Power Defence Arrangements, which brings together Malaysia, Singapore, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

In the economic field, New Zealand was a founding member of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and continues to participate actively towards achieving goals of free trade and increased investment in the region.


United States. New Zealand's relationship with the United States is one of its most important. Shared values underpin close government and private sector contacts across a broad range of bilateral, regional and multilateral activities. The United States is a key economic partner. It is one of New Zealand's three most important export markets and a major source of imports and investment. In the multilateral trade field, the two countries espouse similar open market philosophies. Cooperation is also close on international environmental matters and Antarctic scientific research. Programmes for scientific, cultural and educational exchange maintain an awareness of New Zealand in the United States and promote interchange of ideas and experiences.

Canada. New Zealand and Canada enjoy a positive and close relationship, based on shared bilateral Commonwealth, United Nations and Asia/Pacific interests. The two countries cooperate closely on a range of issues, including disarmament, international peacekeeping and security, Asia/Pacific policies and international economic matters. Canada is an important market for New Zealand's agricultural products, particularly beef. Bilateral trade and economic relations are conducted under the umbrella of the 1981 Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (TEC), which provides for, among other things, regular consultation on trade issues.

Latin America and the Caribbean. New Zealand has Latin American embassies and consulates in Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Argentina. The ambassador in Mexico is accredited to Venezuela and Guatemala, the ambassador in Santiago is accredited to Peru and Colombia and the ambassador in Buenos Aires is accredited to the Mercosur group of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. In addition to honorary consuls in Bogota, Lima, Caracas and Montevideo, a New Zealand Consulate General was opened in Sao Paulo in 1999. The high commissioner in Ottawa is accredited to the Caribbean countries of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. Trade and investment is the primary focus of New Zealand's relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean. Exports mainly comprise dairy products, agricultural machinery and manufactured goods. New Zealand companies are involved in a wide range of activities in the region in the agriculture, forestry, fisheries, construction, telecommunications and energy sectors. New Zealand provides a modest amount of economic and social development assistance to the region. New Zealand shares interests with those of a number of Latin American and Caribbean countries in areas such as international trade, environment, Antarctica, disarmament and Pacific regional cooperation.


Western Europe. The European Union (EU) is a major political and economic entity which has become an increasingly significant player in world affairs. It is New Zealand's second largest market after Australia, and contact with the European Commission in Brussels, and also with the European Parliament, is critical to supporting New Zealand's trade access to Europe. The EU is the largest market for a broad range of primary produce, including sheepmeat, wool, butter, kiwifruit, apples and venison. It is also the most important market for New Zealand's growing wine exports. Successful negotiations during the GATT Uruguay Round resulted in a significant improvement in both the volume and overall stability of New Zealand's access to this market. While trade issues remain important, the breadth of New Zealand's relationship with the EU has expanded in recent years, with conclusion of air services agreements and a number of young peoples’ working holiday schemes with individual member states. The EU was the second largest source of tourists to New Zealand between 1996 and 2000 and, in the same period, was the largest contributor of new investment, totalling $18 billion. Twice-yearly political consultations are held at ministerial level with the revolving EU presidency and the European Commission. New Zealand has embassies or consulates in Berlin, Brussels, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hamburg, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Rome, The Hague and Vienna and a high commission in London. These posts are cross-accredited to all other EU member states and a number of EU applicant states, such as Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the Baltic states. Regular contact is maintained by New Zealand's network of posts with individual EU member states, and with the European Commission in Brussels, on a range of economic and political issues.

Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltics. The former communist states of Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltics are evolving into multi-party democracies with free-market economies. Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have joined the North Atlantic Trade Organisation (NATO) and these countries, together with Slovenia, the Slovak Republic, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and, more recently, Bulgaria and Romania, are candidates for membership of the European Union. Several of the applicant states are expected to join the EU in the next few years and, as such, their economic importance for New Zealand is increasing. Central and East Europeans are taking a growing interest in the Pacific region, including New Zealand, and, in 2000/01, visitors have included the Slovak Speaker and ministers from Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. Responsibility for New Zealand's government-to-government relations with the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia lies with the New Zealand Embassy in Berlin, and for Bosnia, Croatia and Slovenia with the embassy in Rome. Commercial relations with Central and Eastern Europe are handled by the Trade New Zealand office in Milan. The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are covered by the New Zealand Embassy in The Hague.

Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Trade remains the central component of New Zealand's relations with the states that formerly made up the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation being the principle partner. Despite Russia's economic and financial problems, it remains an important, although diminished, market for New Zealand dairy products. The long-term potential for trade with some regions, notably the Russian far east, is strong. New Zealand cooperates with Russia on a range of international issues in regional bodies such as APEC and the ASEAN Regional Forum, and is heavily involved in negotiations for the accession of Russia to the World Trade Organisation. New Zealand has an embassy in Moscow, which is accredited to Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. In 2001, a new honorary consulate was opened in Vladivostok to cover New Zealand's interests in the Russian far east.

Middle East and North Africa

The implications of events in the Middle East for international peace and security make developments there of ongoing concern to New Zealand. The two issues which have preoccupied the international community for many years are the Arab-Israeli dispute and the threat which Iraq poses to its neighbours. For more than 40 years, New Zealand has maintained a balanced and constructive approach to the Arab-Israeli dispute, consistently upholding the right of the Palestinian people to a viable state and, with equal consistency, Israel's right to exist within secure borders. New Zealand supports moves to make the comprehensive economic sanctions imposed on Iraq by the United Nations Security Council more targeted in order to minimise the harm done to innocent civilians. It also supports better enforcement of the arms embargo to ensure that Iraq complies with disarmament obligations.

New Zealand has made a practical contribution to peace in the Middle East in the form of a contingent in the Sinai Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), based on the border between Egypt and Israel since 1982. The government also contributes defence personnel to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO), headquartered in Jerusalem.

New Zealand has significant economic interests in the Middle East. The region is a valuable market for New Zealand wool, dairy products, meat and, increasingly, manufactured goods and services. The Middle East is an important source for New Zealand's crude oil, polymers and fertilisers. In the year ended June 2001, New Zealand exports to the region totaled $1.116 billion, while imports for the same period were $2.086 billion.

New Zealand has embassies in Saudi Arabia (Riyadh), Turkey (Ankara) and Iran (Tehran), and accreditations to the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar. New Zealand embassies in Paris and Madrid are accredited to Algeria and Morocco respectively. The New Zealand Trade Development Board has a regional office in Dubai.

Sub-Saharan Africa

New Zealand's official relations with Sub-Saharan Africa are in the main with the Commonwealth countries of southern and eastern Africa, with South Africa being the most substantial. There is a strong humanitarian focus to many of these relationships.

New Zealand has a longstanding involvement in development cooperation in Africa through its Official Development Assistance (NZODA) programme. The focus of the programme is on primary and non-formal education, rural development and primary health care. There is also provision for short-term technical assistance and support for New Zealand non-government organisations (NGOs), including Volunteer Service Abroad. Expenditure on all facets of NZODA, including scholarships, during 2000/2001 was $10.85 million.

New Zealand is also participating in the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone and its demining programme in Mozambique.

Trade with Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for only a small percentage of New Zealand's global trade, with exports valued at $165 million in the year ending June 2001. Among major exports to the region were dairy, fish and other food products, casein and electrical equipment. Imports, valued at $141 million in the year to June 2001, included petroleum products, iron and steel, vehicles and parts, tobacco, coffee and wine. In 2001, South Africa and Mauritius were New Zealand's most important markets in Sub-Saharan Africa.

New Zealand has one mission in Africa, the office in Zimbabwe being closed in November 2000. The New Zealand High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa, is accredited to 10 other southern and eastern African countries, Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The New Zealand High Commission in London is responsible for relations with Nigeria.

Assistance to developing countries


New Zealand's Official Development Assistance (NZODA) programme contributes to poverty reduction, helping to secure stability and harmony in the international community and, in particular, in the South Pacific region. Table 4.1 shows recent annual funding for NZODA programmes, while Figure 4.2 compares New Zealand's net official development assistance as a percentage of GNP with other countries.

Table 4.1. New Zealand Official Development Assistance (NZODA) programme

Bilateral schedule1999/20002000/012001/02
Pacific country programmes   
    Cook Islands6,2006,2006,200
    French Polynesia175175175
    New Caledonia375375375
    Papua New Guinea11,00010,50010,000
    Solomon Islands5,2508,0008,000
    Wallis and Futuna757575
Pacific regional programmes12,12011,35511,105
Pacific head of mission funds9301,0001,000
Foreign investment and financial services0750750
                Total Pacific79,25080,18078,980
Other bilateral programmes   
    Education and training25,45025,45024,650
    Voluntary agencies14,65516,28717,051
    Emergency and disaster relief4,5005,2304,075
    Good governance programme1,0001,2501,250
    Māori and Pacific partnerships for ODA07550
                Bilateral total162,185167,407165,551
Multilateral schedule   
Commonwealth agencies2,9563,9423,982
Pacific agencies11,31512,14012,540
International financial institutions22,20024,03325,875
United Nations agencies11,15015,36515,475
Other multilateral2,9163,6403,104
                Multilateral total50,53759,12060,976
                NZODA total212,722226,527226,527
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Figure 4.2. Net official development assistance
Percentage of GNP, 1996, 1998 and 20001

Net official development assistancePercentage of GNP, 1996, 1998 and 20001

There is increasing international recognition that aid must be sharply focused on reducing poverty and promoting environmental sustainability. NZODA contributes directly to these goals (see sidebar). It recognises that partnership and participation are keys to cooperation between donor and partner countries. Respect for, and promotion of, internationally-recognised human rights and good and honest governance form the foundation of development.

NZODA programmes are designed to give developing countries greater choice and opportunity in a world in which globalisation is dramatically changing opportunities and options for weaker and more vulnerable nations. The programmes help to strengthen links between New Zealand and the peoples of developing nations, and to foster understanding and mutually beneficial relationships.

NZODA is managed by the Development Cooperation Division (DEV) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), in conjunction with New Zealand's diplomatic posts in partner countries. Other government departments and agencies, and civil organisations, also contribute significantly to the overall New Zealand aid effort. The division's development expertise and experience are supplemented and complemented by those of a wide range of New Zealanders and partner country counterparts drawn from both public and private sectors. The division helps facilitate and coordinate the work of other New Zealand departments and agencies, including non-government organisations.

A child assists in building a new classroom in Uganda under a New Zealand Government-funded project to help traumatised children.

An independent review of the NZODA programme, commissioned by ministers, has produced recommendations for new directions for NZODA, which were under consideration as this publication went to press.

