New Zealand Official Yearbook 2004

Te Pukapuka Houanga Whaimana o Aotearoa

Statistics New Zealand

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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. The 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 Jack 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 - 1835
The first flag of New Zealand

For a detailed history of Te Hakituatahi o Aotearoa, see Chapter 3: Government. The flag features, 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-pointed star.

The New Zealand coat of arms

New Zealand has had its own coat of arms since 1911. Before 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 the ‘Dominion of New Zealand’. Accordingly, the British lion holding aloft the Union Jack was replaced by St Edward's Crown, worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her coronation. At the 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 with ‘New Zealand’.

New Zealand Official Yearbook 2004
ISSN 0078 0170
ISBN 0-478-26925-0

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 publisher. No reproduction may be made, whether by photocopying or by any other means, unless a licence has been obtained from the publisher or their agent.

Copyright © Statistics New Zealand 2004.

Published in 2004 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 104th edition of the New Zealand Official Yearbook continues the tradition of providing a comprehensive picture of New Zealand society based on the most recent and accurate information available.

Any chronicle with a publishing history of more than 100 years needs to evolve to ensure that it continues to meet the needs and expectations of its users. In the case of the 2004 edition of the Yearbook, the result is a more concise, easy-to-read format, in some cases replacing the more technical content of the past.

At the same time, care has been taken to retain and build upon the statistical tables, graphs and historical time series which have been the hallmark of previous Yearbooks. These and sidebar stories and photographs highlight the changes that have occurred in many aspects of New Zealand life since production of the 2002 Yearbook.

Statistics New Zealand is aware that more and more people are turning to the internet for their informational needs, and each chapter of Yearbook 2004 provides a comprehensive list of website links to contributors and organisations mentioned. Further information on much of the statistical information included in the Yearbook can be found on Statistics New Zealand's comprehensive website, However, for the more than 60 percent of New Zealand households in private dwellings which the 2001 Census showed did not have internet access, the Yearbook remains an invaluable reference tool.

I would like to offer special thanks to the New Zealand Official Yearbook 2004 team for the high standards they have achieved and to publisher David Bateman Ltd for providing a high-quality finished product.

On behalf of Statistics New Zealand, I would also like to thank the 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. Their high level of cooperation, not only with the Yearbook but with all our surveys, ensures the continuing high quality of our official statistics.

Brian Pink
Government Statistician


The New Zealand Official Yearbook 2004 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 thanks them and the following:

Statistics New Zealand

Divisional Manager: Kevin Eddy

Publishing Services Manager: David Town

Editor: Paul Cavanagh

Production Editor: Marie Smith

Editorial support: Teresa Schischka

Illustrations research: Margaret Low

Typesetting: Horiana Honotapu

Graphics: Maureen Metcalfe, Sandra Mackenzie

Technical assistance: Kevin Tompson


Cover: Shelley Watson/Sublime Design

Contract photographer: Colin McDiarmid

Indexer: Jill Gallop

How to use the New Zealand Official Yearbook 2004

As a new reader of the New Zealand Official Yearbook, you may be surprised at the range of the 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 describes major changes in New Zealand's administrative, economic and financial framework in the two years since the preceding publication.

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 27 chapters follow a ‘logical’ progression. The first few chapters describe the physical setting of New Zealand, as well as its history, its system of government and its international relations. A description of its people comes next, followed by its social framework and its institutions. Later chapters, beginning with an overview of the New Zealand workforce, describe the activities of the economy's constituent sectors.

If, on the other hand, your question is more specific, for example ‘How many casinos are there in New Zealand, and where are they located?’, then the book is thoroughly indexed. A brief note on the system used can be found at the beginning of the index.


There is a glossary of statistical terms 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 New Zealand Official Yearbook 2004. However, Statistics New Zealand gives no warranty that the information or data supplied contains no errors, and will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by the use, directly or indirectly, of material contained in the Yearbook.

Chapter 1. Geography

Just after dawn in Wanaka.

1.1 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 267,707 square kilometres is similar in size to Japan or the British Isles. Table 1.01 gives more details of the size of the islands.

The main North and South Islands are separated by Cook Strait, which, at its narrowest point, is 20 kilometres 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, 850 kilometres east of Christchurch; Raoul Island, in the Kermadec Group, 930 kilometres north-east of the Bay of Islands; and Campbell Island, 590 kilometres south of Stewart Island.

New Zealand also has jurisdiction over the territories of Tokelau and the Ross Dependency.

Table 1.01. Land area of New Zealand1

Land areaSize (sq km)

1Includes all internal waterways (lakes and rivers).

2Includes all offshore islands 20 square kilometres or larger, except those listed separately.

Source: Land Information New Zealand

North Island114,154
South Island150,416
Stewart Island/Rakiura1,681
Chatham Islands963
Raoul Island34
Campbell Island/Motu Ihupuku113
Offshore islands2346

New Zealand is more than 1,600 kilometres long and 450 kilometres wide at its widest part, and has a long coastline (more than 18,000 kilometres) for its area. The coast is very indented in places, providing many natural harbours.

The country is also very mountainous, with about three-quarters of the land 200 metres or more 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, with the Southern Alps, a massive mountain chain, running nearly 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. New Zealand has at least 223 named peaks higher than 2,300 metres. Table 1.02 lists the highest mountains in both the North and South Islands.

Table 1.02. Principal mountains

Mountain or peakElevation (metres)
North Island 

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

2The Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences photogrametrically confirmed the height of Aoraki/Mt Cook as 3,754m after the 1991 slip from the peak.

Source: Land Information New Zealand

Taranaki or Egmont12,518
South Island
Aoraki/Mt Cook23,754
Hicks (St David's Dome)3,198
Malte Brun3,155
Elie de Beaumont3,117
La Perouse3,079
Glacier Peak3,007

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

New Zealand's rivers (see Table 1.03) are mainly swift and difficult to navigate. They are important as sources of hydro-electric power, and artificial lakes have been created as part of major hydro-electric schemes.

Table 1.03. Principal rivers1

RiverLength (kms)

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 - 

New Zealand's artificial lakes created by the South Island's hydro-electric schemes are identified in Table 1.04, which describes the country's principal lakes.

Table 1.04. Principal lakes1

LakeMaximum depth (metres)Area (kms2)

1Only lakes greater than 20 square kilometres in area are listed.

Source: National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (depths) Land Information New Zealand (areas)

North Island  
South Island  
Te Anau417344
Benmore (artificial)12075
Aviemore (artificial)6228
Dunstan (artificial)7027

1.2 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.


Renewed mountain building in New Zealand between about six million years ago and the present is primarily responsible for the landscape of today.

Mountain chains have been built by folding and displacement of the earth's crust along faults or by flexing of the crustal plates due to sediment loading and unloading. Due to this activity, well-preserved tilted blocks bounded by fault scarps (steep faces hundreds or even thousands of metres high) are visible in the landscape of some regions.

Ongoing movement of the Pacific and Indo-Australian plates is responsible for continued earth strain in New Zealand, and this results in periodic rupture of faults, several of which caused major earthquakes during the past century.

Erosion, enhanced by climate, 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 have carved the sea-filled valleys of Fiordland and have occupied most valleys of the South Island, many of which now have lakes held in by terminal moraines. 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 has played an important part in shaping the landscape of the central North Island. 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 volcanoes in New Zealand, all of which are active, include Ruapehu, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, White Island, and Taranaki or Egmont. Other major volcanoes are less obvious but have even more dramatic impacts on the landscape. These are the caldera-forming volcanoes that are now occupied by large central North Island lakes. Lakes Taupo, Rotorua, and Tarawera can be thought of as upside down volcanoes.

Small volcanic cones, such as One Tree Hill, Mt Eden and Rangitoto, are an important part of the Auckland landscape. These are dormant, but the volcanic field is still regarded as posing a significant hazard.

The magnitude 6.6 Edgecumbe earthquake in the Bay of Plenty in 1987 severely twisted railway lines, causing this locomotive to disrail.


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, the west coast of the 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 eight earthquake occurs in New Zealand about once a century, a magnitude seven earthquake averages out at once a decade and there is an average rate of one magnitude six earthquake a year.

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 Indo-Australian plate in the west, illustrated in figure 1.01. These two plates are converging obliquely at about 30 millimetres a year in Fiordland, increasing to about 50 millimetres a 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 Indo-Australian plate.

Figure 1.01. Pacific and Indo-Australian tectonic plates

Earthquakes originating within the subducting Pacific plate are less than 30 kilometres deep along the eastern coast, and become deeper westward.

In Fiordland and the region to the south, the Indo-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 450 kilometres 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 35 kilometres in New Zealand. Crustal earthquakes 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) runs national and regional earthquake and volcano monitoring networks. A major upgrade of monitoring equipment commenced in 2001 with the Earthquake Commission providing core funding of $5 million a year over 10 years.

The new equipment is linked to GNS data centres via satellite and cellular and radio networks, permitting more rapid and reliable determinations of the location and magnitude of all significant earthquakes and volcanic activity within the New Zealand region. Such information underpins current and emerging research on geological hazards and is also available to civil defence and emergency management authorities and international earthquake centres worldwide.

New Zealand scientists undertake a large body of research aimed at improving understanding of, and ways to mitigate, seismic and volcanic risk in New Zealand. Mitigation measures include improved engineering design of buildings and infrastructure, better prepared communities and better regional planning.

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 (see Table 1.05), 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, a zone extending from 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 Rotorua. 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 contains three frequently active cone volcanoes (Ruapehu, Tongariro/Ngauruhoe and White Island) and two of the 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. 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 1.05. 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 areac60
1886Tarawera RiftLarge volcanic eruption>108
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
 Total >337

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, 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.

1.3 Climate

New Zealand is surrounded by a large expanse of ocean, with Australia the nearest major land mass, 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 modify weather systems as they pass eastwards, and which also provide a sheltering effect on the leeward side.

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 is a major barrier to weather systems approaching from the west. Consequently, there is a marked contrast between the climates of regions west and east of the mountains. 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 can experience large temperature variations. High temperatures usually occur in the east in warm, north-westerly wind conditions. 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 causing 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.

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 comprehensive evidence of climate change during the 20th century caused by human activities. Key points raised in the IPCC report:

  • The global average surface temperature increased by about 0.6°C during the 20th century and sea levels in the tropical Pacific rose by about 2mm/year.

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

  • 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.

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.

Figure 1.02. Climate norms

Climate norms

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.

Table 1.06 lists predicted temperature and rainfall changes.

Table 1.06. Predicted changes in annual mean temperature and precipitation
Between 1970-1999 and 2070-2099

Source: Ministry of Research, Science and Technology
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%

Climate extremes. The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research'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. New Zealand's climate extremes as at 31 December 2003 are shown in Table 1.07 on page 10.

Figure 1.02 shows mean annual sunshine, temperature, rain days and rainfall for various parts of New Zealand. The maps are prepared by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), and the mean annual figures are struck over a 30-year period to create what are referred to as ‘climate norms.’ The next ‘normal’ period for calculating mean annual figures will be 1981 to 2010.

The year's weather - 2002 and 2003

2002. This year will be remembered for its high number of severe weather events and climate extremes. New records were set in many areas for rainfall, temperature and other climate extremes.

It was very dry in the Bay of Plenty, Nelson, Marlborough and North Otago, with above average sunshine hours in the eastern North Island, Westland and Southland.

One of the most notable severe weather events was the worst snowfall for many years in mid-Canterbury and inland Otago during June, leaving hundreds of travellers stranded, and thousands of homes without power.

A few days later, the ‘weather bomb’ brought high winds, intense rainfall and flooding in many northern and western areas, being especially severe over the Coromandel Peninsula.

Severe property damage was caused when slips sent an avalanche of water, mud and rocks into the township of Paekakariki, north of Wellington, in October 2003.

There were a dozen high-rainfall/flood-producing events and a high number of gale-force southerly wind episodes. Severe hailstorms hit throughout the country, and five tornadoes were reported. Lower than average pressures occurred south-east of the Chatham Islands with many more lows there than usual, bringing frequent stronger changeable westerly and south-westerly winds over the North Island, and southerlies and south-westerlies over the South Island. Seas around New Zealand were warmer than normal until October.

Analysis of month-by-month records for 2002 show:

  • The year's national average temperature was 12.5°C (the same as the 1961-1990 normal).

  • The highest recorded extreme air temperature for the year was 36.5°C, recorded at Darfield on 31 December, and the lowest -19.1°C (a new record low for June) at Tara Hills on the morning of 20 June.

  • The driest recorded centre was Alexandra, in Central Otago, with 371mm of rain for the year. Dunedin was the driest of the four main centres, with 647mm, and Wellington the wettest, with 1,250mm. Auckland received 1,075mm and Christchurch 785mm.

  • Christchurch was the sunniest of the three largest centres, with 2,166 sunshine hours, followed by Wellington (2,107 hours) and Auckland (2,034 hours). Nelson was the sunniest centre in 2002, with 2,580 hours, followed by Blenheim, with 2,534 hours. Tauranga recorded 2501 hours, well above average.

Table 1.07. Summary of New Zealand climate extremes
At 31 December 2003

Source: National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research
Amount (mm)LocationDate
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-December 1998
365 days18,442Waterfall, Cropp River (Hokitika Catchment)29 October 1997-29 October 1998
3 months9Cape CampbellJanuary-March 2001
6 months52Cape CampbellNov 2000-April 2001
12 months167AlexandraNov 1963-Oct 1964
Longest rainless period   
71 days0Wai-iti, MarlboroughFrom 8 Feb 1939
Temperature extremes
Temperature (°C) Date
Highest air temperature
North Island39.2Ruatoria7 February 1973
South Island42.4Rangiora7 February 1973
Lowest air temperature
North Island-13.6Chateau Tongariro7 July 1937
South Island-21.6Ophir3 July 1995
Lowest grass minimum-21.6Lake Tekapo4 August 1938
Total (hours) Date
Highest in one year
North Island2,588Napier1994
South Island2,711Nelson1931
Highest in one month
North Island335TaupoJanuary 1950
South Island336NelsonDecember 1934
Lowest in one year
North Island1,357Palmerston North1992
South Island1,333Invercargill1983
Lowest in one month
North Island27TaumarunuiJune 2002
South Island35InvercargillJune 1935
Wind gusts
Speed (km/h) Date
North Island248Hawkins Hill, Wellington6 November 1959 and 4 July 1962
South Island250Mt John, Canterbury18 April 1970

2003. This was a year of severe weather events and climate extremes involving very dry autumn conditions in many areas, extensive flooding and late snow storms. Overall, the year featured many new climate records and weather extremes. Analysis showed new records set in many months for rainfall, temperature and sunshine.

A very dry period from January through early May hit the southwest of the North Island and eastern regions of both islands, re-appearing in many eastern regions at the end of the year. There was a remarkably mild start to winter with the warmest June on record, followed by a very frosty July, and late frosts in October.

Five snowfall events occurred to low levels, and in October snowfall to the South Island hill country meant farmers lost thousands of newborn lambs to exposure.

There were at least 20 heavy rainfall events, of which nine produced floods, mainly in the North Island. The event producing the Paekakariki landslides in early October caused $2.5 million of damage.

NIWA analyses of month-by-month records for 2003 show:

  • The year's national average temperature was 12.7°C (0.1°C above the 1971-2000 normal).

  • The highest recorded extreme air temperature for the year was 36.0°C recorded at Middlemarch on 31 December. A late-summer heat wave occurred over the lower North Island, with new record maximum temperatures for any time of the year being recorded of 29.6°C at Paraparaumu on 28 February and 31.0°C at Levin on 2 March. June 2003 was the warmest in more than 150 years of measurement for New Zealand overall, with temperatures 2°C above average.

  • The lowest air temperature for the year was -14.8°C recorded at Tekapo on 13 July.

  • The driest rainfall recording locations were Alexandra, with 264.0mm, followed closely by Lauder, in Central Otago, with a record low 264.2mm of rain for the year. Christchurch was the driest of the four main centres, with 459mm, and Auckland the wettest, with 1,345mm. Of the regularly reporting gauges, the Cropp River gauge in Westland, inland in the headwaters of the Hokitika River, recorded the highest rainfall, with an annual total of 9,301mm.

  • Christchurch was the sunniest of the four main centres, with 2,362 sunshine hours, followed by Wellington (2,271 hours) and Auckland (2,047 hours). Dunedin recorded 1,971 hours. Nelson was the sunniest centre in 2003, with 2,707 hours, followed by Blenheim, with 2,663 hours.

  • The highest recorded wind gust for the year was 183 km/h at South West Cape (Stewart Island) on 16 November, with hurricane force northerlies and mean speeds as high as 132 km/h.

1.4 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 cricket-like 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 bird species 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.

1.5 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 Land Information New Zealand (LINZ); Department of Geology, University of Canterbury; New Zealand Speleogical Soceity.

  • 1.2 Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Ltd; Department of Conservation.

  • 1.3 National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd (NIWA); Ministry of Research, Science and Technology.

  • 1.4 Department of Conservation.

  • 1.5 Industrial Research Ltd.

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

The Earl of Ranfurly (on grey horse), Governor of New Zealand from 1897 to 1904, rests with his party at a kainga on the Huia-rau Trail from Waikaremoana to Ruatoki in 1904.

2.1 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 800 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 forests and oceans gathered. Large moa (flightless birds similar to emu), 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 or greenstone) 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 may have been about 100,000. Most 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, but 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 diet-related 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. Unprecedentedly 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 probably fell by half 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 eased 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 among them was by ship, and irregular - most had more frequent contact with Sydney than with each other.

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 newly-elected General Assembly were largely irrelevant.

Artist's impression of Māori chief Te Rangihaeata (with arm outstretched) addressing Governor-in-Chief Sir George Grey (sitting) at Waikanae in 1851.

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. A 14,000-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.

Recovering gold by sluicing on the West Coast in the 1880s.

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.

Politics, too, was transformed in the 1890s, when the ‘Continuous Ministry’ of run-holders 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 Maori 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 Maori-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, Pakehā 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, ‘Maori-landers’ 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 got off the ground 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 at 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, especially 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. Maori supported the war with unparalleled unanimity. A Maori Battalion was raised on tribal lines and a Maori War Effort Organisation coordinated civilian contributions. For the first time, Maori 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 Maori into mainstream New Zealand life.

Young people made up 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.

Taihape and the main trunk railway line in 1909.

The conservative National Party 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 energy crises in 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 were expensive failures.

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 public ownership. 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 and East Asian immigrants increased New Zealand's ethnic diversity.

