New Zealand Official Yearbook 2008

Te Pukapuka Houanga Whaimana o Aotearoa 2008

Statistics New Zealand

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The New Zealand Official Yearbook 2008 was produced by Statistics New Zealand, with the assistance of many individuals and the organisations listed in the ‘Contributors and related websites’ section at the end of each chapter. The department thanks them and the following:

Statistics New Zealand

Project editor Sarah Brazil

Senior editors Jan Schrader, Sarah Brazil

Editors Heather McLay, Désirée Patterson

Production editor Heather McLay

Illustrations editor and photographer Jarrad Mapp

Technical support Shirley Dixon


Graphics and typesetters Totem Communications Ltd

Cover Shelley Watson/Sublime Design

Indexer Jill Gallop


Statistics New Zealand has made every effort to obtain, analyse, and edit the information and statistics used in the New Zealand Official Yearbook 2008. 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.

Publication materials

This Yearbook is printed on 9lives satin paper, which is manufactured from 55 percent recycled fibre (made up of 30 percent pre-consumer and 25 percent post-consumer recycled fibre) and 45 percent virgin fibre from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, well managed forests, and is elemental chlorine free (ECF) bleached. The paper mill holds an FSC chain of custody certificate and is both ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 accredited. The ink used in this publication is 100 percent vegetable based, mineral oil free, and based on 100 percent renewable resources.

New Zealand Official Yearbook 2008
ISSN 0078-0170
ISBN 978-1-86953-717-3

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 2008.

Published in 2008 by David Bateman Ltd, 30 Tarndale Grove, Rosedale, North Shore City 0632, New Zealand.

Printed by PrintLink, Wellington, New Zealand.

Table of Contents

List of Figures


List of Tables


The New Zealand Official Yearbook has provided a comprehensive statistical picture of life in New Zealand for more than 100 years. The 106th edition celebrates and continues this tradition, providing a wide-ranging picture of New Zealand society in 2008, based on the latest information available.

Recent Yearbooks have carried a theme, and the 2008 edition has an environmental focus, with conserving the natural environment as the unifying theme throughout the Yearbook. This theme provides a common thread for many of the sidebar stories, which enhance the main content of the Yearbook by elaborating or highlighting significant related events, achievements, or trends.

This environmental focus is timely – 2008 is the United Nations' International Year of Planet Earth, and on 5 June 2008 New Zealand hosted World Environment Day, in partnership with the United Nations' Environment Programme.

There is growing public interest in the state of our natural environment and the importance of conservation issues generally. People, organisations, and governments are working individually and collectively to reduce our impact on the planet.

The 2008 Yearbook is printed on ‘9lives paper’, a Forest Stewardship Council certified paper, manufactured with a 55 percent recycled fibre content. The inks used in printing the Yearbook are vegetable-based.

Internationally there is a rising expectation for improved environmental statistics and reporting. In late 2007 the Ministry for the Environment released the second national state of the environment report Environment New Zealand 2007.

Statistics New Zealand has been an active contributor over the past two years to the Joint UNECE/OECD/Eurostat working group on Statistics for Sustainable Development. The working group's Report on Measuring Sustainable Development will provide a base for statistical reporting in this area in coming years. This framework will be used to update Statistics New Zealand's Monitoring Progress Towards a Sustainable New Zealand, to be published again in mid-2009.

On behalf of Statistics New Zealand, I thank the nearly 300 businesses, government departments, non-government organisations, academic institutions and individuals for their time, effort and goodwill in providing and updating contributions to the New Zealand Official Yearbook 2008. Their high level of cooperation with the Yearbook, along with the contributions from respondents to all our surveys, ensures the continuing high quality of New Zealand's official statistics.

Geoff Bascand
Government Statistician

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 flag's royal blue background represents the blue sea and clear sky surrounding New Zealand, 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. 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.

Te Hakituatahi o Aotearoa – 1835
The First Flag of New Zealand

The flag features, on a white field, a red St George's Cross. In the upper quarter next to the staff, on a blue field, a smaller St George's Cross is depicted in red, severed from the blue by a narrow border (fimbriation) of black half the width of the red, and, in the centre of each blue quarter, a white eight-pointed star. For a detailed history of Te Hakituatahi o Aotearoa, see chapter 3: Government.

The New Zealand coat of arms

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. Before then, 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.

The 1911 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’. The British lion holding aloft the Union Jack was replaced by St Edward's Crown, which was 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’.

The shield itself remained unchanged. The first quarter features four stars, representing the Southern Cross. The three ships in the centre of the shield symbolise the importance of New Zealand's sea trade. In the top right quarter, a fleece represents 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. Supporters on either side of the shield are a Māori chieftain holding a taiaha (Māori war weapon) and a European woman holding the New Zealand flag. Above the arms is the St Edward's Crown. The crown symbolises the fact that the Queen is Queen of New Zealand under the New Zealand Royal Titles Act 1953.

The New Zealand Coat of Arms is protected under the Flags, Emblems and Names Protection Act 1981. Use of the coat of arms is restricted to the government and may not be used by private individuals or organisations.

The Clutha River, in Central Otago, looking from Luggate toward Tarras.

Chapter 1. Geography

New Zealand's mountain chains have been built by the folding and displacement of the earth's crust along faults. This photo looks back towards the Southern Alps from the West Coast, over Omoeroa Bluff and the Omoeroa River mouth.

Physical features

New Zealand lies in the south-west Pacific Ocean and consists of 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 the size of the islands that make up New Zealand.

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 degrees to 53 degrees south latitude and from 160 degrees east to 173 degrees west longitude.

In addition to the main and nearby islands, New Zealand also includes the small outlying Chatham Islands (two of which are inhabited), 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 Zealand(1)

 Size (sq km)

(1) Includes all internal waterways (lakes and rivers).

(2) Includes 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 islands(2)346

New Zealand is more than 1,600 kilometres long, 450 kilometres across 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 and peaks in both the North and South Islands.

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 hydroelectric power, and artificial lakes have been created as part of major hydroelectric schemes.

New Zealand's artificial lakes created by the South Island's hydroelectric schemes are included in table 1.04, which lists the country's principal lakes.

Table 1.02. Principal mountains and peaks

Mountain or peakElevation (metres)Mountain or peakElevation (metres)

(1) Taranaki or Egmont was gazetted by the New Zealand Geographic Board in 1986 as the mountain's dual name.

(2) GNS Science photogrametrically confirmed the height of Aoraki/Cook as 3,754 metres after a slip from the peak in 1991.

Source: Land Information New Zealand

North Island
Ruapehu2,797Lendenfeld Peak3,194
Taranaki or Egmont(1)2,518Graham3,184
Ngāuruhoe2,287Torres Peak3,160
South IslandElie De Beaumont3,109
Aoraki/Cook(2)3,754La Perouse3,078
Tasman3,497Douglas Peak3,077
Malte Brun3,199Aspiring/Tititea3,033
Hicks (St Davids Dome)3,198Glacier Peak3,002

Table 1.03. Principal rivers(1)

North Island riversLength (km)South Island riversLength (km)

(1) More than 150 kilometres 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

Flowing into the Pacific OceanFlowing into Cook Strait
Mōhaka172Flowing into the Pacific Ocean
Flowing into the Tasman SeaClarence209
Whangaehu161Flowing into Foveaux Strait
  Flowing into the Tasman Sea

Table 1.04. Principal lakes(1)

 Maximum depth (metres)Area (sq km) Maximum depth (metres)Area (sq km)

(1) Greater than 20 square kilometres in area.

Symbol:.. not available.

Sources: NIWA (depths) and Land Information New Zealand (areas)

North Island
Taupō (Taupō Moana)163606Manapōuri444139
Waikaremoana24850Benmore (artificial)12075
   Brunner (Moana)10941
South IslandColeridge20037
Wakatipu380295Aviemore (artificial)6228
Wānaka311201Dunstan (artificial)7027
Ellesmere (Te Waihora)2197Rotoroa15224
Pukaki99172McKerrow/Whakatipu Waitai12123

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 and the Pacific plates runs through New Zealand, and processes from their collisions have had a profound effect on New Zealand's size, shape and geology.


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 the folding and displacement of the earth's crust along faults, or by the flexing of crustal plates, due to sediment loading and unloading. As a result of 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, with several of these causing major earthquakes in the last hundred years.

Coastal erosion is visible at Cape Turnagain in the Wairarapa. Erosion, enhanced by climate, has transformed the landscape, carving detailed patterns of peaks, ridges, valleys and gorges.

Erosion, enhanced by climate, has transformed the landscape, carving detailed patterns of peaks, ridges, valleys and gorges. Deposits of debris have built up to create alluvial plains, shingle fans and other constructed 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 the formation, and later the melting, of global glacial ice. These changes affected the erosion and the formation of rivers, and were responsible for the creation 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, Ngāuruhoe, 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 Taupō, 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.


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 earthquake activity is similar to that of California, but slightly lower than that of Japan. A shallow magnitude 8 earthquake occurs in New Zealand about once a century, a shallow magnitude 7 earthquake about once a decade, and a shallow magnitude 6 earthquake about once 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. These two plates are converging obliquely at different rates – about 30 millimetres a year in Fiordland, increasing to about 50 millimetres a year at East Cape in the North Island.

The plates converge in different ways. In the North Island and the northern South Island, the Pacific plate sinks below the Indo-Australian plate. Earthquakes originating within the subducting Pacific plate are less than 60 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 earthquake sources are shallow in the west and become deeper eastward.

Between these two subduction zones, the crust of both plates is too buoyant to subduct, so convergence is accommodated by uplift, which has created the Southern Alps, and horizontal movement along the Alpine Fault. This has resulted in parts of Nelson and western Otago, adjacent five million years ago, now being 450 kilometres apart.

Shallow earthquakes are the most numerous and 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 occur widely throughout New Zealand.

In the Taupō volcanic zone, from White Island to Ruapehu, swarms of small earthquakes of similar magnitude are common, and are associated with the area's active volcanism. Although the number of such shocks can be alarming, they rarely cause major damage.

Earthquake risk The worst disaster in New Zealand 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.

GNS Science runs national and regional earthquake and volcano monitoring networks. A major upgrade of monitoring equipment began in 2001 with the Earthquake Commission providing core funding over 10 years. The project, known as GeoNet, is being undertaken by GNS Science on a not-for-profit basis for the national good. GeoNet equipment at sites throughout New Zealand is linked to GNS Science data centres via satellite, 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. GeoNet information is made available to civil defence and emergency management authorities and international earthquake centres, and also underpins current and emerging research on geological hazards.

New Zealand scientists undertake a large body of research aimed at improving the 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.

The GeoNet website ( provides public access to information about hazards, including earthquake bulletins and volcano alerts. It also provides access to fundamental datasets, such as GPS Rinex files, earthquake hypocentres and instrument waveform data. This data is freely available to the research community.

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

Volcanism in New Zealand 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 Taupō 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), that 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 Taupō and Rotorua. Eruptions at these volcanoes are occasionally so large that the ground surface collapses into the ‘hole’ left behind. For example, Lake Taupō infills a caldera formed in two episodes about 1,800 and 26,000 years ago.

The Taupō Volcanic Zone contains four frequently active cone volcanoes (Ruapehu, Tongariro, Ngāuruhoe and White Island) and two of the most productive caldera volcanoes (Taupō and Ōkataina) in the world.

Casualties Deaths due directly or indirectly to volcanic activity (and associated hydrothermal explosions) represent the biggest single source of fatalities from natural disasters in New Zealand since 1846.

Table 1.05 lists deaths in volcanic areas of 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.

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 volcanic activity.

Table 1.05. Deaths in volcanic areas since 1846(1)

YearLocation (eruption)Cause/hazardFatalities

(1) Information about death in volcanic areas before 1846 is not available.

(2) Estimate.

(3) Explosion caused by the heating and expansion of underground water.

Source: GNS Science

1846Waihi (Lake Taupō)Debris avalanche/mudflow from thermal area60(2)
1886Tarawera RiftLarge volcanic eruption108
1903Waimangu (Tarawera)Hydrothermal explosion4
1910Waihi (Lake Taupō)Debris avalanche/mudflow from thermal area1
1914White IslandDebris avalanche from crater wall11
1917Waimangu (Tarawera)Hydrothermal explosion2
1953Tangiwai (Ruapehu)Lahar and flood from crater lake151
2006Raoul IslandPhreatic explosion(3)1
 Total 338

Surveillance All the active volcanoes in New Zealand are monitored as part of the GeoNet project funded by the Earthquake Commission. This provides a near real-time understanding of volcanoes.

Volcanologists use three primary techniques to establish the status 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 Taupō). The Auckland and Taranaki networks are operated by regional councils.

  • 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. Most of this work is done using continuous GPS installations on the volcanoes. The lakes at Taupō and Tarawera are also used as giant spirit levels to detect height changes.

  • 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 recognition of the onset of a crisis.

This recognition 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 normal levels of activity.

The GeoNet active volcano surveillance programme helps define these background levels.


Summaries of New Zealand's climate extremes compiled by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd (NIWA) contain detailed descriptions of the most extreme weather events recorded in the country.

The maps in Figure 1.01 (page 9) show mean annual figures 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 climate of New Zealand is largely influenced by:

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

  • its surrounding ocean 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, the Southern Alps, 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.

As part of a Global Day of Action on climate change, the ‘Be The Change’ campaign hosted a Climate Rescue Carnival, which involved over 350 of those who visited the carnival spelling out “Climate SOS” at Western Park in Auckland on 8 December 2007.

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, occasionally causing damage to buildings and forests, and rain, 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

The Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007 concluded that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal”. Evidence includes increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and a rising global mean sea level. The 2007 report said it is “very likely” (more than 90 percent likely) that most of the global warming since the mid-20th century is due to rising greenhouse gas concentrations from human activities. This is a stronger conclusion than in 2001 when the IPCC used the word “ikely” (more than 66 percent likely).

The Fourth Assessment Report predicted increases in global mean temperatures in the period 1990–2100 of between 1.1 and 6.4 degrees Celsius, and global mean sea level increases of between 18 and 59 centimetres. It said that even if greenhouse gas emissions cease entirely, the global average temperature will rise by another 0.6 degrees Celsius. Projected sea level changes do not include the effects of rapid dynamic changes in ice sheet flow from Greenland and Antarctica.

The report said changes could also be expected in some extreme weather and climate events, including “very likely” increases in the frequency of hot extremes, heatwaves, and heavy rainfall. What the warming climate will mean in detail for New Zealand and the South Pacific is still the subject of investigation by scientific researchers.

The report found that the most vulnerable sectors for New Zealand are natural ecosystems, water security, and coastal communities. The main impacts are:

  • 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. Annual 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. By 2050, there is very likely to be increasing loss of high-value land, faster road deterioration, degrading of beaches, and loss of landmarks of cultural significance.

  • Primary production Up to about 2050, enhanced growing conditions from higher carbon dioxide concentrations, longer growing seasons and less frost risk are likely to benefit agriculture, horticulture, and forestry over much of New Zealand, provided adequate water is available. But by 2050, agriculture and forestry production is likely to be reduced over parts of eastern New Zealand due to increased drought and fire. The range and incidence of many pests and diseases are likely to increase, and areas suitable for particular crops are projected to change.

    Figure 1.01.

  • Native ecosystems The structure, function, and species composition of many natural ecosystems are very likely to change. The impacts of climate change are likely to be significant by 2020, and are virtually certain to exacerbate existing stresses such as invasive species and habitat loss. The projected rate of climate change is very likely to exceed the rate of evolutionary adaptation in many species. The IPCC identified alpine zones in the Southern Alps as a ‘hotspot’ where vulnerability to climate change (eg loss of plant and animal species, glacier shrinkage, reduced snow cover) is likely to be high by 2050.

  • 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 would substantially reduce home heating costs, leading to reduced electricity demand during the peak winter season, but possibly increased demand for air conditioning during summer. Wetter conditions on the West Coast could eventually increase hydroelectricity production in winter.