The NZODA programme is funded by two core payments set by parliament. For the 2001/02 financial year these were:

  • $226,527 million as Non-Departmental Payments (NDP). The NDP is the core of the ODA allocation and covers transfers of New Zealand goods, services and funding.

  • $16,454 million for ODA management, funded as one of the MFAT output classes.

Some other activities or transfers that meet the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's definition of official development assistance are funded from other government sources. Total disbursement on NZODA amounts to around 0.24 percent of New Zealand's gross national product (GNP). New Zealand's ODA programme is divided for financial and administrative purposes into two broad schedules of activities: bilateral and multilateral.

The bilateral schedule

Direct bilateral (country to country) assistance accounts for 47 percent of New Zealand's total official development assistance (ODA). New Zealand's ODA bilateral schedule includes development cooperation with 63 countries. The main focus is on extensive cooperation programmes with 19 major partner countries in the South Pacific, South-east Asia, China and South Africa. The bilateral schedule is dominated by direct assistance on a one-to-one, country-to-country basis in the form of development projects and activities. This schedule includes a number of regional programmes which serve groups of bilateral partner countries; scholarship programmes for overseas students funded independently of the bilateral country programmes; the work of Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) and non-government organisations (NGOs) working at grassroots levels in developing countries; and substantial contributions for emergency and disaster relief operations, both government-to-government and through international agencies.

Bilateral country and regional programmes are developed on a three-year rolling basis, with each individual year's country or regional programme containing a mixture of continuing activities and new proposals. Development assistance has been provided in many sectors, including agriculture, communications, conservation and environment, education and training, energy, fisheries, forestry, health, industry, public sector reform, social infrastructure, tourism, transport, water resources and gender development.

New Zealand participates in partnership projects by contributing technical assistance, cash grants, material supplies and training. A key component is the transfer of appropriate New Zealand expertise, for example in areas such as ecotourism and business development. Recent emphasis on environmental management has led to NZODA-funded technology transfers in the fields of nature conservation, environment impact assessment capacity-building, assistance with climate change negotiations, waste management, pollution, land use planning, soil conservation and environmental education. Recent interest in many developing countries in issues of good governance, including law and justice and public sector capacity building, has opened new areas for cooperation.

New Zealand promotes development of the South Pacific region as a whole, with contributions to a number of regional and multilateral agencies. These include the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the Forum Fisheries Agency, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission, the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme and the International Finance Corporation's South Pacific Project Facility.

Human resource development is the largest single investment area in New Zealand's development cooperation with Pacific Island countries. Much of this development has been delivered within New Zealand, in the form of study and training awards. NZODA also supports regional educational institutions in the South Pacific through core and project funding, as well as in-country training and staff development. Outer island and rural development are also features of several Pacific Island country programmes.

Education and training. New Zealand recognises that people are at the centre of development, and that human resource development is the key to social and economic progress in developing countries. Besides funding scholarships, training and programmes to strengthen education systems and institutions under bilateral country programmes, cross-regional scholarships are also made available. A major review of New Zealand's Official Development Assistance investment in the education sector is currently underway.

Emergency and disaster relief. Emergency and disaster relief is allocated as the need arises, with disasters in the South Pacific region having first call on New Zealand's limited funds. Where natural disasters befall near neighbours, New Zealand is often able to send supplies, medical teams or other skilled people to help recovery work. When disaster strikes in more distant countries, New Zealand usually responds by making cash grants to international relief appeals. Direct response may also be possible. New Zealand Red Cross staff sent to emergency situations as international delegates are also supported under the emergency and disaster relief programme. Disaster mitigation is supported by overseas development assistance grants to the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), as coordinator of the South Pacific disaster reduction programme. An emergency disaster relief non-government organisation funding window provides a transparent and consistent means by which New Zealand non-government organisations can access overseas development assistance funding for emergency and disaster relief, rehabilitation and mitigation activities in developing countries.

Non-government organisations. The New Zealand Official Development Assistance (NZODA) programme supports the work of non-government organisations (NGOs) through a range of funding mechanisms. These include special development and emergency relief funding programmes for New Zealand NGOs, support for the activities of New Zealand NGOs through bilateral programmes and direct funding to NGOs on the ground in partner countries.

The two main programmes for NZODA support of NGOs are the Voluntary Agency Support Scheme (VASS) and an agreement with Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) to support New Zealand volunteers in developing countries. In 2001/02, funding of $9 million was available through VASS for NGO-sponsored, small-scale development projects overseas. Projects are funded on a 2:1 general ratio (ie two dollars from NZODA for every dollar contributed by the NGO) and 4:1 for activities which have a specifically gender development or NGO capacity-building focus. NGO proposals for VASS funding are assessed by a project selection committee consisting of representatives elected by the NGO community, a ministerial appointee and the NZODA NGO programme manager.

There are six funding rounds a year and funding recommendations from the committee are submitted to the associate Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, or the Director of DEV, depending on the size of the grant involved. VASS incorporates a special Partnership for Development Fund which provides small grants to support development of new linkages between New Zealand community groups and overseas counterparts. Funding is also available through VASS to assist efforts aimed at strengthening the capacity of New Zealand NGOs.

New Zealand agencies with a consistent record of projects and programmes which have met VASS criteria are eligible to receive an accountable block grant rather than applying individually by project. Agencies receiving block grants are reviewed every three to five years to ensure VASS criteria and requirements are being adhered to. There is a strong focus within VASS on learning from experience. It is planned to institute a regular series of impact reviews of NGO activity overseas to draw lessons of relevance to the broader NGO community in New Zealand.

Through its contract with Volunteer Service Abroad, NZODA supports core costs for sending New Zealand volunteers to Africa, Asia and the Pacific. The core allocation for 2001/02 was $4.36 million. Volunteers operate in a range of sectors, including community development, education and training, economic development, agriculture, health and natural resource management. Support for VSA activities is also provided through the NZODA bilateral programmes for South Africa, Cambodia, East Timor, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Bougainville and Tokelau.

NZODA also supports the Council for International Development (CID), the umbrella group for New Zealand development NGOs. CID provides the primary interface between the NGO community and NZODA, and has worked with the ministry to develop a strategic policy framework for relations between NZODA and the NGO sector. Within the terms of a three-year agreement, $360,000 in core funding was provided to CID in 2001/ 02. This included provision for an NZODA/NGO travel fund to support NGO participation in significant international development conferences of wide interest to the NGO development community.

Funding by NZODA for development education activities was increased to $749,000 in 2001/02. From this is drawn core funding for the Development Resource Centre (DRC) under a three-year agreement with NZODA. The DRC provides information on development issues, training and educational resources for teachers, and training programmes for development consultants.

Support is also provided by NZODA for the alternative trading activities of Trade Aid, the aim of which is to support community development and promote local self-reliance in developing countries. In 2001/02, $562,000 was made available under a new three-year agreement to assist with the purchase of products from community cooperatives, improve partnerships with developing country counterparts and improve marketing and business practices.

The multilateral schedule

Multilateral assistance makes up 26 percent of funds available to the New Zealand Official Development Assistance programme. Participation in institutions such as the International Development Association, the Asian Development Fund, the United Nations Development Programme and the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation gives New Zealand a role in international efforts to alleviate poverty through development at the global and regional level. These multilateral institutions are especially helpful in directing assistance to regions where New Zealand is not represented. They are respected for their neutrality and the expertise they bring to development issues.

New Zealand also co-finances individual projects with multilateral agencies. Special consultant trust funds totalling around $1 million have been established at the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation. These trust funds provide money for contracting New Zealand consultants for a range of developmental projects.

Negotiations on the eighth replenishment of the Asian Development Fund, the Asian Development Bank's soft loan facility, were concluded at the end of 2000 and New Zealand's contribution is $39.6 million over seven years. New Zealand is engaged in a similar replenishment of the World Bank's concessional lending fund, the International Development Association. New Zealand is also a member of the International Fund for Agricultural Development and contributed $2.16 million to the fifth replenishment of its resources.

New Zealand contributed $6.4 million in 2000 to trust funds of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which contribute to debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative. This initiative is designed to provide substantial debt relief to heavily-indebted countries with a strong commitment to social and economic reform.

New Zealand was able to increase most of its contributions to United Nations and Commonwealth agencies during 2000, in recognition of their work to alleviate poverty. New Zealand will continue its contribution to the WTO's technical assistance activities in response to the need faced by developing countries for training in trade policy concepts and practices.

During 2000/01, New Zealand maintained support for multilateral sustainable development activities, including ongoing work with the Commission on Sustainable Development, replenishment of the Global Environment Facility, the Montreal Protocol for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research and development of an environmental vulnerability index by the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission.

International organisations

United Nations

New Zealand was a founding member of the United Nations in 1945 and successive governments have strongly supported it as the major global instrument for maintaining peace and security, for developing friendly relations among countries, for encouraging international cooperation aimed at solving economic and social problems, for establishing and strengthening an international legal framework, and for promoting respect for human rights. The range and complexity of United Nations functions and its specialised agencies have grown steadily over the years and New Zealand concentrates on areas where it can play a useful role in matters directly affecting its interests and where it can support efforts to secure lasting peace and security (see sidebar).

New Zealand is a strong advocate of international law and is actively engaged in global debates on peace and security issues, conflict prevention, sustainable development and promotion of human rights. New Zealand is a member of the Statistical Commission of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, as well as a member of the governing bodies of a number of programmes and specialised agencies, including the committee on economic, social and cultural rights of the Commission on Human Rights.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Phil Goff addresses the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Contributions to the United Nations. Contributions to the United Nation's budget are based on members’ capacity to pay. New Zealand contributed annual dues to the United Nations of NZ$5.08 million for the regular budget in 2000, and NZ$13.34 million for the peacekeeping budget and for support for international criminal tribunals in 2000/01. As a result of reform of the previous scales of assessment, New Zealand's level of assessment for contributions to both budgets rose from 0.221 percent of the total budget in 2000 to 0.242 percent in 2001. New Zealand's contributions to budgets of specialised United Nations agencies vary, with assessments fixed according to a scale agreed by members of each agency.

Human rights. As a party to international human rights instruments, New Zealand is required to report regularly to United Nations monitoring bodies on measures it has taken to give effect to international standards.

During 2001, New Zealand submitted its second periodic report under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; its third periodic report under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; its second periodic report under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and the 12th, 13th and 14th consolidated reports under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The fifth periodic report for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women is being prepared by the Ministry of Women's Affairs for submission.

At the 2001 sessions of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, which both dealt with civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights issues, New Zealand supported resolutions addressing a wide range of international human rights concerns, in particular women's, indigenous and children's rights; the rights of people with disabilities; and human rights treaty body reform issues.