A Labour-led coalition government took office in 1999 and was re-elected in a slightly different form in 2002. Labour aimed to maintain the benefits of deregulation while reasserting a role for the state when markets failed. In a period of prosperity, its greatest challenge lay in Māori-Pākehā relations. After suffering disproportionately when full employment ended, Māori continued to lag 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, and schools in which only Māori was spoken, and Māori language radio stations, sprang up from 1981.

In the 1990s, the National government negotiated settlements of up to $170 million with individual iwi, and Māori entrepreneurship flourished. But many Māori feel entitled to a bigger share of national wealth. There have been several occupations of land whose ownership is disputed, and sales of artefacts have been disrupted. Māori increasingly assert rights to intellectual property under international law, and to the coastal foreshore and seabed under the Treaty of Waitangi. Indeed, many argue that the treaty 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 legal and political rights, an attitude that was reinforced in the 1990s by the introduction of an electoral system based on proportional representation. These debates seem likely to continue.

David Green, History Group, Ministry for Culture and Heritage

2.2 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 Ngā Puhi and Ngāti Toa people led by chiefs Patuone, Nene, Moetara, Tuwhare and Te Rauparaha.
1820Ngā Puhi chief Hongi Hika 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 arrives in the Bay of Islands to take up appointment as British Resident in New Zealand.
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.
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. Local Māori initially provide food for these and later settlements.
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.
1844New Zealand Company suspends colonising operations due to financial difficulties.
1845Hone Heke begins war in the north. George Grey becomes governor. Half of all adult Māori are at least partly literate.
1846War in the north ends with capture of Ruapekapeka. Fighting between Māori and Pākehā around Wellington. Te Rauparaha captured by Grey. First New Zealand Constitution Act passed. Heaphy, Fox and Brunner begin exploring the West Coast. First steam vessel, HMS Driver, arrives in New Zealand.
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. Many Māori agree not to sell any more land: 32 million acres have been bought by the government in the past five years.
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 Wherowhero 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.
1860Waitara dispute develops into general warfare in Taranaki. Te Wherowhero dies and is replaced as Māori King by his son, Tawhiao. Kohimaramara Conference of Chiefs.
1861Grey begins second governorship. Gold discovered at Gabriel's Gully and 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. Māori defeat British at Gate Pa, Tauranga. 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.

Bushmen take a break after hauling a kauri log with a team of bullocks to a sawmill in North Auckland around 1918.

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. Cobb and Co coaches start running 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.
1869New Zealand's first university, the University of Otago, established.
1870Last 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 in New Zealand played at Nelson. 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.
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; 108 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 meeting of national Kotahitanga Māori parliament. The Kingitanga sets up its own Kauhanganui parliament.
1893Franchise extended to women. John Ballance dies and is succeeded by Richard John Seddon. Liquor licensing poll introduced. Elizabeth Yates becomes New Zealand's first woman mayor, of Onehunga. Banknotes become legal tender.

Nurses and laundry workers in Christchurch during the 1918 influenza epidemic.

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.
1896Brunner mine explosion; 67 people die. Census measures national population as 743,214.
1897First of series of colonial, and later imperial, conferences in London.
1898Old Age Pensions Act passed. 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 semi-controlled flight near Timaru.
1905The ‘Originals’ rugby team tours Britain and becomes known as the All Blacks.
1906Seddon dies and is succeeded by William Hall-Jones as prime minister.
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. Malcolm Champion New Zealand's first Olympic gold medallist (as a member of the Australasian 200m freestyle relay swimming team).
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 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.
1917Battle of Passchendaele - about 1,000 New Zealanders die. Six o'clock public house closing introduced.
1918World War I ends. Influenza epidemic kills an estimated 8,500. 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.
1923Otira tunnel opens. Ross Dependency proclaimed. Death of Katherine Mansfield.
1926National public broadcasting begins under auspices of Radio Broadcasting Co Ltd.

Members of the 1924 All Black rugby team board their ship en route to Sydney.

1928General election won by new United Party. Kingsford-Smith completes first trans-Tasman flight.
1929Depression deepens. Severe earthquake in Murchison-Karamea district; 15 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; 261 die. Substantial reductions in public service wages and salaries.
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.
1934First 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. 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 and a Maori Battalion organised on tribal lines. Bulk purchases of farm products by Great Britain. HMS Achilles, on loan to New Zealand, takes part in Battle of the River Plate.
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. Maori War Effort Organisation set up. Pharmaceutical and general practitioner medical benefits introduced.
1942Economic stabilisation. New Zealand troops in Battle of EI 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. Maori 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 Maori 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 by United States, Australia and New Zealand. Maori Women's Welfare League established.
1952Population passes 2 million.
1953First tour by a reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. 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.
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 Nordmeyer's 'Black Budget'. First geothermal electricity generated at Wairakei. First heart-lung machine used at Greenlane Hospital, Auckland.
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. Olympic gold medallist Peter Snell establishes mile and half-mile world athletic records.
1964Marsden Point oil refinery opens near Whangarei. Cook Strait power cables laid.
1965Free trade (NAFTA) agreement negotiated with Australia. New Zealand combat forces sent to support US troops in Vietnam amid public protests. Cook Islands becomes self-governing.
1966International airport officially opens at Auckland. 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; 2 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.

Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage (wearing glasses) is greeted by an enthusiastic crowd during the 1938 general election at the end of the Labour Party's first term of government.

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. Colour television introduced.
1974Prime Minister Norman Kirk dies. Commonwealth Games held in Christchurch. Vote given to 18-year-olds.
1975Robert Muldoon becomes prime minister after National election victory. Māori land march protests against land loss. Waitangi Tribunal established.
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.
1977New 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.
1980Saturday 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 kōhanga 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 Secrets Act. New Zealand Party founded.
1984Labour Party wins snap general election. Finance Minister Roger Douglas begins deregulating economy. 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 a 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. 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. Reserve Bank Act sets bank's role as one of maintaining price stability. First elections under revised local government structure. Sunday trading begins. Māori Fisheries Act passed.
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. Number of unemployed exceeds 200,000 for first time. New Zealand troops join multinational force in the Gulf War. Avalanche reduces the height of Mt Cook by 10.5m.
1992Government and Maori interests negotiate Sealord fisheries deal. Public health system reformed. State housing commercialised. New Zealand gets seat on United Nations Security Council.
1993New 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 for final settlement of Treaty of Waitangi claims. 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. Conservative, Christian Heritage and United New Zealand Parties launched. Renewal of French nuclear tests results in New Zealand protest flotilla and navy ship Tui sailing for Mururoa Atoll. Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Auckland. New Zealand contingent returns from Bosnia.
1996First legal sports betting at TAB. First MMP election brings National/New Zealand First coalition government.

Damaged buildings after the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake.

Soldiers of the Maori Battalion prepare to move up into the line in Italy during World War II.

1997A $170 million settlement signed with Ngāi Tahu. 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.
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 champion. Coalition government dissolved, leaving Shipley's National Party as a minority government.
1999New Zealand sends peacekeeping troops to East Timor. Auckland hosts the APEC world leaders' conference. Former prime minister Mike Moore becomes head of the World Trade Organisation. The minority National government loses the November election and Labour forms government in coalition with the Alliance party and with the support of the Greens, who 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. Dr Alan G MacDiarmid wins Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his part in the discovery and development of conductive polymers.
2001New Zealand-borm Russell Crowe wins best actor Academy Award for his performance in Gladiator. 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. Former America's Cup yachtsman Sir Peter Blake murdered by pirates at the mouth of the Amazon.
2002Labour wins election and forms a coalition government with Progressive Coalition and enters into a special arrangement with United Future. Rakiura, New Zealand's 14th National Park covering about 85 percent of Stewart Island, opens. Three New Zealanders among 185 killed in Bali terrorist bombing. Lowest road toll (402) since 1963. The Fellowship of the Ring, first film in The Lord of the Rings trilogy directed by New Zealand's Peter Jackson, wins four Oscars.
2003New Zealand loses America's Cup to Swiss challenger Alinghi, skippered by Russell Courts, previously of Team New Zealand. Population reaches 4 million. Privy Council replaced by New Zealand Supreme Court. National caucus votes in Don Brash as leader, replacing English. World premier in Wellington of Return of the King, final film in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.


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

  • 2.2 Statistics New Zealand, New Zealand Press Association.

Websites - History Group, Ministry for Culture and Heritage - New Zealand Press Association. - Statistics New Zealand

Chapter 3. Government

A parliamentary select committee at work in Wellington.

3.1 Constitution

New Zealand's constitutional history can be traced back to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. The treaty is an agreement between the British Crown and Māori in which Māori gave the Crown rights to govern and the Crown guaranteed Māori full protection of their interests and status, and full citizenship rights. Five years earlier, on October 28 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 a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government. Queen Elizabeth II has the title Queen of New Zealand. Table 3.01 lists Sovereigns of New Zealand since signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. A constitution is concerned with the establishment and composition of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, their powers and duties, and the relationship between these branches. New Zealand's Constitution Act 1986 brought together important statutory constitutional provisions and clarified 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. Other key written sources of New Zealand's constitution include the Electoral Act 1993, the Imperial Laws Application Act 1988 (lists United Kingdom statutes still in force in New Zealand) and Standing Orders of the House of Representatives. Other sources of the constitution include constitutional conventions, New Zealand legislation and decisions of the courts.

Table 3.01. Sovereigns of New Zealand

MonarchAccessionDiedAgeReigned (years)

1Abdicated; reigned 325 days.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

House of Hanover    
House of Saxe-Coburg    
Edward VII19011910689
House of Windsor    
George V191019367025
Edward VIII11936197277 
George VI193619525615
Elizabeth II1952   

Welcoming high-ranking overseas dignitaries is an official duty of the Governor-General of New Zealand, Dame Silvia Cartwright.

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.

One of the governor-general's main constitutional functions 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 3.02 lists Lieutenant-Governors, Governors and Governors-General of New Zealand since signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Table 3.02. Vice-regal representatives

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  
Governor 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
Self-governing colony  
Governor of New Zealand  
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
Governor-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, CH, 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 

Parliamentary tradition

Since 1856, New Zealand has been a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government.

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.

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 may change as the population changes.

People of Māori descent can choose whether to be on the Māori or general electoral rolls. The number of Māori seats may change as the number of voters on the Māori roll changes and the Māori population as a whole 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 method of voting, they must be passed by either 75 percent of MPs, or a majority vote in a referendum of all voters on the electoral rolls.

Normally, a simple majority (51 percent) of MPs is all that is required to make changes to an act.

Table 3.03 lists the Premiers and Prime Ministers of New Zealand.

Table 3.03. Premiers and Prime Ministers of New Zealand

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 Sewell7 May 1856-20 May 1856
William Fox20 May 1856-2 Jun 1856
Edward William Stafford2 Jun 1856-12 Jul 1861
William Fox12 Jul 1861-6 Aug 1862
Alfred Domett6 Aug 1862-30 Oct 1863
Frederick Whitaker, MLC30 Oct 1863-24 Nov 1864
Frederick Aloysius Weld24 Nov 1864-16 Oct 1865
Edward William Stafford16 Oct 1865-28 Jun 1869
William Fox28 Jun 1869-10 Sep 1872
Edward William Stafford10 Sep 1872-11 Oct 1872
George Marsden Waterhouse, MLC11 Oct 1872-3 Mar 1873
William Fox3 Mar 1873-8 Apr 1873
Sir Julius Vogel, KMG8 Apr 1873-6 Jul 1875
Daniel Pollen, MLC6 Jul 1875-15 Feb 1876
Sir Julius Vogel, KCMG15 Feb 1876-1 Sep 1876
Sir Harry Albert Atkinson, KCMG1 Sep 1876-13 Oct 1877
Sir George Grey, KCB13 Oct 1877-8 Oct 1879
John Hall8 Oct 1879-21 Apr 1882
Frederick Whitaker21 Apr 1882-25 Sep 1883
Sir Harry Albert Atkinson, KCMG25 Sep 1883-16 Aug 1884
Sir Robert Stout, KCMG16 Aug 1884-28 Aug 1884
Sir Harry Albert Atkinson, KCMG28 Aug 1884-3 Sep 1884
Sir Robert Stout, KCMG3 Sep 1884-8 Oct 1887
Sir Harry Albert Atkinson, KCMG8 Oct 1887-24 Jan 1891
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
Thomas MacKenzieLiberal28 Mar 1912-10 Jul 1912
Rt Hon William Ferguson MasseyReform10 Jul 1912-10 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 Sir Joseph George Ward, Bt, KCMGUnited10 Dec 1928-28 May 1930
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
Rt Hon Walter Nash, CHLabour12 Dec 1957-12 Dec 1960
Rt Hon Sir Keith Jacka Holyoake, GCMG, CHNational12 Dec 1960-7 Feb 1972
Rt Hon John Ross Marshall (later Sir)National7 Feb 1972-8 Dec 1972
Rt Hon Norman Eric KirkLabour8 Dec 1972-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 Elizabeth ClarkLabour/Alliance10 Dec 1999-15 Aug 2002
Rt Hon Helen Elizabeth ClarkLabour/Progressive15 Aug 2002-

3.2 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.

Table 3.04 shows seats held by political parties after general elections since 1890.

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 Constitution 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.

Under standing orders, private members are able 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 of Representatives 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.

Table 3.04. Seats held by political parties after general elections

ElectionTotalLiberalConservativeLabourActNZ FirstAllianceGreenOtherIndependent

1Māori members whose party allegiances difficult to determine.

2Country Party.


4Social Credit/Democrats.

5New Labour.

6Includes Speaker of the House.


8United Future 8 seats, Progressive Coalition 2 seats.

Source: Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives

1890743825     417
1893745113     416
1896743925     416
1899744919     412
1902804719     4110
1905805816      6
19088050261     3
19118033374     6
19198021478     4
192280223717     4
192580115512     2
192880272719    126
193180 51 24   124
193580 19 53+23   224
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 45 35     
196680 44 35    14
196984 45 39     
197287 32 55     
197587 55 32     
197892 51 40    14
198192 47 43    24
198495 37 56    24
198797 40 57     
199097 67 29    15
199399 50 456 22  
1996120 446 3781713 17
1999120 39 499510717
2002120 27 52913 9108

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.

Role of parties. For many years up to 1993, under the first past the post (FPP) system of electoral representation, the House of Representatives was characterised by the presence of two, large, dominant parties, with the majority party forming the government and the minority party the opposition.

This, however, has given way to multi-party representation under the mixed member proportional (MMP) system of electoral representation, adopted after two referendums, one indicative (1992) and one binding (1993).

The three general elections held since 1996 demonstrated that under MMP it is unlikely that any single party will command an absolute majority in the house and be able to form a government on its own account.

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.

Party representation. The general election on 27 July 2002 resulted again in the formation of a Labour-led minority coalition government. The Labour Party entered into a coalition government agreement with Jim Anderton's Progressive Coalition Party on 8 August 2002. An agreement was also concluded that day by the minority coalition government with United Future, which promised it would provide confidence and supply for the term of parliament to a Labour/Progressive government.

The new ministry was sworn in on 15 August 2002.

On 26 August 2002, a cooperation agreement was entered into by the government with the Green Party on agreed areas of policy development and legislation.

The third House of Representatives elected under MMP consisted of:

  • Labour 52 seats (45 electorate, 7 party list).

  • National 27 seats (21 electorate, 6 party list).

  • New Zealand First 13 seats (1 electorate, 12 party list).

  • ACT New Zealand 9 seats (9 party list).

  • Green Party 9 seats (9 party list).

  • United Future 8 seats (1 electorate, 7 party list).

  • Progressive Coalition 2 seats (1 electorate, 1 party list).

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 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 private bills and local bills, with the member in charge getting a five-minute right of reply. For members' bills, there may be up to two 10-minute speeches and eight five-minute speeches with a 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. 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 business committee 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 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 47th New Zealand Parliament was called following the general election of 27 July 2002 and began sitting on 26 August 2002.

Salaries and allowances of parliamentarians. Salaries and allowances of parliamentarians are set by the Remuneration Authority and are shown in Table 3.05.

Table 3.05. Parliamentary salaries and allowances

SalaryAnnual salary or allowance payable from 1 November 20031

1Parliamentary Salaries and Allowances Determination (SR 2003/305).

Source: Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives

Members of the Executive$
Prime Minister305,000
Deputy Prime Minister218,000
Minister in cabinet195,000
Minister with portfolio outside cabinet165,000
Minister without portfolio145,000
Parliamentary Under-Secretary130,000
Officers of the House of Representatives 
Deputy Speaker140,000
Assistant Speaker120,000
Chair of Select Committee120,000
Deputy Chair of Select Committee112,500
Leaders of non-government parties 
Leader of the Opposition195,000
Other party leaders (depending on number of MPs)120,000+
Deputy leader of party with 25 MPs or more120,000
Senior Government Whip123,000
Other whips (depending on number of MPs)120,000+
Members of Parliament 
Member of Parliament110,000
Expenses allowance 
Prime Minister17,000
Other Members of Parliament12,815

One of the roles of the Speaker of the House of Representatives is to read the prayer at the beginning of each sitting day.

Table 3.06 lists Members of the House of Representatives during the 47th parliament.

Table 3.06. House of Representatives, 47th parliament

Prime Minister - Rt Hon Helen Clark

Leader of the Opposition - Hon Bill English; Dr Don Brash (from 28 October 2003)

Speaker - Rt Hon Jonathan Hunt

Deputy Speaker - Ann Hartley

Clerk of the House - D G McGee

Member1Year of birthPrevious occupationElectorate/listParty

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

2Resigned with effect on 25 July 2003.

3Declared elected 28 July 2003, replacing Graham Kelly.

4Resigned with effect on 17 May 2004. Re-elected Māori Party MP for Te Tai Hauauru electorate 10 July 2004.