  • Health Higher temperatures are expected to reduce winter illnesses and lead to higher death rates during summer. Warmer temperatures and increased rainfall variability are likely to increase the intensity and frequency of summertime food-borne and water-borne diseases.

The year's weather in 2007

New Zealand's weather for 2007 was marked by too much rain in many places, and record low rainfalls in some locations.

Rainfall during the year was less than 60 percent of average rainfall in parts of Marlborough, Canterbury and Central Ōtago, with some places experiencing their driest year on record. Parts of the south and east, Bay of Plenty and Wellington had one of their sunniest years on record too.

Table 1.06. Projected changes in annual mean temperature and precipitation(1)
Between 1980–1999 and 2080–2099

RegionTemperature (°C)Precipitation (%)

(1) Projected changes encompass the range of results from 12 global climate models for six greenhouse gas emission scenarios.

Source: NIWA

Northland, Auckland+0.6-+5.9-28-+9
Western North Island from Waikato to Wellington+0.6-+5.6-11-+15
Eastern North Island from Bay of Plenty to Wairarapa+0.6-+5.5-22-+11
Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury plains+0.6-+5.1-14-+16
Canterbury foothills, West Coast, Otago, Southland+0.7-+5.0-12-+34

There were numerous heavy rainfall events during 2007, nine of which produced floods. Here, a tractor is rescuing equipment from storm water at Maraekākaho, near Hastings in July 2007.

Table 1.07. Summary of New Zealand climate extremes
At 31 December 2007

Source: NIWA
PeriodAmount (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 1997–1998
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 (°C)LocationDate
Highest air temperature
North Island39.2Ruatōria7 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 Tekapō4 August 1938
Highest in one year
North Island2,588Napier1994
South Island2,711Nelson1931
Highest in one month
North Island335TaupōJanuary 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)LocationDate
North Island248Hawkins Hill, Wellington6 November 1959 and 4 July 1962
South Island250Mt John, Canterbury18 April 1970

The national average temperature of 12.7 degrees Celsius during 2007 was close to normal. This was a result of some warm months being offset by some cooler months. For New Zealand as a whole, there were five warmer than normal months (March, May, July, August and December), and five cooler than normal months (January, April, June, October and November). All other months had mean temperatures close to the climatological average. May had a mean temperature of 12.4 degrees Celsius (1.7 degrees above normal) and was the warmest nationally since reliable records began in the 1860s.

In 2007 there was a swing from an El Niño to a La Niña climate pattern. The start of the year was dominated by a weakening El Niño in the equatorial Pacific. From September onwards La Niña conditions had developed in the tropical Pacific, with a noticeable increase in the frequency and strength of westerlies over New Zealand in October, and then a significant drop in windiness from November. Moderate to strong La Niña conditions had developed by the end of the year. Overall more anticyclones (highs) occurred over New Zealand.

Notable weather features in various parts of the country were: disastrous floods in Northland; drought conditions in the east of the North Island (with the exception of one storm that caused major flooding in Hawke's Bay on 17–18 July); an unprecedented swarm of tornadoes in Taranaki; destructive windstorms in Northland and in eastern New Zealand in October; and hot spells.

There were numerous heavy rainfall events during 2007, nine of which produced floods. Notable snowfall events occurred on relatively few occasions. There were 14 damaging tornado events for New Zealand during the year. Other features were early autumn and late spring hot spells, two severe hailstorms, and seven damaging electrical storms.

Wildlife and vegetation

The islands of New Zealand separated from their nearest neighbours more than 80 million years ago. They stretch across 24 degrees of latitude from the subtropical to the subantarctic, making New Zealand a slender archipelago with an extraordinary natural heritage, born from its biological and geological isolation.

Some of the original inhabitants endured times of turbulent change and violent upheaval, evolving and adapting to become part of a unique natural biota (animal and plant life of a 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 mainly 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 environment 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 three metres 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 estuaries and mud-flats, to rocky cliffs and boulder banks.

The ocean is marvellously rich. There are well over 1,200 different species of fish in the waters around New Zealand, and as many as 15 more are discovered every year as a result of research in previously unsampled areas. There are also 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 (for birds) or browsers (for plants).This specialisation, and 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.

Toroa – Māori for albatross – was the sooth royal albatross chick to hatch at Taiaroa Head/Pukekura on the Otago Peninsula, the only mainland breeding colony of albatross in the southern hemisphere. He hatched on 26 January 2007 and is the first chick to be formally named by the Minister of Conservation.

Introduced vegetation and wildlife

The arrival of people in New Zealand heralded times of rapid change.

Introduction of exotic plants and animals (intentionally or accidentally) and 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.

Time zone

One uniform time is kept throughout mainland New Zealand. This time is 12 hours ahead of Co-ordinated Universal Time and is called New Zealand Standard Time. It is an atomic standard maintained by the Measurement Standards Laboratory (MSL), part of Industrial Research Ltd, Lower Hutt.

In November 1868, New Zealand became one of the first countries in the world to adopt standard time – 11.5 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. In 1941, as a wartime measure, clocks were advanced half an hour and this was made permanent in 1945 by the Standard Time Act, which set time at 12 hours ahead of GMT or Universal Time. A new time scale based on the readings of atomic clocks, known as Co-ordinated Universal Time (UTC), was adopted internationally in 1972.

New Zealand Standard Time (NZST) is currently defined in the Time Act 1974 as meaning 12 hours in advance of UTC, with the time for the Chatham Islands set 45 minutes in advance of NZST.

One hour of daylight saving, called New Zealand Daylight Time (NZDT), which is 13 hours ahead of UTC, is observed during the summer months. Chatham Islands time is always 45 minutes ahead of that kept in New Zealand.

Contributors and related websites

Department of Conservation –

Department of Internal Affairs –

GNS Science –

Industrial Research Ltd –

Land Information New Zealand –

Metservice –

New Zealand Speleological Society –


Chapter 2. History

Pai Māirire (Hauhau) supporters determine the fate of their prisoners through karakia (prayer). Formed in 1862, this first organised expression of Māori Christianity, founded on the principle of pai mārire (goodness and peace), grew from conflict over land in Taranaki. Painting by Herbert Meade, 1865.

A brief history of New Zealand

Discovery and migration

New Zealand has a shorter human history than any other country. The precise date of settlement is a matter of debate, but current understanding is that the first arrivals came from East Polynesia in the 13th century. It was not until 1642 that Europeans became aware the country existed.

The original Polynesian settlers discovered the country on deliberate voyages of exploration, navigating by ocean currents, winds and stars. The navigator credited in some traditions with discovering New Zealand is Kupe. Some time later, the first small groups arrived from Polynesia. Now known as Māori, these tribes did not identify themselves by a collective name until the arrival of Europeans when, to mark their distinction, the name Māori, meaning ‘ordinary’, came into use.

The early settlers lived in small hunting bands. Seals and the large flightless moa bird were their main prey, until moa were hunted to extinction.

In the South Island, hunting and gathering remained the main mode of survival, but the kūmara (sweet potato) and yams the Polynesians brought with them grew well in the warmer North Island. Extensive kūmara gardens supported relatively large settlements. But even in the north, birds, fish and shellfish were important in the Māori diet. In some northern areas, larger populations put pressure on resources. The Polynesian dog and rat came with the early arrivals, but the domestic pigs and chickens of the islands did not, for reasons not fully understood.

In favourable conditions, Māori lived reasonably well. Their life expectancy was low by modern standards, but probably comparable with that of Europeans in the same era. The Māori population before European contact may have reached 100,000.

Māori passed on rich and detailed history and legends orally. Society was organised around groups that traced their descent from common ancestors. Reciting whakapapa (genealogies) was an important way to communicate knowledge. The concepts of mana (status) and utu (reciprocity) were central to the culture, and led to widespread warfare. But the violence was usually episodic. For most of the time, Māori lived not in fortified pa, but in unprotected settlements or seasonal camps.

The greatest achievements of Māori material culture were carving wood for important buildings and canoes, and fashioning stone into tools and ornaments. Warfare did not inhibit regular trade in desirable stones and foods, and was itself a means by which resources were appropriated.

An engraving by Frederik Ottens, from drawings made by Isaac Gilsemans on Tasman's voyage to New Zealand in December 1642. Abel Tasman's ships the Zeehaen and the Heemskerck are close to Three Kings Islands, with two Māori men against the skyline.

European discovery

In 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman made the first confirmed European discovery of New Zealand. He charted the country's west coast from about Hokitika up to Cape Maria van Diemen. Subsequently, a Dutch map maker gave the name Nieuw Zeeland to the land Tasman had discovered. A surprisingly long time (127 years) passed before another European reached New Zealand.

James Cook visited New Zealand in 1769, on the first of three voyages. He circumnavigated and mapped both main islands and returned to Britain with reports about the country's inhabitants and resources.

For 50 years after Sydney was founded in 1788, New Zealand was an economic and cultural outpost of New South Wales, and most of the earliest European settlers came from Sydney. In the late 18th century, sealers and whalers began visiting, and by the early 19th century some began to settle, some to farm. During these years, New Zealand was part of a Pacific-wide trade system and New Zealand goods were sold in China.

The first European ‘town’ grew at Kororāreka when whalers began calling into the Bay of Islands for food and water. From the 1790s, Māori produced pork and potatoes for this trade. The other main area of early interaction between Māori and others was the Foveaux Strait sealing grounds. The presence of traders drew Māori to particular locations. Having a European living among them gave some tribal groups an advantage in the race to acquire European goods, especially firearms.

A Sydney chaplain, Samuel Marsden, founded the first Christian mission station in the Bay of Islands in 1814. By 1840, more than 20 stations had been established. From missionaries, Māori learnt not just about Christianity, but also about European farming techniques and trades, and how to read and write. The missionaries also transcribed the Māori language into written form. In the 1830s, French missionaries brought Catholicism to Māori.

Christianity would become important for Māori, but they were slow to convert. Muskets, traded for flax and potatoes, had a greater impact in the 1820s and 1830s than religion, and escalated killings in tribal conflicts. The Ngā Puhi tribe, led by Hongi Hika, devastated southerly tribes, and Ngāti Toa, under Te Rauparaha, attacked Ngai Tahu in the South Island. But diseases introduced by Europeans caused more fatalities than firearms did.

British sovereignty

In the 1830s, the British Government came under increasing pressure to curb lawlessness in New Zealand to protect British traders, and to forestall the French, who also had imperial ambitions. The missionaries, for their part, wanted to protect Māori from the effects of European settlement.

In 1833, James Busby was sent to the Bay of Islands as British Resident. At Busby's instigation, northern chiefs adopted a flag in 1834 and signed a declaration of independence in 1835. Seven years after Busby's arrival, at Waitangi on 6 February 1840, William Hobson, New Zealand's first governor, invited assembled Māori chiefs to sign a treaty with the British Crown. The treaty was taken all round the country, as far south as Foveaux Strait, for signing by local chiefs, and eventually more than 500 signed.

Under the treaty, Māori ceded powers of government to Britain in return for the rights of British subjects and guaranteed possession of their lands and other ‘treasures’. In later years, differences of interpretation between the English and Māori texts complicated efforts to redress breaches of the treaty.

British sovereignty was proclaimed over New Zealand on the basis of Māori consent, though the South Island was initially claimed on the basis of discovery.

In the 19th century, the British and the French were rivals in the Pacific. The French had only minor interests in New Zealand, but the myth persists that the South Island escaped being French only because in the scramble to colonise Akaroa the British got there first. By the time the French settlers and their naval escort reached New Zealand, the whole country was securely British. Governor Hobson, learning the French were heading for Akaroa, did send Captain Stanley of the Britomart to demonstrate British sovereignty. However, there was never any chance Cook Strait would become, like the English Channel, a passage between English and French-speaking regions.

Even before the Treaty of Waitangi had been signed, the New Zealand Company, inspired by the colonial promoter Edward Gibbon Wakefield, had despatched British settlers to Wellington. In the next two years, the company also founded Wanganui, Nelson and New Plymouth. Otago was founded in 1848 and Canterbury in 1850, both by New Zealand Company affiliates. Auckland, capital of the new Crown colony, grew independently.

By the 1850s, most of the interior of the North Island had been explored by Europeans. Māori guides usually showed European explorers the way and New Zealand's first Anglican bishop, George Selwyn, travelled widely. Much of the mountainous interior of the South Island was not explored until gold miners arrived in the 1860s.

When British settlers sought self-government, the British Parliament passed the New Zealand Constitution Act of 1852, setting up a central government with an elected House of Representatives and six provincial governments. The settlers soon won the right to responsible government (with an executive supported by a majority in the elected assembly). But the governor, and through him the Colonial Office in London, retained control of ‘native’ policy.

War, expansion, depression

In the 1840s, there were clashes between Māori and Pākehā (Europeans). In Marlborough's Wairau Valley in 1843, a dispute over land erupted, leading to bloodshed. The war in the north (1845–46) began when Hone Heke cut down the flagpole flying the British flag at Russell. There were also troubles in the 1840s over land in Wellington and Wanganui. In the 1850s, disputes between Māori over the sale of land to Europeans kept Taranaki in ferment.

Until the late 1850s, the government managed to purchase enough land to meet settler demands. But many Māori became increasingly reluctant to sell their land, which tribes owned collectively. The Māori King movement, under the leadership of Wiremu Tamihana, grew in part out of Māori resistance to land sales. Potatau Te Wherowhero was elected the first Māori King in 1858. The flashpoint was Taranaki. The refusal of Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitake to sell land at Waitara led to war in 1860. The efforts of Māori to retain their land were depicted by the settlers as a challenge to British sovereignty.

Māori resistance was effectively crushed after Governor George Grey took war to the Waikato in 1863–64. Two chiefs, Te Kooti and Titokowaru, prolonged war through the 1860s, but by 1872 the wars over land had ended. Large areas of land were confiscated from ‘rebellious’ tribes. A Native Land Court gave land titles to individual Māori, to facilitate sales to Pākehā.

After the wars, many Māori drew back from contact with European settlers. Most lived in isolated rural communities. Māori land continued to pass into Pākehā hands, usually by sale through the Native Land Court. In the 1870s, the village of Parihaka became the centre of a peaceful protest, led by the prophet Te Whiti-o-Rongomai, against occupation of confiscated land in Taranaki. In 1881, government forces invaded Parihaka in an attempt to crush this resistance.

While progress in the North Island was held back by war, the South Island forged ahead on the proceeds of wool and gold. Sheep were turned loose on South Island grasslands, and after gold had been discovered in Otago in 1861, and then on the West Coast, settlers flooded in. Six years later, the discovery of gold at Thames boosted the town of Auckland. Wool ensured that Canterbury became the wealthiest province, and gold made Dunedin the largest town.

Towards the end of the 1860s, gold production fell and wool prices slipped. A new boost to growth came in 1870 when Colonial Treasurer Julius Vogel proposed a loans-funded programme of public works, including the building of railways, and assisted immigration.

The population increased dramatically. The 1871 Census (non-Māori) recorded a total of about 250,000; 10 years later this had grown to half a million. Vogel's policies, like those of Wakefield before him, were based on a belief that New Zealand would grow only if people and capital could be attracted. This stimulated a sense of a single nation rather than separate settlements, and led to the abolition of the provinces in 1876.

The aftermath of Vogel's borrowing was an economic depression that lasted into the 1890s. Despite a brief boom in wheat, prices for farm products sagged and the market for land became depressed. Hard times led to urban unemployment and sweated labour in industry. The country lost people through emigration, mostly to Australia.

Scarcely had depression gripped the country than future prosperity was anticipated with the first successful shipment of frozen meat to England in 1882. Exporting meat (frozen) and butter and cheese (chilled) became possible. After dealing with initial setbacks in refrigerated shipping, New Zealand became a British farm. With an economy based on agriculture, the landscape was transformed from forest to farmland.