New Zealand continued to provide financial support during 2001 for the protection and promotion of human rights internationally. In particular, New Zealand provided practical human rights capacity-building assistance, with an emphasis on Asia-Pacific region countries.

Issues relating to the rights of children continue to be a priority for New Zealand. In November 2001, New Zealand ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. It is expected that New Zealand will soon ratify the UNCROC Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. In addition, in June 2001, New Zealand ratified International Labour Organisation Convention 182 on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour.

New Zealand has also been actively involved in international initiatives focusing on indigenous people, being the first state to make a financial contribution to establishment of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. New Zealand also provided technical support to the forum. New Zealand participated in the Working Group on Indigenous Populations, organising a seminar on Māori development during the meeting. New Zealand also took part early in 2002 in the seventh session of the Working Group considering a Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

Specialised agencies. The United Nations system encompasses 14 autonomous organisations known as specialised agencies (14 if the World Bank group is counted as one, 19 if the World Bank group is split). There are also a large number of additional bodies with their own secretariats, budgets and operations. New Zealand is a member of all major specialised agencies. Among the largest is the Food and Agricultural Organisation, which aims to raise levels of nutrition and global living standards, to promote agriculture and food security and to expand the world economy. Similarly, the World Health Organisation seeks attainment by all people of the highest possible levels of health. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) seeks to improve working and living conditions, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation seeks to increase international cooperation through education, science and culture. New Zealand served on the governing body of the ILO from 1999 to 2002. Other specialised agencies of which New Zealand is a member are concerned with civil aviation, agricultural development, maritime safety, telecommunications, postal services, patents and trademarks, climate and weather, and industrial development. New Zealand participates in other United Nations bodies and programmes concerned with such diverse subjects as nuclear non-proliferation, refugees, development and environmental issues. New Zealand was elected to the executive board of the United Nations Development Programme for a three-year term which began on 1 January 2000, and to the governing council of the United Nations Environmental Programme for the period 2000 to 2002.

World Trade Organisation

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is the only international organisation dealing with rules of trade among nations. It acts as a single institutional framework over the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the multilateral agreements that resulted from the Uruguay Round.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Mike Moore was appointed Director-General of the WTO in 1999 (see sidebar). Mr Moore was succeeded in September 2002 by Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, former deputy Prime Minister of Thailand.

The GATT came into force in 1948. Its basic aim was to help trade flow as freely as possible by removing obstacles and increasing transparency, thereby contributing to international economic growth and development.

By the time the WTO came into force on 1 January 1995, the GATT's contracting parties accounted for about 90 percent of world trade. The WTO provides both a code of rules and a forum in which the 142 countries who belong to the organisation can discuss and address trade problems and negotiate and enlarge world trading opportunities. It is based on the premises that the trading system should be:

  • Without discrimination – The ‘most favoured nation’ clause stipulates that each WTO member must grant all other members treatment as favourable as that which they grant any other country. This principle is particularly important for countries such as New Zealand, since it ensures that larger countries cannot adopt discriminatory trade policies, except for preferential free trade areas and customs unions. A second non-discrimination principle is ‘national treatment', which requires that imported products be treated no less favourably than domestic products with respect to internal taxes, regulations and other requirements.

  • Freer – Barriers such as tariffs should progressively come down through negotiations.

  • Predictable – Businesses should be confident that trade barriers, including tariffs, non-tariff barriers and other measures, will not be raised arbitrarily. This is achieved by members making binding commitments not to raise trade barriers beyond current levels.

  • Transparent – Less transparent instruments, such as quotas and import licensing, are discouraged in favour of protection in the form of tariffs.

  • More competitive – Unfair practices, such as export subsidies and dumping products below cost to gain market share, are discouraged.

  • More beneficial to less developed countries – Developing countries are allowed more time to adjust, greater flexibility and special privileges to help them in their developmental objectives.

Eight rounds of multilateral trade negotiations were held under the auspices of the GATT, each with the aim of liberalising trade between contracting parties by reducing trade barriers and other measures impeding free trade.

The most ambitious of these was the Uruguay Round (1986–94). In addition to establishing the WTO, the Uruguay Round:

  • Brought agriculture effectively within the multilateral trading system for the first time.

  • Secured eventual integration of the textiles and clothing sector into the WTO system.

  • Extended the multilateral trading system to trade in services.

  • Strengthened multilateral trade rules in areas such as subsidies, anti-dumping, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, safeguards, trade-related investment measures and dispute settlement.

  • Established a multilateral framework for protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights.

  • Further reduced tariffs on goods.

The highest decision making level in the WTO is the Ministerial Conference, which meets every two years to make decisions on matters under WTO agreements.

The most recent Ministerial Conference took place from 9–14 November 2001 in Doha, Qatar. Debate at the meeting focused on whether or not the WTO should launch a round of trade negotiations to build on the results of the Uruguay Round. The meeting ran one day late, but ultimately adopted, by a consensus decision of trade ministers from the 142 member countries, a declaration to launch multilateral trade negotiations. Ministers decided to begin negotiations by 31 January 2002 and to aim to conclude them by 1 January 2005. The trade negotiations are known as the ‘Doha Development Agenda,’ acknowledging the extent to which developing countries’ objectives were recognised in the ministerial declaration.

Key provisions in the Doha ministerial declaration included agreement to negotiate to improve market access for agricultural and non-agricultural products and services, new mandates to negotiate to reduce fishing subsidies, and recognition of the relationship between WTO trade rules and mulitilateral environmental agreements. The declaration also contained a reference to the work of the International Labour Organisation and to avoidance of mandates that could weaken critical WTO disciplines, such as the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement.

The next Ministerial Conference will take stock of negotiations and make decisions on whether further negotiations on competition, investment, trade facilitation and government procurement will be initiated.

World Bank

The World Bank group consists of five closely associated financial institutions: The International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA). the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) and the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). New Zealand is a member of the IBRD, the IDA and the IFC. The common objective of the institutions is to help raise living standards in developing countries by financing specific country-based and regional activities to reduce poverty. These cover sectors such as health, education, social development, private sector development, gender, environment and infrastructure development. Total new lending in the 2001 financial year was US$17.3 billion, up from US$15.3 billion in the previous year.

The IDA provides highly concessional resources to low-income countries and US$6.8 billion was lent in 2001, an increase of US$2.4 billion on the previous year. New Zealand makes contributions to periodic replenishments of the IDA and in 1998 New Zealand made a commitment of NZ$32 million, amounting to a 0.12 percent share of total donor funding, plus a supplementary contribution of NZ$6.4 million. New Zealand also agreed to an accelerated payment schedule over six years. New Zealand is currently participating in negotiations to contribute to the next replenishment.

In March 2001, New Zealand contributed $3.2 million to the IDA trust fund for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC). It also contributed another $3.2 million to the HIPC trust fund at the International Monetary Fund. These trusts give resources to heavily indebted poor countries to help relieve their debt servicing burdens to the IMF and the IDA. Twenty-three of the 38 countries eligible for debt relief currently receive assistance.

Asian Development Bank

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank established in 1965. It has 59 members, of which 42 are in Asia and the Pacific. The ADB's goal is to reduce poverty in the region through economic growth, social development and good governance. New Zealand holds 54,340 shares in the ADB, about 2.6 percent of the bank's voting share. The shares had a par value of US$676.886 million at 30 June 2001.

New Zealand also makes contributions to the periodic replenishment of the ADB's Asian Development Fund, the bank's concessional lending facility for its poorest developing member countries. In November 2000, the government approved a contribution of NZ$39.6 million payable over seven years. The total replenishment level was US$5.6 billion, of which US$2.91 billion was shared among 25 donors. The contribution represented an increase in New Zealand's share of the total replenishment from 0.65 percent to 0.7 percent and was partly based on an increasing level of responsiveness from the bank to meeting the development needs of Pacific developing member countries.


The Commonwealth has 54 member countries representing 1.7 billion people across the globe. New Zealand was a founding member of the Commonwealth in 1931 and has long been involved in a wide range of Commonwealth activity – the Commonwealth Games have been held in New Zealand three times.

Commonwealth policies and activities are decided at biennial meetings of Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM). New Zealand was host to CHOGM in 1995. The 2001 CHOGM, scheduled for Queensland, Australia, was deferred to 2002 due to international security uncertainties following terrorist attacks in the United States.

Most activities are executed through the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, led by former New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Don McKinnon, elected to the position of Secretary-General in 1999 (see sidebar). Fellow New Zealander Denis Marshall was appointed Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in 2001. The Commonwealth Association for Corporate Governance has as its chief executive Geoffrey Bowes, based in Havelock, Marlborough. New Zealand is the fourth largest contributor to the Commonwealth Secretariat by volume and the largest contributor on a gross national product/capita basis. New Zealand actively promotes the Commonwealth's core beliefs and principles. Since 1992, New Zealanders have participated in numerous missions to observe elections in member countries, including Zimbabwe in 2000 and 2002 and Fiji in 2001. Following coups in Fiji (May 2000) and Pakistan (October 1999), both countries were suspended from the Councils of the Commonwealth pending their return to democracy and listed for attention by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG). The CMAG functions as the Commonwealth's watchdog on democracy and was established in Millbrook, New Zealand, in 1995. The general election in Fiji from 27 August to 1 September 2001 was part of its process of restoring democracy. The Solomon Islands has also been a focus of ongoing Commonwealth and CMAG interest in recent years.

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

Based in Paris, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) provides a vehicle for democratic and market-oriented economies to study and develop economic and social policies, with the aim of maximising economic growth.

The principal aims of the OECD are:

  • To help member countries promote sustainable economic growth, employment and rising standards of living.

  • To contribute to sound economic expansion in member countries, and in non-member countries to the process of economic development.

  • To contribute to the expansion of world trade on a multilateral, non-discriminatory basis.

The 30 member countries use the OECD to discuss and compare policy approaches on a wide range of issues. The OECD provides advice to members on best practices in social and economic policies, assists members coordinate policy, and sometimes helps member countries develop accords and agreements which must then be adopted by consensus.

Increasingly, a top priority for the OECD is to relate its work to the needs of developing countries in order to identify ways in which their prospects for achieving economic growth can be enhanced.

The OECD works at the cutting edge of key economic and social issues on the international economic agenda. It has projects underway on the challenges posed by population aging, sustainable development, education, electronic commerce, health care issues and food safety. Its expert staff are among the world's leading authorities in many of these areas. Of central importance is its programme of contact with non-government organisations and broader civil societies to explain how the OECD's goals and activities are designed to promote the economic well-being of all citizens in both developed and developing countries.