Source: Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives

Adams, Paul1948Business ownerlistUnited Future
Alexander, Marc1958RestaurateurlistUnited Future
Anderton, Hon Jim1938Company directorWigramProg. Coalition
Ardern, Shane1960FarmerTaranaki/King CountryNational
Awatere Huata, Donna1949Māori development consultantlistACT
Baldock, Larry1954Local authority memberlistUnited Future
Barker, Hon Rick1951Trade unionistTukitukiLabour
Barnett, Tim1958Voluntary sector managerChristchurch CentralLabour
Benson-Pope, Hon David1950TeacherDunedin SouthLabour
Beyer, Georgina1957MayorWairarapaLabour
Bradford, Sue1952Community development workerlistGreen
Brash, Dr Don1940Governor of Reserve BanklistNational
Brown, Peter1939Company directorlistNZ First
Brownlee, Gerry1956TeacherHamNational
Burton, Hon Mark1956Community education organiserTaupoLabour
Carter, Hon Chris1952Electorate secretaryTe AtatuLabour
Carter, Hon David1952Businessman, farmerlistNational
Carter, John1950Local government officerNorthlandNational
Catchopole, Brent1953Marketing directorlistNZ First
Chadwick, Steve1948Nurse/midwifeRotoruaLabour
Choudhary, Dr Ashraf1949University lecturerlistLabour
Clark, Rt Hon Helen1950University lecturerMt AlbertLabour
Coddington, Deborah1953JournalistlistACT
Collins, Judith1959LawyerClevedonNational
Connell, Brian1956FarmerRakaiaNational
Copeland, Gordon1943Financial administratorlistUnited Future
Cosgrove, Clayton1969Public relations executiveWaimakaririLabour
Cullen, Hon Dr Michael1945University lecturerlistLabour
Cunliffe, Hon David1963Management consultantNew LynnLabour
Dalziel, Hon Lianne1960Trade unionistChristchurch EastLabour
Donald, Rod1957Voluntary sector administratorlistGreen
Donnelly, Hon Brian1949School principallistNZ First
Duncan, Helen1941Teacher, trade unionistlistLabour
Dunne, Hon Peter1954Deputy chief executive officerOhariu/BelmontUnited Future
Duynhoven, Hon Harry1955TeacherNew PlymouthLabour
Dyson, Hon Ruth1957Employment consultantBanks PeninsulaLabour
Eckhoff, Gerrard1947FarmerlistACT
English, Hon Bill1961FarmerClutha/SouthlandNational
Ewen-Street, Ian1950Organic farmerlistGreen
Fairbrother, Russell1944LawyerNapierLabour
Field, Hon Taito Phillip1952Trade unionistMangereLabour
Fitzsimons, Jeanette1945Organic farmer, environmental consultantlistGreen
Franks, Stephen1950LawyerlistACT
Gallagher, Martin1952Company director, teacherHamilton WestLabour
Goff, Hon Phil1953University lecturerMt RoskillLabour
Gosche, Hon Mark1955Trade unionistMaungakiekieLabour
Goudie, Sandra1953FarmerCoromandelNational
Gudgeon, Bill1942Polytechnic lecturerlistNZ First
Hartley, Ann1942Real estate agentNorthcoteLabour
Hawkins, Hon George1946TeacherManurewaLabour
Heatley, Philip1967EngineerWhangareiNational
Hereora, Dave1956Trade unionistlistLabour
Hide, Rodney1956Economic consultantlistACT
Hobbs, Hon Marian1947TeacherWellington CentralLabour
Hodgson, Hon Pete1950VeterinarianDunedin NorthLabour
Horomia, Hon Parekura1950Public servant, farmerIkaroa-RawhitiLabour
Hughes, Darren1977Executive secretaryOtakiLabour
Hunt, Rt Hon Jonathan1938TeacherlistLabour
Hutchison, Dr Paul1947GynecologistPort WaikatoNational
Jones, Dail1944LawyerlistNZ First
Kedgley, Sue1948Author, local authority memberlistGreen
Kelly, Graham21941Trade unionistManaLabour
Key, John1961Investment bankerHelensvilleNational
King, Hon Annette1945Chief executive officerRongotaiLabour
Laban, Luamanuvao Winnie1955Family therapistManaLabour
Locke, Keith1945Retail managerlistGreen
Mackey, Janet1953Real estate agentEast CoastLabour
Mackey, Moana31974Executive assistant, biochemistlistLabour
McCully, Hon Murray1953Public relations consultantEast Coast BaysNational
McNair, Craig1975Marketing managerlistNZ First
Maharey, Hon Steve1953University lecturerPalmerston NorthLabour
Mahuta, Nanaia1970Archivist librarianTainuiLabour
Mallard, Hon Trevor1954Executive assistantHutt SouthLabour
Mapp, Dr Wayne1952Law lecturerNorth ShoreNational
Mark, Ron1954Businessman, army officerlistNZ First
Newman, Dr Muriel1950Tertiary/secondary teacher, businesswomanlistACT
O'Connor, Hon Damien1958Tourism operatorWest Coast/TasmanLabour
Ogilvie, Bernie1941LecturerlistUnited Future
Okeroa, Mahara1946Regional directorTe Tai TongaLabour
Paraone, Pita1945Public servantlistNZ First
Parker, David1960Biotechnology businessmanOtagoLabour
Peck, Mark1953Trade unionistInvercargillLabour
Perry, Edwin1948Farm equipment salesmanlistNZ First
Peters, Jim1937School principallistNZ First
Peters, Rt Hon Winston1945LawyerTaurangaNZ First
Pettis, Jill1952Education administratorWhanganuiLabour
Pillay, Lynne1950Trade unionistWaitakereLabour
Power, Simon1969LawyerRangitikeiNational
Prebble, Hon Richard1948LawyerlistACT
Rich, Katherine1968BusinesswomanlistNational
Ririnui, Mita1951Minister of religionWaiarikiLabour
Robertson, Ross1949Industrial engineerManukau EastLabour
Robson, Hon Matt1950LawyerlistProg.Coalition
Roy, Heather1964Gallery contractorlistACT
Ryall, Hon Tony1964AccountantBay of PlentyNational
Samuels, Hon Dover1939Company directorTe Tai TokerauLabour
Scott, Lynda1956GeriatricianKaikouraNational
Shirley, Hon Ken1950Executive directorlistACT
Simich, Hon Clem1939General managerTamakiNational
Smith, Hon Dr Lockwood1948Managing directorRodneyNational
Smith, Murray1953LawyerlistUnited Future
Smith, Hon Nick1964EngineerNelsonNational
Sowry, Hon Roger1958Retail managerlistNational
Stewart, Barbara1952Training and development managerlistNZ First
Sutton, Hon Jim1941FarmerAorakiLabour
Swain, Hon Paul1951Trade unionistRimutakaLabour
Tamihere, Hon John1960Chief executive, lawyerTamaki MakaurauLabour
Tanczos, Nandor1966Business owner/directorlistGreen
Te Heuheu, Hon Georgina1943Consultant, advocate Treaty of Waitangi issueslistNational
Tich, Lindsay1947Management consultantPiakoNational
Tizard, Hon Judith1956Electorate secretaryAuckland CentralLabour
Turei, Metira1970LawyerlistGreen
Turia, Hon Tariana41944Iwi development workerTe Tai HauauruLabour
Turner, Judy1957TeacherlistUnited Future
Ward, Mike1942Local authority memberlistGreen
Williamson, Hon Maurice1951Planning analystPakurangaNational
Wilson, Hon Margaret1947University lecturerlistLabour
Wong, Pansy1955AccountantlistNational
Woolerton, Doug1944FarmerlistNZ First
Worth, Richard1948LawyerEpsomNational
Yates, Dianne1943Education officerHamilton EastLabour

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 lawmaking 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 21 November 2003 is shown in Table 3.07.

Table 3.07. New Zealand Government
21 November 2003

Governor-General of New Zealand

Her Excellency The Honourable Dame Silvia Cartwright, PCNZM, DBE (assumed office 4 April 2001).

Executive Council

Membership of the Executive Council comprises all ministers, with the governor-general presiding.

Source: Cabinet Office
1Rt Hon Helen Clark, Prime Minister, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Minister Responsible for Ministerial Services, Minister in Charge of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, Minister Responsible for the Government Communications Security Bureau.
2Hon Dr Michael Cullen, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, Minister of Revenue, Leader of the House.
3Hon Jim Anderton, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Industry and Regional Development, Minister Responsible for the Public Trust, Associate Minister of Health.
4Hon Steve Maharey, Minister for Social Development and Employment, Minister of Housing, Minister of Broadcasting, Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education), Minister Responsible for Tertiary Education Commission.
5Hon Phil Goff, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Minister of Justice, Minister of Pacific Island Affairs.
6Hon Annette King, Minister of Health, Minister for Food Safety.
7Hon Jim Sutton, Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity, Minister of Forestry, Minister for Trade Negotiations, Minister for Rural Affairs.
8Hon Trevor Mallard, Minister of Education, Minister of State Services, Minister for Sport and Recreation, Minister Responsible for the Education Review Office, Minister for the America's Cup, Associate Minister of Finance, Minister for Adult and Community Education.
9Hon Pete Hodgson, Minister of Energy, Minister of Fisheries, Minister of Research. Science and Technology, Minister for Crown Research Institutes, Associate Minister for Industry and Regional Development, Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Convenor of the Ministerial Group on Climate Change.
10Hon Margaret Wilson, Attorney-General (includes responsibility for Serious Fraud Office), Minister of Labour, Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Associate Minister of Justice, Associate Minister for Courts.
11Hon Parekura Horomia, Minister of Māori Affairs, Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment, Associate Minister of Education, Associate Minister of Fisheries, Associate Minister of Forestry.
12Hon Lianne Dalziel, Minister of Commerce, Minister of Immigration, Minister Responsible for the Law Commission, Associate Minister of Justice, Associate Minister of Education (Special Education).
13Hon George Hawkins, Minister of Police, Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister of Civil Defence, Minister of Veterans' Affairs.
14Hon Mark Burton, Minister of Defence, Minister for State Owned Enterprises, Minister of Tourism, Deputy Leader of the House.
15Hon Paul Swain, Minister of Transport, Minister of Corrections, Minister of Communications, Minister for Information Technology, Associate Minister for Economic Development.
16Hon Marian Hobbs, Minister for the Environment, Minister Responsible for Disarmament and Arms Control, Minister Responsible for Archives New Zealand, Minister Responsible for the National Library, Associate Minister for Biosecurity, Associate Minister of Education, Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Official Development Assistance), Minister Responsible for Urban Affairs.
17Hon Ruth Dyson, Minister for the Accident Compensation Corporation, Minister for Senior Citizens, Minister of Women's Affairs, Minister for Disability Issues, Associate Minister of Health, Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment (CYF).
18Hon John Tamihere, Minister of Youth Affairs, Minister for Land Information, Minister of Statistics, Minister for Small Business, Associate Minister of Māori Affairs, Associate Minister of Commerce.
19Hon Chris Carter, Minister of Conservation, Minister of Local Government, Minister for Ethnic Affairs.
20Hon Rick Barker, Minister for Courts, Minister of Customs, Associate Minister of Justice, Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment.
21Hon Judith Tizard, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Associate Minister of Commerce, Associate Minister of Transport, Minister Responsible for Auckland Issues.
22Hon Tariana Turia, Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Associate Minister of Māori Affairs (Social Development), Associate Minister of Health, Associate Minister of Housing, Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment.
23Hon Dover Samuels, Minister of State, Associate Minister for Economic Development, Associate Minister for Industry and Regional Development, Associate Minister of Tourism.
24Hon Damien O'Connor, Minister for Racing, Associate Minister of Agriculture, Associate Minister for Rural Affairs, Associate Minister of Health, Associate Minister of Immigration.
25Hon Harry Duynhoven, Minister of State, Associate Minister of Energy, Associate Minister of Transport (including Civil Aviation).
26Hon Taito Phillip Field, Minister of State, Associate Minister of Justice, Associate Minister of Pacific Island Affairs, Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment.
27Hon David Cunliffe, Minister of State, Associate Minister of Finance, Associate Minister of Revenue, Associate Minister of Communications, Associate Minister for Information Technology.
Parliamentary Under-secretary
Mita Ririnui, Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Conservation, the Minister of Corrections, and the Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations.

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. The next Māori option will be in 2006.

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

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 enrolled validly 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 electorates. 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 counted.

Voting patterns in recent general elections are shown in Table 3.08.

Table 3.08. Voting patterns 1981-2002

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

1Party votes rather than electorate votes.

2In 1999, there were 2,047,473 valid electorate votes cast and 37,908 informal electorate votes. In 2002, there were 1,9995,586 valid electorate votes and 33,289 informal electorate votes.

3In 2002, 15,156 special voters had both their electorate and their party vote disallowed, while 18,133 had their electorate votes disallowed but their party vote allowed because they voted in the wrong electorate.

Source: Ministry of Justice

  Number Percent

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 electoral population figures provided by Statistics New Zealand.

Electoral boundaries are defined by the Representation Commission, which consists of 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 3.01 and 3.02 show electoral boundaries for the general and Māori electoral districts for the 2002 and 2005 general elections.

When determining boundaries of 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 administration of the Electoral Act or Members of the House of Representatives. These two are nominated by parliament to represent the government and the opposition.

Figure 3.01. General electoral districts

General electoral districts

Figure 3.02. 2002 Māori electoral districts

2002 Māori electoral districts

After proposed boundaries have been 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 number of North Island general and 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, communication facilities, 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 seven Māori electorates (quota 53,099). All electorates have an allowance of 5 percent above or below their electoral population quota.

The next revision of electoral boundaries will take place in 2006.

General election voting. There were 2,670,030 electors on the master roll for the 2002 general election. A total of 2,055,404 votes were cast, representing a turnout of 76.98 percent of electors on the master roll. This was the lowest percentage turnout since the 69.15 percent recorded in 1978. The highest percentage turnout in recent elections was the 93.71 percent in 1984. In 1996, the turnout was 88.28 percent and in 1999 it was 84.77 percent. Figure 3.03 shows the percentage of enrolled voters voting in general elections from 1879 to 2002.

Figure 3.03. Voter turnout

Voter turnout

3.3 State sector

State sector is the collective term for all the organisations of central government in New Zealand. It 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 30 October 2003, there were 35 departments/ministries in the public service:

  • Archives New Zealand -

  • Crown Law Office -

  • Department of Child, Youth and Family Services -

  • Department of Conservation -

  • Department of Corrections -

  • Department of Internal Affairs -

  • Department of Labour -

  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet -

  • Education Review Office -

  • Government Communications Security Bureau -

  • Inland Revenue Department -

  • Land Information New Zealand -

  • Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry -

  • Ministry for Culture and Heritage -

  • Ministry of Defence -

  • Ministry of Economic Development -

  • Ministry of Education -

  • Ministry for the Environment -

  • Ministry of Fisheries -

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade -

  • Ministry of Health -

  • Ministry of Housing -

  • Ministry of Justice -

  • Ministry of Maori Development -

  • Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs -

  • Ministry of Research, Science and Technology -

  • Ministry of Social Development (trading as Work and Income New Zealand) -

  • Ministry of Transport -

  • Ministry of Women's Affairs -

  • National Library of New Zealand -

  • New Zealand Customs Service -

  • Serious Fraud Office -

  • State Services Commission -

  • Statistics New Zealand -

  • The Treasury -

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 30 October 2003, there were six departments outside the public service:

  • New Zealand Defence Force -

  • New Zealand Police -

  • New Zealand Security Intelligence Service -

  • Office of the Clerk -

  • Parliamentary Counsel Office -

  • Parliamentary Service -

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) - companies listed in the first schedule to the State-Owned Enterprises Act 1986 that operate on commercial lines and are companies under the Companies Act 1991. They are required to be as profitable and as efficient as comparable businesses in the private sector. The government may purchase services from SOEs, but generally will do so on the same basis as other purchasers. The government's interest in SOEs is substantially in their ownership. The government's shareholding interests in SOEs are supported by the Crown Company Monitoring Advisory Unit (CCMAU), which is administratively linked to the Treasury. At 30 October 2003, there were 15 SOEs:

  • Agriquality New Zealand Limited -

  • Airways Corporation of New Zealand Limited -

  • Asure New Zealand Limited -

  • Electricity Corporation of New Zealand Limited -

  • Genesis Power Limited -

  • Landcorp Farming Limited -

  • Meridian Energy Limited -

  • Meteorological Service of New Zealand -

  • Mighty River Power Limited -

  • New Zealand Post Limited -

  • New Zealand Railways Corporation -

  • Solid Energy New Zealand Limited -

  • Terralink NZ Limited (in liquidation) -

  • Timberlands West Coast Limited -

  • Transpower New Zealand Limited -

Air NZ Ltd is also included in the Crown's financial statements for disclosure purposes as if it were an SOE.

Crown entities - organisations listed in the fourth schedule to 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. Crown entities make up a significant part of the state sector and include a wide variety of statutory corporations, statutory boards and authorities, corporations sole, Crown companies and trusts. 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. At 30 October 2003, Crown entities included 65 separate legal entities, as well as 21 district health boards, 32 reserves boards, 13 fish and game councils, 35 tertiary education institutions, 2,592 schools, 17 Crown-owned companies that included nine Crown Research Institutes, and six trusts. Most Crown entities are run by boards, who appoint chief executives. Some are companies subject to the Companies Act 1993 and to monitoring on the government's behalf by the Crown Company Monitoring Advisory Unit.

Offices of Parliament - The Office of the Ombudsmen, the Controller and Auditor-General 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.

The Māori Television Service is also part of the state sector.

At 30 June 2003, the number of staff employed in public service departments (excluding Crown entities and SOEs) was 33,129 (calculated on a full time equivalent basis). At 30 June 2001, the number was 30,355. 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 defined roles in policy advice, service delivery, regulatory, or sectoral funding functions. Some bigger departments perform a combination of roles.

State Services Commissioner

The Office of State Services Commissioner is central to New Zealand's politically neutral permanent public service.

As holder of a statutory office, the commissioner acts independently in a range of matters concerning operation of the public service and the state sector.

As Chief Executive of the State Services Commission, the commissioner is also responsible to the Minister of State Services for the commission's capability and performance.

The Office of State Services Commissioner descends directly from the Public Service Commission, established in 1912 to employ all public servants, so protecting the public service from political interference and preserving its political neutrality.

The commissioner no longer employs all public servants, but in his employment of chief executives of public service departments, he continues to act as a buffer between ministers and the public service.

The State Sector Act 1988 sets out the roles and responsibilities of the State Services Commissioner.

In summary, the commissioner:

  • Employs public service chief executives on behalf of the Crown and reviews their performances.

  • Sets standards of conduct and integrity for the public service.

  • Investigates and reports on matters relating to departmental performance.

Those roles relate primarily to individual departments and their chief executives, and are those most likely to involve the exercise of statutory powers.

The commissioner has four other responsibilities that relate to the operation of the public service or state sector as a whole. These are to:

  • Promote and develop policies and standards for personnel administration and equal employment opportunities for the public service.

  • Promote senior leadership development in the public service and ensure that the public service has shared values and performs to a high standard.

  • Advise the government on the structure of the state sector, including the allocation of functions among departments.