Liberal to Labour

The watershed election of 1890 put the Liberals, New Zealand's first ‘modern’ political party, into power. From 1893 to 1906, the government was headed by ‘King Dick’ Seddon. The Liberals cemented in place New Zealand's ‘family farm’ economy by subdividing large estates, buying Māori land in the North Island, and offering advances to settlers. Buoyant markets for New Zealand's farm products ensured the success of these policies. The Minister of Lands, John McKenzie, championed the family farm. Farming progressed, especially in the north, and by 1901, more than half the European population was living north of Cook Strait for the first time since the 1850s.

The Liberal Government reinforced an established pattern of State involvement in the economy and regulation of society. Its old-age pensions and workers' dwellings anticipated the welfare state. In 1893, after campaigns led by women like suffragist Kate Sheppard, New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the vote.

Frozen meat exports to Britain started in 1882, from Dunedin. These labels are from tinned meat, exported from Wellington's Gear Meat Company, 1890–1920.

Wellington's Oriental Bay around 1922.

New Zealand's close economic ties with Britain reinforced the loyalty of New Zealanders to an empire that secured their place in the world. The loyalty found expression in the despatch of troops to fight for Britain in South Africa in 1899. A self-confident nationalism was also evident, and New Zealand declined to join the Australian Federation of 1901.

Liberal rule ended in 1912, when William Massey led the Reform Party to power, promising State leaseholders they could freehold their land.

When World War I broke out, New Zealand rallied to England's aid. Thousands of New Zealanders served, and died, overseas. The 1915 landing at Gallipoli in Turkey was a coming of age for the country and established the potent tradition of ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) – a pride in New Zealand's military achievement and its special relationship with Australia. New Zealand troops also fought and died on the Western Front.

After some prosperous years in the later 1920s, the worldwide Great Depression hit New Zealand hard. Export prices collapsed. Farmers faced difficulties over their mortgages and urban unemployment soared. Discontent erupted in riots. A coalition government, dominated by Gordon Coates, failed to lift the country out of depression.

Organised labour flexed its muscle in the 1890 maritime strike, and in the Waihi and watersider strikes of 1912–13. Setbacks on the industrial front turned the labour movement towards political action. The Labour Party, founded in 1916, made uneven gains through the 1920s, then was swept into power under Michael Joseph Savage in 1935 by an electorate disillusioned with how the conservative coalition government had handled the depression. When Savage died in 1940, Peter Fraser became prime minister.

In power, the Labour Party, aided by an economic recovery already underway when it was elected, revived the economy further by pragmatic rather than doctrinaire socialist policies. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand was taken over by the State in 1936, spending on public works increased and a State housing programme began. The Social Security Act 1938 dramatically extended the welfare state.

With the outbreak of World War II, New Zealand troops again fought overseas in support of the United Kingdom. The fall of Singapore shook New Zealanders' confidence that Britain could guarantee the country's security. During the war in the Pacific, the United States protected New Zealand against Japan. Labour remained in power through World War II and in 1945, Peter Fraser played a significant role in the conference that set up the United Nations. But the party had lost the reforming zeal of the previous decade and its electoral support ebbed after the war.

In the early 1950s, New Zealand troops fought in Korea. Later, in the 1960s, concern to keep on side with this new protector prompted the National Government of Keith Holyoake to send troops to Viet Nam, despite popular protests.

The later 20th century

After Labour lost power in 1949, the conservative National Party ruled the country until 1984, interrupted by two single-term Labour governments, in 1957–60 and 1972–75. National Party Prime Minister Sidney Holland used the bitter 1951 waterfront strike to consolidate his power by calling a snap election.

Crowds line Wellington's Lambton Quay to welcome the crew of HMS Achilles in 1940.

New immigrants, still mainly British, flooded in while New Zealand remained prosperous by exporting farm products to Britain. The country's culture remained based on Britain's. In 1953, New Zealanders took pride that countryman Edmund Hillary gave Queen Elizabeth II a coronation gift by reaching the summit of Mt Everest.

Britain joined the European Economic Community in 1973. New Zealand had already diversified its export trade, but the loss of an assured market for farm products was a blow.

The first oil shock of 1973 contributed to the fall of the Labour Government in 1975, led by Norman Kirk until his death. After the second oil shock of 1978, the National Government of Robert Muldoon tried to keep New Zealand prosperous by so-called ‘think big’ industrial and energy projects, and farm subsidies. The economy faltered as the fall of oil prices in the early 1980s made these schemes unsound. Inflation and unemployment mounted.

The fourth Labour Government was elected in 1984. The Minister of Finance, Roger Douglas, was an ardent advocate of economic liberalisation. He removed most controls over the economy, privatised many State enterprises and called aspects of the welfare state into question. Many saw these measures as an assault on New Zealand's egalitarian traditions. In foreign affairs, Labour's anti-nuclear policy ruptured relations with the United States.

The National Government of 1990–99 pursued similar policies to Labour's, passing the controversial Employment Contracts Act, which opened up the labour market and diminished the power of trade unions. The Government also mounted a more sustained attack on the welfare state, most obviously by cutting benefits.

From 1996, under a new voting system (mixed member proportional representation), minority or coalition governments became the norm but National and Labour remained the major parties.

Māori in the 20th century

Most Māori continued to live in remote rural communities until World War II. But Māori society was dynamic. The Kotahitanga movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was evidence of Māori resilience. So were the land development work of Apirana Ngata and the revitalisation of the Māori King movement by Te Puea Herangi. In the early 1920s, Wiremu Ratana founded the Ratana Church.

Post-World War II Māori migration into the cities, together with Māori anger at their economic deprivation and concern about loss of mana (status) and continuing loss of land, pushed race relations and the place of the Treaty of Waitangi into the forefront of national life.

For many, sporting contacts with apartheid South Africa became a touchstone of race relations. During the 1981 Springbok rugby tour, New Zealand experienced divisive unrest. After the tour, attention turned to domestic race relations and to the need for New Zealanders to have a better understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Māori became more assertive. Some, alleging breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi, wished to reclaim Māori sovereignty. The Waitangi Tribunal was set up in 1975 to consider their claims and to address grievances. In 1985, the tribunal was empowered to look at breaches of the treaty since 1840, rather than since 1975.

A Māori cultural renaissance, including efforts to foster the Māori language in the early 1980s, increased awareness that New Zealand society was bicultural. At the same time, more immigrants were arriving. Almost before it had been properly acknowledged that New Zealand was bicultural, it became multicultural – first in the composition of its population, more slowly in how it ran its national life. The country's new Pacific island and Asian citizens were testament to the fact that it was no longer, culturally or economically, the offshore island of Europe it had seemed to earlier generations.

Cartoonist Nevile Lodge's comment on the Government's introduction of stickers for carless days in 1979 after significant oil price increases.

Chronology of New Zealand events

c1300Archaeological evidence indicates Polynesian settlement of New Zealand 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 (European) 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.
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 settlement.
1840Treaty of Waitangi signed at Bay of Islands and later around 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 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 Pōtatau I.
1859First session of new Hawke's Bay and Marlborough provincial councils. Gold discovered in Buller River.

An ink drawing by William Fox showing Port Lyttelton with Canterbury's first four ships, and emigrants landing from the Cressy, December 1850.

Two men outside the chicken coop they took shelter in during the 1886 eruption of Mt Tarawera.

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.
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. Julius Vogel's public works and immigration policy begins. New Zealand University Act passed, establishing a federal system that 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 to 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 SS 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 Queen Victoria 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. The first New Zealand-built locomotive completed at Addington.
1890Maritime strike involves 8,000 unionists. ‘Sweating’ commission on employment conditions reports. 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.
1893Right to vote extended to women. Richard John Seddon succeeds Ballance. Liquor licensing poll introduced. Elizabeth Yates becomes New Zealand's first woman mayor, of Onehunga. Banknotes become legal tender.
1894Compulsory arbitration of industrial disputes and reform of employment laws. Advances to Settlers Act. Clark, Fyfe and Graham are the first 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 sets 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 becomes first Reform Party prime minister. Waihi miners strike. Malcolm Champion New Zealand's first Olympic gold medallist (as a member of the Australasian 200 metre 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 (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. Katherine Mansfield dies.
1926National public broadcasting begins under auspices of Radio Broadcasting Co Ltd.
1928United Party wins general election. Kingsford-Smith completes first trans-Tasman flight.
1929Depression deepens. Earthquake in Murchison-Karamea district, 15 people die. First health stamps issued.
1930Unemployment Board set up to provide relief work.
1931Newly formed coalition 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 of New Zealand 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 reduces from 44 to 40 hours for many workers.
1937Federation of Labour unifies trade union movement. Royal New Zealand Air Force 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; Māori 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.
1940Savage dies and is succeeded by Peter Fraser. Sidney Holland becomes leader of opposition. Conscription for military service. German mines laid across Hauraki Gulf.
1941Japan enters the war. Māori War Effort Organisation set up. Pharmaceutical and general practitioner medical benefits introduced.
1942Economic stabilisation. New Zealand troops in Battle of El Alamein. Food rationing introduced. Women mobilise 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 8 May; in the Pacific on 15 August. New Zealand signs United Nations charter. Māori Social and Economic Advancement Act passed. National Airways Corporation founded.
1946Family benefit of £1 a week becomes universal. Bank of New Zealand nationalised.
1947Statute of Westminster adopted by New Zealand Parliament. First public performance by National Orchestra. Mabel Howard the first woman cabinet minister. Fire in Ballantyne's department store, Christchurch, 41 die.
1948Protest campaign against exclusion of Māori players from 1949 rugby tour of South Africa. Polio epidemic closes schools. Mts Ruapehu and Ngāuruhoe erupt. Meat rationing ends.
1949Referendum supports 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 in Auckland.
1951Prolonged waterfront dispute – state of emergency proclaimed. ANZUS Treaty signed by United States, Australia and New Zealand. Māori 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 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.

Auckland Harbour Bridge under construction in 1958. The bridge opened in 1959.

1955Pulp and paper mill opens at Kawerau. Rimutaka rail tunnel opens.
1956New Zealand troops deployed in Malaya.
1957Walter Nash leads second Labour Government. Last hanging. Scott Base established in Antarctica. Court of Appeal constituted. Dairy products gain 10 years unrestricted access to Britain. Compulsory military training abolished.
1958‘Pay as you earn’ tax introduced. Arnold Nordmeyer's ‘Black Budget’. First geothermal electricity generated at Wairakei.
1959Antarctic Treaty signed with other countries involved in Antarctic scientific exploration. Auckland's harbour bridge opens.
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 support United States troops in Viet Nam amid public protests. Self-government for Cook Islands.
1966International airport officially opens at Auckland. Te Atairangikaahu 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 Wellington Harbour, 51 die. Inangahua earthquake, three die.
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. Nga Tamatoa protest at Waitangi celebrations. Tiwai Point aluminium smelter begins operating. Warkworth satellite communications station opens.
1972Labour Government led by Norman Kirk elected. Equal Pay Act passed.
1973Great Britain becomes member of European Economic Community (EEC). Naval frigate protests against French nuclear testing in Pacific. New Zealand's population is 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.
1975National wins election; Robert Muldoon becomes prime minister. Māori march against land loss. Waitangi Tribunal established.
1976Matrimonial Property Act passed. Pacific island overstayers deported. EEC quotas for New Zealand butter set until 1980. Metric system of weights and measures introduced. Subscriber toll dialling begins.
1977New Zealand's 200-mile exclusive economic zone established. Bastion Point occupied by Māori land protesters.
1978National Government re-elected.
1979Air New Zealand plane crashes on Mt Erebus, Antarctica, 257 die. Car-less days introduced to reduce petrol use.
1980Saturday trading partly 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. Wage, price and rent freeze imposed – lasts until 1 984.
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 means visit by American warship USS Buchanan refused. Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior bombed 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 back to 1840.
1986Homosexual Law Reform Bill passed. Royal Commission favours MMP electoral system. Soviet cruise ship, the Mikhail Lermontov, sinks in Marlborough Sounds. Goods and services tax (GST) introduced. First visit to New Zealand by a pope.
1987Share prices plummet 59 percent in four months. Labour wins general election. Māori Language Act makes 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.
1988More than 100,000 unemployed. Bastion Point land returns 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; Geoffrey Palmer becomes prime minister. Reserve Bank Act sets bank's role to maintain price stability. 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. National Party has landslide victory; Jim Bolger becomes prime minister. One and two cent coins withdrawn. Commonwealth Games in Auckland. Telecom sold for $4.25 billion. Welfare payments cut.
1991Welfare payments cut further. Alliance Party formed. Employment Contracts Act passed. Number of unemployed exceeds 200,000. New Zealand troops join multi-national force in Gulf War. Avalanche reduces Aoraki/Mt Cook's height by 10.5 metres.
1992Government and Māori negotiate Sealord fisheries deal. Public health system reformed. State housing commercialised. New Zealand has 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, giving National a majority. Referendum favours MMP electoral system.
1994Government commits 250 soldiers to peacekeeping 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 across Cook Strait.
1995Team New Zealand wins yachting's America's Cup. Occupation of Moutua Gardens, Wanganui. Renewed French nuclear testing results in New Zealand protest flotilla and navy ship Tui sailing for Mururoa Atoll. Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Auckland. New Zealand soldiers return from Bosnia.
1996First MMP election brings National/New Zealand First coalition government. First legal sports betting through Totalisator Agency Board.
1997Government signs $170 million settlement with Ngai Tahu. Prime Minister Bolger resigns after National Party coup while he is overseas; replaced by New Zealand's first woman prime minister, Jenny Shipley.
1998Auckland city businesses hit by month-long power cut. New Zealand women's rugby team, the Black Ferns, become world champions. Coalition government dissolved; National becomes minority government.
1999New Zealand sends peacekeepers to East Timor. Auckland hosts APEC world leaders' conference. Former prime minister Mike Moore becomes World Trade Organisation head. Labour forms government in coalition with Alliance party and with support of the Greens, who enter Parliament for the first time with seven seats. Legal drinking age lowered – from 20 to 18 years.

Protesters against the 1981 Springbok rugby tour clash with supporters outside Eden Park in Auckland.

2000Air New Zealand gains ownership of Ansett Australia. Team New Zealand beats Italy's Prada 5–0 to retain the America's Cup. Labour Government abolishes knighthoods. Dr Alan MacDiarmid wins Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his part in the discovery and development of conductive polymers.
2001New Zealand's largest company, Fonterra, forms from New Zealand Dairy Group and Kiwi Dairies. Qantas New Zealand and Ansett collapse. Government injects $550 million to keep Air New Zealand flying following a $1.4 billion loss – the largest in New Zealand's corporate history. Government disbands RNZAF combat wing. Bill English becomes leader of the National Party. Yachtsman Sir Peter Blake murdered by pirates on the Amazon.
2002Labour wins election; forms coalition government with Progressive Coalition, and 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. 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 Coutts, previously of Team New Zealand. Population reaches 4 million. National elects Don Brash as leader.
2004The Return of the King film wins 11 Oscars. Controversial Foreshore and Seabed Act passed following a hikoi (march) of thousands of protestors. Tariana Turia resigns as Labour MP; re-elected eight weeks later as Māori Party's first MP. Supreme Court replaces London-based Privy Council as New Zealand's court of final appeal. Unknown World War I warrior from Somme battlefield returned, to rest at Wellington's National War Memorial.
2005Titahi Bay golfer Michael Campbell wins US Open. Former Prime Minister David Lange dies. Labour has one-seat election night lead; forms Government in coalition with Jim Anderton's Progressives, and United Future. Green Party co-leader Rod Donald dies. Naval frigate Wellington scuttled off Wellington's south coast, as a diving attraction. New Zealand wins right to host 2011 rugby World Cup.
2006Dame Te Ātairangikaahu, Māori Queen for 40 years, dies; her son becomes King Tūheitia. Lowest road toll (391) since 1960. Icebergs float past Otago. Trade Me online auction site sold to media company. John Key topples Don Brash as National Party leader. Government regulates to ‘unbundle’ the telecommunications copper-wire network. Canterbury has heaviest snowfall since 1945; Wellington's spring is windiest in 40 years.
2007Government introduces 20 hours free early childhood education, four weeks annual leave for workers, and KiwiSaver. Lowest unemployment level since late 1970s; oil prices and the dollar at highest levels. Country debates ‘smacking’ children before the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Bill passes. Willie Apiata is first New Zealander awarded Victoria Cross since World War II. South Island population passes 1 million. Nation ‘mourns’ sporting ‘almost-but-not-quite’ experiences – the yachting America's Cup, netball World Championship, and rugby and cricket world cups.