The OECD provides a valuable forum through which New Zealand can make its voice heard on key economic and social issues. Through the OECD, New Zealand can learn from the experience of others across the full range of economic and social policy challenges facing governments. The OECD is a valuable source of intellectual capital and analytical work on which New Zealand can draw to supplement and confirm its own policy development process.

The OECD's regular country reviews, which involve peer review by other OECD members, provide comparative performance insights across a broad range of government policy areas. An example is the OECD Development Assistance Committee's periodic reviews of New Zealand's Overseas Development Assistance (NZODA) programme.

New Zealand is a member of the International Energy Agency (IEA), an autonomous body of 23 member countries within the OECD framework. The primary focus of the IEA is on oil security among members. However, its programme embraces a wide range of energy issues, including energy-related environmental concerns, increased energy efficiency and use of renewable resources, the energy situation of member and non-member countries, and dialogue between energy, particularly petroleum, producers and consumers.

New Zealand territories


Tokelau consists of three small atolls in the South Pacific – Atafu, Fakaofo and Nukunonu – with a combined land area of 12 square kilometres and a population of about 1,500. The central atoll, Nukunonu, is 92km from Atafu and 64km from Fakaofo. Western Samoa is 480km to the south.

The British Government transferred administrative control of Tokelau (then known as the Union Islands) to New Zealand in 1925. Formal sovereignty was transferred to New Zealand in 1948 by an act of the New Zealand Parliament. New Zealand statute law, however, does not apply to Tokelau unless it is expressly extended. In practice, no New Zealand legislation is extended to Tokelau without its consent.

Tokelau is listed as a non self-governing territory for the purposes of the self-determination principles of the United Nations Charter. This status was confirmed in 1962 when New Zealand added Tokelau to the schedule of territories under supervision of the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonisation.

The main objective of New Zealand's relationship with Tokelau is that of fostering a greater degree of self-government and economic self-sufficiency for the people, in fulfilment of New Zealand's responsibilities under the United Nations charter and general assembly resolutions covering decolonisation and the transmission of information.

The Administrator of Tokelau is appointed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is responsible for administration of the executive government of Tokelau.

Under a programme of constitutional change agreed in 1992, the role of Tokelau's political institutions is being better defined and expanded. The process under way enables the base of the Tokelau Government to be located within Tokelau's national level institutions rather than as before, within a public service located largely in Western Samoa. This process was formalised by delegation in January 1994 of the administrator's powers to the General Fono, and the Council of Faipule when the General Fono is not in session. Consequently, the public service has been relocated to the atolls.

The General Fono, comprising 18 members, remains Tokelau's paramount political institution. while the key operational relationship is between the three Faipule acting as ministers within the Council of Faipule and the senior staff of the public service. The Council of Faipule's head is the Ulu o Tokelau (Leader of Tokelau), a post which rotates on a yearly basis.

In 1996, the formal step of devolving legislative power was taken. With passage of the Tokelau Amendment Act 1996 by the New Zealand Parliament, the General Fono has been able, since 1 August 1996, to exercise rule-making power. This power has been used primarily to manage the major economic activities in Tokelau and for financial management of Tokelau's accounts. The Faipule are leaders of their respective villages (one on each atoll) and the ministerial function represents an extension of their formal responsibility. Traditionally, each village has been largely autonomous. This was confirmed by the Tokelau Village Incorporation Regulations 1986, giving legal recognition to each village and granting it independent law-making power.

Each village holds elections on a three-yearly basis. Earlier practice was to elect the Faipule and Pulenuku (mayor equivalent). From 1999, the arrangement was expanded in order that each village could elect, for three-year terms, its six General Fono delegates. Previously, delegates were chosen through a process of selection.

Tokelau's development prospects are restricted by its small land area and population, its geographic isolation and by the relatively high cost in these circumstances of providing education, health and other services to the three widely separated communities. For these reasons, Tokelau relies substantially on external financial support, primarily from New Zealand. Nonetheless, the development of government structures at the national level has promoted a clear wish for Tokelau to be self-reliant to the greatest extent possible.

Through 2000/01, Tokelau's governance, or ‘modern house', project moved from the planning to the implementation stage. The agreed guiding principle is that the three villages are the traditional foundation, and for the good government of the people their village councils (Taupulega) should be the basis of future government. This project aims to put in place a governance system that is functional in the local setting, blending the modern with the traditional. The challenge is to devise a structure which properly establishes the village as the focus of social and economic activities, that delivers services within the village, and that integrates traditional decision-making processes with modern advice and support.

Ross Dependency

The Ross Dependency consists of the land, permanent ice-shelf and islands of Antarctica between 160° east to 150° west. The land is almost entirely covered by ice and is uninhabited except for people working on scientific research programmes. New Zealand has exercised jurisdiction over the territory since 1923.

An RNZAF Hercules in support of New Zealand's Antarctic research programme.

An Antarctic scientific research programme is maintained in the Ross Dependency, with New Zealand operating Scott Base, on Ross Island, as a permanent base. New Zealand is an original party to the Antarctic Treaty, which requires Antarctica to be used for peaceful purposes only and which promotes international cooperation, freedom of scientific investigation, and exchange of information and scientific personnel. The 43 parties to the treaty meet regularly to consider questions within its framework. Ministerial approval of, and permits for, all Antarctic activities are required under the Antarctica (Environmental Protection) Act 1994, administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Official expeditions of governments which are parties to the Antarctic Treaty are, however, exempt from this requirement.

Fishing in the Ross Sea is conducted consistent with conservation measures adopted by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, based in Hobart. Since 1997/98, New Zealand has conducted exploratory fishing for toothfish in the Ross Sea area. New Zealand is opposed to any country taking whales from the area.


The Governor-General of New Zealand, as Commander-in-Chief of New Zealand, is empowered to raise and maintain New Zealand Naval Forces, the New Zealand Army and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. These forces, together with civilian employees, constitute the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).

The Minister of Defence has power of control of the New Zealand Defence Force, which is exercised through the Chief of Defence Force. The Chief of Defence Force is the principal military adviser to the minister and is responsible for carrying out the functions and duties of the NZDF, the general conduct of the NZDF, managing its activities and resources, and chairing the Chiefs of Staff Committee.

The Secretary of Defence is the chief executive of the Ministry of Defence and is the principal civilian adviser to the minister. The secretary is responsible for formulating advice, in consultation with the Chief of Defence Force, on defence policy, the procurement, replacement or repair of defence equipment which has major significance to military capability, and assessment and audit of the NZDF.

Defence policy

The Shape of New Zealand's Defence, a defence white paper released in November 1997, concluded that the policy laid out in a 1991 white paper remained the best framework for guiding New Zealand's defence effort in a security environment which is largely benign and stable, but contains a number of uncertainties.

The framework has three principal elements:

  • Defending New Zealand against low-level threats such as terrorism and incursions into its Exclusive Economic Zone.

  • Contributing to regional security, which includes maintaining key relationships with Australia and Five Power Defence Arrangements partners Malaysia and Singapore.

  • Contributing to the maintenance of international peace and security by taking part in global security efforts, particularly peacekeeping.

New Zealand's physical distance from other land masses provides a unique natural defence barrier. With little chance of a serious threat to its territory, New Zealand's plans for defence include the capability to deter and respond to threats such as the illegal use or poaching of resources, terrorism and infringements of its Exclusive Economic Zone.

The nature of New Zealand's geostrategic position means that beyond the immediate south-west Pacific region, defence planning is about security interests, rather than security needs. New Zealand's well-being is dependent on secure and stable trade markets, and secure trade routes in the Asia Pacific region and around the world, both for its exports and the import of vital commodities such as oil.

The Asian economic crisis has now largely abated and nations are moving down the path of recovery. While the economic crisis meant difficult years for the region, security implications were modest.

The regional security environment is relatively benign, but security concerns do remain, such as the situation on the Korean Peninsula, the relationship between China and Taiwan, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. There have also been increased demands on the NZDF to contribute to collective endeavours in support of regional and global security interests, with the missions in East Timor, Bougainville and the Solomon Islands being prime examples.

International defence relationships

Australia. New Zealand's defence relationship with Australia is its most important. Recognition in 1991 of the natural coincidence of the defence and strategic interests of the two countries led to adoption of the Closer Defence Relations policy. This acknowledged that a threat to one country would inevitably be a threat to the other, and that a more effective contribution to regional security could be made by working together.

The Five Power Defence Arrangements. The Five Power Defence Arrangements grew out of a statement in a communique following a meeting of ministers from New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and Great Britain in 1971. The focus of the arrangements is to provide support to Malaysia and Singapore should either country come under external threat. The number of exercises and contacts which New Zealand has with Malaysia and Singapore and other partners is an important part of the New Zealand Defence Force's training programme and one which has expanded significantly since the end of the Cold War.

Mutual Assistance Programme. Most Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) and South Pacific countries participate in the New Zealand Defence Force's Mutual Assistance Programme. The programme is a practical demonstration of New Zealand's commitment to regional security. Through training cooperation and advisory assistance, the programme contributes to the effectiveness of defence and disciplined forces in New Zealand's South Pacific neighbourhood. The programme also supports development projects in the South Pacific by using the engineering and trade skills of the armed forces. Commonly, training is provided in New Zealand and training and technical teams are deployed overseas. Military instructors are attached to other armed forces for periods of up to two years in exercises in the Cook Islands, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Malaysia.

ANZUS. The ANZUS security treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States came into force in 1952. Each party recognised that an armed attack in the Pacific on any of the parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety, and declared that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes. However, because of the dispute between New Zealand and the United States over access to New Zealand ports by ships of the United States Navy arising out of New Zealand's nuclear-free policy, the ANZUS Council has not met since 1984.

Liaison with other countries. To facilitate exchanges on military matters, defence representatives are posted to many of New Zealand's diplomatic missions, with some of those representatives also accredited to other countries. A number of countries have service representatives attached to their diplomatic missions in Wellington or have service attaches accredited to, but not resident in, New Zealand.

Armed forces overseas as at 31 December 2001

Bougainville Peace Monitoring Group (PMG). This mission was first established as the Truce Monitoring Group in 1997 and the transition to the Peace Monitoring Group was made in 1998. New Zealand continued to support the Australian-led PMG through 2001. New Zealand provides 15 defence personnel directly to the PMG and financially supports six Vanuatu and five Fijian personnel.

United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO). New Zealand military observers have worked with UNTSO in Israel and neighbouring countries since 1954. They help to monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating and assist subsequent peacekeeping operations. New Zealand has seven military observers stationed in Israel and Syria with UNTSO.

Cambodian Mine Action Centre. The Cambodian Government set up this demining training centre with the assistance of outside agencies. New Zealand provides a military logistics technical adviser and a military training technical adviser to the programme.