  • Negotiate collective employment agreements applicable to employees of government departments and to employees of the education service. These responsibilities have been delegated by the commissioner to departmental chief executives and to the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Education respectively.

Much of the work enabling the commissioner to discharge his or her responsibilities is carried out by the State Services Commission on the commissioner's behalf.

The commissioner is appointed by the governor-general on the recommendation of the prime minister.

Table 3.09 lists chief executives of government departments at 12 November 2003

Table 3.09. Chief executives of government departments1


1At 12 November 2003.

Source: State Services Commission

Ministry of Agriculture and ForestryChief ExecutiveMurray Sherwin
Archives New ZealandChief Archivist and Chief ExecutiveDianne Macaskill
Department of Child, Youth and Family ServicesChief ExecutiveJackie Pivac
Department of ConservationDirector-General and Chief ExecutiveHugh Logan
Department of CorrectionsChief ExecutiveMark Byers
Crown Law OfficeSolicitor-General and Chief ExecutiveTerrance Arnold QC
Ministry for Culture and 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 OfficeChief Review Officer and Chief ExecutiveKaren Sewell
Ministry for the EnvironmentSecretary for the Environment and Chief ExecutiveBarry Carbon
Ministry of FisheriesChief ExecutiveWarwick Tuck
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and TradeSecretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Chief ExecutiveSimon Murdoch
Government Communications Security BureauDirector and Chief ExecutiveDr Warren Tucker
Ministry of HealthDirector-General and Chief ExecutiveDr Karen Poutasi
Ministry of HousingChief ExecutiveKatrina Bach
Inland Revenue DepartmentCommissioner of Inland Revenue and Chief ExecutiveDavid Butler
Department of Internal AffairsSecretary for Internal Affairs and Chief ExecutiveChristopher Blake
Ministry of JusticeSecretary of Justice and Chief ExecutiveBelinda Clark
Department of LabourSecretary of Labour and Chief ExecutiveDr James Buwalda
Land Information New ZealandChief ExecutiveBrendan Boyle
Ministry of Māori Development Te Puni KōkiriChief ExecutiveLeith Comer
National LibraryChief ExecutivePenny Carnaby
New Zealand Customs ServiceComptroller and Chief ExecutiveRobin Dare
Ministry of Pacific Island AffairsChief ExecutiveFuimaono Les McCarthy
Department of Prime Minister and CabinetChief ExecutiveDr Mark Prebble
Ministry of Research, Science and TechnologyActing Chief ExecutiveDr Helen Anderson
Serious Fraud OfficeDirector and Chief ExecutiveDavid Bradshaw
Ministry of Social DevelopmentChief ExecutivePeter Hughes
State Services CommissionState Services CommissionerMichael Wintringham
Statistics New ZealandGovernment Statistician and Chief ExecutiveBrian Pink
Ministry of TransportSecretary of Transport and Chief ExecutiveAlastair Bisley
The TreasurySecretary to the Treasury and Chief ExecutiveJohn Whitehead
Ministry of Women's AffairsActing Chief ExecutiveAnne Carter

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 to monitor the performance 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 Television New Zealand, Radio New Zealand, Animal Control Products and three 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.

One of CCMAU's chief functions is the provision of advice to shareholding ministers relating to the development of corporate intent targets and monitoring the performance of Crown companies against those targets. Other functions include the provision of advice on company restructuring, expansion, diversification and divestment plans; the management of ownership issues; and identification of prospective directors and advice on director remuneration.

The unit, while independent for advice purposes, is attached to the Treasury for administrative purposes.

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 also 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 and are complying with their statutory obligations.

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.

Official information

The Official Information Act 1982 is based on the principle that information should 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 their information 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 1982 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 uncorporate. 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 to release 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.


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 3.10 details complaints made to the ombudsmen for the year ending 30 June 2003.

Table 3.1. Complaints to the ombudsmen
Year ending 30 June 2003

ActionOmbudsmen Act 1975Official Information Act 1982Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987

- nil or zero

Source: Office of the Ombudsmen

Declined, no jurisdiction7991
Declined or discontinued (section 17)4415519
Resolved in course of investigation17816436
Sustained, recommendation made11-3
Sustained, no recommendation made112-
Not sustained639415
Formal investigation not undertaken, but explanation, advice or assistance given2,05930864
Complaint transferred to   
    Privacy Commissioner15323
    Health and Disability Commissioner2--
    Police Complaints Authority25--
Still under investigation at 30 June42727131
        Total 20023,796863201

Privacy commissioner

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner Te Mana Matapono Matatapu is independent of the executive and of parliament and its functions are set out in the Privacy Act 1993.

One of the main purposes of the act is to promote and protect 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 personal health information by health 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 that an affected individual be given notice before adverse action is taken on the basis of a match.

The commissioner investigates complaints about breaches of a privacy principle, code of practice or information-matching rule. The investigation process emphasises conciliation. If a complaint cannot be settled, the privacy commissioner may refer it to the Director of Human Rights Proceedings, who may issue proceedings before the Human Rights Review Tribunal. Alternatively, aggrieved people may bring proceedings on their own behalf 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 the year ending 30 June 2003, the privacy commissioner referred three complaints to the Director of Human Rights Proceedings, and 23 complainants brought proceedings on their own initiative.

The privacy commissioner performs a general ‘watchdog’ role over privacy. In the June 2003 year, the commissioner made a number of reports to the Minister of Justice, and public statements on a range of issues affecting individual privacy. The commissioner examines new legislation and prepares reports on privacy issues and 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. In the year ending June 30 2003, 33 formal consultations under the two acts were completed.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner website is

Table 3.11 details complaints made to the privacy commissioner in recent years.

Table 3.11. Complaints to the privacy commissioner
Years ending 30 June

Source: Office of the Privacy Commissioner
New complaints received1,0037988811,044928
Complaints current at start of year1,0681,1269661,0411,039
Number of complaints under process2,0711,9241,8472,0851,967
Number of complaints closed during year8959668061,049915
    No jurisdiction5645361623
    Complaints resolved without final opinion708775654901747
    Final opinion131146116132145

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.

Amendments to the Human Rights Act in 2001 provide that the Human Rights Act non-discrimination standard applies to private sector activities, and to public sector activities only in relation to employment, racial harassment, sexual harassment, racial disharmony and victimisation.

The 2001 amendments also provide that the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 non-discrimination standard applies to all public sector activities except employment, racial harassment, sexual harassment, racial disharmony and victimisation. The protection which the public sector previously had from the full impact of the Human Rights Act expired on 31 December 2001.

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 - established by the Environment Act 1986 following reform of environmental administration in New Zealand - is an independent officer of parliament who reviews and provides 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, businesses, 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 to help maintain and improve the quality of the environment.

During 2002/03, the commissioner initiated investigations into the primary production sector and the environmental sustainability of New Zealand's more intensive farms, into education for sustainable living, into the role of science in environmental policy and decision making, and into the environmental effects of cruise ships.

One environmental management audit was completed on developing a framework for assessing the environmental performance of the electricity sector.

The commissioner produced a new strategic plan in 2002, which maintains the direction of its predecessor but provides a shift in focus. Priority areas for investigation until 2007 were selected by considering environmental systems at risk, the drivers putting pressure on these systems, and environmental management responses. The priorities have been grouped into three broad areas: legislation and policies that impact on environmental sustainability; ecosystems at risk; and the performance of public authorities in meeting their environmental responsibilities.

The commissioner responded to 228 communications during 2002/03 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 3.12 lists the number of reports and papers produced by the commissioner in recent years.

Table 3.12. Reports/ papers by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment
Years ending 30 June

Source: Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment
Investigation reports32373581
Information transfer papers or presentations242291189147

The Public Trust's former head office in Wellington is protected from exterior alteration by an Historic Places Trust heritage order.

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 35 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 are 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 that may not be income earning. These are of a regulatory, quasi-judicial, trustee of last resort, trustee-guardian or representative (ie in the case of legal incapacity) nature.

3.4 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 2002, 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 income from trading activities under the control of territorial authorities) local taxes on landed property (rates). Rates are set by local authorities themselves, subject to the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002.

Several important statutes apply not only to local authorities as defined in the Local Government Act 2002, 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 Electoral Act 2001. 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 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. 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. 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.

Local government organisation

New Zealand has 12 regional councils, 74 territorial authorities, 147 community boards and seven special authorities. The Local Government Act 2002 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 3.13 lists regional council, territorial authorities and numbers of councillors.

Table 3.13. Territorial authorities and councillors

Cities/districtsNumber of councillors1Council type

1Based on October 1998 elections. Figures include mayors.

2Unitary authority (city or district council and regional council responsibilities).

3Trading name of Manawatu/Wanganui Regional Council.

Source: Local Government New Zealand

Banks Peninsula8District
Central Hawke's Bay11District
Central Otago14District
Chatham Islands9Council
Environment Bay of Plenty12Regional
Environment Canterbury14Regional
Environment Southland9Regional
Environment Waikato14Regional
Far North11District
Hawke's Bay9Regional
Hutt City12City
Kapiti Coast15District
New Plymouth17District
North Shore16City
Palmerston North16City
South Taranaki13District
South Waikato11District
South Wairarapa10District
Upper Hutt11City
West Coast6Regional
Western Bay of Plenty13District

An option available to most councils for the 2007 elections is the establishment of Māori wards or constituencies if communities call for a poll on the issue. If a minimum of 5 percent of electors request a poll, and the subsequent poll result is favoured by 50 percent or more of electors, the poll is binding.

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.

Territorial authorities. New Zealand's 74 territorial authorities consist of 16 city councils, 57 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 either be constituted by Order in Council giving effect to a determination of the Local Government Commission, or be constituted by a reorganisation scheme, where a new district is formed and that district has a population of at least 50,000, is predominantly urban, is a distinct entity and a major centre of activity within the region.

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, 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.

Local government elections

Local government elections are held on the second Saturday in October every third year. The next elections will be in 2007.

All regional council, territorial authority, special purpose local authority and community board elections are conducted at the same time. At least once every six years, in the year before an election, regional and territorial authorities are required to review the number of members, the number and size of their electorates and whether or not community boards should be established. 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 wards, from the district as a whole, or a mixture of both. 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’, except for district health boards and 10 local authorities who use the single transferable vote (STV) system. Other local authorities have the option of using STV at future elections.

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 timing of the vacancy.

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 Remuneration Authority, giving the council or board the discretion to decide the actual rate within the prescribed limits.

Local Government Commission

The Local Government Commission consists of 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 objections relating to ward and membership proposals of a local authority following a representation review; and proposals for the constitution of communities.

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.

The Local Government Act 2002 also requires the commission to review and report to the Minister of Local Government on the operation of that act and the Local Electoral Act 2001.

The review is being carried out in two phases.

First, it must report on any amendments it considers should be made to the acts before the 2007 local body elections.

Second, it must report on wider issues relating to the two acts as soon as practicable after the 2007 elections.

3.5 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. The first quarter of the shield on the coat of arms depicts four stars as representative of the Southern Cross, then three ships symbolising the importance of New Zealand's sea trade; in the second quarter is a fleece representing the farming industry. The wheat sheaf in the third quarter represents the agricultural industry, while the crossed hammers in the fourth quarter represent the mining industry. The supporters on either side of the shield consist of a Māori Chieftain holding a taiaha (a Māori war weapon) and a European woman holding the New Zealand flag. Surmounting the arms is the St Edward's Crown which was used in the coronation ceremony of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The crown symbolises the fact that Her Majesty is Queen of New Zealand under the New Zealand Royal Titles Act 1953.

New Zealand flag

The flag previously known as the New Zealand ensign was declared the national flag of New Zealand under the Flags, Emblems and Names Protection Act 1981.

The national flag 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 red stars with white borders.


  • 3.1 Ministry of Justice; Statistics New Zealand.

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

  • 3.3 State Services Commission; 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.

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 - Ministry of Justice - Department for Prime Minister and Cabinet

Chapter 4. International Relations and Defence

Soldiers involved in a water approach training exercise on Lake Tekapo.

4.1 Relations with other countries

The New Zealand Government established the then Department of External Affairs and began stationing diplomatic representatives overseas in 1943. Today, New Zealand has diplomatic and consular representation in more than 40 countries, with multiple accreditation allowing New Zealand representatives to cover another 80 countries and states from their bases.

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 with its 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 of Foreign Affairs and Trade 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 six.

Special relationships exist 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.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade maintains contact with international organisations working on behalf of indigenous people.

Trade with the Pacific is important to New Zealand. Exports totalled $837 million for the year ending 30 June 2003, an increase of more than 70 percent in the two years since June 2001. Imports totalled $135 million in the year ending 30 June 2003, only $1 million more than two years before. 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).

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 the Pacific Islands Forum in 1999, it now comprises 16 Pacific countries and provides an opportunity to discuss 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 official levels to consider a variety of specific issues. New Zealand hosted the Pacific Islands Forum in August 2003. 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.

In 2003, the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) came into force. The PACER is a framework agreement covering all Pacific Islands Forum countries, including Australia and New Zealand, and represents an important step in New Zealand's relations with Pacific countries. It provides for the development, over time, of arrangements to achieve closer trade and economic integration in the Pacific region.

The Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA), a free trade agreement among Pacific Islands Forum countries, came into force in late 2002. Over a period of 10 years, it will lead to establishment of a free trade area among Pacific island states.

The importance of fisheries as an economic resource in the Pacific led to completion in September 2000 of the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPFC). The convention is the first regional fisheries management arrangement to base itself on the 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement, and will lead to the establishment of a broad-based fisheries management organisation in the Pacific region, including both coastal states and distant water fishing nations. It was expected that the convention would come into force during 2004.

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 Secretariat of 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.

  • The South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), which assists countries in the assessment, exploration and development of mineral and other non-living resources.

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.

The Pacific is also the area of New Zealand's primary aid focus. Nearly half of the New Zealand Agency for International Development's (NZAID) budget - about $110 million - goes towards development assistance in the Pacific. NZAID has extensive bilateral relationships with countries in the Pacific, and provides significant support for regional organisations such as the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the University of the South Pacific. Pacific regional programmes are divided into broad themes of health, education, law and justice, and the environment.

Security issues in the Pacific are characterised by internal and external security challenges stemming from factors including ethnic differences, economic disparities, land disputes and transnational crime. New Zealand has been extensively involved in regional efforts to resolve these security challenges, especially in Bougainville and the Solomon Islands. On Bougainville, New Zealand committed personnel to the Peace Monitoring Group (PMG 1998-2003) and the Bougainville Transitional Team (BTT-2003). New Zealand also contributed police and military personnel to the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

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.

Figure 4.01 shows where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has diplomatic and consular representation. The legend below also shows accreditations.

Figure 4.01. Overseas representation

Overseas representation


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 between the Prime Ministers of New Zealand and Australia, between Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministers of Finance, Ministers for Trade Negotiations and Ministers of Defence. New Zealand is represented in Australia by a high commission in Canberra and consulates-general in Sydney and Melbourne.

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, and its associated arrangements and agreements, 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 and in December 2002 the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code took effect. In 1998, CER was further expanded to include the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement 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.

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 concept, as confirmed in 2002, 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 have worked 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. With the re-industrialisation of Japan and the rapid development of a number of Asian economies in the post-war period, the Asian region offered New Zealand new markets for its exports as Britain moved to join the European Economic Community in the early 1970s.

In the year ending June 2003, Asia took 34 percent of all New Zealand's exports and provided nearly 36 percent of imports. Trade in tourism and education services has been increasing rapidly, especially with the large economies of North Asia. In recent years, China has emerged as a significant economic player in its own right and is now New Zealand's fourth largest trading partner. There are also significant flows of direct investment between Asia and New Zealand.

With New Zealand's future prosperity 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 and it is represented by a network of offices in Bangkok, Beijing, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, New Delhi, Seoul, Singapore, Shanghai and Tokyo.

Establishment of the Asia 2000 Foundation 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. The Auckland region has become the focus of New Zealand's Asian community, with one in eight residents 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) was concluded in September 2002 and has adopted a work programme focussed on trade facilitation within the AFTA/CER region.

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 Arrangement, which brings together Malaysia, Singapore, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

Indian dancers take part in an Asia 2000 Festival of Lights in Auckland.


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 long standing and close on issues such as international and regional security, human rights, 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 an interchange of ideas and experiences.

Canada. New Zealand and Canada enjoy a positive and close relationship, based on shared 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. 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 agricultural, forestry, fisheries, construction, telecommunications and energy sectors. New Zealand provides a modest amount of economic and social development assistance to the region and shares interests with a number of Latin American and Caribbean countries in areas such as international trade, the environment, Antarctica, disarmament and Pacific regional cooperation. New Zealand has embassies and consulates in Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Argentina. The Ambassador in Mexico is also accredited to Venezuela, Guatemala, Cuba and El Salvador; the Ambassador in Santiago is also accredited to Peru and Colombia; and the Ambassador in Buenos Aires is also accredited to the Mercosur group of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. In addition to honorary consuls in Bogota, Lima, Caracas, San Salvador and Montevideo, a New Zealand Consulate-General was opened in Sao Paulo in 1999. The High Commissioner in Ottawa is also accredited to the Caribbean countries of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.


Western Europe. The European Union (EU) is a major political and economic entity and a significant player in world affairs. It admitted 10 new members on 1 May 2004 to become a community of 25 states. The EU 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 maintaining 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 wine exports. Successful negotiations during the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (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. Europe has traditionally been New Zealand's third largest source of tourists, behind Oceania and Asia, and is a major contributor of new investment. 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, Geneva, Hamburg, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Rome and The Hague and a high commission in London. These posts are cross-accredited to all other EU member states, including those admitted in 2004. 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 have evolved into multi-party democracies with free-market economies. Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, the Slovak Republic, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia joined the European Union on 1 May 2004, while Bulgaria and Romania are candidates to join in 2007. In 2004, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia followed Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into the North Atlantic Trade Organisation (NATO). These political and economic changes have led to increased contacts between New Zealand and the countries concerned. 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. A New Zealand embassy was due to be opened in Warsaw in the second half of 2004. Commercial relations with Central and Eastern Europe are handled by the Trade New Zealand office in Milan, while 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 principal 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 the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation organisation and the Association of South-East Asian Nations 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 has posed 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 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. New Zealand also contributes defence personnel to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO), headquartered in Jerusalem.

New Zealand deeply regretted that the multilateral approach to the Iraq crisis broke down and failed to avert conflict. The crucial issues now are the reconstruction of Iraq, the restoration of its sovereignty and the rebuilding of political and social structures to guarantee the Iraqi people a better life.