The casket carrying the Māori Queen Dame Te Ātairangikaahu travels by waka down the Waikato river to Taupiri mountain for burial. Dame Te Ata was the sixth monarch of the Kingitanga movement, and ruled for 40 years.

Contributors and related websites

Archives New Zealand –

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography –

History Group, Ministry for Culture and Heritage –

National Library of New Zealand –

New Zealand Archaeology –

New Zealand Electronic Text Centre –

Statistics New Zealand –

Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand –

Treaty of Waitangi –

Chapter 3. Government

A member of the public uses one of the new recycling bins installed outside Wellington's railway station in 2008. The Ministry for the Environment is working with local government to trial public-place recycling bins in the Far North, Wellington, Kaikoura, and Christchurch.


New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy and has had a parliamentary government since 1856. Queen Elizabeth II has the title Queen of New Zealand. The 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 constitutional history can be traced back to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. The treaty was 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 28 October 1835, an assembly of the Confederation of Chiefs of the United Tribes of New Zealand had proclaimed the country independent and signed a Declaration of Independence.

New Zealand's Constitution Act 1986 brought together important statutory constitutional provisions and clarified rules relating to the governmental hand-over of power. Other sources of New Zealand's constitution include the Electoral Act 1993, the Imperial Laws Application Act 1988 (which lists United Kingdom statutes still in force in New Zealand), Standing Orders of the House of Representatives, constitutional conventions, New Zealand legislation, and decisions of the courts.

Table 3.01 lists the Sovereigns of New Zealand since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.

The Crown and the governor-general

The Governor-General of New Zealand is the Crown's representative in New Zealand, and exercises the royal powers derived from statute and the general law.

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. However, the governor-general is required 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.

Table 3.01. Sovereigns of New Zealand

MonarchAccessionDiedAgeReigned (years)

(1) Queen Victoria became New Zealand's queen in 1840.

(2) Abdicated; reigned 325 days.

Symbol: ... not applicable

Source: Statistics New Zealand

House of Hanover
House of Saxe-Coburg
Edward VII19011910689
House of Windsor
George V191019367025
Edward VIII(2)1936197277 
George VI193619525615
Elizabeth II1952.........

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 the vice-regal representatives of New Zealand since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Table 3.02. Vice-regal representatives of New Zealand

Representative(1)Assumed officeRetired

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

Symbol: ... not applicable

Source: Government House

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
Sir George Grey, KCB1 Jan 18487 Mar 1853
Self-governing colony
Sir George Grey, KCB7 Mar 185331 Dec 1853
Colonel Thomas Gore Browne, CB6 Sep 18552 Oct 1861
Sir George Grey, KCB4 Dec 18615 Feb 1868
Sir George Ferguson Bowen, GCMG5 Feb 186819 Mar 1873
Rt Hon Sir James Fergusson, Bt14 Jun 18733 Dec 1874
Marquess of Normanby, GCB, GCMG, PC9 Jan 187521 Feb 1879
Sir Hercules George Robert Robinson, GCMG17 Apr 18798 Sep 1880
Hon Sir Arthur Hamilton Gordon, GCMG29 Nov 188023 Jun 1882
Lieutenant-General Sir William Francis Drummond Jervois, GCMG, CB20 Jan 188322 Mar 1889
Earl of Onslow, GCMG2 May 188924 Feb 1892
Earl of Glasgow, GCMG7 Jun 18926 Feb 1897
Earl of Ranfurly, GCMG10 Aug 189719 Jun 1904
Lord Plunket, GCMG, KCVO20 Jun 19047 Jun 1910
Lord Islington, KCMG, DSO, PC22 Jun 19102 Dec 1912
Earl of Liverpool, GCMG, MVO, PC19 Dec 191227 Jun 1917
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
Rt Rev Hon Sir Paul Alfred Reeves, GCMG, GCVO, QSO20 Nov 198529 Nov 1990
Hon Dame Catherine Anne Tizard, GCMG, GCVO, DBE, QSO13 Dec 19903 Mar 1996
Rt Hon Sir Michael Hardie Boys, GNZM, GCMG, QSO21 Mar 199621 Mar 2001
Hon Dame Silvia Cartwright, PCNZM, DBE, QSO4 April 20014 Aug 2006
Hon Anand Satyanand, PCNZM, QSO23 Aug 2006...

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 and has the opportunity to hold the government to account.

Electoral system

Since 1996, New Zealand has had a mixed member proportional (MMP) electoral system. Voters have two votes – one electorate vote and one party vote.

Electorate votes are used to elect Members of Parliament (MPs) to represent local areas. Party votes are used to allocate extra seats to political parties so that the make-up of Parliament reflects the support for these parties across the country.

Electorate officer Sue Skelt stands on the boundary between the Clutha-Southland and Waitaki electorates, in the middle of the Roaring Meg river.

For the 2005 election, New Zealand was divided geographically into 62 general and seven Māori electorates. The political parties were subsequently allocated 52 party seats after party votes were counted, and the number of seats in Parliament increased by one to 121. Table 3.03 shows seats won by each political party since 1949, and the total number of seats available, at general elections.

Table 3.03. Seats held by political parties after general elections

ElectionNationalLabourNZ FirstAllianceACTGreenUnited FutureOtherTotal

(1) Social Credit/Democrats.

(2) New Labour.

(3) United.

(4) Progressive Coalition.

(5) Progressive 1 seat, Māori 4 seats.

Symbol: ... not applicable

Source: Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives


Electorate boundaries are redrawn by the Representation Commission after each population census. The number of electorates can change as the population increases or decreases.

The Māori electoral option follows every census and gives people of Māori descent the opportunity to choose whether to be on the Māori, or the general, electoral roll. Once electors have chosen which roll to be on, they cannot change until the next Māori electoral option takes place.

The New Zealand electoral system is set out in the Electoral Act 1993. This Act is the only statute in New Zealand with entrenched provisions. This means that either 75 percent of MPs, or a majority of voters in a referendum of all registered voters, must agree to make changes to these provisions. Normally, a simple majority of MPs is all that is required to make changes to legislation.

House of Representatives debating chamber. Speaker Hon Margaret Wilson presides, while Deputy Prime Minister Hon Dr Michael Cullen addresses the house.


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 Crown (normally represented by the governor-general) and an elected House of Representatives. The principal functions of Parliament are to enact laws, to supervise the government's administration, to vote for the supply of funds, to provide a government, and to redress grievances by way of petition.

The Constitution Act 1986 forbids the Crown from taxing citizens without express parliamentary approval. Under standing orders, private members are also able to initiate proposals involving expenditure or taxation. However, the government has an absolute right to veto such proposals if they would have more than a minor impact on the government's finances.

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 after the governor-general has confirmed office.

A session of Parliament is the period during which the house sits, usually the full parliamentary term of three years. The house meets after an election 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 terminated by the governor-general bringing Parliament to an end, usually just before a general election.

Unless there is a new session in the second and third years of the parliamentary term, the prime minister's statement at the start of business 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. The speaker maintains order in proceedings and ensures standing orders are complied with. The speaker is assisted by the clerk of the House of Representatives, who records all proceedings of the house and of any committee of the house, and provides advice on parliamentary law and custom.

The first session of the 48th New Zealand Parliament was called following the general election on 17 September 2005, and began sitting on 7 November 2005.

Salaries and allowances of parliamentarians are set by the Remuneration Authority and are shown in table 3.04.

Role of parties Until 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 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).

Table 3.04. Parliamentary salaries and allowances

PositionYearly salary payable from 1 July 2007 ($)
Source: Remuneration Authority
Members of the executive
Prime minister375,000
Deputy prime minister264,500
Cabinet minister233,000
Minister with portfolio outside cabinet195,700
Minister without portfolio169,400
Parliamentary under-secretary150,000
Officers of the House of Representatives
Speaker of the House of Representatives233,000
Deputy speaker162,750
Assistant speaker139,000
Chairperson of a select committee139,000
Deputy chairperson of a select committee130,300
Leaders of non-government parties
Leader of the opposition233,000
Other party leaders (depending on number of MPs)139,000 +
Deputy leader of party with 25 MPs or more (depending on number of MPs)160,400 +
Senior government whip (depending on number of MPs)143,120 +
Other whips (depending on number of MPs)139,000 +
Junior whip of party with 25 MPs or more139,000
Other members of Parliament
Member of Parliament126,200
Expenses allowance
Prime minister19,000
Other members of Parliament14,280

The four general elections held since 1996 have indicated that under MMP it is unlikely that a single party can command an absolute majority in the house and form a government on its own account. The party caucus (a meeting of each party's members of Parliament in closed session at regular intervals) has become a primary means of developing policies and tactics.

Party representation The general election on 17 September 2005 resulted in the formation of a Labour-led minority coalition government. The Labour Party entered into a coalition agreement with the Progressive Party, which included the leader of the Progressive Party being a Cabinet minister.

Agreements were also made between the minority coalition government and two other parties – United Future and New Zealand First. Both parties promised to provide confidence and supply to the Labour/Progressive government for the term of the Parliament. It was also agreed that the leaders of United Future and New Zealand First would be appointed to ministerial positions outside Cabinet.

The new ministry was sworn in on 19 October 2005. A cooperation agreement was entered into by the Government with the Green Party, which provided for consultation on the broad outline of the legislative programme, on key legislative measures on which support was needed, on major policy issues, and on broad budget parameters.

The fourth House of Representatives elected under MMP in 2005 consisted of:

  • Labour – 50 seats (31 electorate, 19 party list)

  • National – 48 seats (31 electorate, 17 party list)

  • New Zealand First – 7 seats (7 party list)

  • Green – 6 seats (6 party list)

  • Māori – 4 seats (4 electorate)

  • United Future – 3 seats (1 electorate, 2 party list)

  • ACT New Zealand – 2 seats (1 electorate, 1 party list)

  • Progressive – 1 seat (1 electorate).

An overhang of one seat resulted from the Māori Party winning more seats from electorate votes than was representative of its share of all party votes.

Table 3.05 (overleaf) lists members of the 48th Parliament House of Representatives, the party they belong to, their previous occupation, and whether they are list or electorate members.

Table 3.05. House of Representatives, 48th Parliament

Prime MinisterRt Hon Helen Clark
Leader of the OppositionDr Don Brash; John Key (from 27 November 2006)
SpeakerHon Margaret Wilson
Deputy SpeakerHon Clem Simich
Clerk of the HouseD G McGee (until 1 November 2007); Mary Harris (since 10 December 2007)
Member(1)Year of birthPrevious occupationElectorate/listParty

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

(2) Resigned 16 February 2007.

(3) Resigned 6 February 2007.

(4) Replaced Jim Sutton 1 August 2006.

(5) Independent member from 16 May 2007.

(6) Died 6 November 2005.

(7) Resigned 14 February 2008.

(8) Independent member from 14 February 2007.

(9) Resigned 28 February 2008.

(10) Replaced Brian Donnelly 16 February 2008.

(11) Replaced Nandor Tanczos 1 July 2008.

(12) Replaced Don Brash 8 February 2007.

(13) Replaced Dianne Yates 1 April 2008.

(14) Replaced Georgina Beyer 20 February 2007.

(15) Resigned 30 July 2006.

(16) Replaced Rod Donald 15 November 2005, resigned 26 June 2008.

(17) Replaced Ann Hartley 1 March 2008.

(18) Resigned 28 March 2008.

Source: Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives

Anderton, Hon Jim1938Company directorWigramProgressive
Ardern, Shane1960FarmerTaranaki-King CountryNational
Auchinvole, Chris1945ManagerListNational
Barker, Hon Rick1951Trade unionistListLabour
Barnett, Tim1958Voluntary sector managerChristchurch CentralLabour
Bennett, David1970FarmerHamilton EastNational
Bennett, Paula1969ManagerListNational
Benson-Pope, Hon David1950TeacherDunedin SouthLabour
Beyer, Georgina(2)1957MayorListLabour
Blue, Dr Jackie1956Medical practitionerListNational
Blumsky, Mark1957MayorListNational
Borrows, Chester1957Police officer, lawyerWhanganuiNational
Bradford, Sue1952Community development workerListGreen
Brash, Dr Don(3)1940Governor of Reserve Bank of New ZealandListNational
Brown, Peter1939Company directorListNZ First
Brownlee, Gerry1956TeacherIlamNational
Burton, Hon Mark1956Community education organiserTaupoLabour
Carter, Hon Chris1952Electorate secretaryTe AtatūLabour
Carter, Hon David1952Businessman, farmerListNational
Carter, John1950Local government officerNorthlandNational
Chadwick, Steve1948Nurse, midwifeRotoruaLabour
Chauvel, Charles(4)1969LawyerListLabour
Choudhary, Dr Ashraf1949University lecturerListLabour
Clark, Rt Hon Helen1950University lecturerMt AlbertLabour
Clarkson, Bob1939Commercial property developerTaurangaNational
Coleman, Dr Jonathan1966Medical practitionerNorthcoteNational
Collins, Judith1959LawyerClevedonNational
Connell, Brian1956FarmerRakaiaNational
Copeland, Gordon(5)1943Financial administratorListIndependent
Cosgrove, Hon Clayton1969Public relations executiveWaimakaririLabour
Cullen, Hon Dr Michael1945University lecturerListLabour
Cunliffe, Hon David1963Management consultantNew LynnLabour
Dalziel, Hon Lianne1960Trade unionistChristchurch EastLabour
Dean, Jacqui1957Professional actorOtagoNational
Donald, Rod(6)1960Voluntary sector administratorListGreen
Donnelly, Hon Brian(7)1949School principalListNZ First
Dunne, Hon Peter1954Deputy chief executive officerŌhariu-BelmontUnited Future
Duynhoven, Hon Harry1955TeacherNew PlymouthLabour
Dyson, Hon Ruth1957Employment consultantBanks PeninsulaLabour
English, Hon Bill1961FarmerClutha-SouthlandNational
Fairbrother, Russell1944LawyerListLabour
Fenton, Darien1954Trade unionistListLabour
Field, Taito Phillip(8)1952Trade unionistMāngereLabour
Finlayson, Christopher1956LawyerListNational
Fitzsimons, Jeanette1945Organic farmer, consultantListGreen
Flavell, Te Ururoa1955LecturerWaiārikiMāori
Foss, Craig1963BankerTukitukiNational
Gallagher, Martin1952TeacherHamilton WestLabour
Goff, Hon Phil1953University lecturerMt RoskillLabour
Goodhew, Jo1961NurseAorakiNational
Gosche, Hon Mark1955Trade unionistMaungakiekieLabour
Goudie, Sandra1952FarmerCoromandelNational
Groser, Tim1949DiplomatListNational
Guy, Nathan1970FarmerListNational
Harawira, Hone1955ManagerTe Tai TokerauMāori
Hartley, Ann(9)1942Real estate agentListLabour
Hawkins, Hon George1946TeacherManurewaLabour
Hayes, John1948DiplomatWairarapaNational
Henare, Hon Tau1960Advisory officerListNational
Hereora, Dave1956Trade unionistListLabour
Hide, Rodney1956Economic consultantEpsomACT
Hobbs, Hon Marian1947TeacherWellington CentralLabour
Hodgson, Hon Pete1950VeterinarianDunedin NorthLabour
Horomia, Hon Parekura1950FarmerIkaroa-RāwhitiLabour
Hughes, Darren1978Executive secretaryŌtakiLabour
Hutchison, Dr Paul1947Medical practitionerPort WaikatoNational
Jones, Dail(10)1944LawyerListNZ First
Jones, Shane1959ManagerListLabour
Kedgley, Sue1948Author, city councillorListGreen
Key, John1961Investment bankerHelensvilleNational
King, Colin1951Shearer, managerKaikōuraNational
King, Hon Annette1947Chief executive officerRongotaiLabour
Laban, Hon Winnie1955Family therapistManaLabour
Locke, Keith1944Bookshop managerListGreen
Mackey, Moana1974BiochemistListLabour
Maharey, Hon Steve1953University lecturerPalmerston NorthLabour
Mahuta, Hon Nanaia1970Archivist librarianTainuiLabour
Mallard, Hon Trevor1954Executive assistantHutt SouthLabour
Mapp, Dr Wayne1952University law lecturerNorth ShoreNational
Mark, Ron1954Businessman, army officerListNZ First
McCully, Hon Murray1953Public relations consultantEast Coast BaysNational
Moroney, Sue1964Trade unionistListLabour
Norman, Russell(11)1967Executive secretaryListGreen
O'Connor, Hon Damien1958Tourism operatorWest Coast-TasmanLabour
Okeroa, Hon Mahara1946Regional directorTe Tai TongaLabour
Paraone, Pita1945Public servantListNZ First
Parker, Hon David1960Biotechnology businessmanListLabour
Peachey, Allan1949TeacherTāmakiNational
Peters, Rt Hon Winston1945LawyerListNZ First
Pettis, Jill1952Education administratorListLabour
Pillay, Lynne1950Trade unionistWaitakereLabour
Power, Simon1969LawyerRangitikeiNational
Rich, Katherine1967BusinesswomanListNational
Ririnui, Hon Mita1951Minister of religionListLabour
Robertson, H V Ross1949Industrial engineerManukau EastLabour
Roy, Eric1948FarmerInvercargillNational
Roy, Heather1964Gallery contractorListACT
Ryall, Hon Tony1964AccountantBay of PlentyNational
Samuels, Hon Dover1939Company directorListLabour
Shanks, Katrina(12)1969AccountantListNational
Sharples, Dr Pita1941University lecturerTāmaki MakaurauMāori
Simich, Hon Clem1939General managerListNational
Sio, Su'a William(13)1960City councillorListLabour
Smith, Hon Dr Lockwood1948Managing directorRodneyNational
Smith, Hon Dr Nick1964EngineerNelsonNational
Soper, Lesley(14)1954Trade unionistListLabour
Stewart, Barbara1952Training and development managerListNZ First
Street, Maryan1955Teacher, trade unionistListLabour
Sutton, Hon Jim(15)1941FarmerListLabour
Swain, Hon Paul1951Trade unionistRimutakaLabour
Tanczos, Nandor(16)1966Business owner/directorListGreen
Te Heuheu, Hon Georgina1942Consultant, advocate Treaty issuesListNational
Tisch, Lindsay1947Management consultantPiakoNational
Tizard, Hon Judith1956Electorate secretaryAuckland CentralLabour
Tolley, Anne1953Bed and breakfast operatorEast CoastNational
Tremain, Chris1966BusinessmanNapierNational
Turei, Metiria1970LawyerListGreen
Turia, Tariana1944Iwi development workerTe Tai HauāuruMāori
Turner, Judy1956TeacherListUnited Future
Wagner, Nicky1953Company directorListNational
Wall, Louisa(17)1972Programme managerListLabour
Wilkinson, Kate1957LawyerListNational
Williamson, Hon Maurice1951Planning analystPakurangaNational
Wilson, Hon Margaret1947University lecturerListLabour
Wong, Pansy1955AccountantListNational
Woolerton, R Doug1944FarmerListNZ First
Worth, Dr Richard1948LawyerListNational
Yates, Dianne(18)1943Education officerListLabour