Mozambique Accelerated Demining Programme (MADP). New Zealand's commitment to demining efforts in Mozambique began in 1994. New Zealand currently provides two military demining experts to the MADP, including the chief technical adviser.

Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), Sinai. This force was established in April 1982 to verify compliance with the terms of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. Nine countries contribute to the MFO, including New Zealand whose 26-strong contingent comprises a training and advisory team, a heavy transport section, engineers and staff officers.

An army officer with demining training aids in Cambodia.

Former Yugoslavia. The New Zealand Defence Force contributes seven staff officers to fill a range of appointments in the British Forces headquarters within the Stabilisation Force (SFOR) in Bosnia.

A contingent of 20 further personnel serves with various British units assigned to SFOR on a tour of duty during April to September in Bosnia each year.

The New Zealand Defence Force also maintains two military liaison officers and observers in the former Yugoslavia. One military observer is deployed in Croatia with the United Nations Mission Of Observers in Prevlaka and a military liaison officer is deployed with the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo.

Unexploded Ordnance Programme Laos. New Zealand has provided a military logistics technical adviser and a military training technical adviser to this programme since 1997.

Figure 4.3 shows the location of New Zealand's peace support and humanitarian missions.

Figure 4.3. Peace support and humanitarian missions
Commitments current in 2002

Peace support and humanitarian missionsCommitments current in 2002

United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). New Zealand has contributed two military observers to this mission since June 1998.

East Timor. In mid-1999, the Indonesian Government agreed to hold a plebiscite in East Timor to decide the fate of the region. The United Nations Assistance Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), to which New Zealand provided civilian police and military personnel, was established to oversee the election process.

Following the failure of UNAMET to stop violence in East Timor, the United Nations agreed to sanction a multinational force, 1NTERFET, to restore order until a United Nations-mandated force could be established. New Zealand deployed ground troops, a helicopter detachment and naval units in support of INTERFET.

The ground troops and the helicopter detachment were subsumed into the United Nations Interim Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) in January 2000. These units, and a small contingent of military observers, continue to serve with UNTAET. The New Zealand contingent approximates 670 personnel at any one time.

International Peace Monitoring Team (IPMT). The IPMT was deployed to the Solomon Islands following signing of the Townsville Peace Agreement between the warring Isatabu Freedom Fighters and the Malaitan Eagle Force factions. The IPMT is an Australian-led mission comprising Australian and New Zealand foreign affairs and trade representatives, elements of the Australian Defence Force, the New Zealand Defence Force and police officers from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Headquarters of the IPMT is in Honiara and team sites are situated on the islands of Guadalcanal and Malaita. The mission provides the framework for progressing peace and harmony in the Solomon Islands. New Zealand contributes seven personnel to the mission.

Casualties. There have been five fatalities to date among NZDF personnel serving in UN observer and peacekeeping missions.


The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) engages in a wide variety of exercises with other forces. Many of the priority international exercises are with the Australian Defence Force, reflecting the nature and intent of Closer Defence Relations (CDR).

Activities with nations of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) include the maritime exercises STARDEX, conducted twice in every three years, and FLYINGFISH, every three years, and the annual land forces command post exercise SUMAN WARRIOR.

The NZDF's main joint and combined exercise in New Zealand is TASMANEX and involves both the Royal New Zealand Navy and the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).

Key exercises in the South Pacific include TROPIC ASTRA (RNZAF deployment), TROPIC TWILIGHT (New Zealand Army and RNZAF deployment for civil aid tasks) and CROIX DU SUD, the major exercise of the French Armed Forces in New Caledonia.

Bilateral exercises with regional partners include exercises such as SILVER COBRA, KIWI TEMASEK, LION HEART, LION ZEAL, SING AFFIL, IRON SEA and SKYTRAIN with Singapore, TAIAHA TOMBAK and KRIS MERE with Malaysia, and CROSSED SWORDS and AZAM BERSAMA with Brunei.

Personnel exchanges. Members of the New Zealand Defence Force participate in annual exchanges with personnel from the defence forces of Australia. Canada, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

Community assistance

New Zealand Cadet Forces. Cadet forces comprise the Sea Cadet Corps, Air Training Corps and the New Zealand Cadet Corps. These are community-based youth groups which receive assistance from the New Zealand Defence Force, and support from the Sea Cadet Association of New Zealand, the Air Training Corps Association of New Zealand, the Cadet Corps Association of New Zealand, community organisations and the Royal New Zealand Returned Services’ Association. There were 103 active cadet units at 30 June 2001 with a total strength of 3,768, compared with 101 units and a total strength of 4,170 at 30 June 1999.

Limited Service Volunteer Scheme. Limited service volunteer training courses have been run by the army at Burnham Camp since 1995, with staffing support provided by the navy and air force since 1998. The programme provides young unemployed volunteers with six weeks of residential training in outdoor activities and general life skills. Five hundred volunteers successfully completed training courses in the year ended 30 June 2001, compared with 486 in 1999.

Disaster relief. The New Zealand Defence Force provides assistance in the wake of natural disasters in the South Pacific. Assistance can include post-disaster reconnaissance of damage levels; transportation of relief supplies, food and medical supplies; and engineering and communications services.

A No. 5 Squadron RNZAF Orion overflies a bulk carrier during a fisheries protection patrol.

Fisheries protection. Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion aircraft patrol the New Zealand 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone. Information from surveillance patrols is passed to the Ministry of Fisheries. Fisheries officers are sometimes aboard aircraft when patrols are conducted. The air force conducted numerous patrols in the New Zealand area and 10 patrols in the South Pacific during 2001.

Search and rescue. All three defence services maintain a search and rescue capability, with naval and air units on 24-hour standby. The navy and air force assist in extensive sea searches, while the army and the air force assist police in land searches and rescues. The air force also carries out emergency medical evacuations throughout New Zealand, the South Pacific and Antarctica.

Operation Antarctica. Eighty-three New Zealand Defence Force personnel support Operation Antarctica in terminal and logistic support operations at Harewood, McMurdo Station and Scott Base for varying periods during the September to February Antarctic summer season. Twenty personnel are annually deployed in Antarctica from October to February. Royal New Zealand Air Force Hercules aircraft made 17 return flights to McMurdo in the 2001 season. An additional flight on 22 April 2001 airlifted three patients from McMurdo to New Zealand for medical treatment (see sidebar).

Other assistance. Other assistance provided by the New Zealand Defence Force includes transportation of Department of Conservation personnel to New Zealand's outlying islands, ceremonial support for state occasions, helicopter and logistic support to the police, assistance with rural fire fighting, explosive ordnance disposal and support during national civil defence emergencies.

Defence expenditure

Defence funding is voted by parliament to two organisations, the New Zealand Defence Force under the Chief of Defence Force, and the Ministry of Defence under the Secretary of Defence. Total expenditure by the two organisations is consolidated in Table 4.2. Table 4.3 compares New Zealand's defence expenditure internationally.

Table 4.2. Defence expenditure

ItemYear ended 30 June
Capital charge320,550332,317
Other expenses76,952103,369
                Total output expenses1,507,1771,595,627
                Crown revenue provided1,398,8211,461,077
Source: New Zealand Defence Force; Ministry of Defence

Table 4.3. International comparison of defence expenditure

 Percentage of GDP


2Year ended 30 June.

3Year ended 31 March.

4Year ended 30 September.

5Using NATO definition, excluding GST, capital charge and war pensions.

Source: New Zealand Defence Force

New Zealand21.
United Kingdom33.
United States of America43. 

Table 4.4 gives recent annual totals of New Zealand defence personnel.

Table 4.4. Number of defence personnel

As at JuneNavyArmyAir forceTotalCivilians (NZDF & MOD)
Sources: New Zealand Defence Force; Ministry of Defence

Royal New Zealand Navy

Command and administration. The Chief of Naval Staff exercises full command of the navy. However, the fleet is tasked by the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand through the Maritime Component Commander based at Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand at Trentham. The Deputy Chief of Navy, based at the Naval Staff in Wellington, is responsible to the Chief of Naval Staff for the navy's ‘raise, train and sustain’ functions.

Shore establishments. The naval base at Devonport, Auckland, consists of HMNZS Philomel, the navy's main naval barracks and administrative unit; the Royal New Zealand Naval College, which is the navy's training establishment; the naval hospital; and the naval supply and armament depots. The base also contains the naval dockyard, which is a comprehensive engineering and support facility managed under a commercial management agreement by Babcocks New Zealand Ltd. The Royal New Zealand Navy Hydrographic Office is located nearby in Takapuna.

HMNZS Wakefield is the administrative unit for naval personnel in the Wellington area.

There are four Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve units in the main centres – HMNZS Ngapona in Auckland, HMNZS Olphert in Wellington, HMNZS Pegasus in Christchurch and HMNZS Toroa in Dunedin. There is also a Port Headquarters in Tauranga. Table 4.5 lists the navy's ships and table 4.6 gives recent annual totals for navy personnel.

Table 4.5. State of the navy

Ship typeNameForce
ANZAC class frigatesTe KathaNaval Combat Force
Te Mana
Leander class frigateCanterbury
Fleet tankerEndeavourNaval Support Force
Survey shipResolution
Diving support shipManawanui
Inshore patrol craftHinauMaritime Mine Warfare Force
Training tenderKahuSea training
Kaman Seasprite SH-2G helicopters x 5 (2 accepted into service at Dec 2001) Naval aviation

Note: In early 2002 the government allocated $500m for the purchase of a multi role vessel (MRV) and two or three offshore patrol vessels (OPV). The MRV will replace the frigate Canterbury, which is due to he decommissioned by 2005.

Source: New Zealand Defence Force

Figure 4.4 shows the location of New Zealand's defence forces.

Figure 4.4. Principal New Zealand Defence Force locations

Principal New Zealand Defence Force locations

Table 4.6. Strength of the navy

CategoryAt 30 June
Regular forces (all ranks)2,1522,0742,0802,1042,0801,9671,893
Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve (all ranks)370367395397401385385
                Total uniformed2,5222,4412,4752,5012,4812,3522,278
Civilian employees    524453434
                Total Navy    3,00528052,712
Source: New Zealand Defence Force

New Zealand Army

The New Zealand Army is organised, equipped and trained to provide a flexible range of units and sub-units up to a deployable battalion group. It can respond to lower level contingencies in the region or serve as a New Zealand contribution to a collective force, including a United Nations force.

Command and administration. The Chief of General Staff (CGS), under the Chief of Defence Force (CDF), retains full command of the army. The CGS is assisted in fulfilling his statutory command requirements by the Army General Staff (Army GS). Army GS has both a policy formulation and implementation role. Operational elements of the army are commanded by the Land Component Commander (LCC), under the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand (COMJFNZ).