At the end of the 2003/04 financial year, New Zealand had contributed $9.8 million in humanitarian assistance for Iraq. In response to a United Nations Security Council request, in September 2003 New Zealand also deployed a defence force engineering group of 61 to undertake humanitarian and reconstruction work in southern Iraq.

New Zealand supports the Bonn Process under which Afghanistan is returning to constitutional democratic government. New Zealand has been involved continuously in security efforts in Afghanistan since late 2001, supporting both the International Security Assistance Force and Operation Enduring Freedom.

In September 2003, New Zealand took command of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Bamian (200km north west of Kabul), involving about 100 New Zealand Defence Force personnel drawn from the three services. PRTs are designed to assist the Afghanistan Transitional Authority extend its influence beyond Kabul. The focus is on enhancing the security environment and promoting the reconstruction effort. In addition, New Zealand had contributed $4.6 million of humanitarian assistance at the end of 2003.

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 ending 30 June 2003, New Zealand exports to the region totalled $944 million, while imports for the same period were $1,400 million.

New Zealand has embassies in Saudi Arabia (Riyadh), Turkey (Ankara) and Iran (Tehran), and accreditations to Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. New Zealand embassies in Paris and Madrid are accredited to Algeria and Morocco respectively. The New Zealand Consulate-General in Dubai is also the regional office for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

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 long-standing involvement in development cooperation in Africa through its official development assistance 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 development assistance, including scholarships, during 2003 was $12.04 million.

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

Trade with Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for only a small proportion of New Zealand's global trade, with exports valued at around $250 million in the year ending 30 June 2003. Among major exports to the region were dairy, fish and other food products, casein and electrical equipment. Imports included petroleum products, iron and steel, vehicles and parts, tobacco, coffee and wine. In 2003, 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 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.

4.2 Assistance to developing countries


The New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAID) is the New Zealand agency responsible for international assistance to developing countries. New Zealand aid helps to eliminate poverty through development partnerships, particularly in regions of the Pacific. NZAID also supports projects in Asia, Africa and Latin America. NZAID concentrates its development assistance on activities that help fulfil basic needs, that achieve sustainable livelihoods and development, and that ensure safe and inclusive societies.

As Table 4.01 shows, NZAID's programme for the 2002/03 financial year exceeded $230 million. Figure 4.02 compares New Zealand's net official development assistance as a percentage of GDP with other countries.

Table 4.01. Spending on New Zealand aid programmes
Year ending 30 June 2003

ProgrammeSpendingProportion of total
Source: NZAID
Voluntary agencies19.5139
Other bilateral10.2614
Africa and the Americas6.9743

NZAID pursues its development objectives in the context of New Zealand's obligations to protect and promote the achievement of human rights as recognised by international instruments, standards and principles. NZAID's programme is divided for financial and administrative purposes into two broad schedules of activities: bilateral and multilateral.

Bilateral schedule

New Zealand's bilateral aid schedule is dominated by direct assistance on a 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 contributions for emergency and disaster relief operations, both government-to-government and through international agencies.

Figure 4.02. Net official development assistance
As proportion of gross national product Years ending 31 December1

Net official development assistanceAs proportion of gross national product Years ending 31 December1

Bilateral country and regional programmes are developed on a three-year rolling basis, with each year's programmes containing a mixture of continuing activities and new proposals. Development assistance is 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. The South Pacific has been a focal area for New Zealand's aid programme, with a regional approach to development strongly supported. In addition to programmes that span the region, support continues to be provided to key regional organisations. In 2002/03 these included the Foreign Investment Advisory Service; the South Pacific Project Facility; the Pacific Financial Technical Centre; the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat; the Secretariat of the Pacific Community; the Forum Fisheries Agency; the University of the South Pacific; the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme; the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission; and the South Pacific Board for Educational Assessment.

In addition to its bilateral country programmes, New Zealand provides regionally-focused assistance to the Pacific in education, health, environment, governance, law and justice and gender issues, agriculture, fisheries, and trade and economic projects.

Scholarships. NZAID funding for non-bilateral scholarship schemes totalled approximately $16 million in 2002/03. These schemes comprised the Postgraduate Scholarships Scheme, the Commonwealth Scholarships Scheme, the Aotearoa Scholarships Scheme, the Geothermal Diploma Course, and dependants' fees scholarships.

Emergency and disaster relief. NZAID support for emergency and disaster relief programmes in 2002/03 totalled $35.46 million. Of this, 9 per cent was directed towards meeting emergency and disaster needs in the Pacific. This support covered immediate emergency assistance, reconstruction activities and preventative programmes through international agencies, New Zealand non-government organisations and their overseas partners, international non-government organisations, and partner governments. Support fell into the following main categories:

  • Annual core funding of United Nations humanitarian agencies: $2.85 million.

  • Annual core and programme funding of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of the Red Cross, and the New Zealand Red Cross: $732,000.

  • Support for preventative programmes in the Pacific: $300,000.

  • Funding through New Zealand non-government organisations and their partners overseas: $5.58 million.

  • Direct response to emergency and disaster situations: $12.51 million.

Non-government organisations. A strategic policy framework for NZAID and New Zealand non-government organisations (NGOs) sets out principles, undertakings and guidelines for funding, policy development and information exchange. Strengthening civil organisations in partner countries is a key feature of NZAID's work. Relationships include long-term engagement with NGOs in Papua-New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Indonesia. Support is provided to NGOs and community groups through small-project funds for rural development and local capacity building. In 2003/04, New Zealand-based NGOs directed more than $10 million from the Voluntary Agency Support Scheme (VASS) to partners overseas for community development work. Nine organisations received VASS funding on a block grant basis. These agencies select projects within the scheme's criteria and report on an annual basis. A number of other agencies received grants on a project-by-project basis. A further $5.58 million in emergency and disaster relief was disbursed by VASS though New Zealand NGOs to partners overseas. These funds provided support for emergency relief for victims of natural disasters, as well as for people affected by armed conflict. Volunteer Service Abroad, the Council for International Development, the Development Resource Centre (commonly known as Dev-Zone) and Trade Aid also received core funding.

Volunteer Service Abroad sends New Zealand volunteers to share their skills in developing regions of the world.

Multilateral schedule

The New Zealand Government is committed to multilateral approaches to global aid issues. In this context, the multilateral agencies and programmes of the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, as well as a range of other international bodies, provide key vehicles for the distribution of aid.

Multilateral agencies and programmes provide a proven and effective means for New Zealand to address poverty, conflict, governance issues and humanitarian crises worldwide.

NZAID participated in two major global forums during 2002/03. These were the Financing for Development Conference (FfD) in Monterrey and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg. The ‘Monterrey Consensus’ which emerged from FfD included commitments to substantially increase aid levels, as well as working for better coherence between aid, international trade, private investment flows and initiatives to reduce the debt burden of development countries.

The first steps were taken in 2002 to use NZAID's Multilateral and Regional Agencies Assessment Framework to assess the impact of current engagements with multilateral agencies, the effectiveness of the agency, the fit with NZAID policies and priorities, and the value for money to the New Zealand taxpayer.

4.3 International organisations

United Nations

New Zealand was a founding member of the United Nations (UN) 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 the functions of the UN and its specialised agencies have grown steadily during 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.

New Zealand is a strong advocate of international law and is actively engaged in the global debate on peace and security issues, disarmament, conflict prevention, sustainable development, the environment, and the promotion of human rights. New Zealand is a member of the International Law Commission, the Statistical Commission of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and the Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.

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 $8.03 million for the regular budget in 2003 and $10.53 million for the peacekeeping budget for 2002/03. New Zealand's level of assessment for 2003 was 0.241 percent of the UN budget. Contributions to budgets of specialised United Nations agencies vary, with assessments fixed according to scales agreed by members of each agency.

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

During 2003, New Zealand submitted its second periodic report under the UN 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.

At the 2003 sessions of the UN Commission on Human Rights and the Third Committee of the UN 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 and children's rights; the rights of people with disabilities; and human rights treaty issues. New Zealand has also been actively involved in international initiatives focusing on indigenous people.

Specialised agencies. There are many subsidiary, specialised or otherwise-related agencies of varying sizes within the UN system, some with independent secretariats, budgets and operations. New Zealand is a member of all the major specialised agencies and of a number of related bodies. 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. 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, while the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation seeks to increase international cooperation through education, science and culture.

In 2003, New Zealand served on the governing bodies of the UN Environment Programme, the ILO and the World Meteorological Organisation. For the first time, New Zealand was elected to the World Heritage Committee in 2003. The committee is responsible for implementing the World Heritage Convention to which New Zealand became a party in 1984. Parties to the convention - 176 countries - agree to protect their natural and cultural heritage.

From 2002 to 2004, New Zealand was a member of the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is not a specialised agency but an independent intergovernmental organisation under the aegis of the UN. Also in this category is the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, on whose executive council New Zealand is serving from 2004 to 2006.

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 over the multilateral agreements that resulted from the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations between 1986 and 1994.

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 are 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 development 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 the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights.

  • Further reduced tariffs on goods.

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

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 Ministerial Conference that took place in November 2001 in Doha, Qatar, launched a new round of negotiations with the aim of concluding them by 1 January 2005. The new round was termed the Doha Development Agenda, to acknowledge the importance of development issues to the achievement of further trade liberalisation.

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 multilateral 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 subsequent Ministerial Conference was held in Cancun, Mexico, from 10 to 14 September 2003 to take stock of progress in the round and provide any necessary political guidance. The conference failed to reach agreement on key issues, however. It was agreed, therefore, that the WTO General Council in Geneva would meet at senior officials' level no later than 15 December 2003 to take the action necessary to enable negotiations to move towards a successful and timely conclusion. In the absence of a consensus at this meeting, chair Perez del Castillo outlined areas where agreement looked possible and suggested the way forward, based on his consultations with members in the previous three months. It was left to incoming negotiating groups, formed in February 2004, to take the issues further

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, the IFC and the ICSID.

The common objective of the institutions is to fight poverty and to improve living standards in developing countries by financing specific country-based and regional activities. These cover sectors such as health, education, social development, private sector development, gender, environment, and infrastructure development. Total new lending in the 2003 financial year was approximately US$18.5 billion.

The IDA provides highly concessional resources to low-income countries and US$7.3 billion was lent in 2003, compared with US$4.4 billion in 2000. New Zealand makes contributions to periodic replenishments of the IDA and in 2001 New Zealand made a commitment of NZ$36.5 million, payable over six years, amounting to a 0.12 percent share of total donor funding. New Zealand is currently participating in negotiations to contribute to the next replenishment.

New Zealand has also contributed approximately NZ$6 million to the IDA and International Monetary Fund (IMF) trust fund for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC). These trusts give resources to heavily indebted poor countries to help relieve their debt servicing burdens to the IMF and the IDA. Twenty-six 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 63 members, of which 45 are in Asia and the Pacific. The ADB's goal is to reduce poverty in the region through sustainable economic growth, social development and good governance. New Zealand holds 54,340 shares in the ADB, about 1.56 percent of the bank's voting share.

New Zealand also makes contributions to the periodic replenishment of the ADB's Asian Development Fund (ADF), the bank's concessional lending facility for its poorest developing member countries.

In November 2000, the New Zealand Government approved a contribution of NZ$39.6 million payable over seven years. The total replenishment level was US$2.79 billion, to be 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. New Zealand is currently participating in negotiations to contribute to the next replenishment.


The Commonwealth has 53 member countries representing approximately 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 activities - the Empire or 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.

Most activities are executed through the Commonwealth secretariat in London. Former New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Don McKinnon was appointed Commonwealth Secretary-General in 1999 and re-elected for a second term in 2003.

New Zealand is the sixth largest contributor to the Commonwealth secretariat by volume and one of the eight largest contributors to combined Commonwealth funds. 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 South Africa in 1994, Zimbabwe in 2000 and 2002, Fiji in 2001 and Pakistan in 2002. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) functions as the Commonwealth's watchdog on democracy and was established in Millbrook, New Zealand, in 1995. New Zealand served on CMAG from 1995 to 1999. Countries currently on CMAG's agenda are Pakistan (suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth since 1999) and Fiji.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) - which New Zealand joined in 1973 - is a forum for democratic and market-oriented economies to study and develop economic, social, environment and development policies with the ultimate aim of fostering prosperity and sustainable development.

The OECD works on almost all of the key economic, social and development issues on the international agenda. Its work programme includes projects on growth and innovation, agricultural policy reform, employment and social inclusion, sustainable development, ageing populations, education, information and communications technology, health care issues, and global trade liberalisation. Its staff are among the world's leading authorities in many of these areas.

Based in Paris, the OECD has 30 members: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.

The OECD has extensive cooperation programmes with key non-member countries, including China, Russia and Latin American countries. Also of central importance is its programme of contact with non-government organisations and the broader society 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.

In April 2003, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark chaired the OECD's highest level annual meeting, the Ministerial Council.

New Zealand is a member of the International Energy Agency (IEA), an autonomous body within the OECD framework. The primary focus of the IEA is on oil security among members, but its programme embraces a wide range of energy issues. New Zealand is also a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an independent body housed in the OECD dedicated to combating money laundering and terrorist financing.

4.4 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 92 kilometres from Atafu and 64 kilometres from Fakaofo. Western Samoa is 480 kilometres 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 have been better defined and expanded. This process was formalised in January 1994 by delegation of the administrator's powers to the General Fono (National Parliament), and the Council of Faipule (now the Council for Ongoing Government) when the General Fono is not in session.

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 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 portfolios they hold represent 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.

As part of the recent Modern House of Tokelau Project, the administrator's powers were delegated from the General Fono to the three village councils (Taupulega) in June 2004. The aim of the delegation to village council was to put in place a governance system that was functional in the local setting, blending the modern with the traditional. The challenge was 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.

A review of Tokelau public services carried out in 2003 has seen agreement by the General Fono to shift responsibility for public services away from the national office in Apia back to the three atolls. Village councils and public service agencies will work closely to ensure a good standard of public service delivery is maintained on the atolls. The national office in Apia will be restructured to enhance its capability to deliver services on a national basis, and to provide a liaison point for international issues.

In October 2003, the General Fono instituted a number of constitutional and law changes, including the decision that the Council of Faipule would be renamed the Tokelau Council for Ongoing Government. The new council comprises six members, the three Faipule and the three Pulenuku (village mayors). The position of Ulu o Tokelau (Leader of Tokelau) will continue to rotate on a yearly basis among the three Faipule. The General Fono has also agreed to formally explore the option of Tokelau seeking self-determination in free association with New Zealand.

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 and village levels has promoted a clear wish for Tokelau to be self-reliant to the greatest extent possible and on 1 July 2003, control of Tokelau's budget was handed over to the General Fono.

Ross Dependency

The Ross Dependency consists of the land, permanent ice-shelf and islands of Antarctica below 60° South and between 160° East to 150° West. New Zealand's Antarctic territory, therefore, comprises the Ross Ice Shelf, the Balleny Islands, Scott Island, and the landmass and adjacent islands within these longitudes to the point of their convergence at the South Pole. The land is almost entirely covered by ice and is uninhabited except for people conducting or supporting scientific research programmes. New Zealand operates a permanent scientific research station, Scott Base, on Ross Island in the dependency. New Zealand has exercised jurisdiction over the dependency since 1923, when an Imperial Order-In-Council vested in the New Zealand Governor-General executive and legislative power in respect of the dependency.

New Zealand has committed to the international governance of Antarctica through the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), which consists of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty and associated agreements. The treaty system's primary purpose is to ensure Antarctica is used only for peaceful purposes and that it does not become the scene or object of international discord. It designates Antarctica as ‘a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science,’ promotes international scientific cooperation and bans mining, the dumping of nuclear waste and the deployment of military personnel (except in support of peaceful purposes) in Antarctica. Membership of the ATS has grown from the 12 original signatories of the treaty (of which New Zealand was one) to 45 parties, 27 of which have consultative or decisionmaking status. The Antarctic Treaty parties meet regularly to consider issues within its framework, such as scientific and logistic cooperation and environmental protection measures. Anyone seeking to carry out activities in the Ross Dependency, or who depart for Antarctica from New Zealand (notwithstanding their nationality) are required to prepare Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) under the Antarctica (Environmental Protection) Act 1994. On the basis of the EIA, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade decides whether the activity may proceed. Permits must also be obtained for certain types of Antarctic activities. Official expeditions of governments which are parties to the Antarctic Treaty are exempt from these requirements.

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. New Zealand has conducted exploratory fishing for toothfish in the Ross Sea since 1997.

A No 40 Squadron Hercules delivers supplies to Antarctica.

4.5 Defence

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 principal civilian adviser on defence matters to the Minister of Defence and to the government.

The military and civilian advisory roles are complementary. There is considerable overlap on defence, security and New Zealand Defence Force capability issues and this requires close cooperation and consultation between the Ministry of Defence and the New Zealand Defence Force. This coordination takes place on a regular basis through the Office of Chief Executives, which brings the Secretary of Defence and the Chief of Defence Force together to discuss policy issues of mutual interest, and on the Executive Governance Boards, which oversee major New Zealand Defence Force capital equipment and infrastructure projects.

Defence policy

The New Zealand Government's defence policy objectives are set out in The Government's Defence Policy Framework released in June 2000. The five key objectives for New Zealand's defence policy are:

  • To defend New Zealand and to protect its people, land, territorial waters, exclusive economic zone, natural resources and critical infrastructure.

  • To meet New Zealand's alliance commitments to Australia by maintaining a close defence partnership in pursuit of common security interests.

  • To assist in the maintenance of security in the South Pacific and to provide assistance to New Zealand's Pacific neighbours.

  • To play an appropriate role in the maintenance of security in the Asia-Pacific region, including meeting New Zealand's obligations as a member of the Five Power Defence Arrangements.

  • To contribute to global security and peacekeeping through participation in the full range of United Nations and other appropriate multilateral peace support and humanitarian relief operations.

The framework foreshadowed the government's plan to build a modern, professional and well-equipped defence force with the military capabilities necessary across all three services to meet New Zealand's objectives. Figure 4.03 shows New Zealand's principal defence force locations.

The government's blueprint for the New Zealand Defence Force was outlined in The Government Defence Statement - A Modern, Sustainable Defence Force Matched to New Zealand s Needs (8 May 2001).

Key components of the blueprint are:

  • Joint approaches to structure and operational orientation.

  • A modernised army.

  • A practical navy fleet matched to New Zealand's wider security needs. A refocussed and updated air force.

  • A funding commitment.