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

  • Government bills – introduced by a minister and dealing with matters of public policy

  • Members' bills – introduced by a Member of Parliament who is not a minister and dealing with matters of public policy

  • Local bills – promoted by local authorities to give them special powers or to validate 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 include advertising the bill before it is introduced 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. These are chosen by ballot.

Under standing orders, the leader of the house informs the clerk of the house that the government intends to introduce a government bill. A member's bill or a local bill is introduced after notice has been given and announced to the house. A private bill is introduced by presenting 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 of up to 10 minutes in the case of a government bill, while for a member's bill, private bill or local bill there may be two 10-minute speeches and eight five-minute speeches, with the member in charge having a five-minute right of reply.

After its first reading, a bill is referred to a select committee of the house for consideration, unless it is an appropriation bill, an imprest supply bill, or a bill that has been accorded urgency for its passing. The consideration of bills by a select committee provides an opportunity for the public and interested bodies to make submissions. Committees also scrutinise 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. After the select committee's report is presented, the bill is set down for a second reading on the third sitting day following.

The second reading of a bill is directed to the principles and objects of the bill. At the conclusion of debate, the house decides whether to accept the amendments that only a majority in the select committee recommended. (Unanimous recommendations are automatically accepted when a bill passes its second reading.) The house then votes on whether the bill should be read a second time.

The bill is set down for consideration in a committee of the whole house on the next sitting day (unless the business committee decides that the bill does not require consideration in committee). In committee, the bill is considered in detail, normally part by part. Once a bill has been fully considered by the committee, it is reported to the house with any amendments. 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. At the third reading stage, the bill is voted on for the final time. 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.

Nelson City councillor, Mark Holmes, hands over a 40,000+ signature petition (to extend the hours of daylight saving) to United Future leader Peter Dunne. The petition was successful – daylight saving was extended three weeks by the New Zealand Daylight Time Order 2007.

Executive government

The executive functions of government in New Zealand are carried out by ministers of the Crown. All ministers are members of the Executive Council, and most ministers are members of Cabinet. By constitutional convention, ministers are responsible to the House of Representatives for their official actions, and are required by the Constitution Act 1986 to be a Member of Parliament (MP).

New Zealand's head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, has delegated her executive authority to the governor-general, who is her representative in New Zealand. The governor-general plays an important role in many of the formal procedures associated with government.

After a general election, a government is formed by the party or grouping of parties that has the confidence of the House of Representatives. The governor-general invites the leader to become prime minister and lead a government. On the advice of the prime minister, the governor-general appoints a number of MPs as members of the Executive Council and as ministers. Ministers are generally responsible for certain areas of government administration (portfolios).

Cabinet and the Executive Council

The Cabinet and the Executive Council have separate functions. The Executive Council is a formal body with formal functions, whereas Cabinet is an informal body with deliberative functions. All ministers are members of the Executive Council, but not all ministers are members of Cabinet.

The Cabinet is the highest decision-making body of government. It is the main vehicle by which major policy issues, legislative proposals, and government appointments are considered and decided on. It also coordinates the work of ministers.

The Cabinet has a system of committees that examine subjects in detail before they are considered by the full Cabinet.

Proceedings of Cabinet are informal and confidential, and decisions are usually made by consensus. Members of Cabinet accept collective responsibility for decisions. This convention ensures that decisions are usually supported publicly by all members of Cabinet.

Orders in council, made by the governor-general on the advice and with the consent of the Executive Council, are the main vehicles for law-making by the executive. In particular, authority to make statutory regulations is delegated by Parliament to the governor-general, in council.

The governor-general presides over, but is not a member of, the Executive Council. He or she takes formal actions, such as making regulations or significant appointments, on the basis of a recommendation tendered by a minister, and consented to by the Executive Council.

The Cabinet Office provides support services for the Cabinet and its committees. The secretary of the Cabinet is also clerk of the Executive Council.

The makeup of the Executive Council at 5 November 2007 is shown in table 3.07 (overleaf).

Table 3.06. Premiers and prime ministers of New Zealand

Premier/Prime minister(1)Political partyTerm(s) of office

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

Symbol:... not applicable

Source: Cabinet Office

Henry Sewell...7 May 1856–20 May 1856
William Fox...20 May 1856–2 Jun 1856
Edward William Stafford...2 Jun 1856–12 Jul 1861
William Fox...12 Jul 1861–6 Aug 1862
Alfred Domett...6 Aug 1862–30 Oct 1863
Frederick Whitaker, MLC...30 Oct 1863–24 Nov 1864
Frederick Aloysius Weld...24 Nov 1864–16 Oct 1865
Edward William Stafford...16 Oct 1865–28 Jun 1869
William Fox...28 Jun 1869–10 Sep 1872
Edward William Stafford...10 Sep 1872–11 Oct 1872
George Marsden Waterhouse, MLC...11 Oct 1872–3 Mar 1873
William Fox...3 Mar 1873–8 Apr 1873
Sir Julius Vogel, KCMG...8 Apr 1873–6 Jul 1875
Daniel Pollen, MLC...6 Jul 1875–15 Feb 1876
Sir Julius Vogel, KCMG...15 Feb 1876–1 Sep 1876
Sir Harry Albert Atkinson, KCMG...1 Sep 1876–13 Oct 1877
Sir George Grey, KCB...13 Oct 1877–8 Oct 1879
John Hall...8 Oct 1879–21 Apr 1882
Frederick Whitaker, ML...21 Apr 1882–25 Sep 1883
Sir Harry Albert Atkinson, KCMG...25 Sep 1883–16 Aug 1884
Sir Robert Stout, KCMG...16 Aug 1884–28 Aug 1884
Sir Harry Albert Atkinson, KCMG...28 Aug 1884–3 Sep 1884
Sir Robert Stout, KCMG...3 Sep 1884–8 Oct 1887
Sir Harry Albert Atkinson, KCMG...8 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 MarshallNational7 Feb 1972–8 Dec 1972
Rt Hon Norman Eric KirkLabour8 Dec 1973–d 31 Aug 1974
Rt Hon Wallace Edward RowlingLabour6 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 PalmerLabour8 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
Labour/Progressive15 Aug 2002–19 Oct 2005
Labour/Progressive19 Oct 2005-

Table 3.07. New Zealand Executive Council
At 5 November 2007

Source: Cabinet Office


His Excellency the Honourable Anand Satyanand, PCNZM, QSO

Executive Council

The Executive Council comprises all ministers. The governor-general presides over meetings of the council, unless he or she is unavailable.

The Cabinet

  1. Rt Hon Helen Clark, Prime Minister, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Minister responsible for Ministerial Services, Minister in Charge of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, Minister Responsible for the Government Communications Security Bureau.

  2. Hon Dr Michael Cullen, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, Attorney-General (includes responsibility for the Serious Fraud Office) Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Leader of the House.

  3. Hon Jim Anderton, Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity, Minister of Fisheries, Minister of Forestry, Minister Responsible for the Public Trust, Associate Minister of Health, Associate Minister for Tertiary Education.

  4. Hon Phil Goff, Minister of Defence, Minister of Corrections, Minister of Trade, Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, Associate Minister of Finance.

  5. Hon Annette King, Minister of Justice, Minister of Police, Minister of Transport, Minister Responsible for the Law Commission.

  6. Hon Pete Hodgson, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Tertiary Education, Minister of Research, Science and Technology.

  7. Hon Parekura Horomia, Minister of Māori Affairs, Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment, Associate Minister of Education, Associate Minister of State Services, Associate Minister of Fisheries.

  8. Hon Chris Carter, Minister of Education, Minister Responsible for the Education Review Office, Minister for Ethnic Affairs.

  9. Hon David Cunliffe, Minister of Health, Minister for Communications and Information Technology.

  10. Hon Trevor Mallard, Minister for the Environment, Minister of Labour, Minister of Broadcasting, Minister for State Owned Enterprises, Associate Minister of Finance.

  11. Hon Ruth Dyson, Minister for Social Development and Employment, Minister for Senior Citizens, Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Minister for Disability Issues.

  12. Hon Lianne Dalziel, Minister of Commerce, Minister for Food Safety, Associate Minister of Justice.

  13. Hon David Parker, Minister of State Services, Minister of Energy, Minister for Land Information, Minister Responsible for Climate Change Issues.

  14. Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Customs, Minister of Local Government, Minister of Youth Affairs, Associate Minister for the Environment, Associate Minister of Tourism.

  15. Hon Clayton Cosgrove, Minister of Immigration, Minister for Sport and Recreation, Minister for Small Business, Minister for the Rugby World Cup, Associate Minister of Finance, Associate Minister of Justice.

  16. Hon Rick Barker, Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister of Civil Defence, Minister for Courts, Minister of Veterans' Affairs, Associate Minister of Justice.

  17. Hon Damien O'Connor, Minister of Tourism, Minister for Rural Affairs, Associate Minister of Health.

  18. Hon Steve Chadwick, Minister of Conservation, Minister of Women's Affairs, Associate Minister of Health.

  19. Hon Maryan Street, Minister for Accident Compensation Corporation, Minister of Housing, Associate Minister for Economic Development, Associate Minister for Tertiary Education.

  20. Hon Shane Jones, Minister for Building and Construction, Associate Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Associate Minister of Immigration, Associate Minister of Trade.

    Ministers outside Cabinet

  21. Hon Judith Tizard, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Minister Responsible for Archives New Zealand, Minister Responsible for the National Library, Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Associate Minister of Commerce, Associate Minister of Transport.

  22. Hon Harry Duynhoven, Minister for Transport Safety, Associate Minister of Energy.

  23. Hon Mita Ririnui, Minister of State, Associate Minister of Corrections, Associate Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Associate Minister of Forestry, Associate Minister of Health.

  24. Hon Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, Minister of Pacific Island Affairs, Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment, Associate Minister of Trade, Associate Minister for Economic Development.

  25. Hon Mahara Okeroa, Minister of State, Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment, Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Associate Minister of Conservation.

  26. Hon Darren Hughes, Minister of Statistics, Deputy Leader of the House, Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment.

Ministers outside Cabinet from other parties with confidence and supply agreements

Rt Hon Winston Peters, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister for Racing, Associate Minister for Senior Citizens.

Hon Peter Dunne, Minister of Revenue, Associate Minister of Health.

Shortland Street actor, Adam Rickitt, encourages Auckland University students to enrol to vote. Eligible voters must be listed on the electoral roll to be allowed to vote in a general or local body election.

Parliamentary elections

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

  • be at least 18 years old

  • be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident

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

  • have lived continuously for one month or more in the electorate in which they want to enrol.

Māori and people of Māori descent may choose to enrol for either a Māori, or a general electorate, but may make the choice at certain times only. Māori may make the choice the first time they enrol, or at the five-yearly Māori electoral option exercise. The most recent Māori electoral option was in 2006.

Electoral rolls are maintained by the Electoral Enrolment Centre, a division of New Zealand Post.

The Chief Electoral Office, a division of the Ministry of Justice, is responsible for conducting parliamentary elections and referendums. Returning officers are responsible for arranging voting facilities and staff, and conducting elections in their electorates. In an election year, a returning officer is appointed for each electorate.

Only people enrolled before an election are qualified to vote. Voting is by secret ballot. Most electors cast their vote at a polling place in their electorate on polling day, but they may cast a special vote at a polling place outside their electorate if necessary.

Electors can also cast their vote at an advance-voting place or by post if they are unable to attend a polling place on election day due to illness, or if they will be travelling outside their electorate, or because of their religious beliefs.

Voters overseas can cast their vote by downloading their voting papers from the Internet and faxing or posting them back to New Zealand.

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.

There were 2,847,396 electors on the master roll for the 2005 general election. A total of 2,304,005 votes were cast, representing a turnout of 80.92 percent. This was an increase on the 2002 election, where turnout was 76.98 percent. The highest turnout in recent elections was 93.71 percent in 1984. Figure 3.01 shows the percentage of enrolled voters voting in general elections.

Electoral boundaries

The boundaries of electorates are revised every five years, based on electoral population figures from the Census of Population and Dwellings. The new boundaries come into effect at the end of the parliamentary term during which the revision is finalised.

Table 3.08. Voting patterns 1981–2005

YearVote typeElectors on master rollValid votesInformal votes(1)Special votes disallowed(2)Percentage of electors who voted

(1) A vote that doesn't clearly indicate the voter's intention.

(2) Because they voted in the wrong electorate, 18,133 voters in 2002 and 25,520 voters in 2005 had their electorate votes disallowed, but their party vote allowed.