The LCC, through the COMJFNZ, is assigned operational command of the 2nd Land Force Group, with headquarters at Linton, and the 3rd Land Force Group, with headquarters at Burnham, and commands all regular and territorial force units, with the exception of those elements assigned to the Army Training Group (ATG). The ATG, primarily based in Waiouru, reports directly to Army GS and is responsible for the majority of individual training conducted within the army. Army specialist units, based at Auckland and Trentham, include a Special Air Services Group and a Military Police Company, and are commanded directly by the LCC.

Table 4.7 lists army headquarters and units and table 4.8 gives recent annual totals of army personnel.

Table 4.7. State of the army

Army GSWellingtonCommand
HQ JFNZTrenthamCommand
1 NZSAS GpAucklandSpecial Forces
Force MP CoyTrenthamCSS
HQ 2 LFGLintonCommand
16 Fd RegtLintonCS
1 RNZIR Linton
Ak North RegtAucklandTF
WWCT RegtWanganuiTF
Hauraki RegtTaurangaTF
WnHB RegtNapierTF
2 Engr RegtLintonCS
2 Sigs SqnLintonCS
2 Log BnLintonCSS
2 HSBLintonCSS
HQ 3 LFGBurnhamCommand
2/1 RNZIRBurnhamCombat
Cant NMWC RegtBurnhamTF
O South RegtDunedinTF
3 Fd TpBurnhamCS
3 Sigs TpBurnhamCS
3 Log BnBurnhamCSS
HQ ATGWaiouruCommand
Land Ops Trg CentreWaiouruTraining
The Army DepotWaiouruTraining
Officer Cadet SchoolWaiouruTraining
TRSCTrenthamStatic Support

CS = Combat Support, CSS = Combat Service Support, TRSC = Trentham Regional Support Centre.

Source: New Zealand Defence Force


Table 4.8. Strength of the army

CategoryAt 30 June
Regular forces     
Other ranks3,6763,7063,7653,7823,838
Territorial Force (all ranks)3,6803,3943,0852,4742,159
                Total uniformed8,0717,8257,5026,9876,739
                Total Army8,8728,5938,2367,7107,382
Source: New Zealand Defence Force     

Royal New Zealand Air Force

Command and administration. The Royal New Zealand Air Force is structured to provide a maritime patrol force, a fixed wing transport force and a rotary wing transport force. The air combat force was disbanded in December 2001 (see sidebar). The Chief of Air Staff, supported by the Air Staff, commands the air force.

Organisation. The Air Component Commander within Headquarters Joint Force New Zealand commands the Royal New Zealand Air Force's deployable operational units. The broad range of activities carried out to raise, train and sustain the operational units of the air force is provided under the direction of the Air Staff. Operational flying units are based at RNZAF Base Auckland and RNZAF Base Ohakea. RNZAF Base Ohakea also hosts primary flying training, while most ground training is done at RNZAF Base Woodbourne. The RNZAF Museum is based at Wigram, with a wing of the museum at RNZAF Base Ohakea.

Engineering. Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft technical services are coordinated by Air Staff with specific levels of aircraft maintenance assigned to bases and squadrons. The overhaul of specific aircraft and engines and some manufacturing of aeronautical equipment is carried out at RNZAF Base Woodbourne. Some repair and overhaul work is contracted to the private sector in New Zealand and overseas. Table 4.9 lists the air force's aircraft and table 4.10 gives recent annual totals of air force personnel.

Table 4.9. State of the air force

6 OrionsRNZAF Base AucklandMaritime Patrol Force
2 Boeing 727sRNZAF Base AucklandFixed Wing Transport Force
5 HerculesRNZAF Base AucklandFixed Wing Transport Force
14 IroquoisRNZAF Base OhakeaRotary Wing Transport Force
5 SiouxRNZAF Base OhakeaFlying Training
13 Air TrainersRNZAF Base OhakeaFlying Training
3 King AirsRNZAF Base OhakeaFlying Training

Note: The Iroquois. Sioux and King Air aircraft moved from RNZAF Base Auckland to RNZAF Base Ohakea in January 2002.

Source: New Zealand Defence Force

Table 4.1. Strength of the air force

CategoryAt 30 June
Regular forces       
    Other ranks2,6762,5682,3512,3492,2662,1902,053
Territorial Air Force (all ranks)101170180163163161176
                Total uniformed      2,800
                Total Air Force      3,211
Source: New Zealand Defence Force


New Zealand is a small nation, geographically distant from the world's major conflicts. Its credibility in arms control and disarmament is the result of a long history of commitment to the peaceful and just resolution of international disputes.

New Zealand's role in the creation of the United Nations (UN), its opposition to nuclear testing, establishment of a nuclear-free New Zealand and South Pacific, and practical contributions to UN peacekeeping and demining operations, mean New Zealand's voice is listened to with respect.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's international security and arms control division includes five officers responsible for policy and treaty implementation. They prepare advice on disarmament and arms control issues for the Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, represent New Zealand at international meetings, and ensure New Zealand's international legal obligations are fully implemented at the national level.

Officers of the ministry based overseas, including an Ambassador for Disarmament, are involved in negotiations and activities with disarmament organisations in Geneva, Vienna, New York and The Hague. The ministry's posts in Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia, the Pacific, and southern Africa also engage in bilateral discussions with host governments on key issues.

The government values the views of New Zealand's non-government peace and disarmament groups and interested members of the public. Non-government representatives are invited to join official delgegations to international meetings to contribute their advice and perspective on the pursuit of New Zealand's disarmament goals.

A statutory body, the Public Advisory Committee on Disarmament and Arms Control (PACDAC) was established under the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act 1987 to:

  • Advise the Minister of Foreign Affairs on such aspects of disarmament and arms control matters as it thinks fit.

  • Advise the prime minister on implementation of the act.

  • Publish reports on disarmament and arms control matters and on implementations of the act.

  • Make recommendations for grants from the Peace and Disarmament Education Trust, established from Rainbow Warrior compensation funds.

The act specifies that PACDAC is to comprise nine members, including the Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, who chairs the committee. The other eight members are appointed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs for three-year terms.

A recent initiative of PACDAC was commissioning independent research into the trade in small arms in South-east Asia and the South Pacific.

Intelligence and security

Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security advises each minister responsible for an intelligence and security agency on the oversight and review of those agencies. In particular, the inspector-general is responsible for assisting the minister to ensure that the activities of New Zealand intelligence and security agencies comply with the law, and that complaints relating to those agencies are independently investigated. The office of the inspector-general's website is

Security Intelligence Service

The New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) is a small government agency with approximately 110 staff, a head office in Wellington and regional offices in Auckland and Christchurch.

Principal functions of the NZSIS are to obtain, correlate and evaluate intelligence relevant to New Zealand's security and to advise ministers on security matters. These functions are outlined in the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Act 1969 and amendments. The legislation specifies that the act does not limit the right of people to engage in lawful protest, advocacy or dissent, and that it is not a function of the service to enforce measures of security.

The NZSIS reports directly to the Minister in Charge of the NZSIS, traditionally the prime minister, and the director is required by legislation to also consult regularly with the leader of the opposition, to keep him or her informed about matters relating to security.

The service is subject to oversight and review by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, and a committee of parliamentarians, the intelligence and security committee.

Government Communications Security Bureau

Responsible to the prime minister, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) provides information, advice and assistance to the New Zealand Government, government departments and organisations. The GCSB is subject to oversight and review under the Intelligence and Security Committee Act 1996 and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act 1996. Its functions are:

Communications security and computer security – protecting information that is processed, stored or communicated by electronic or similar means and including:

  • The formulation of communications security and computer security policy; the promulgation of standards and the provision of material, advice and assistance to government departments and authorities, including the New Zealand armed forces, on matters related to the security and integrity of official information, the loss or compromise of which could adversely affect national security.

  • The provision of advice as required by government departments and authorities in relation to official information which, although unrelated to national security, requires protection from disclosure to protect the functions of government, and for privacy, safety and commercial reasons.

Critical infrastructure protection – provision of warnings, guidance and coordination of the national response to IT-based threats to New Zealand's critical infrastructures (ie power, telecommunications, emergency services, banking and finance, transport and government) through operation of a Centre for Critical Infrastructure Protection.

Technical security – providing defence against eavesdropping and other forms of technical attack against New Zealand Government premises worldwide.

Signals intelligence – providing foreign signals intelligence to meet the national intelligence requirements of the New Zealand Government.

The GCSB head office is in Wellington and it operates two communications stations – the Defence Communications Unit, Tangimoana, and the Defence Satellite Communications Unit, Blenheim at Waihopai.

External Assessments Bureau

Part of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the External Assessments Bureau (EAB), Te Ranga Tātari Take Tāwāhi produces intelligence assessments of events and trends overseas to support informed decision making by the government on events or trends likely to influence New Zealand's foreign relations and external interests.

The staff of about 30 identify, collate, evaluate and analyse information collected from a range of sources, and prepare assessments and reports on political, economic, biographic, strategic and scientific matters.

Table 4.11 lists recent annual expenditure on the three intelligence and security agencies.

Table 4.11. Expenditure on intelligence and security agencies

Year ended 30 JuneEABNZSISGCSB
Sources: External Assessments Bureau; New Zealand Security Intelligence Service; Government Communications Security Bureau


4.1–4.4 Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

4.5 New Zealand Defence Force.

4.6 Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

4.7 Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; New Zealand Security Intelligence Service; Government Communications Security Bureau; External Assessments Bureau.

Statistics New Zealand divisional manager responsible: Kevin Eddy.

Further information

Air Force News (monthly). Royal New Zealand Air Force, Wellington.

Army News (fortnightly). New Zealand Army, Wellington.

Crawford J (1996). In the field for peace: New Zealand's contribution to international peace support operations: 1950–95, New Zealand Defence Force, Wellington.

Crawford JAB, and Harper G (2001). Operation East Timor (The New Zealand Defence Force in East Timor 1999–2001). Reed, Auckland.

Departmental Forecast Report (annual). G 4FR, Ministry of Defence, Wellington.

Departmental Forecast Report of the New Zealand Defence Force (annual). G 55FR, New Zealand Defence Force, Wellington.

Development Cooperation (biannual). Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Development Cooperation Division, Wellington.

Diplomatic and Consular List (twice-yearly). Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Wellington.

Information Bulletins (1994–2000). Nos. 44–62, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Wellington.

Navy Today: RNZN News (monthly). Royal New Zealand Navy, Wellington.

New Zealand Defence Quarterly (quarterly). Ministry of Defence, Wellington.