The New Zealand Defence Force is being reconfigured so that it is sustainable and affordable over the long term. A key aim is to enhance the capabilities of the force across all three services to undertake a range of combat and peace support operations. The government has taken decisions on a number of projects including:

  • The P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft mission systems upgrade, and communications and navigation systems upgrades.

  • The C-130 Hercules transport aircraft life extension, and communications and navigation systems upgrades.

  • Acquiring Boeing 757 aircraft to replace Boeing 727 aircraft.

  • Direct fire support weapons (automatic grenade launchers).

  • Medium range anti-armour weapon (Javelin missiles).

  • New ships for the navy.

This will improve the ability of the New Zealand Defence Force both to defend New Zealand's interests and to contribute effectively to international and regional peace and security.

Figure 4.03. Principal New Zealand Defence Force locations

Principal New Zealand Defence Force locations

While New Zealand may not face a direct military threat from another country in the foreseeable future, its interests continue to face a wide range of security challenges. Not all of these challenges are of a military nature. This has been underlined by the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, the Bali bombings on 12 October 2002, and subsequent bombings, including those in Jakarta.

The deployment of New Zealand Defence Force personnel to various trouble spots around the world is the most tangible sign of New Zealand's commitment to international peace and security. During 2003, New Zealand Defence Force elements were deployed to Afghanistan, the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the fight against terrorism. New Zealand Defence Force personnel were also deployed to Iraq to assist with post-war reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts and to the Solomon Islands as part of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands. This was in addition to longer-standing commitments in the Middle East, the Balkans and Africa.

International defence relationships

Five Power Defence Arrangements. Concern about future security arrangements in the region led to the establishment in 1971 of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) involving New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. Consultative in nature, the arrangements aim to contribute to the security of Malaysia and Singapore and to the long-term stability of the region. Members take part in a wide-ranging exercise programme that seeks to strengthen the ability of their armed forces to operate with each other. Defence ministers and defence chiefs meet regularly and there is a range of other exchanges. The exercises and contacts which New Zealand has with Malaysia and Singapore and the other partners is an important part of the New Zealand Defence Force's training programme, and one which has expanded significantly in recent years. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the FPDA in 2001, the five member countries reaffirmed their commitment to FPDA, recognising the important contribution it continues to make towards enhancing regional security.

Mutual Assistance Programme. Most South Pacific countries and some members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) 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. 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 the Cook Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu and Malaysia.

Australia. There is no strategic partnership closer than that between Australia and New Zealand. The two countries are bound together by geography and history, by shared values, beliefs and interests, and by the close relationships between their people. The security relationship between Australia and New Zealand is embodied in the concept of Closer Defence Relations (CDR), adopted in 1991 and realised through a programme of cooperative activities designed to give the relationship enhanced practical effect.

ANZUS. The ANZUS security treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States came into force in 1952. However, the United States is not prepared to accept restrictions over access to New Zealand ports by nuclear powered or armed ships of the United States Navy and 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 at 31 December 2003

United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO). New Zealand military observers have worked with UNTSO in Israel and neighbouring countries since 1954. They help 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 and it currently provides two military demining experts, 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.

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 more 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.

New Zealand Defence Force engineers restore water supplies in Al Mufayat, Iraq.

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, INTERFET, 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.

In May 2002 UNMISET, the successor to UNTAET, stood up. This signalled reductions in the New Zealand troop contribution to Timor Leste. Currently, a small contingent of military observers -approximately 16 at any one time - continue to serve with UNMISET.

Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI). The RAMSI was deployed to the Solomon Islands following an invitation from Prime Minister Kanaleeza in July 2003.

The RAMSI is an Australian-led mission comprising Australian, Papua New Guinean, Fijian, New Zealand and Tongan 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 RAMSI is in Honiara and team sites are situated primarily on the islands of Guadalcanal and Malaita. The mission provides the framework for stabilising the security situation in the Solomon Islands. New Zealand initially contributed 230 personnel to the mission.

Casualties. There have been five fatalities among New Zealand Defence Force personnel serving in United Nations observer and peacekeeping missions.

Iraq. New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark announced on 1 August 2003 that New Zealand Defence Force engineers would be deployed to work alongside United Kingdom forces in southern Iraq. The deployment, for an initial period of 12 months, was to undertake humanitarian and reconstruction tasks consistent with United Nations Security Council resolutions and with New Zealand's policy position.

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 who 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 105 active cadet units at 30 June 2003 with a total strength of 3,300 cadets and 308 officers, compared with 103 units and a total strength of 3,225 cadets and 325 officers at 30 June 2002. The decline in officer strength is attributed to a change in the commissioning process where applicants now receive their commission on successful completion of the commissioning course.

Limited Service Volunteer Scheme. Limited service volunteer training courses have been run by the army at Burnham Camp since 1995, with additional staffing support provided by the navy and air force since 1998. The programme provides young unemployed volunteers with six weeks of residential motivational training, utilising the military culture and environment, outdoor activities and general life skills subjects.

Four hundred volunteers successfully completed training courses in the year ending 30 June 2003, compared with 500 in the previous year.

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.

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 several patrols in the South Pacific during 2003 and 2004.

Search and Rescue. All three New Zealand Defence Force 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-nine New Zealand Defence Force personnel support Operation Antarctica in terminal and logistic support operations at Harewood in Christchurch, McMurdo Station 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.

A navy Seasprite helicopter winches people off HMNZS Endeavour during a search and rescue exercise.

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 4.02. Table 4.03 compares New Zealand's defence expenditure internationally. Table 4.04 shows numbers of defence force personnel.

Table 4.02. Defence expenditure
Years ending 30 June


- nil or zero

Source: New Zealand Defence Force

Capital charge320,550332,317266,668261,902
Other expenses76,952103,369-23,414
        Total output expenses1,507,1771,595,6271,433,0321,464,327
Less -    
        Crown revenue provided1,398,8211,461,0771,411,4041,426,453

Table 4.03. International comparison of defence expenditure

CountryProportion of GDP


2 Year ending 30 September. US budget definition differs from NATO definition.

3 Years ending 31 March.

4 Years ending 30 June.

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

Source: New Zealand Defence Force

United States23.
United Kingdom33.
New Zealand41.

Table 4.04. Defence personnel
At 30 June

YearNavyArmyAir forceTotalCivilians (NZDF and MOD)
Source: New Zealand Defence Force
Ministry of Defence

Royal New Zealand Navy

Command and administration. The Chief of Navy 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 Navy for the navy's ‘raise, train and maintain’ functions.

Shore establishments. The naval base at Devonport, Auckland, collectively titled HMNZS Philomel, consists of the navy's main naval barracks, wharf facilities, weapon ranges and administrative units; 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. 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 4.05 lists the navy's ships and helicopters and Table 4.06 on page 70 shows navy personnel from 1997 to 2003.

Table 4.05. State of the navy

Ship/helicopter typeNameForce

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

Source: New Zealand Defence Force

ANZAC class frigatesTe KahaNaval combat
 Te ManaNaval combat
Leander class frigateCanterburyNaval combat
Logistics (fleet replenishment)EndeavourNaval support
Survey shipResolutionHydrographic support
Diving support shipManawanuiDiving support
Training tenderKahuSea training
Inshore patrol craftHinauMine countermeasure
 KiwiMine countermeasure
 WakakuraMine countermeasure
 MoaMine countermeasure
Kaman Seasprite SH-2G helicopters x 5SeapriteNaval aviation

HMNZS Te Kaha's two RHIBs (Ridged Hull Inflatable Boats) in a training exercise off the New Zealand coast.

Table 4.06. Strength of the navy
At 30 June


- nil or zero

Source: New Zealand Defence Force

Regular force (all ranks)2,0802,1042,0801,9671,8931,9181,978
Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve (all ranks)395397401385385357354
        Total uniformed2,4752,5012,4812,3522,2782,2752,332
Civilian employees--524453434444441
        Total navy2,4752,5013,0052,8052,7122,7192,773

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.

The Chief of Army (CA), under the Chief of Defence Force (CDF), retains full command of the army. The CA is assisted in fulfilling his statutory command requirements by the Army General Staff (Army GS). The Army GS has both a policy formulation and a policy implementation role.

The Land Component Commander (LCC), under the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand (COMJFNZ), commands operational elements of the army. 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 4.07. State of the army


Note: CSSCombat Service Support, CS Combat Support, TF Territorial Force.

Source: New Zealand Defence Force

Army General StaffWellingtonCommand
HQ Joint Forces NZTrenthamCommand
1 NZ Special Air Services GroupAucklandSpecial forces
Force Military Police CompanyTrenthamCSS
HQ 2 Land Force GroupLintonCommand
16 Field RegimentLintonCS
Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles (Armoured Personnel Carriers)WaiouruCombat
1 Royal NZ Infantry RegimentLintonCombat
Auckland Northland RegimentAucklandTF
Wellington West Coast Taranaki RegimentWanganuiTF
Hauraki RegimentTaurangaTF
Wellington Hawke's Bay RegimentNapierTF
2 Engineer RegimentLintonCS
2 Signals SquadronLintonCS
Force Intelligence GroupTrenthamCS
2 Logistics BattalionLintonCSS
2 Health Services BattalionLintonCSS
HQ 3 Land Force GroupBurnhamCommand
2/1 Royal NZ Infantry RegimentBurnhamCombat
Canterbury Nelson Marlborough West Coast RegimentBurnhamTF
Otago Southland RegimentDunedinTF
3 Field TroopBurnhamCS
3 Signals TroopBurnhamCS
3 Logistics BattalionBurnhamCSS
HQ Army Training GroupWaiouruCommand
Land Operations Training CentreWaiouruTraining
Army DepotWaiouruTraining
Officer Cadet SchoolWaiouruTraining
Trentham Regional Support CentreTrenthamStatic support

Table 4.08. Strength of the army
At 30 June

Source: New Zealand Defence Force
Regular force       
    Other ranks3,6763,7063,7653,7823,8383,7573,656
Territorial force (all ranks)3,6803,3943,0852,4742,1592,1582,031
        Total uniformed8,0717,8257,5026,9876,7396,6506,419
        Total army8,8728,5938,2367,7107,3827,4297,106

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 Chief of Air Force, 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.

Logistics. Royal New Zealand Air Force logistics services are coordinated by Air Staff with specific levels of aircraft maintenance and supply support performed by operational squadrons and base logistics units. Much of the deeper level repair and overhaul work is contracted to the private sector in New Zealand and overseas. Most RNZAF training aircraft are maintained and supported by private contractor.

An RNZAF Iroquois helicopter on duty with the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

Table 4.09 lists air force aircraft and Table 4.10 shows air force personnel from 1997 to 2003.

Table 4.09. State of the air force

Source: New Zealand Defence Force
6 OrionsRNZAF Base AucklandMaritime Patrol Force
2 Boeing 757sRNZAF 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 CT-4E Air TrainersRNZAF Base OhakeaFlying Training
5 King AirsRNZAF Base OhakeaFlying Training

Table 4.1. Strength of the air force
At 30 June

Source: New Zealand Defence Force
Regular force       
    Other ranks2,3512,3492,2662,1902,0531,7141,718
Territorial force (all ranks)180163163161176157155
        Total uniformed3,1713,1543,0482,9472,8002,3802,381
        Total air force3,7313,6823,4193,3313,2112,7702,793

4.6 Disarmament

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 practical contributions to UN peacekeeping and demining operations, mean that New Zealand's voice on disarmament and arms control is listened to with respect.

New Zealand also exerts influence in cooperation with other like-minded countries, for example through its membership of the New Agenda Coalition (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden), a strong advocate for multilateral progress towards nuclear disarmament.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Disarmament 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 that New Zealand's international legal obligations are 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, mainly in Geneva, Vienna, New York and The Hague.

The government values the views of New Zealand's non-government peace and disarmament groups, whose representatives join official delegations 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 and Trade 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.

PACDAC comprises nine members, including the Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, who is the chair. The other eight are appointed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade for three-year terms. PACDAC has recently been exploring ways of supporting conflict prevention/resolution initiatives in the South Pacific.

4.7 Intelligence and security

Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security assists the prime minister in the oversight and review of the Security Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Security Bureau.

The inspector-general also ensures that each organisation's activities are lawful, and that any complaints about either of them are independently investigated.

The inspector-general is appointed by the governor-general on the recommendation of the prime minister following consultation with the leader of the opposition.

Security Intelligence Service

The New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) is a small government agency with approximately 140 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 by parliament's 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, including formulation of communications security and computer security policy; promulgation of standards and 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; 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 the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the External Assessments Bureau (EAB) 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 annual expenditure on the three intelligence and security agencies since 1993.

Table 4.11. Expenditure on intelligence and security agencies
Years ending 30 June

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.

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 Defence Force - New Zealand Official Development Assistance (NZODA) - Royal New Zealand Air Force - Royal New Zealand Navy - Statistics New Zealand - Volunteer Service Abroad

Chapter 5. Population

Current projections are for New Zealand's estimated resident population to peak at 4.81 million around 2046.

5.1 Population growth

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 the population growth during this period came from net immigration. According to the estimated resident population of New Zealand, the four million milestone was reached in April 2003. Nearly all the population growth from three to four million was due to natural increase, with migration not contributing significantly.

Figure 5.01 compares the historical and projected growth of New Zealand's population to 2051.

Figure 5.01. Population growthHistorical and projected1

Population growthHistorical and projected1

Future demographic trends

Population trends can be difficult to predict because demographic changes affect and, in turn, are influenced by social, economic, political and other circumstance

However, demographic projections are generally more reliable than other types of forecasts for several reasons. Firstly, despite the range of influences that can impact on it, population change is fundamentally driven by births, deaths and net migration (arrivals minus departures). Secondly, birth and death rates are generally consistent over several years, especially for larger geographical areas, barring major catastrophes, wars or epidemics. Thirdly, three-quarters of New Zealand's population in 20 years time is already living. With the uncertainty of the births component removed, only migration and death can change the live population.

Some broad future trends and structural changes can be identified. 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 Maori, Pacific and Asian populations all expected to increase their share of the New Zealand population.

Within the national scene there will be contrasting population changes, with a further concentration of population in the northern North Island likely.

Table 5.01 shows the growth in New Zealand's population as measured by Censuses of Population and Dwellings.

Table 5.01. New Zealand population By census

Census12PopulationIntercensal increaseAverage annual increase

1Omits censuses of 1851, 1864, 1867 and 1871 as censuses of Maori population were not taken in these years.

2Figures from 1981 onwards are census usually resident population counts, replacing census night population counts used previously. ... not applicable

Note:All figures 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

Projected population

Projections given in this chapter draw on series 4 of the 2001-base national population projections. These projections assume that New Zealand women will average 1.85 births each (below the 2.1 children required for the population to replace itself without migration); life expectancy at birth will increase by about six years between 2001 and 2051 to reach 82.5 years for males and 86.5 years for females; and there will be a net migration gain of 5,000 people each year from 2007 onwards.

Given this scenario, the New Zealand estimated resident population is projected to pass the 4.5 million mark by 2021 and then peak at 4.81 million around 2046. The population is then projected to slowly decline, as deaths outnumber the combined effect of births and the net migration gain.

The number of people in New Zealand aged 65 and over is expected to more than double in the 50 years to 2051.

The pace of growth is not likely to be uniform. Growth is expected to average 1.2 percent a year between 2001 and 2006, 0.5 percent a year during the 2020s and just 0.1 percent a year during 2036-2041. 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 35 in 2001 to 38 by 2011 and to 45 in 2051 as the large number of people born in the 1950s to 1970s enter retirement ages (see Table 5.02).

Table 5.02. New Zealand population projections12


1Base: 30 June 2001.

2Medium projection (series 4).

Note:Figures may not add to stated totals due to rounding.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

Age group (at 30 June)  (000)  
All ages3,8804,2484,5064,7144,8074,807
        0-14 years877822791809777752
        15-39 years1,3891,4401,4751,4241,3791,371
        40-64 years1,1541,4101,4471,4331,4581,466
        65 years and over4615777921,0481,1941,217
Components of population change (years ending 30 June)  (000)  
Net migration-955555
Annual population change202725164-3
Median age (at 30 June)  In Years  
Dependency ratio (at 30 June) Per 100 people aged 15-64  
        0-14 years342927282727
        65 years and over182027374243
        0-14 and 65 years and over534954656969

Age groups. The number of children (0-14 years) is projected to drop by about one-seventh to around 750,000 by 2051. They will then make up 16 percent of the population, compared with 23 percent in 2001. By contrast, there will be unprecedented growth in the number of New Zealanders in older ages (65 and over). Their number will more than double, from 460,000 in 2001 to 1.22 million in 2051. By then, 25 percent of the population will be aged 65 and over, up from 12 percent in 2001. As figure 5.02 shows, the largest increases in the 65 and over age group will occur in the decades ending in 2021 (216,000) and 2031 (256,000) when the ‘baby boomers’ move into this age group. In 2001, 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 and over age group itself will age. The number of New Zealanders aged 90 and over is projected to grow from 15,000 in 2001 to nearly 140,000 in 2051. They will then make up 11 percent of the 65 and over population, compared with 3 percent in 2001. The working-age population (15-64 years) is projected to increase by about 290,000 (12 percent) to 2.8 million by 2051. But its share of the total population will shrink from 66 percent to 59 percent by the late 2030s and then remain about this level. The workforce will take on an older profile in the future. In 2001, those aged 40-64 made up 45 percent of the working-age population, a figure projected to increase to 50 percent after 2011. The median age of the working-age group is projected to increase from 38 years in 2001 to 40 years in 2011 and then remain between 40 and 41 for the next four decades.

The 2001 Census recorded 25 percent of women aged 65-69, and about 20 percent of men, actively involved in voluntary work.

Figure 5.02. Change in population aged 65 and over Historical and projected1

Change in population aged 65 and over Historical and projected1

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. Note, however, that the projected numbers refer to the New Zealand resident population. Between 2001 and 2021, the primary school age population (5-12 years) will drop by 63,000 (13 percent) to 417,000. This compares with a peak of 503,000 in 1975. Further decreases will mean that by 2051 there will be 80,000 fewer primary school age children than in 2001. 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 population lag behind those of the primary school age population by about six years. The secondary school age population is projected to increase from 283,000 in 2001 to 318,000 in 2006. Then the number will drop by 50,000 to 268,000 in 2026. By 2051, the secondary school age population will number 264,000, about 59,000 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 66,000 to a peak of 335,000, partly driven by inflows of students from overseas. This will be followed by drops of 27,000 and 23,000 in the next two decades, and smaller changes thereafter. Figure 5.03 shows the projected population in each of the three educational age groups to 2051.