Symbols:.. figure not available ... not applicable

Source: Chief Electoral Office


Figure 3.01.

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.

When determining boundaries for Māori electoral districts, the commission is joined by the chief executive officer of Te Puni Kōkiri, and two Māori representatives nominated by Parliament to represent the government and the opposition. After proposed boundaries have been drawn up and published, objections and counter-objections are considered by the commission, which then makes a decision on final boundaries.

Under the Electoral Act 1993, the South Island is allocated 16 general electorates. The number of general electorates for the North Island and the number of Māori electorates are then calculated so that their electoral populations are approximately the same as those for South Island general electorates.

The commission is required to consider community relationships, communication facilities, topographical features, and any projected variation in the general electoral population of the electorates when determining boundaries.

Based on the South Island population, the South Island general electorate quota for the 2008 general election was 57,562, resulting in 47 North Island general electorates (quota 57,243), and seven Māori electorates (quota 59,583).

Figure 3.02.

All electorates are allowed 5 percent above or below their electoral population quota. Figures 3.02, and 3.03 show Māori and general electoral districts for the 2008 general election.

Figure 3.03.

State sector

State sector is the common term for all organisations whose financial situation and performance is reported in the annual financial statements of the government.

The state sector includes all state services – Crown-owned or Crown-controlled agencies – through which executive government carries out many of its roles and functions.

State services includes: all public service departments; other departments not part of the public service; Crown entities (except tertiary education institutions); organisations listed in schedule 4 of the Public Finance Act 1989; and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

In addition to state services, the state sector includes tertiary education institutions, offices of parliament, state-owned enterprises, and some departments that are not part of the state services.

Courts Minister, Rick Barker, with 40 reams of paper – the quantity saved every week by Police and councils now filing infringement notices electronically.

State services

Public-service departments are those departments listed in schedule 1 of the State Sector Act 1988. At 31 October 2007, there were 35 public-service departments (these are called ‘departments’ in terms of the Act, irrespective of their individual label of department, ministry or any other title):

  • Archives New Zealand –

  • Crown Law Office –

  • Department of Building and Housing –

  • 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 for Culture and Heritage –

  • Ministry for the Environment –

  • Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry –

  • Ministry of Defence –

  • Ministry of Economic Development –

  • Ministry of Education –

  • Ministry of Fisheries –

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade –

  • Ministry of Health –

  • Ministry of Justice –

  • Ministry of Māori Development –

  • Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs –

  • Ministry of Research, Science and Technology –

  • Ministry of Social Development –

  • Ministry of Transport –

  • Ministry of Women's Affairs –

  • National Library of New Zealand –

  • New Zealand Customs Service –

  • New Zealand Food Safety Authority –

  • Serious Fraud Office –

  • State Services Commission –

  • Statistics New Zealand –

  • The Treasury –

At 30 June 2007, the number of full-time-equivalent staff employed in public-service departments was 42,047, compared with 38,032 at 30 June 2005, and 33,118 at 30 June 2003. When reform of the state sector began in the 1980s, about 70,000 people were permanent employees in government departments. Many of these have shifted to Crown entities, state-owned enterprises 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 funding functions. Some bigger departments perform a combination of roles.

Non-public-service departments are agencies which are departments in terms of the Public Finance Act 1989, but are not listed in schedule 1 of the State Sector Act 1988. Consequently they are not part of the public service. At 31 October 2007, there were four such departments:

  • New Zealand Defence Force –

  • New Zealand Police –

  • New Zealand Security Intelligence Service –

  • Parliamentary Counsel Office –

Crown entities are organisations included in one of the five categories defined in section 7 of the Crown Entities Act 2004: Statutory entities (further subdivided into Crown agents, autonomous Crown entities, and independent Crown entities), Crown entity companies, Crown entity subsidiaries, and school boards of trustees. The fifth category is tertiary education institutions, which are Crown entities but are not included in the state services.

Crown entities make up a significant part of the state services and include a wide variety of corporations, Crown companies, and subsidiaries. The Crown Entities Act 2004 provides for the establishment and accountability of Crown entities, their operations, and reporting and financial obligations. At 31 October 2007, Crown entities in the state services included:

  • 83 statutory entities – 46 Crown agents, 21 district health boards, 22 autonomous Crown entities, and 15 independent Crown entities

  • 12 Crown entity companies, including nine Crown research institutes

  • approximately 200 Crown entity subsidiaries

  • approximately 2,465 school boards of trustees.

Organisations listed in schedule 4 of the Public Finance Act 1989 are those agencies included in the state services for which the full governance, accountability and reporting obligations of the Crown Entities Act 2004 would not be suitable. They include reserves boards, fish and game councils, and a small number of trusts and other organisations.

Reserve Bank of New Zealand is a stand-alone organisation included in the state services. It does not come under any other specific category or type of organisation within the state services.

Other state sector organisations

Non-state-service departments Two departments are considered to be outside the state services because their roles are supportive of the legislative branch of government, rather than of executive government. They are part of the state sector as departments under the Public Finance Act 1989:

  • Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives –

  • Parliamentary Service –

Offices of Parliament The Office of the Ombudsmen, the Office of the Controller and Auditor-General, and the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment are not part of the executive branch of government, as their primary function is to provide a check on executive use of power and resources.

Tertiary education institutions These institutions are one of the five categories of Crown entities defined in the Crown Entities Act 2004, but are explicitly excluded from the definition of state services in the State Sector Act 1988. At 30 October 2007, there were 31 tertiary education institutions: eight universities, 20 polytechnics/institutes of technology, and three wānanga (Māori tertiary institutions).

State-owned enterprises (SOE) These are companies listed in schedule 1 of the State-Owned Enterprises Act 1986, that operate on commercial lines and are companies under the Companies Act 1993. Their objective is to be as profitable and as efficient as a comparable business not owned by the Crown, and to be socially responsible. 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 interest in SOEs is supported by the Crown Company Monitoring Advisory Unit, a unit attached to the Treasury. At 31 October 2007, there were 17 state-owned enterprises:

  • Airways Corporation of New Zealand Ltd –

  • Animal Control Products Ltd –

  • AsureQuality Ltd –

  • Electricity Corporation of New Zealand Ltd

  • Genesis Power Ltd –

  • Kordia Group Ltd –

  • Landcorp Farming Ltd –

  • Learning Media Ltd –

  • Meridian Energy Ltd –

  • Meteorological Service of New Zealand Ltd –

  • Mighty River Power Ltd –

  • New Zealand Post Ltd –

  • New Zealand Railways Corporation –

  • Quotable Value Ltd –

  • Solid Energy New Zealand Ltd –

  • Timberlands West Coast Ltd –

  • Transpower New Zealand Ltd –

Air New Zealand Limited ( is also included in the annual financial statements of the government, for disclosure purposes, as if it were a state-owned enterprise.

State services commissioner

The state services commissioner is central to New Zealand's politically neutral public service. The commissioner is appointed by the governor-general on the recommendation of the prime minister.

The commissioner has two separate roles. As holder of a statutory office, the commissioner acts independently in a range of matters concerning the operation of the public service, state services and the wider 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 functions and duties, capability, and performance.

The office of state services commissioner follows on from the Public Service Commission, which was established in 1912 to employ all public servants, and to protect the public service from political interference, preserving its political neutrality. The commissioner no longer employs all public servants, but still employs the chief executives of public service departments, and so continues to act as a buffer between ministers and the public service. The commissioner also undertakes a variety of functions relating to departmental performance. These include:

  • promoting and developing policies and standards for personnel administration and equal employment opportunities in the public service

  • promoting and developing senior leadership and management capability in the public service

  • providing advice on management systems, structures and organisations within the public service and Crown entities

  • setting minimum standards of integrity and conduct for the public service, most Crown entities, and some other agencies

  • advising the government on the structure of the state sector, including the allocation of functions among agencies.

The State Services Commission, with the support of other central agencies and the government, launched development goals for New Zealand's state services in March 2005. The goals were developed following new state sector legislation, and they focus on performance and quality within the state services as a whole. The commission is responsible for driving the goals' work programmes following on from the goals.

Crown Company Monitoring Advisory Unit

The Crown Company Monitoring Advisory Unit (CCMAU) was formed in 1993 to provide commercially-oriented advice on the Crown's ownership-interest in limited liability companies.

CCMAU advises and supports the Minister for State Owned Enterprises and the Minister for Crown Research Institutes. Other ministers also receive advice from CCMAU regarding the Crown's ownership interest in Crown entities such as Television New Zealand Ltd, Radio New Zealand Ltd, Animal Control Products Ltd, and three airport companies. Advice to the Minister of Finance is provided by the Treasury directly, while the Treasury and CCMAU also prepare joint reports for ministers.

One of CCMAU's primary functions is to provide advice on corporate intent targets and to monitor the performance of Crown companies against those targets. Other functions include providing advice on company restructuring, expansion, diversification and divestment plans; managing ownership issues; and identifying prospective directors and promoting best corporate governance practice of Crown companies. CCMAU, while independent for advice purposes, is attached to the Treasury for administrative purposes.

Controller and auditor-general

The controller and auditor-general (the 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, on advice from the House of Representatives, can end the auditor-general's tenure.

The constitutionally important ‘controller’ function, as set out in the Public Finance Act 1989, provides independent assurance to Parliament that the expenses and capital expenditure of government departments and offices of Parliament have been incurred for lawful purposes, and are within the scope, amount, and period of the appropriations or other authority granted by Parliament.

The auditor-general audits the financial statements of government departments, local authorities, and most government-controlled corporations, boards and companies, and plays a key part in ensuring adequate accountability by these public entities.

The auditor-general also conducts performance audits to assess 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 auditor-general is to report to the management of the entity, to a minister, or to Parliament and its select committees.

Official information

The Official Information Act 1982 requires the government to release official information when asked, whether or not that information is damaging to the government. Some information is exempted under the provisions of the Act.

The Act is based on the principle that information should be made available unless there is good reason for withholding it. The purpose of the Act is to:

  • increase the availability of official information

  • ensure corporations can access official information relating to themselves (access by individuals to their information is now governed by the Privacy Act 1993)

  • protect official information when it is in the public interest and preserve 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.

Criteria to be considered when deciding whether information should be withheld include:

  • 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.

Protection of personal privacy may be overturned if it is in the public interest to make the information available.

New Zealand parliamentary ombudsmen are able to investigate and review decisions made about a request for official information. If the request has been unreasonably refused, an ombudsman can order that the information be released.


The New Zealand parliamentary ombudsmen are impartial and independent authorities that review government. Parliament has implemented initiatives to strengthen and protect the independence of ombudsmen and to help the ombudsmen to gain credibility with the public. These initiatives are:

  • ombudsmen have the special status of ‘officer of Parliament’

  • ombudsmen are appointed by the governor-general, on the recommendation of the House of Representatives, not by the government

  • ombudsmen and their staff are not public servants

  • ombudsmen may report directly to Parliament

  • a special multi-party committee of Parliament (Officers of Parliament Committee) that considers and recommends, directly to Parliament, the names of prospective ombudsman appointees, and the financial requirements of the ombudsmen's office.

Ombudsmen investigate and form opinions on complaints about an act, omission, decision or recommendation – relating to a matter of administration – by any central, regional or local government department or organisation. An ombudsman may also initiate an investigation.

A committee of the House of Representatives can refer a petition to an ombudsman to investigate and report on. The prime minister can, with the consent of the chief ombudsman, refer any matter (other than a matter concerning a judicial proceeding) to an ombudsman for investigation and report.

Ombudsmen provide information and guidance on the application of the Protected Disclosures Act 2000 to an employee who has made, or is considering making, a protected disclosure.

On 21 June 2007 the ombudsmen became responsible for examining and monitoring the conditions and treatment of people detained in prisons, in health and disability places of detention, in youth justice residences, and those detained under the Immigration Act 1987.

Table 3.09 shows the results of complaints to the ombudsmen.

Table 3.09. Complaints to the ombudsmen
By outcome
Year ending 30 June 2007

OutcomeOmbudsmen Act 1975Official Information Act 1982Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987
Source: Office of the Ombudsmen
Declined, no jurisdiction8450
Declined under ombudsman's discretion2675817
Discontinued, inquiry not warranted2694923
Resolved in course of investigation24918070
Sustained, recommendation made551
Sustained, no recommendation made25102
Not sustained16017114
Formal investigation not undertaken, but explanation, advice or assistance given6,22629469
Complaints transferred to
      Privacy Commissioner11277
      Health and Disability Commissioner400
      Police Complaints Authority010
Administration closed210
Still under investigation at 30 June53628959
Total 20068,293754172

Privacy commissioner

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner Te Mana Matapono Matatapu is independent of the executive and of Parliament. One of the main purposes of the office is to promote and protect individual privacy.

The Privacy Act 1993 establishes 12 information privacy principles and four public-register privacy principles. The principles apply to both the public and private sectors, but do not overrule other laws governing the use of personal information.

Information privacy principles cover the collecting, securing, using and disclosing of personal information; access to and correction of personal information; and assigning and using unique identifiers. Public-register privacy principles place some controls on the availability of public register information and its subsequent use.

The privacy commissioner observes, and reports on, issues that affect the way personal information is handled. The commissioner examines new legislation, and appears before parliamentary select committees that are considering new bills.

The privacy commissioner has the power to issue codes of practice that modify privacy principles. These codes replace the principles in particular contexts. Two major industry codes issued by the commissioner are the Health Information Privacy Code 1994, and the Credit Reporting Privacy Code 2004.

The commissioner oversees the operation of public sector information-matching programmes that government agencies use to compare databases of personal records (to establish, for example, entitlement to services, or instances of benefit fraud). The Act requires that an affected individual be given notice before adverse action is taken as a result of a match.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner investigates complaints about breaches of privacy. If a complaint cannot be settled, or parties reconciled, using low-level dispute resolution, the commissioner may refer it to the Director of Human Rights Proceedings, who may bring proceedings before the Human Rights Review Tribunal. In the year ending 30 June 2007, the privacy commissioner referred 15 complaints to the Director of Human Rights Proceedings. Alternatively, aggrieved people may bring proceedings before the tribunal on their own behalf. The tribunal has the power to award remedies, including declarations, orders, damages and costs.

The Official Information Act 1982 and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 require the ombudsmen to consult with the commissioner on official information access requests where privacy is a possible ground for withholding information. In the year ending 30 June 2007, 25 formal consultations under the two acts were completed. Table 3.10 (overleaf) details complaints made to the privacy commissioner in recent years.

Former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga receiving the insignia of a Companion of the Queen's Service Order in 2006.

Table 3.1. Complaints to the privacy commissioner
Year ending 30 June

Source: Office of the Privacy Commissioner
New complaints received928934721636640
Complaints current at start of year1,0391,052818569455
Number of complaints under process1,9671,9861,5391,2051,095
Number of complaints closed during year9151,168970752701
No jurisdiction2356402615
Complaints resolved without final opinion747848683500524
Final opinion145264247220140

Bill of rights

The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 is intended to provide minimum standards to which public decision making must conform. It emphasises New Zealand's formal commitment to fundamental civil and political rights, and affirms New Zealand's obligations under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

The Act is designed to protect individuals and corporations from the actions of the State. It specifically applies to any acts by the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government; or by a person or body performing a public function, power or duty.

The attorney-general is required to notify the House of Representatives about any provision in any bill introduced into the house that appears to be inconsistent with the Act. The Ministry of Justice advises departments on the consistency of policy proposals and government bills with New Zealand's human rights laws, and advises the attorney-general on a bill's consistency with the Act. The Crown Law Office is responsible for providing advice to the attorney-general on bills from the Ministry of Justice.

An individual or legal body can go to court if they believe the Act has been breached. The Act has no remedy provision, but under common law the courts have provided remedies for infringement of the rights and freedoms identified in the Act.

The Human Rights Act 1993 provides for a publicly-funded complaints process in respect of breaches of the right to be free from discrimination section of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. Individuals can lodge a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Committee if the domestic options for a human rights complaint have been exhausted.