New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade Record (monthly except January). Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Wellington.

New Zealand International Review (every two months). Institute of International Affairs, Wellington.

Overseas Posts. A List of New Zealand Representatives Abroad (twice-yearly). Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Wellington.

Report of the Asia 2000 Foundation of New Zealand (Parl Paper G.47).

Report of the Ministry of Defence (Parl Paper G.4).

Report of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Parl Paper A.1).

Report of the New Zealand Defence Force (Parl Paper G.55).

The Shape of New Zealand's Defence: A White Paper 1997. New Zealand Government, Wellington.

United Nations Handbook (annual). Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Wellington.

Websites – Asia 2000 Foundation of New Zealand – Institute of Policy Studies – Intelligence and Security – Ministry of Defence – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade – New Zealand Army – New Zealand Official Development Assistance (NZODA) – Royal New Zealand Air Force – Royal New Zealand Navy – Statistics New Zealand – Volunteer Service Abroad

Chapter 5. Population

As New Zealand's population ages, there will be a higher proportion of retirees and a lower proportion of children.

The demography of New Zealand changed dramatically during the past century. The nation passed through a ‘demographic transition’ similar to those experienced by most western countries and, despite a continued reliance on agricultural exports, became highly urbanised.

Substantial reductions in mortality mean that New Zealanders born at the end of the 20th century can expect to live, on average, more than 20 years longer than those born 100 years earlier. During the second half of the 20th century, family formation patterns changed radically, the divorce rate soared and de facto unions became common. The average family size is now less than half of what it once was.

The population age structure has also undergone profound changes, largely as a result of peaks and troughs in the birth rate. The number of elderly New Zealanders has increased more than 20-fold since 1886, and the population is ageing – a process that is expected to hasten when the ‘baby boom’ generation reaches retirement age early this century. Continued low birth rates and the ‘greying’ of the population have raised the prospect of a future slow-growth or no-growth environment.

The following discussions on population issues focus on the years since World War II, more particularly the past 30 years, highlighting recent trends in New Zealand's demography.

Population growth

Dramatic changes in the first 150 years of European settlement in New Zealand were frequently consistent with, and indicative of, international social and economic trends. In a nation of New Zealand's size and youth, however, the results of these trends often had profound effects. The almost cyclic nature of economic depression and recovery, along with gold rushes, world wars and assisted immigration schemes, caused regular fluctuations in New Zealand's population growth rates.

The population of New Zealand reached 500,000 in 1880, boosted by the introduction of government-assisted immigration. The first million was passed in 1908 following economic recovery from the depression of the 1880s and 1890s. In the aftermath of World War II, the growth rate climbed dramatically (compared with stagnation in the early 1930s) as the baby boom and increased immigration took effect. The second million of population was reached in 1952, 44 years after the first million, and the third was added only 21 years later in 1973. Nearly 20 percent of this population growth came from net immigration.

New Zealand's population grew by 118,974 between 1996 and 2001.

Since 1976, New Zealand's population has increased by more than half of a million to reach 3.74 million at the 2001 Census on 6 March (see table 5.1).

In absolute terms, New Zealand's population grew by a record 266,752 during 1971–76, 119,977 during 1981–86, 110,643 during 1986–91, 244,375 during 1991–96, and 118,974 between 1996 and 2001.

Table 5.1. Total New Zealand population, 1858–2001 censuses

Census1,2Total populationIntercensal increase
NumberPercentAverage annual (percent)

1Omits censuses of 1851, 1864, 1867 and 1871 as censuses of Māori population were not taken in these years.

2Figures from 1981 onwards are census usually resident population counts, replacing census night population counts used in the past.

Note: All figures have been randomly rounded to base 3.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

1858, 24 December115,461.........
1874, 1 March344,985.........
1878, 3 March458,007113,02232.767.33
1881, 3 April534,03076,02316.605.10
1886, 28 March620,45186,42116.183.06
1891, 5 April668,65248,2017.771.50
1896, 12 April743,21474,56211.152.13
1901, 31 March815,86272,6489.771.90
1906, 29 April936,309120,44714.762.75
1911, 2 April1,058,313122,00413.032.52
1916, 15 October1,149,22590,9128.591.50
1921, 17 April1,271,667122,44210.652.27
1926, 20 April1,408,140136,47310.732.06
1936, 24 March1,573,812165,67211.771.13
1945, 25 September1,702,329128,5178.170.83
1951, 17 April1,939,473237,14413.932.37
1956, 17 April2,174,061234,58812.102.31
1961, 18 April2,414,985240,92411.082.12
1966, 22 March2,676,918261,93310.852.11
1971, 23 March2,862,630185,7126.941.35
1976, 23 March3,129,384266,7549.321.80
1981, 24 March3,143,307.........
1986, 4 March3,263,283119,9763.820.76
1991, 5 March3,373,926110,6433.390.67
1996, 5 March3,618,303244,3777.241.41
2001, 6 March3,737,277118,9743.290.65

Figure 5.1 shows the estimated annual population and percentage growth in the New Zealand population from 1900 to 2001.

Figure 5.1. Estimated population and population growth1

Estimated population and population growth1

Population projections

Population trends are difficult to predict because demographic changes affect and, in turn, are influenced by social, economic and other circumstances. Some broad trends and structural changes can be identified, however. For example, population ageing and sub-replacement fertility in New Zealand have raised the prospect of a slow-growth or no-growth environment in coming decades. The entry of large baby boom cohorts into retirement ages after 2010 will result in a burgeoning 65+ population. New Zealand's workforce will take on an older profile. Latest projections also point to greater ethnic diversity in the future, with Māori, Pacific and Asian populations all expected to increase their share of the New Zealand population. Within the national scene, the northward drift is likely to continue, with the northern North Island expected to grow most.

Projected resident population. Projections given here assume that New Zealand women will average just under two births each, that life expectancy at birth will increase by about seven years for males to 82 years and by about six years for females to 86.5 years in 2051, and that there will be a net migration gain of 5,000 people a year.

New Zealand's population is projected to pass the 4 million mark within the present decade and then peak at 4.6 million around 2044. This is an increase of 800,000 on the 1999 figure of 3.8 million. The pace of growth will not be uniform, however. The annual growth rate is projected to slow significantly from 0.8 percent in 2002 to 0.1 percent in 2039. This is due partly to the narrowing gap between births and deaths. Following the peak around 2044, the population is projected to decline slowly, as deaths offset the combined effect of births and the migration gain.

Figure 5.2 compares the historical and projected growth of New Zealand's population to 2051.

Figure 5.2. Population growth
Medium projection (series 4)

Population growthMedium projection (series 4)

Figure 5.3. Change in population aged 65+ years
Medium projection (series 4)

Change in population aged 65+ yearsMedium projection (series 4)

The age structure of New Zealand's population will undergo significant changes as a result of past and likely future changes in fertility, improvement in longevity and a change in migration patterns. Overall, the population will take on an older profile. The median age (half the population is younger and half the population is older than this age) is projected to rise from 34 years in 1999 to 38 years by 2011 and to 45 years in 2051 as the baby boomers enter retirement ages (see table 5.2).

Table 5.2. New Zealand population, medium projection (series 4)

Population (000)      
All ages3,8114,1384,3754,5654,6424,630
    0–14 years875812775795763737
    15–64 years2,4902,7602,8192,7392,7092,712
    65+ years4465667811,0311,1701,181
Births (000)574952514848
Deaths (000)273034415056
Annual population change (000)182523143-3
Median age (years)343840424445
Dependency ratio (per 100 people aged 15–64 years)      
    Child (0–14 years)352927292827
    Elderly (65+ years)182128384344
    Total (0–14, 65+ years)535055677171
Source: Statistics New Zealand

Age groups. The number of children (0–14 years) is projected to drop by about one-sixth to around 740,000 by 2051. They will then make up 16 percent of the population, compared with 23 percent in 1999. By contrast, there will be unprecedented growth in the number of New Zealanders in retirement ages (65+ years). Their number will more than double, from 450,000 in 1999 to 1.2 million in 2051. By then, 26 percent of the population will be aged 65 and over, up from 12 percent in 1999. As Figure 5.3 shows, the largest increases in the 65+ age group will occur in the decades ending in 2021 (215,000) and 2031 (250,000) when the baby boom cohorts move into this age group. In 1999, there were about two children for every person aged 65 and over. By the early 2020s, there will be about equal numbers of children and older people, but by 2051 there are projected to be about three older people for every two children. The 65+ age group itself will age. The number of New Zealanders aged 85 and over is projected to grow from 45,000 in 1999 to 290,000 by 2051. They will then make up 25 percent of New Zealanders aged 65+, compared with 10 percent in 1999. Improvement in life expectancy and the baby boom impact could also mean more centenarians (100+ years) – 12,000 in 2051 as against just a few hundred at present. Females will continue to significantly outnumber males in the 85+ age group, with 1.6 females for every male in 2051, compared with 2.3 in 1999. The working-age population (15–64 years) is projected to increase by about 220,000 (9 percent) to 2.7 million by 2051. But its share of the total population will shrink from 65 percent to 59 percent during the 50-year period. The workforce will take on an older profile in the future. In 1999, those aged 40–64 made up 44 percent of the working-age population, a figure projected to increase to 51 percent by 2011. The median age of the working-age group is projected to increase from 37 in 1999 to 40 in 2009 and then remain between 40 and 41 for the next four decades.

Educational ages. While numbers in the various educational age groups are projected to fluctuate in the future, there will be a general downward trend in all groups. The fluctuations mainly reflect changes in births in preceding years and are likely to have significant impacts on the demand for teachers and other educational resources in the future.

Figure 5.4 shows the projected population in each of the three educational age groups to 2051.

Figure 5.4. Population in educational age groups
Medium projection (series 4)

Population in educational age groupsMedium projection (series 4)

By 2051, the secondary school age population is projected to be 261,000, about 62,000 fewer than the 1976 peak.

During the next two decades, the primary school age population (5–12 years) will drop by 67,000 (14 percent) to 410,000 in 2021. This compares with a peak of 503,000 in 1975. Further decreases will mean that by 2051 there will be 84,000 fewer primary school age children than in 1999.

The trend in the secondary school age population (13–17 years) is similar to that for the primary school age population, except that the peaks and troughs of the secondary school age population lag behind those of the primary school age population by about six years. The secondary school age population is projected to increase from 272,000 in 1999 to 315,000 in 2007. Then the number will drop by 50,000 to 265,000 in 2027. By 2051, the secondary school age population will number 261,000, about 62,000 fewer than the 1976 peak.