Figure 5.03. Population in educational age groupsHistorical and projected1

Population in educational age groupsHistorical and projected1

Ethnic and cultural diversity. New Zealand has been ethnically and culturally connected to Polynesia for at least 1,000 years. Its population and cultural heritage 200 years ago was wholly that of Polynesia, but it is now dominated by cultural traditions that are mainly European, emanating especially from the British Isles.

About 79 percent of New Zealanders are of European ethnicity. The indigenous Maori ethnic group makes up the next largest group of the population, about 14.1 percent in 2001. The other main ethnic groups are Asian and Pacific peoples, who made up 6.6 and 6.5 percent respectively of the resident population count at the 2001 Census. The ethnic and cultural composition of New Zealand has been shaped and reshaped by three main demographic processes: international migration, natural increase and inter-marriage. The most important of these processes has been international migration.

Ethnic population information presented in this chapter is based on the concept of self-identification. Each ethnic group includes people who identify with that ethnic group either solely or in conjunction with other ethnic groups, but excludes people who have ancestry but do not identify with that ethnic group.

Some people identify with two or more ethnic groups and therefore the broad European, Maori, Pacific and Asian populations are not mutually exclusive. All four ethnic populations are projected to experience growth between 2001 and 2021. The Asian population is projected to have the largest percentage growth, up some 122 percent. The Pacific and Maori populations will experience increases of 58 and 28 percent, respectively, while the European population will increase until 2010 before slowly declining. The higher Asian growth rate mainly reflects assumed levels of net migration from 119,000 during the five years 2002-2006 to 30,000 during 2017-2021. By comparison, the higher Maori and Pacific growth relative to the New Zealand population overall is mainly driven by births. In 2001, 14 percent of the New Zealand population identified with the Maori ethnicity and this is projected to increase to 17 percent in 2021. The Pacific and Asian shares are projected to increase from 7 to 9 percent and 7 to 13 percent respectively. By contrast, the European share of the New Zealand population is projected to fall from 79 percent in 2001 to 69 percent in 2021. The decline in the European share is a reflection of the slower growth rate of the European population compared with the growth rate of the total New Zealand population. 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 37 years in 2001, the European population has a much older age structure than the Maori (22 years) and Pacific (21 years) populations. Despite ageing, the median age of the Maori (27 years) and Pacific populations (24 years) in 2021 will still be lower than the median age of the total New Zealand population. Table 5.03 shows the New Zealand population by ethnicity and age group. Table 5.04 shows the projected New Zealand population growth in the European, Māori, Pacific and Asian ethnic groups.

The ethnic and cultural composition of New Zealand has been shaped by international migration, natural increase and inter-marriage.

By 2021, the primary school age population (5-12 years) is expected to be 13 percent (63,000) lower than the 2001 figure of 480,000.

Table 5.04. Ethnic population projections12

YearTotal New ZealandEuropeanMāoriPacificAsian

1Base: Estimated resident population of each ethnic group at 30 June 2001.

2People who identify with more than one ethnicity are included in each ethnic population, so figures do not add to stated totals.

3Half the population is older and half younger than this age.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

  Population change (percent)  
  Median age3 (in years)  

Table 5.03. Ethnic population projections12 Byage

Age group (in years)MāoriPacificAsianEuropean

1People who identify with more than one ethnicity are included in each ethnic population, so percentage figures add to more than 100.

2Ethnic projection series 6; New Zealand projections series 4.

3Base; Estimated resident population of each ethnicity at 30 June 2001.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

Under 152511774
        65 and over42292
        All ages157779
Under 1528171562
        65 and over73785
        All ages1791369

Territorial authority projections. About 90 percent of population growth in New Zealand in the 20-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 28 percent, from 1.98 million in 2001 to 2.53 million in 2021. The population of the rest of the North Island is expected to increase only 1 percent to 978,000 in 2021. The South Island's population is projected to increase by 7 percent to reach 1 million. Given these growth differentials, the northern North Island will be home to 56 percent of all New Zealanders by 2021, up from 51 percent in 2001. By contrast, the southern North Island's share will drop from 25 to 22 percent and the South Island's from 24 percent to 22 percent. Among cities and districts, there is considerable variation likely in population growth rates, largely because of differences in age structures, fertility levels and migration patterns. The Queenstown-Lakes District is projected to have the largest percentage growth during 2001-2021, up 64 percent, followed by Rodney District (up 50 percent), Tauranga City (up 46 percent) and Selwyn District (up 42 percent). By contrast, 39 of the 74 territorial authority areas are projected to decrease in population. The largest decreases are projected for the districts of Kawerau (down 25 percent), South Waikato (down 20 percent), Stratford (down 20 percent), Rangitikei (down 20 percent) and Waimate (down 20 percent). Figure 5.04 shows the projected percentage change in the population of regions between 2001 and 2021.

Figure 5.04. Projected population changes, 2001-20211By region

Projected population changes, 2001-20211By region

Families and households

The number of families in New Zealand is projected to increase by 230,000, or 22 percent, from 1.05 million in 2001 to 1.28 million in 2021. During the same period, the number of households is projected to increase by 380,000, or 26 percent, to 1.82 million.

A family refers to a couple, with or without child(ren), or one parent with child(ren), usually living together in a household. A household consists of either one person usually living alone, or two or more people usually living together and sharing facilities, in a private dwelling.

Families comprising couples without children are expected to become the most common family type from 2006. surpassing two-parent families. The number of couple-without-children families is expected to increase by 51 percent, from 407,000 in 2001 to 614,000 in 2021, while the number of two-parent families is expected to decline, from 446,000 to 418,000. The number of one-parent families is projected to increase from 198,000 in 2001 to 251,000 in 2021. Couple-without-children families include couples whose children have left the parental home, as well as couples who may live with children in the future. The main driver of their increasing number is the increasingly older population age structure and, specifically, the ageing of the large birth cohorts of the 1950s to 1970s. In 2001, 63 percent of partners in couple-without-children families were aged 50 and over.

The projected growth in couple-without-children families also partly reflects recent trends of fewer couples having children and more single parenting because of increasing numbers of separations and divorces; increasing rates of childbearing outside of couple relationships; and more complex shared care arrangements, with parents living in different households.

Among households, one-person households are projected to increase by 45 percent, from 333,000 in 2001 to 482,000 in 2021, largely due to the ageing of the population. The number of family households is also projected to increase between 2001 and 2021, by 21 percent from 1.02 million to 1.23 million. Other multiperson households (households containing more than one person, but not containing a family) are expected to number 102,000 in 2021, compared with 88,000 in 2001.

The average size of households is projected to decrease from 2.6 people in 2001 to 2.4 people in 2021, following the steady decline of recent decades. In 1951, there were 3.7 people per household, but by 1981 this had fallen to 3.0 people. The expected decline is due to an increase in the number of one-person households and a decrease in the average size of family households.

Summary. Although fertility has been below replacement level for most of the past quarter of a century 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 years and over population, growing ethnic diversity and possible geographical redistribution of population, especially within territorial authorities.

Counting the population

Statistics New Zealand has adopted the ‘estimated 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 (census usually resident population count), residents who are temporarily overseas (who are not included in the census), and an adjustment for residents missed or counted more than once by the census (net census undercount). Visitors from overseas are excluded.

Table 5.05 shows the estimated population of New Zealand from 1885 to 2003.

Table 5.05. Estimated population 1885-2003

YearTotal population at 31 DecMean population for year ending 31 Dec

1Population estimates for 1991 onwards are based on the resident population concept replacing the de facto population concept used previously. Resident population estimates are not strictly comparable with census usually resident population counts as they include adjustments for census undercount and New Zealand residents temporarily overseas.


Source; Statistics New Zealand

Estimated de facto population 
Estimated de facto population  
Estimated de facto population  
Estimated resident population1 
1991 R3,516,0003,495,800
1992 R3,552,2003,533,000
1993 R3,597,9003,573,600
1994 R3,648,2003,621,600
1995 R3,706,7003,675,800
1996 R3,762,3003,733,900
1997 R3,802,6003,782,600
1998 R3,829,2003,815,800
1999 R3,851,2003,837,300
2000 R3,873,0003,860,100
2001 R3,912,1003,886,000
2003 P4,039,0004,009,600

Table 5.06. North and South Island populations By census

Census1North IslandSouth IslandTotal population

1Figures from 1981 onwards are census usually resident population counts, replacing census night population counts used previously.

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 and Campbell Island. All figures randomly rounded to base 3.

Source: Statistics New Zealand


5.2 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. In addition, most overseas migrants choose to settle in the North Island.

Table 5.06 lists the populations of the North and South Islands on census night from 1858 to 2001.

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 population growth rates within regions. Table 5.07 shows population movements between regions between the 1996 and 2001 censuses.

Table 5.07. Migration between regions 1996-2001

RegionsPopulation1Migration inMigration outNet migration

1Census usually resident population count of all people aged five and over, 2001.

Note:All figures randomly rounded to base 3.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

Bay of Plenty221,13034,82726,2508,577
Hawke's Bay132,16814,57716,704-2,127
West Coast28,3593,7505,910-2,160

Urban and rural

New Zealand is a highly urbanised country, with 86 percent of the census usually resident population count living in urban areas at the 2001 Census. Table 5.08 shows urban and rural populations at censuses from 1881 to 2001, while figure 5.05 shows changes in the proportions of urban and rural populations from 1881 to 2001.

Table 5.08. Urban and rural populations1 By census


1From 1881-1921, ‘urban’ based on boroughs and cities, ‘rural’ based on counties (including town districts). From 1926-2001, ‘urban’ based on urban areas and towns with populations of more than 1,000, with ‘rural’the remainder.

2Figures from 1981 onwards are census usually resident population counts, replacing census night population counts used previously.

3Based on boundaries as at 6 March 2001.

Note:All figures randomly rounded to base 3.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

Non-Māori population    
Total population    

Main urban areas

Seventy-one percent of the 2001 Census usually resident population count lived in main urban areas (places with 30,000 people or more). Between 1996 and 2001, most main urban areas experienced population growth, particularly those located in the north of both islands. However, most secondary urban areas (places with between 10,000 and 29,999 people) lost population during that period.

Table 5.09 shows the population of New Zealand's largest urban areas at selected censuses.

Table 5.09. Population of largest urban areas At selected censuses

Urban area188611911119361961198623199123199623200123

1Excludes Māori

2Boundaries as at 6 March 2001.

3Figures from 1986 onwards are census usually resident population counts, replacing census night population counts used previously.

... not applicable

Note:All figures randomly rounded to base 3.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

Palmerston North2,60710,99224,37243,18566,95170,23673,86072,681
New Plymouth3,0935,23818,59732,38847,37047,65248,87947,763

Figure 5.05. Urban driftProportions of urban and rural population

Urban driftProportions of urban and rural population

Population of local government areas

Tables 5.10 and 5.11 outline the estimated usually resident population count of New Zealand's 74 territorial authority areas and 16 regional council area.

Table 5.1. Estimated resident population At 30 June

Territorial authorityEstimated resident population1Annual population change June 2002-2003

1Resident population estimates are not strictly comparable with census usually resident population counts as they include adjustments for census undercount and New Zealand residents temporarily overseas.

2Includes the population of inlets, ships, oil rigs and Bays- Waiheke, Kermadec, Mayor, Motiti and White Islands, which are not included within territorial authorities.

- nil or zero - figure too small to be expressed

Note:Figures may not add to stated totals due to rounding.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

  Number NumberPercent
Far North District56,40056,80057,1003300.6
Whangarei District70,00070,70071,4007601.1
Kaipara District17,95017,95018,050700.4
Rodney District78,50081,10084,1003,0003.7
North Shore City194,200198,900205,0006,1003.1
Waitakere City176,200180,700185,6004,8802.7
Auckland City388,800401,500415,20013,6803.4
Manukau City298,200307,300317,50010,2103.3
Papakura District42,30042,70043,1004301.0
Franklin District53,30054,30055,5001,1302.1
Thames-Coromandel District25,80026,00026,3002601.0
Hauraki District17,25017,10017,000-100-0.6
Waikato District41,30041,70042,1004000.9
Matamata-Piako District30,30030,30030,300400.1
Hamilton City119,500122,000125,0002,9802.4
Waipa District41,40041,80042,4005801.4
Otorohanga District9,5909,5809,540-40-0.4
South Waikato District24,20023,80023,600-300-1.2
Waitomo District9,7809,6909,700100.1
Taupo District32,50032,80033,3004501.4
Western Bay of Plenty District39,30039,90040,7007902.0
Tauranga District93,30095,60098,5002,8603.0
Rotorua District66,90067,20067,6003700.5
Whakatane District34,00034,00034,000-30-0.1
Kawerau District7,2907,1706,990-170-2.4
Opotiki District9,5409,5509,580300.3
Gisborne District45,50045,20045,200-20-0.1
Wairoa District9,2609,0908,880-210-2.3
Hastings District69,60070,20070,5004000.6
Napier City55,20055,50055,8002800.5
Central Hawke's Bay District13,20013,20013,150-20-0.1
New Plymouth District68,40068,70069,1004400.6
Stratford District9,1108,9408,820-120-1.3
South Taranaki District28,40028,10027,900-130-0.5
Ruapehu District15,00014,55014,200-350-2.4
Wanganui District44,40044,20043,900-260-0.6
Rangitikei District15,50015,30015,100-180-1.2
Manawatu District28,20028,20028,300500.2
Palmerston North City75,20075,90077,1001,1901.6
Tararua District18,35018,15017,950-200-1.1
Horowhenua District30,60030,60030,600-10
Kapiti Coast District43,60044,40045,2008101.8
Porirua City49,50049,90050,3004400.9
Upper Hutt City37,70037,70037,800500.1
Lower Hutt City99,10099,60099,9003800.4
Wellington City171,100174,600179,1004,5002.6
Masterton District23,20023,30023,300300.1
Carterton District7,0007,0307,100600.9
South Wairarapa District8,9408,9308,860-70-0.7
Tasman District42,40043,50044,7001,1802.7
Nelson City42,90043,50044,4009202.1
Marlborough District40,70041,10041,7005701.4
Kaikoura District3,5803,5903,610200.6
Buller District9,8609,7609,720-40-0.4
Grey District13,20013,10013,100-20-0.2
Westland District7,9907,9407,930-20-0.2
Hurunui District10,15010,30010,4501401.4
Waimakariri District37,90038,80039,8009402.4
Christchurch City327,200332,000338,8006,7602.0
Banks Peninsula District8,0408,1408,200600.7
Selwyn District28,30029,20030,0008102.8
Ashburton District26,00026,10026,5003501.3
Timaru District42,80042,90042,900--
Mackenzie District3,7903,7503,760100.2
Waimate District7,2207,1507,120-30-0.5
Waitaki District20,50020,30020,200-140-0.7
Central Otago District14,75014,80014,9501200.8
Queenstown-Lakes District17,85019,25020,7001,4207.3
Dunedin City119,300120,300121,1008700.7
Clutha District17,55017,50017,400-80-0.5
Southland District29,40029,40029,400700.3
Gore District12,75012,65012,550-60-0.5
Invercargill City51,10051,40051,8004000.8
Chatham Islands Territory750750750-0.2
            Total New Zealand23,880,5003,939,1004,009,20070,0301.8

Table 5.11. Estimated resident population At 30 June

Regional councilEstimated resident population1Annual population change June 2002-2003

1Resident population estimates are not strictly comparable with census usually resident population counts as they include adjustments for census undercount and New Zealand residents temporarily overseas.

2Includes the Kermadec Islands and people on oil rigs.

3Includes the Chatham Islands and people on oil rigs.

Note:Figures may not add to stated totals due to rounding.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

  Number NumberPercent
North Island     
Bay of Plenty246,900250,100254,0003,8301.5
Hawke's Bay147,300148,000148,5004600.3
            Total North Island22,944,3002,991,8003,047,60055,7901.9
South Island     
West Coast31,10030,80030,700-80-0.3
            Total South Island3936,100947,300961,50014,2401.5
            Total New Zealand3,880,5003,939,1004,009,20070,0301.8

5.3 Components of population change

Population change has two main components, natural increase (the excess of births over deaths) and net migration (the difference between arrivals and departures). The relative contribution of the two components has varied from one five-year census period to another, but net migration's share of population change has never exceeded 40 percent. Figure 5.06 shows contributions made by natural increase and net migration to New Zealand's total population change from 1861 to 2001.

Figure 5.06. Components of annual population changeNatural increase1 and net migration2 Years ending 31 March

Components of annual population changeNatural increase1 and net migration2 Years ending 31 March


Changing levels of fertility over the years have played a major role in determining the size and structure of New Zealand's population.

Figure 5.07 shows the significant changes in the fertility rate (births per woman) in New Zealand from 1912 to 2003.

Figure 5.07. Fertility rate1Years ending 31 December

Fertility rate1Years ending 31 December

In 1935, the fertility rate in New Zealand fell to a low of 2.2 births per woman. This was attributed to fewer and later marriages, and family limitation within marriage. With demobilisation of forces after World War II and the resulting increase in marriages and births, the fertility rate reached 3.6 births per woman in 1947.

Other features of the years following World War II were New Zealanders marrying younger, and marriage becoming almost universal. By 1961, half of all women were married before the age of 22, compared with barely a quarter married by that age in the early 1940s. These trends were reinforced by early childbearing and the shortening of birth intervals.

The median age at first birth fell from 25.4 years in 1945 to 22.8 years in 1964. Fewer couples remained childless or had only one child. The net result was soaring birth numbers, up from just more than 27,000 in 1935 to about 42,000 in 1945, and to more than 65,000 in 1961. More than 1.1 million New Zealanders were born between 1946 and 1965 - the ‘baby boomers’. At its peak in 1961, the total fertility rate exceeded 4.3 births per woman and significantly exceeded figures for other developed nations.

The upward trend was reversed in the early 1960s just as suddenly as it had begun, which has prompted demographers to suggest that the ‘baby boom’ was merely a temporary diversion from a long-term downward trend. The turnaround coincided with introduction of the oral contraceptive pill in the early 1960s, but the ‘cause-and-effect’ relationship is not clear-cut. It is possible that increased acceptance and use of the pill helped sustain the downward trend.

By the mid-1970s, the post-depression rise in fertility had ended. The total fertility rate fell below the ‘replacement level’ in 1978 and then to an all-time low of 1.92 births per woman in 1983. This drop had a great impact on the annual number of births. Despite a substantial increase in the number of prospective mothers, caused by the ‘baby boomers’ entering prime reproductive ages, births dropped from around 64,000 in 1971 to below 50,000 in 1982.