Peaks and troughs in the tertiary age population (18–22 years) lag those of the secondary school age population by about five years. During the decade ending 2011, there will be an increase of 47,000, followed by drops of 23,000 and 26,000 in the next two decades, and smaller changes thereafter. By 2051, there will be 270,000 people aged 18–22, nearly back to the 1999 figure of 266,000.

Alternative growth scenarios. Given the uncertainty about future demographic events, Statistics New Zealand does not predict the future population, but compiles alternative demographic scenarios using different combinations of assumptions on future fertility, mortality and migration. These provide a range within which the future population size and structure may lie if the stated assumptions are met. They allow users to assess the changes that would occur under different scenarios. For example, how would the population change if the annual migration level was 10,000 a year instead of 5,000 a year, or if the long-term fertility rate was above replacement level instead of 1.90 births per woman (the medium variant)?

Alternative fertility scenarios are formulated using both the New Zealand post-war experience and recent international fertility levels as a guide. New Zealand's lowest fertility level last century was in the early 1980s, at 1.92 births per woman. Sub-replacement fertility is a common demographic feature among developed countries, including Australia (1.7), England and Wales (1.7), the Netherlands (1.7), Canada (1.6) and Sweden (1.5). Some European countries, notably Italy and Spain, have fertility rates below 1.3 births per woman.

The low fertility scenario, which assumes that New Zealand women would average 1.65 births each during the projection period, results in a smaller and much older population than the medium fertility variant. By contrast, the high fertility scenario, which assumes 2.15 births per woman, results in a larger and more youthful population.

The size and direction of New Zealand's external migration balance has fluctuated significantly in the past 100 years, averaging a net gain of about 5,000 people a year. Overall, larger migration gains in future would result in a larger population, but would be unlikely to significantly retard the ageing process.

Unlike fertility and net migration assumptions, alternative mortality variants have only a slight impact on the size and structure of the projected population.

Table 5.3 shows a variety of alternative population projections using different assumptions of fertility and migration.

Table 5.3. Alternative population projection series

By fertility rate1Series 1Series 4Series 8Very high fertility series

1These series assume medium mortality and long-term annual net migration of 5,000.

2Half the population is older and half younger than this age.

3Population aged 0–14 years per 100 population aged 15–64 years.

4Population aged 65+ years per 100 population aged 15–64 years.

5These series assume medium fertility (declining to 1.90 births per woman by 2011) and medium mortality.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

Total fertility rate (births per woman)1.651.902.152.50
Population (million)
Median age (years)2
Population aged 0–14 years (percent)
Population aged 15–64 years (percent)
Population aged 65+ years (percent)
0–14 dependency ratio3
65+ dependency ratio4
By migration level5Series 3Series 4Series 5Series 6
Annual net migration05,00010,00020,000
Population (million)
Median age (years)2
Population aged 0–14 years (percent)
Population aged 15–64 years (percent)
Population aged 65+ years (percent)
0–14 dependency ratio3
65+ dependency ratio4

Growing ethnic diversity. The ethnic mosaic of New Zealand's population is changing, with the Māori, Pacific and Asian ethnic groups making up a growing proportion of the population. This reflects past and existing differentials in fertility, as well as the impact of growing miscegenation and changes in immigration policy. It can also be attributed to the fact that the Māori, Pacific and Asian populations have more youthful age structures and thus a greater built-in momentum for growth than the European population.

The 1996-base ethnic population projections presented here are based on the concept of self-identification. Accordingly, each ethnic group excludes people who have ancestry but do not identify with that ethnic group, but includes people who identify with that ethnic group either solely or with other ethnic groups.

Some people are counted in two or more ethnic groups and therefore the Māori, Pacific and Asian populations discussed here are not mutually exclusive.

New Zealand's Asian population is projected to reach 370,000 in 2016 – double that of 1996.

Māori, Pacific and Asian populations are all projected to grow at a faster rate than the total New Zealand population. The number of Māori people is projected to roughly double by 2051, reaching nearly 1 million. During the same period, the Pacific population in New Zealand will nearly treble to reach about 600,000. The faster growth for the Pacific population reflects slightly higher fertility and a positive immigration contribution, whereas for the Māori population the projections assume a small net emigration. The Asian population is projected to double between 1996 and 2016 to reach 370,000. The shorter projection period for the Asian population reflects the volatility of Asian migration levels in recent years and the uncertainty of future immigration policies.

Table 5.4 shows the projected New Zealand population growth in the Māori, Pacific and Asian ethnic groups.

Table 5.4. Māori, Pacific and Asian population projections

 Total New ZealandMāoriPacificAsian

1Half the population is older, and half younger, than this age.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

 Population (000)
Population change 1996–2051 (percent)2181181..
 Median age (years)1

Diversity in fertility and migration patterns means the various ethnic groups will follow different paths to population ageing in future decades. With a median age of 35 in 1996, the European ethnic group has a much older age structure than the Māori (22 years) and Pacific (21 years) ethnic groups. Despite significant ageing, the median age of the Māori (32) and Pacific populations (29) in 2051 will still be lower than the median age of the total New Zealand population (33) in 1996.

Subnational projections. According to latest (1996-base) projections, about 90 percent of population growth in New Zealand in the 25-year period to 2021 will occur in the North Island. The four northernmost regions – Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty – will account for nearly all North Island growth. The combined population of these four regions will increase by about one-third, from 1.8 million in 1996 to 2.4 million in 2021. The Auckland region will account for three-quarters of the North Island growth and two-thirds of the national growth. The population of the remainder of the North Island – Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Taranaki, Manawatu-Wanganui and Wellington regions – is expected to increase only slightly to 962,000 by 2021. The South Island's population is projected to increase by 7 percent to reach 983,000.

Given these growth differentials, the northern North Island will be home to 56 percent of all New Zealanders by 2021, up from 49 percent in 1996. By contrast, the southern North Island's share will drop from 26 to 22 percent and the South Island's from 25 percent to 22 percent.

Figure 5.5 shows the projected percentage change in the population of regions between 1996 and 2021.

Figure 5.5. Projected population change of regions, 1996–2021

Projected population change of regions, 1996–2021

Among the 15 main urban areas (30,000+ population), Tauranga is projected to experience the fastest growth (up 61 percent) during the period 1996–2021, followed by Auckland (up 39 percent), Hamilton (up 27 percent) and Nelson (up 19 percent). The Auckland urban area is projected to have the greatest numerical increase, up from 1 million to 1.4 million – equivalent to adding the current Auckland city population to the area during the 25-year period. By 2021, the Auckland urban area will be home to 33 percent of all New Zealanders, up from 28 percent in 1996.

Among territorial authorities (cities and districts), growth rates are projected to vary. According to the 1996-base projections, leading growth areas will include Rodney, Selwyn, Tauranga, Western Bay of Plenty, Queenstown-Lakes, Franklin and Waimakariri districts, and Manukau and Waitakere cities, all with growth rates in excess of 40 percent during 1996–2021. By contrast, Kawerau, Gore, South Waikato, Rangitikei and Ruapehu districts and Invercargill city are all projected to experience population decreases of 20 percent or more.

Summary. Although fertility has been below replacement level for most of the past 20 years and is likely to remain so in the foreseeable future, New Zealand's population will continue to grow slowly for some time. This is because the current age structure has a built-in momentum for further growth. Slow growth aside, there will be profound shifts in population composition, including further ageing of the population, a burgeoning 65+ population, growing ethnic diversity and possible geographical redistribution of population, especially within territorial authorities. These demographic developments add new dimensions to policy choices in an era which is likely to witness extraordinary technological progress.

Enumerating the population

Statistics New Zealand has adopted the ‘resident population’ concept as a standard for producing official population estimates and projections. This concept is viewed as a more accurate estimate of the population normally living in an area than the ‘census usually resident population’ count. The estimated resident population of New Zealand includes all residents present in New Zealand and counted by the census and residents temporarily overseas (who are not counted by the census). An adjustment is made for residents missed or counted more than once by the census (net census undercount). The latest set of resident population estimates are based on the census held on 5 March 1996 and are adjusted for the estimated net undercount at the 1996 Census and the estimated number of New Zealand residents temporarily overseas on the day of the census. Results from the 2001 Census post-enumeration survey reveal that 85,000 New Zealand residents (2.2 percent of the population) were not enumerated by the 2001 Census and the number of residents temporarily overseas at the 2001 Census was estimated to be 55,000. Resident population estimates based on the 2001 Census results were not available in time for inclusion in this publication.

Table 5.5 shows the estimated resident population of New Zealand from 1885 to 2001.

Table 5.5. Estimated population, 1885–2001

YearTotal population at 31 DecMean population for year ended 31 Dec

1Resident population estimates are not strictly comparable with enumerated census counts; they include adjustment for census undercount and residents temporarily overseas.

Note: The population estimates for 1991 onwards are based on the resident population concept, replacing the de facto population concept used in the past.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

De facto population
Resident population1

South African rugby team-mates complete 2001 Census forms in their Wellington hotel.

Distribution of population

Three major trends stand out in the geographic distribution and redistribution of New Zealand's population in the past 150 years. The first is an increasing proportion of people living in the north of the country. The second is a tendency for people to move northward within each island and, with the exception of the past 20 years, from the South Island to the North Island. The third is for an increasing degree of urbanisation and, in particular, a concentration of people in the main urban centres.

North and South Islands

Following the end of the gold boom in the South Island in the 1870s, the proportion of the total census night population count living in the South Island began to steadily decrease. From the 1896 Census onward, the census night population of the North Island has exceeded that of the South. Since that time, the North Island's census night population has continued to grow at a greater rate, and its share of the total census night population has continued to increase. In 1956, 69 percent of New Zealanders lived in the North Island. The percentage had risen to more than 72 by 1976 and in 2001 it was 76 percent. Many influences have contributed to the population differential between the islands. The North Island has had a higher birth rate, a lower mortality rate and, as a result, a higher rate of natural increase, and most overseas migrants choose to settle in the North Island.

Table 5.6 lists the population of the North and South Islands on census night from 1858 to 2001.

Table 5.6. Population of North and South Islands, 1858–2001 censuses

Census1North IslandSouth IslandTotal population

1Figures from 1981 onwards are census usually resident population counts, replacing census night population counts used in the past.

Note:The North Island includes the population of Kermadec Islands and people on oil rigs. The South Island includes the populations of the Chatham Islands territory and Campbell Island.

Note:All figures have been randomly rounded to base 3.

Source: Statistics New Zealand


Internal migration

The movement of people within and among regions is an important determinant of New Zealand's population distribution. Overall, New Zealanders are a mobile people and, while the majority of movement is within regions, there is significant movement among regions. In addition to affecting the size of the population, inter-regional migration also influences age structures, fertility levels and populat