After 1983, there was a minor resurgence in the fertility rate, to 2.18 births per woman in 1990, but the rate subsequently dropped to 1.96 in 1996 and has remained around this level since. This level of fertility is slightly below the level required for the population to replace itself without migration.

From 22.8 years in 1964, the median age at first birth rose steadily to 30.6 years in 2003. In 2002 and 2003, the age group 30-34 replaced 25-29 as the most common age group for childbearing among New Zealand women.

Figure 5.08 shows the median age of childbearing for New Zealand women from 1962 to 2003, based on nuptial and ex-nuptial live confinements.

Figure 5.08. Median age of childbearingLive confinements1

Median age of childbearingLive confinements1

The dynamics of the fertility decline and of current low fertility levels are complex.

Increased use of contraceptives, increased participation of women in the labour force, rising divorce rates and general economic conditions have probably all, directly or indirectly, contributed to it.

Patterns of marriage and family formation have changed radically, with a shift away from early marriage and childbearing toward later marriage and delayed parenthood.

Between 1971 and 1986, the first marriage rate for women aged 20-24 dropped by about two-thirds, from 314 to 113 marriages per 1,000 never-married women.

By 2001, the first marriage rate for women aged 20-24 had dropped to 37 per 1,000. New Zealand women are marrying for the first time, on average, more than six years later than those who married for the first time in 1971.

The median age at first marriage in 2002 for women was 27.6 and 29.4 for men. This compared with 20.8 and 23.0 respectively in 1971.

A growing proportion of New Zealanders are remaining single through their 20s. The substantial postponement of marriage has been partly offset by the growth of de facto relationships (cohabitation outside marriage).

Such relationships may be either a prelude to, or a substitute for, formal marriages. The growth in de facto unions partly accounts for the rise in the number of ex-nuptial births (children born to women who are not legally married to the child's father), up from nearly 7,000 in 1966 to nearly 10,000 in 1976, and to more than 24,000 in 2001.

Figure 5.09 shows the ex-nuptial birth rate per 1,000 not-married women in New Zealand for selected years from 1896 to 2003.

Figure 5.09. Ex-nuptial birth rate1Years ending 31 December

Ex-nuptial birth rate1Years ending 31 December

Ex-nuptial births comprised 12 percent of all births registered in New Zealand in 1966 and 44 percent in 2003. Changing social norms have contributed to this increase. There is also a high incidence of ex-nuptial births among Māori. In 2003, 75 percent of all Mωori births were classified as ex-nuptial and they accounted for nearly half of New Zealand's ex-nuptial births.

Latest demographic measures indicate that there is still a significant ethnic differential in fertility levels in New Zealand. In 2000-02, the fertility rate for Māori women was 2.6 births per woman and for Pacific women 2.9 births, compared with 1.7 and 1.8 births for Asian and European women respectively.

Table 5.12 illustrates fertility trends and patterns from 1881 to 2003.

Table 5.12. Fertility trends and patterns Years ending 31 December

YearLive birthsCrude birth rate1Fertility rate2Gross reproduction rate34Net reproduction rate45Ex-nuptial birth rate46

1Live births per 1,000 estimated mean population.

2Average number of births a woman would have during her reproductive life using fertility rate characteristic of various childbearing age groups in that year.

3Average number of daughters a woman would have during her reproductive life, assuming age-of mother-specific birth rates experienced during that year continue to apply.

4Figures before 1966 exclude Maori population.

5Average number of daughters a woman would have during her reproductive life, assuming age-of-mother-specific birth rates and mortality rates experienced during that year continue to apply.

6Ex-nuptial births per 1,000 estimated mean number of not-married women aged 15-49. Before 1966, rates based on census counts of not-married women aged 15-44.

7Excludes Māori population.

8Births and fertility rates for 1998 lower than expected because of small change to rate at which births registered during 1998.

PprovisionalRrevised figures not available

Note:Birth and fertility rates for 1991 onwards based on resident population concept, replacing de facto population concept used previously.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

199159,91117.14R2.09 R1.01 R1.0050.17R
199259,16616.75 R2.06 R0.990.97 R49.90 R
199358,78216.45 R2.04 R0.990.9750.16R
199457,32115.83 R1.98R0.96 R0.9548.53 R
199557,67115.69R1.98 R0.960.9450.07 R
199657,28015,34R1,960.950.93R49.60 R
199757,60415.23R1.96 R0.96 R0.94 R48.97 R
1998855,34914.51 R1.89 R0.920.90 R47.02 R
199957,05314.87 R1.97 R0.960.95 R48.21 R
200056,60514.66 R1.98 R0.960.94 R47.50 R
200155,79914.36 R1,97 R0.970.95 R46.41 R
200356,13414.00P1.96 P0.95 P0.94 P43.90 P

Table 5.13 provides a summary of vital statistics for the New Zealand population from 1950 to 2003.

Table 5.13. Vital statistics Years ending 31 December

YearLive birthsDeathsNatural increase1Average age at death

1Live births minus deaths.

2Births lower than expected because of small change to rate at which births registered during 1998.

Note:Figures from 1991 onwards are based on the resident population concept, replacing the de facto population concept used previously.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

  Number Year

Table 5.14. Life expectancy at birth International comparisons


1Excludes Māori population.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

New Zealand1901-1905158.160.6
United Kingdom190648.051.6
New Zealand1950-195267.271.3
United Kingdom195166.271.2
New Zealand1970-197268.574.6
United Kingdom197168.875.0
New Zealand1980-198270.476.4
United Kingdom198170.876.8
New Zealand1990-199272.978.7
United Kingdom199073.078.5
New Zealand2000-200276.381.1
United Kingdom 2000-200275.780.4 


A temperate climate, low population density, lack of heavy industry and good nutrition have given New Zealand a comparative advantage over other nations in terms of health. Ongoing advances in living standards, medical knowledge and technology, and health services continue to reduce mortality rates.

Nevertheless, New Zealand mortality rates mask the fact that Maori mortality rates are much higher than non-Māori, and that New Zealand life expectancy has been eclipsed by several other countries, as shown in Table 5.14.

A large part of longevity improvement in New Zealand occurred before 1930 and was due to the saving of life at younger ages. Allowing for higher Māori mortality, the infant mortality rate fell steadily from more than 100 deaths per 1,000 live births in the late 19th century to about 50 per 1,000 in the 1920s. As Table 5.15 shows, the infant mortality rate has continued to drop, from about 20 per 1,000 in the early 1960s, to 4.9 per 1,000 in 2003.

Table 5.15. Death rate By age and sex Years ending 31 December

YearUnder I11-45-1415-2425-3435-4445-5455-6465-7475 and over

1Per 1,000 live births.

2Excludes Māori population.

Pprovisional R revised

Note:Live births for 1901-1961 include late registrations, while those from 1981 onwards exclude late registrations. Death rates for 1991 onwards are based on the resident population concept, replacing the de facto population concept used previously.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

Males   Per 1,000 mean estimated population   
2001 R6.140.330.
2003 P5.690.340.190.921.151.603.398.4123.7783.70
2003 P4.140.360.120.460.500.982.435.7115.3870.36
Both sexes          

Significant ethnic differentials exist in mortality rates.

According to 2000-2002 life tables, a newborn non-Māori girl could expect to live 81.9 years, and a newborn non-Māori boy could expect to live 77.2 years.

For Māori, life expectancy at birth was 73.2 years for females and 69.0 years for males. Lower non-Māori death rates at ages 45-79 years account for about three-quarters of these differences, and this partly reflects different rates of smoking and diabetes, as well as socio-economic differentials.

For example, the 1996 Census reported that 44 percent of Māori aged 15 and over were regular smokers, compared with 21 percent of non-Māori.

Women live longer than men and experience lower death rates at all ages, although men have closed the gap in recent decades.

A century ago, women could expect to outlive men by about 2.5 years. By 1950-1952, the female advantage had increased to 4.1 years, and by 1975-1977 it was 6.4 years. However, the male-female difference had narrowed to 4.8 years in 2000-2002.

Figure 5.10 shows movements in the median age at death for males and females since 1950.

Figure 5.1. Median age at death1Years ending 31 December

Median age at death1Years ending 31 December

External migration

New Zealand has traditionally been a country of immigration, although the intake has been small compared with immigration flows to New World countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States.

The end of World War II saw economic stability and reintroduction, in 1947, of an assisted/free passage scheme to attract working-age industrial and agricultural labour from the United Kingdom. Agreements were also negotiated to accept young non-British European migrants, and refugee immigration was allowed on humanitarian grounds. These grounds were to lead to the settlement of nearly 4,000 Indo-Chinese refugees in New Zealand during 1978-82.

Historical and regional considerations also led to establishment of immigration quotas for small Pacific Island countries.

The government adopted a new immigration policy in 1974, which ended unrestricted immigration from the United Kingdom and Ireland and provided for the selection of immigrants from all sources on the same criteria.

The reciprocal Trans-Tasman Travel Agreement, which allows free movement of residents between Australia and New Zealand, was not changed.

Similarly, the right of free entry into New Zealand was maintained for the people of the Cook Islands, Niue and the Tokelau Islands, who are regarded as New Zealand citizens. As a result, immigrants in post-war years have come from a wider range of countries than before.

Between 1950 and 1967, New Zealand recorded a net gain of about 270,000 permanent and long-term migrants. In 16 of the 18 years, net migration was more than 10,000.

The economic recession of the late 1960s turned the tide again. A significant drop in immigration and a sharp upturn in emigration resulted in a net outflow of 7,387 during 1968-1970.

While annual net migration in the following nine-year period varied between a net inflow of 27,477 in 1974 and a net outflow of 40,200 in 1979, the result was a small outflow of 2,831 people.

The two most recent decades have seen major and unprecedented changes in external migration levels and patterns. The preponderance of immigrants from the United Kingdom and Ireland has decreased and migration to and from Australia has become the largest in terms of volume. The rate of migration has increased significantly and there have been dramatic shifts in the flow of migrants.

The 1980s brought radical changes in permanent and long-term migration (people whose stated intention is arriving to settle, or departing for 12 months or more).

Permanent and long-term departures had shown an almost unbroken upward trend since the 1950s, rising from 6,886 in 1950 to 81,008 in 1979.

In the year ending 31 March 1980, the number of permanent and long-term departures declined by 6 percent. By 1984, the number of emigrants had fallen to 34,147. A drop in departures to Australia accounted for about 60 percent of this decline.

For the first time since 1976, more people arrived in New Zealand than left in 1983 and 1984, giving small gains to the country of 3,180 and 6,558 respectively. The turnaround was short-lived, however.

During the remainder of the 1980s, the number of departures resumed an upward movement, reaching a peak in 1989, with 70,941 emigrants, giving a net outflow of 24,708 people for that year.

The 1990s saw a return to net population gains from migration, resulting from both increases in the number of permanent and long-term arrivals, and decreases in departures.

In the year ending 31 March 1991, there was a net gain of 11,616 people.

By 1995 this had almost doubled to 21,697 and by 1996 reached 29,832. This figure dropped to 20,948 in 1997 and further to 2,707 in 1998.

Between 1999 and 2001, there were net population losses from migration, with departures exceeding arrivals by 12,600 in 2001.

There was a net gain of 25,635 in 2002 and, during the year ending 31 March 2003, arrivals exceeded departures by 41,592 - the highest recorded March year net gain of permanent and long-term migrants.

Net migration from Asia increased significantly between 1988 and 1996, then declined over the next three years, before steadily increasing between 2000 and 2003, when a net gain of 32,655 was recorded.

Table 5.16 provides a summary of external migration from 1880 to 2003.

Table 5.16. External migration Years ending 31 March

YearTotalPermanent and long-termShort-term


Note:Only total arrivals and departures recorded prior to 1930.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

Five-year totals         
Annual totals         

5.4 Composition of the population

Age and sex of the population

The age and sex profile of a population represents the cumulative effect of past changes in the dynamics of population growth - fertility, mortality and migration.

There are slightly more females than males in the New Zealand population at present. This contrasts with early colonial days, when there was a large surplus of males, especially young males. Each census has seen the sex ratio draw closer to parity, with two exceptions when there was a temporary excess of females - during World War I and, again, during World War II. Females again outnumbered males in 1968 and the ratio has increased steadily since then, with the 2001 Census showing 1,823,007 males and 1,914,273 females usually resident in New Zealand, representing a sex ratio of 95 males to 100 females.

Figure 5.11 shows the age and sex distribution of the New Zealand population at 10-year intervals from 1971 to 2001.

Changes in the age structure of New Zealand's population have been profound during the past 100 years. The changes largely reflect ‘roller coaster’ movements in the birth rate, with small and large birth cohorts moving through the age structure. However, migration gains and losses (dominated by people of younger and middle working ages) have added significantly to these structural changes.

The ‘baby boom’ lifted the proportion of children in the population to 33 percent in 1961, with nearly half the population under the age of 25.

The subsequent sharp decline in fertility, increased longevity and movement of the ‘baby boomers’ into working ages caused a major realignment of the age structure. The median age of the population rose by 8.3 years between 1976 and 2001, from 26.5 years to 34.8 years.

At the 2001 Census, there were 847,743 children under the age of 15, down from 928,205 in 1976. They made up 23 percent of the population (down from 30 percent in 1976). The 15-64 age group has risen considerably since 1976 (by more than half a million) to number 2,439,111 at the 2001 Census. However, the proportion of the male population in working ages has declined slightly since 1991, whereas the proportion of the female population in the working ages has continued to increase.

The greatest change in the age structure of the population is at the older ages. Since 1976, the number of people aged 65 and over has increased by more than one and-a-half times and the number aged 80 and over has more than doubled.

There are population sub-groups within New Zealand with remarkably different age structures.

Ethnic groups such as Māori and Pacific peoples have more youthful populations, commonly characteristic of developing nations. At the 2001 Census, they contained nearly twice the proportion of children under 15 years as their European or Asian counterparts. Nearly two-thirds of their populations were under 30 and their median ages were about 15 years lower than their European counterparts.

At the other end of the age scale, only about 4 percent of the Māori, Asian and Pacific peoples populations were aged 65 or more, compared with 14 percent for the European ethnic group, reflecting both different life expectancy and recent migration history.

Figure 5.12 shows birth and death rates since 1855.

Figure 5.11. Age-sex distributionTotal population at selected census years

Age-sex distributionTotal population at selected census years

Figure 5.12. Birth and death rates1,2Years ending 31 December

Birth and death rates1,2Years ending 31 December


  • 5.1-5.4 Statistics New Zealand.

Websites - Department of Internal Affairs - Ministry of Education - Statistics New Zealand

Chapter 6. Ministry of Social Development

‘A country where young people are vibrant and optimistic through being supported and encouraged to take up challenges.’ - Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa vision statement.

6.1 Social diversity


Ethnicity is a key variable in explaining differences in social characteristics, social well-being and social change. The population census has traditionally been the main source of national statistics on ethnicity in New Zealand, although prior to 1991 a biological or race-based measure was used. Since 1991, people have been asked to identify which ethnic group or groups they belong to, and multiple responses are counted.

The 2001 Census question differed from that used in the 1996 Census in two main ways: the wording of the question did not encourage multiple responses, and there were no tick-box categories for European ethnic groups, apart from New Zealand European.

As a result, data from the 1991 Census, which used a similar ethnicity question to 2001, is being used for comparison purposes.

Information presented in this chapter is based on the census usually resident population count. This is a count of all people who usually live in New Zealand and were present in New Zealand on the night of the census. It excludes visitors from overseas and New Zealand residents who were temporarily overseas on census night.

In 2001, nine out of 10 people living in New Zealand identified with one ethnic group only, but young people were far more likely to list multiple ethnicities. For example, one in five children under the age of five gave more than one ethnic response in 2001. This is a reflection of the increasing ethnic diversity of the New Zealand population.

As Table 6.01 on page 96 shows, 80 percent of people living in New Zealand in 2001 were European. However, compared with other major ethnic groups, there had been only a small increase in the European population since 1991.

The Māori population grew by 21 percent between 1991 and 2001, to comprise just under 15 percent of the population.

Other major ethnic groups made even more rapid gains, with the Asian population more than doubling in the same period to 6.6 percent of the total population.

For the first time in recent censuses, people of Asian ethnicity outnumbered Pacific peoples (6.5 percent of the population) in 2001.

Table 6.01. Ethnic groups of population (total responses)

Ethnic group (total people)1991 Census2001 CensusIntercensal percentage change 1991-2001
NumberPercentage of population12NumberPercentage of population12

1Includes response unidentifiable, response outside scope and not stated.

2Calculated in terms of specified cases only. – figure too small to be expressed

Note:The number of responses is greater than the total population, as multiple responses are counted

Source: Statistics New Zealand

Pacific peoples167,0705.0231,7986.538.7
Not elsewhere included28,113 150,546  
            Total New Zealand resident population3,373,926 3,737,277 10.8
Selected ethnic groups (total responses)     
New Zealand European2,618,44578.32,689,30875.02.7
Cook Island Maori37,2331.151,1411.437.4
South African2,0070.114,8890.4641.9
Sri Lanka2,4060.16,0420.2151.1

There were also large gains in the ‘other’ ethnic group, which includes African, Middle Eastern and South American ethnic groups. These increases largely reflect changes in migrant source countries and a move away from the more traditional source countries such as the United Kingdom. Ethnic groups such as Korean, Arab, Croatian, Iraqi and South African are examples of specific ethnic groups that made huge population gains in the past decade. Table 6.02 compares the age structure of the major ethnic groups in New Zealand.

Table 6.02. Comparison of age structure of major ethnic groups 2001 Census

Age group (in years)Proportion of population in age groups
EuropeanMāoriPacific peoplesAsianOther

Note:Figures may not add to stated totals due to rounding.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

0- 46.812.814.17.710.0
85 and over1.

Country of birth

The increasing diversity of New Zealand's population is reflected in changes in the country of birth of the population. In 2001, people who were born in New Zealand made up 80.5 percent of those people who usually live in New Zealand, down from 82.5 percent in 1996 (see Table 6.03).

Table 6.03. Country of birth of population

Country of birth1996 Census2001 CensusIntercensal percentage change 1996-2001
NumberPercentage of responses1NumberPercentage of responses1

1Calculated in terms of specified cases only. ... not applicable

Note:All totals randomly rounded to base 3.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

New Zealand2,848,20982.52,890,86980.51.5
Cook Islands