Human rights

The Human Rights Act 1993 makes it unlawful to discriminate in: employment; access to places, vehicles and facilities; provision of goods and services; provision of land, housing and other accommodation; and access to education.

Other forms of discrimination made unlawful by the Act include racial disharmony, racial harassment, sexual harassment, and victimisation. Both the public and private sectors are subject to the Act. There are 13 prohibited grounds of discrimination – sex, marital status, religious belief, ethical belief, colour, race, ethnic or national origin, disability, age, political opinion, employment status, family status, and sexual orientation. The Act also defines a number of circumstances where discrimination is not unlawful.

The Human Rights Commission, which from 2002 has included the former Office of the Race Relations Conciliator, is an independent Crown entity. Its primary functions are to:

  • promote respect for, and an understanding and appreciation of, human rights

  • encourage harmonious relations between individuals and among the diverse groups in New Zealand society

  • mediate disputes relating to unlawful discrimination.

The commission has developed a national plan of action for human rights. The commission also promotes a better understanding of the human rights aspects of the Treaty of Waitangi, and their relationship with domestic and international human rights law.

The Tuhoe hikoi (walk) arrives at Parliament to protest against the Police raids carried out on 15 October 2007 under anti-terror legislation.

Human rights complaints about government activities that are taken to the commission – other than employment, and sexual and racial harassment – are tested against the anti-discrimination standard set out in the Act. This provides that government or public sector activities that discriminate will be exempt if they are reasonable, lawful, and demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society.

Complaints of discrimination about government activities may also be taken to court under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.

The commission acts as a first contact for those who wish to make a discrimination complaint, and assists parties to resolve complaints, using either mediation or other low-level means of resolving disputes.

The commission works with parties to try to reach a settlement, which may include an apology, an agreement not to discriminate in the future and/or compensation.

If lower-level dispute resolution is not appropriate or possible, a complainant may approach the Director of Human Rights Proceedings for possible litigation assistance. Complainants may also take their own litigation, or engage their own legal counsel and take their case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

If the tribunal upholds a complaint, a wide range of remedies is available, such as damages, and orders of specific performance. The remedies vary according to whether the complaint is about private sector activities, or government policy or practices.

When a complaint concerns legislation or validly-made regulations (and is not about the discriminatory application of legislation), and the complaint is upheld, the sole remedy available is a declaration of inconsistency. While this does not invalidate the legislation, the responsible minister is required to bring the tribunal's declaration to the attention of the House of Representatives, along with the Executive Council's response.

Parties can appeal to the High Court to overturn tribunal decisions.

Parliamentary commissioner for the environment

The parliamentary commissioner for the environment (PCE) is an independent officer of Parliament with wide-ranging powers to investigate environmental concerns. The office was set up under the Environment Act 1986. The PCE has discretion to:

  • review the system of agencies and processes established by the government to manage New Zealand's natural and physical resources

  • investigate public authorities' environmental planning and management, and advise them on remedial action

  • investigate any matter where the environment may be or has been adversely affected

  • at Parliament's request, report on any petition, bill, or other matter that may have a significant effect on the environment

  • at Parliament's direction, inquire into any matter that has had or may have a substantial and damaging effect on the environment

  • undertake and encourage collection and reporting of information about the environment

  • encourage preventive measures and remedial actions to protect the environment.

In investigating and reporting on environmental matters, the PCE can obtain information (protecting the confidentiality of that information where appropriate), report findings, and make recommendations. However, the PCE does not have the power to make any binding rulings or to reverse decisions made by public authorities.

Major reports released during the year 2006/07 included Get smart, think small: Local energy systems for New Zealand; Wind power, people, and place; Healthy, wealthy and wise on the links between energy use and health and well-being; and Changing behaviour: Economic instruments in the management of waste.

In the year ending 30 June 2007, the PCE responded on 217 occasions to requests for information and advice, and to issues of concern raised by individuals and groups.

Table 3.11. Reports and papers by the parliamentary commissioner for the environment
Year ending 30 June

Source: Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment
Investigation reports8190929288
Information transfer papers or presentations147185155123185

Public Trust

The Public Trust Office is a Crown entity, founded in 1873 to provide a stable, independent and impartial trustee organisation. Its purpose is to help New Zealanders take care of their interests through the provision of trustee and financial services.

Public Trust also cares for overseas assets and property under various statutes, acts as trustee-guardian for minors and protected persons, and acts as a trustee of last resort. Its key priorities are:

  • administering estates of deceased people

  • wills and enduring powers of attorney advice and preparation

  • establishing and administering trusts

  • agency and asset management services

  • providing financial and investment products and services

  • corporate and other trustee services

  • managing investment funds.

Local government

New Zealand's system of local government is largely separate from central government. Local government has a subordinate role in the constitution – its powers are conferred by Parliament.

Under the Local Government Act 2002, the purpose of local government is to enable democratic local decision-making and action, to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of communities.

Local authorities fall into three categories: regional, territorial and special purpose authorities. Boundaries of regions, cities and districts are usually defined by the Local Government Commission or the Minister of Local Government. Many territorial authorities contain communities administered by community boards, but these are not separate local authorities. Six special purpose authorities are constituted under their own acts.

Local authorities have their own sources of income, independent of central government, with the main source (other than income from trading activities) being local taxes on land property – rates. Rates are set by local authorities themselves, subject to the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002.

Laws that apply to local authorities, and a range of other public bodies, include the Local Government Act 2002, 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 also from numerous other acts, such as the Resource Management Act 1991, the Transit New Zealand Act 1989 and the Building Act 2004.

Local authorities can promote legislation to government about matters affecting their local area that they are not already empowered to deal with. When permanent or major additional powers are sought, a local bill must be prepared for Parliament to consider. If this is enacted, it becomes a local act, and applies only to the body or bodies that promoted it.

Local authorities are required to give public notice and receive public submissions before making certain important decisions. They may also come under the scrutiny of ombudsmen, the auditor-general and the parliamentary commissioner for the environment. Any decision by a local authority may be reviewed by appeal to the High Court. Decisions made under the Resource Management Act 1991 can 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 can require the local authority to implement the review authority's recommendations.

Local government organisation

New Zealand has 12 regional councils, 73 territorial authorities, 143 community boards, and six special authorities. Table 3.12 (overleaf) lists regional councils, territorial authorities and numbers of councillors.

The Local Government Act 2002 recognises the diverse communities in New Zealand, their separate identities and values. It encourages participation by local people in local government. Local authorities are required to conduct their affairs in an open and proper manner, and to adequately inform local communities of their activities. Emphasis is placed on setting objectives and measuring performance.

Local authorities must separate their regulatory and non-regulatory activities. Local authorities are permitted to privatise their trading activities and may put the delivery of services out to competitive tender as an alternative to using in-house business units.

The Act lets regional councils and territorial authorities carry out activities they consider appropriate for their region or district in the context of the purpose of local government. Prior to 2002, local authorities were permitted to carry out only those activities specifically allowed by statute.

Regional councils are directly elected, set their own rates, and have a chairperson elected by their members. Their main functions relate to:

  • the Resource Management Act 1991 and the Soil Conservation and Rivers Control Act 1941

  • the control of pests and noxious plants

  • harbour regulations and marine pollution control

  • regional aspects of civil defence

  • an overview of transport planning

  • control of passenger transport operators.

Some regional councils have other functions, such as those formerly undertaken by land drainage boards.

Territorial authorities in New Zealand include 16 city councils, 56 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, reading, 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 an Order in Council giving effect to a decision of the Local Government Commission, or be constituted by a reorganisation scheme that forms a new district with a population of at least 50,000, that is predominantly urban, is a distinct entity, and is a major centre of activity within the region.

Table 3.12. Territorial authorities and councillors
At 30 November 2007

City/districtNumber of councillors(1)Council type

(1) Figures include mayors.

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

(3) Trading name of Manawatu/Wanganui Regional Council.

Source: Local Government New Zealand

Central Hawke's Bay9District
Central Otago11District
Chatham Islands9Council
Environment Bay of Plenty13Regional
Environment Canterbury14Regional
Environment Southland12Regional
Environment Waikato12Regional
Far North10District
Greater Wellington13Regional
Hawke's Bay9Regional
Hutt City13City
Kapiti Coast12District
New Plymouth15District
North Shore16City
Palmerston North16City
South Taranaki13District
South Waikato11District
South Wairarapa10District
Upper Hutt11City
West Coast7Regional
Western Bay of Plenty13District

Unitary authorities are territorial authorities that 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 advocate for the community and are a way for the territorial authority to consult with the community. Community board powers are delegated by the territorial authority. Those powers cannot include levying rates, appointing staff, or owning property. Community boards can be partly elected by the community and partly appointed by the territorial authority from among its own members, or be entirely elected. Community boards can be established anywhere in New Zealand to serve any number of inhabitants. They may be established on the initiative of a given number of electors of the territorial authority, through 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 were greatly reduced in number following local government reform in 1989. Catchment boards, harbour boards, pest destruction boards, and land drainage boards 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 unique 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, and the Greytown Lands Trust.

Peter Salmon QC, chairman of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance, with hundreds of submissions about how the Auckland region should be governed in the future.

Local government elections

All regional council, territorial authority, special purpose local authority, and community board elections, as well as those for district health boards, are conducted at the same time. Local government elections are held on the second Saturday in October every third year. The next elections will be in 2010.

Electorates are known as ‘wards’ in the case of territorial authorities and ‘constituencies’ in the case of regions. Territorial authorities can decide 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.

At least once every six years, in the year before an election, regional and territorial authorities are required to review the number of council or board members, the number and size of their electorates, and whether or not community boards should be established. The purpose of the review is to give effective representation to communities, 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, a 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 that for 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 nine local authorities, which use the single transferable vote (STV) system – in which voters rank candidates in the order of preference. 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 that they pay rates in. Rolls are compiled by territorial authorities. 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 Any person who is a New Zealand citizen and a parliamentary elector may be elected to a regional council, 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 on 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 meeting allowance and an annual salary. Maximum and minimum salary and allowance levels are set by the Remuneration Authority. The council or board decides the actual rate within those limits.

Local Government Commission

The Local Government Commission consists of three members, including a chairperson appointed by the Minister of Local Government.

The commission hears and determines:

  • appeals against local authority decisions on proposed boundary alterations

  • appeals and complaints relating to a local authority's ward and membership proposals following a representation review

  • proposals for the constitution of communities.

The commission considers and processes proposals to join or create 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 commission is required to review and report to the Minister of Local Government on the operation of the Local Government Act 2002, and the Local Electoral Act 2001. It must report to the minister as soon as practicable after local elections.

Local government finance

Most of New Zealand's local authorities separate their activities into regulatory-type functions and trading activities. To support this, councils have set up business units that compete with outside businesses for council contracts, such as those involving roading, works and maintenance, and refuse collection.

In addition to business units, councils often have a shareholding in electricity supply companies, as well as companies which operate ports, airports and bus transport.

The total value of the non-trading activities of all local authorities is shown in table 3.13.

Table 3.13. Local authority statistics – non-trading activities(1)
Year ending 30 June


(1) Covers all activities of local authorities not classified as trading activities, eg local government administration, provision of water supply, roading, parks and reserves, town planning and regulation.

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

Source: Statistics New Zealand

Regulatory income and petrol tax227242275302310
Government grants and subsidies444483556661684
Investment income420279302307308
Sales of goods and services and all other income7488098749481,056
Total operating income4,1404,2524,6264,9965,367
Employee costs8849511,0301,0981,174
Interest paid141141142158184
Purchases and other expenditure1,9972,1062,3092,5342,787
Total operating expenditure3,7924,0264,3704,7475,220
Surplus before non-operating items348225256249148
Additions to fixed assets1,5981,7251,9382,1342,323
Disposal of fixed assets97235125235177

Contributors and related websites

Cabinet Office –

Chief Electoral Office –

Crown Company Monitoring Advisory Unit –

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet –

Government House –

Honours Secretariat –

Local Government Commission –

Local Government New Zealand –

Ministry for Culture and Heritage –

Ministry for the Environment –

Ministry of Justice –

Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives –

Office of the Controller and Auditor-General –

Office of the Ombudsmen –

Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment –

Office of the Privacy Commissioner –

Parliamentary Counsel Office –

Parliamentary Service –

Prime Minister's Office –

Public Trust –

State Services Commission –

Statistics New Zealand –

Wellington City Council –

Chapter 4. International relations and defence

Timor-Leste children at a local orphanage in Dili chat with Private Tai. Since 1999, New Zealand has provided strong support for the development of an independent and stable Timor-Leste, through peacekeeping, development assistance, and diplomacy.

Relations with other countries

The New Zealand Government began stationing diplomatic representatives overseas in 1943. Today, New Zealand has 50 overseas posts, with multiple accreditations allowing New Zealand representatives to cover 119 countries. The most recently opened overseas posts are an embassy in Cairo, Egypt, set up in October 2006, and a consulate-general in Guangzhou, China, which opened on 26 April 2007.

The government interacts with other governments and international institutions through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Manatū Aorere (MFAT). The ministry's mission is to advance and protect New Zealand's security and prosperity interests abroad. MFAT is responsible for providing the government with policy advice on New Zealand's foreign affairs, trade and security interests. It represents and advocates for New Zealand's views and positions to other countries and in international institutions and negotiations, and manages New Zealand's foreign affairs and trade relations with other countries. It also provides consular services to New Zealanders abroad.

The ministry is formally responsible for the administration of Tokelau, although Tokelauan institutions have had administration powers since 1994. MFAT also manages New Zealand's constitutional relationships with the Cook Islands and Niue. These relationships involve New Zealand's residual responsibilities for the external affairs and defence of both states, when requested, and providing necessary economic and administrative assistance to Niue.

New Zealand's International Aid and Development Agency (NZAID) is a semi-autonomous body within the ministry. It was established in 2002 and is responsible for managing the delivery of New Zealand's official development assistance programme.

MFAT consults and works closely with other government departments and agencies in pursuing New Zealand's interests abroad. It coordinates a whole-of-government approach for advancing national interests and national identity abroad.

A key area of collaboration is in the area of furthering economic transformation, where MFAT works to strengthen international connections and increase trade by encouraging the flow of investment, skills and technology to New Zealand. New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) is a particularly important partner in promoting the government's external policies for economic transformation and sustainability.

MFAT operates and administers a network of 50 diplomatic and consular posts to represent and pursue New Zealand's interests overseas. People at these posts perform services on behalf of all government departments, and provide a platform to support their overseas activities. Around 112 staff from other government departments and agencies currently work alongside ministry staff at overseas posts. NZTE also operates nine consular offices in conjunction with the ministry.

The ministry's overseas posts offer assistance to New Zealanders overseas, whether travelling in official or private capacities. MFAT maintains a website,, which provides travel advice and other consular information for New Zealanders.

Figure 4.01.

Figure 4.01 shows where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has diplomatic and consular representation. Cities where New Zealand has a diplomatic mission are numbered and listed in bold. Countries listed under a mission are accredited to that mission – the head of the mission is New Zealand's representative to that country also.

The Pacific

New Zealand enjoys a close association with Pacific island nations. New Zealand has 10 diplomatic missions and consulates in the region and accreditation to a further six states and territories.

Special relationships exist between New Zealand and the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau. Cook Islanders, Niueans and Tokelauans are New Zealand citizens. 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.

Trade with Pacific countries is important to New Zealand. Exports totalled $1,056 million in the year ending 30 June 2007. Imports totalled $218 million, an increase of 36 percent on the previous year, largely as a result of increased oil imports from Papua New Guinea.

Imports from Pacific countries have duty-free access on a non-reciprocal basis to both New Zealand and Australian markets under the South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement. Efforts are being made to promote imports from the Pacific, with increased NZAID support for the Pacific Islands Trade and Investment Commission, based in Auckland.

Pacific Islands Forum 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 specific issues.

An important aspect of the forum's work is the annual Forum Economic Ministers' Meeting. 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. Forum trade ministers also meet at least once every two years to advance regional trade initiatives.

The Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations covers all Pacific Islands Forum countries, including Australia and New Zealand. It aims to develop closer trade and economic integration arrangements in the Pacific region.

The Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement is a free trade agreement among Pacific Islands Forum countries. It came into force in 2003, but only became operational from 2007. As a result of the delays, the schedule to eliminate tariffs on intra-regional trade now extends out to 2021.

Fisheries management The importance of fisheries as an economic resource in the Pacific led to the September 2000 completion of the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. Work is currently underway on a further multilateral agreement, the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Agreement, which will cover non-highly migratory fish species in the region. Pacific leaders also recognised the significance of fisheries for the region by issuing the Vava'u Declaration on Pacific Fisheries Resources at the 2007 Pacific Islands Forum in Tonga.

Other regional organisations that New Zealand is a member of include:

  • the Forum Fisheries Agency – assists members with management and conservation of the region's marine resources

  • the Secretariat of the Pacific Community – 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 – focuses on protection and management of environmental resources

  • the Pacific Forum Line – facilitates regional trade through improved shipping links

  • the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission – assists in assessment, exploration and development of mineral and other non-living resources.

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

Aid The Pacific is also the area of New Zealand's primary aid focus. About $205 million – approximately half of NZAID's budget – goes towards development assistance in the Pacific region.

NZAID has extensive 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. Under its current Pacific strategy, regional programmes are divided into broad themes of:

  • strengthening governance

  • achieving broader-based growth and improved livelihoods

  • improving health and education

  • reducing vulnerability.

Security issues in the Pacific, security issues 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 involved extensively in regional efforts to resolve these security challenges, especially in Bougainville and the Solomon Islands. In Bougainville, New Zealand committed personnel to the Peace Monitoring Group (1998–2003) and the Bougainville Transitional Team (2003). New Zealand also contributes police and military personnel, as well as civilian staff, to the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands.

Regional cooperation in security matters has been centred on the Pacific Islands Forum and its regional security committee. The Biketawa Declaration, made by forum leaders in 2000, assigned the forum's secretary-general a specific role in monitoring possible sources of conflict, and in developing methods of dispute settlement and conflict avoidance to prevent them from developing into open conflict.


New Zealand's closest partnership is 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. New Zealand is represented in Australia by a high commission in Canberra and consulates-general in Sydney and Melbourne.

The political framework for managing the relationship includes regular dedicated meetings between the New Zealand and Australian prime ministers, meetings between the ministers of foreign affairs, finance, and defence, and the annual Closer Economic Relations Ministerial Forum for key trade and economic ministers.

Complementing these meetings, around 80 business and community leaders from both countries – including relevant senior ministers and opposition spokespeople – meet annually at the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum.

Trans-Tasman travel arrangement (TTTA) This arrangement enables New Zealand citizens to travel, live and work in Australia, and Australian residents to receive similar access to New Zealand. A social security agreement negotiated with Australia, covering superannuation and severe disability, has been in effect since 2002. This 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. More than 469,000 New Zealanders live in Australia and about 62,000 Australians live in New Zealand. More than a million New Zealanders and 900,000 Australians cross the Tasman on short-term visits each year.

Trade Australia is New Zealand's most important trading partner. New Zealand is Australia's number one market for highly-manufactured goods and the fifth-largest individual export market.

The Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations (CER) trade agreement, signed in 1983, and its associated arrangements and agreements, governs most trade and economic relations between the two countries. CER agreements on free trade on goods and a protocol on services provide for free trade in nearly all service sectors.

The CER also addresses a range of non-tariff trade matters, such as customs requirements, standards, business law regulations, and occupational registration requirements. The CER includes mutual recognition principles relating to the sale of goods and the registration of occupations, and an ‘open skies’ aviation market agreement. An Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code has been in effect since 2002. In August 2007, the Government announced that it would initiate World Trade Organization dispute settlement proceedings to address the long-running issue of access for New Zealand apples to the Australian market.

A major focus in the relationship now is on creating a seamless trans-Tasman business environment. Significant progress on this includes an agreement to coordinate business law, signed in 2000 and updated in 2005, and a cooperation protocol signed on 31 July 2007 between the New Zealand Commerce Commission and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on competition and consumer policy issues.

Security Australia is also New Zealand's closest and most important security partner. The alliance with Australia remains central to New Zealand's defence policies. Both governments are committed to achieving the highest possible level of cooperation 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 deployments in Timor-Leste, Bougainville and the Solomon Islands.

New Zealand Red Cross delegate, Peter Cameron, distributes aid to people displaced by severe flooding in Jakarta, Indonesia, in February 2007.


New Zealand invests considerable resources in developing closer political relations with Asian neighbours and it is represented by a network of offices in Bangkok, Beijing, Dili, Guangzhou, Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, New Delhi, Seoul, Singapore, Shanghai and Tokyo.

Cultural ties have grown rapidly. New Zealanders are coming into increasingly close and frequent contact with Asia and its people, through short-term visitors (tourists, students and business people) and through immigration from the region to New Zealand. New Zealanders of Asian ethnicity make up 9 percent of the total population and many ethnic communities maintain active links and connections with Asia.

The Government's ‘Seriously Asia’ fund aims to build links with rising Asian leaders and those well placed to influence public opinion. Long term, the trend towards closer integration in the Asian region and the possibility of a future East Asia community is of particular significance to New Zealand. New Zealand's intentions to strengthen its engagement with Asia have been outlined in the Government's white paper on New Zealand's relations with Asia, Our Future with Asia.

Trade New Zealand's economic links with the region have grown rapidly. In the year ending 30 June 2007, Asia was home to 11 of New Zealand's top 20 markets for goods exports. The region takes nearly 40 percent of New Zealand's exports by value, totalling more than $11.7 billion for the June 2007 year.

Trade in tourism and education services has been increasing rapidly, especially with the large economies of North Asia. Japan remains New Zealand's most important market in Asia, but China has emerged as a significant economic player in its own right and is now New Zealand's fourth-largest trading partner. South and South-East Asia represent emerging markets for New Zealand. There are also significant flows of direct investment between Asia and New Zealand.

New Zealand has finalised trade agreements with Singapore, Thailand and Brunei and signed a free trade agreement with China in April 2008. It is presently negotiating a bilateral trade agreement with Malaysia and, along with Australia, has been jointly negotiating with the Association of South-East Asian Nations.

Aid Asia is currently New Zealand's second priority for official development assistance (after the Pacific). Assistance is channelled directly through a variety of programmes such as English language training, human resources development and capacity building, and disaster relief, as well as through regional agencies.

Asia New Zealand Foundation This organisation helps to promote closer ties with Asia by supporting a broad range of cultural, academic and business engagement, including an extensive research programme. It receives funding from the New Zealand Government and corporate donors.

Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) New Zealand already has a long-standing relationship with ASEAN (Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Laos, Viet Nam, Myanmar and Cambodia). In 1975, New Zealand was one of the first countries to enter a ‘dialogue partner’ relationship with ASEAN, and New Zealand participates annually in the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference, where key international and regional issues are discussed. In 2005, New Zealand formally acceded to the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, signalling a commitment to closer engagement with ASEAN, and with Asia more generally.

New Zealand's participation in the inaugural East Asia Summit in Malaysia in 2005 was a further step towards building a deeper, more inclusive relationship with the region. The summit is made up of the 10 ASEAN nations, plus China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Australia and India. Although it is one of the newest groupings in Asia, its annual leaders' summit has already become a major event in the regional calendar. Within the summit countries, a comprehensive economic partnership for East Asia has been proposed.

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) New Zealand is an active player in APEC, a grouping formed in 1989 that draws together 21 economies from around Asia and the Pacific rim. APEC summits are held annually at leaders' level and its trade facilitation efforts enjoy wide support. Some APEC members are promoting an Asia-Pacific free-trade region.

Security The ASEAN Regional Forum provides ministers from throughout the Asia-Pacific region with an opportunity to focus collectively on regional security issues. New Zealand is also a member of the Five Power Defence Arrangements, which brings together Malaysia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

An important component of New Zealand's contribution to security in the region is its longstanding commitment to assist Timor-Leste, the youngest nation in the Asia-Pacific region. Since 1999 New Zealand has provided strong support for the development of an independent and stable Timor-Leste, through peacekeeping, development assistance and diplomatic efforts.


United States Shared values between New Zealand and the United States underpin close government and private sector contacts across a broad range of bilateral, regional and multilateral activities. The United States is one of New Zealand's key economic partners. It is one of New Zealand's three most important export markets and a major source of imports and investment. In multilateral trade discussions, the two countries advocate similar open market philosophies.

There is close cooperation in Antarctica and on Antarctic and Southern Ocean issues, including safeguarding the environment, supporting the Antarctic Treaty system, and scientific research into key issues like climate change. In the Pacific, New Zealand and the United States are working increasingly closely on issues of stability, security and governance. Both countries have common interests in countering terrorism and its proliferation in the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere.

Canada New Zealand and Canada enjoy a positive and close relationship, based on shared Commonwealth, United Nations, Asian and Pacific interests. The two countries cooperate closely on a range of issues, including disarmament, international peacekeeping and security, policies in the Asia-Pacific region, and international economic matters. Canada is also an important market for New Zealand's agricultural products.

Latin America New Zealand aims to increase links between New Zealand and Latin America in three broad areas – political and diplomatic, economic and trade, and cultural – and focuses on six priority countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

New Zealand has a Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership agreement with Chile (as well as Singapore and Brunei), signed in July 2005. A report by the New Zealand-Mexico joint experts group, presented in November 2006, identified ways to advance trade and economic liberalisation between the two countries.

Working holiday agreements with Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Mexico have increased cultural links considerably. Latin American countries also cooperate with New Zealand in a range of multilateral areas, including trade, the environment, Antarctica, disarmament and fisheries.

Cuba established an embassy in Wellington in October 2007. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Peru also have embassies in New Zealand, while Guatemala, Uruguay and Venezuela are cross-accredited to New Zealand.

Caribbean New Zealand's relationship with the Caribbean is based largely on membership of the Commonwealth, of which many Caribbean states are members. Beyond this, New Zealand's relationship with the Caribbean is supported by direct cultural links, such as tourism.

European Union

The European Union (EU) is a major political and economic entity and a significant player in world affairs. It accepted two more countries in January 2007, to become a community of 27 member states.

New Zealand's relationship with the EU was given renewed encouragement with the adoption of the Joint Declaration on Relations and Cooperation between the EU and New Zealand in September 2007. The declaration sets out the directions in which the relationship has moved, and establishes new areas of cooperation, including trade talks, increased cooperation on environment and climate change issues, science and technology cooperation, and research and educational exchanges.

New Zealand, the EU, and its member states, cooperate on many international issues, particularly at the multilateral level. Political consultations are held twice a year, at ministerial level, with the revolving EU presidency and the European Commission. Contact with the European Commission in Brussels, and also with the European Parliament, is critical to maintaining New Zealand's profile in Europe.

New Zealand also has important relationships with the EU's individual member states, including strong historical ties with the United Kingdom. Enlargement of the EU in May 2004 and January 2007 to encompass states in Eastern Europe has resulted in increased contacts between New Zealand and these countries.

New Zealand has accreditations to all 27 member states. A New Zealand embassy was opened in Warsaw in January 2005 in order to further support development of relationships with new member states in central Europe. New Zealand has eight bilateral embassies/high commissions in EU countries: in Berlin, Brussels, The Hague, London, Madrid, Paris, Rome and Warsaw. There are consulates in Hamburg and Milan, and a number of honorary consulates in other European cities.

Trade The EU is New Zealand's second-largest trading partner. It is the largest market for a broad range of primary produce, including sheepmeat, wool, butter, kiwifruit, apples and venison. Successful negotiations in the Uruguay round on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade improved the volume and overall stability of New Zealand's access to the EU market.

Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States

New Zealand cooperates with Russia on a range of international issues in multilateral and regional bodies such as the United Nations, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation organisation, and the Association of South-East Asian Nations Regional Forum. It is heavily involved in negotiations for Russia to join the World Trade Organization. New Zealand has an embassy in Moscow, which is also accredited to Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. An honorary consulate in Vladivostok covers New Zealand's interests in the Russian far-east.

Middle East and North Africa

Developments centred on the Middle East continue to have global strategic implications. Al Qa'ida's attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001 prompted the US-led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq.

New Zealand has embassies in Egypt (Cairo), Saudi Arabia (Riyadh), Turkey (Ankara) and Iran (Tehran), with cross accreditations to Afghanistan, Bahrain, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The New Zealand consulate-general in Dubai is also the regional office for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. In North Africa, New Zealand is accredited to Morocco from its embassy in Madrid, and to Algeria from its embassy in Paris.

Revenues from buoyant oil prices, boosted by continuing strong world demand, continue to feed investment in infrastructure development, and demand for goods and services in the region.

Culverts are delivered for water supply reconstruction in Afghanistan. The New Zealand Defence Force has been involved in security and development in Afghanistan since 2001.

Trade and economic interests New Zealand's trade with the Middle East and North Africa has been boosted in recent years, on the back of high oil and food prices. The region is a valuable market for dairy, meat, wool, manufactured goods and services, and an important source of crude oil, polymers and fertilisers.

In the year ending 30 June 2007, New Zealand's exports to the Middle East totalled $1.187 billion, while imports for the same period were $1.870 billion. In North Africa, New Zealand's exports for the year ending 30 June 2007 totalled $455.58 million, while imports for the same period were $191 million. The growing importance and potential of trade in the region is reflected by the opening of negotiations towards a free trade agreement with the Cooperation Council of the Arab Gulf States. The demand for New Zealand education services has grown significantly. The region remains a major potential source and site for investment.

Security New Zealand personnel have served with the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria since 1954 and with the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai since 1981. New Zealand Defence Force personnel also serve with the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and with United Nations (UN) missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon.

Afghanistan New Zealand maintains a strong commitment to restoring peace and security in Afghanistan. New Zealand supported the Bonn Process under which Afghanistan was returned to constitutional democratic government, and continues to support the partnership between the Afghanistan Government and the international community under the Afghanistan Compact. It has been involved in security and development efforts in Afghanistan since late 2001, supporting both the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Operation Enduring Freedom. New Zealand helps provide security to Bamyan Province (200 kilometres west of Kabul) through command of the provincial reconstruction team there. It also contributes officers to ISAF headquarters and the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. Police training and mentoring is provided in Bamyan, and army training in Kabul. NZAID runs a mix of national and provincial assistance programmes, with a focus on human rights, alternative rural livelihoods, education and health care. New Zealand assistance for 2001–07, both military and development, totals more than $160 million. The deployment has been extended to September 2009.

Arab-Israeli conflict New Zealand continues to strongly support efforts to find a lasting solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. New Zealand takes a balanced and constructive approach, encouraging dialogue, and supporting efforts towards a just, enduring and comprehensive peace settlement. New Zealand continues to advocate for an Israeli and a Palestinian state, coexisting side-by-side in peace and security, in line with relevant UN Security Council resolutions. New Zealand contributes $1 million annually to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In 2007 NZAID also contributed $1 million to UNRWA's emergency appeal.

Iraq New Zealand did not support the 2003 military invasion of Iraq, but along with many other members of the international community, it backs UN-mandated processes to restore stability, security and able government to Iraq. New Zealand has contributed emergency humanitarian relief and other assistance (total value to 2007 was $24 million) to Iraq, mostly in recent years through the UN Development Programme trust fund, but also through the 2003–04 deployment of an New Zealand Defence Force light engineering group to carry out humanitarian and reconstruction tasks near Basra. In addition, New Zealand contributed $1 million in 2007 for UN relief assistance to Iraqi refugees, and another $700,000 to the International Red Cross.

Sub-Saharan Africa

New Zealand's official relations with Sub-Saharan Africa are mainly with the Commonwealth countries of southern and eastern Africa, with South Africa being the most significant.

New Zealand has one diplomatic mission in Sub-Saharan Africa – the New Zealand High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa. This 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.

Aid There is a strong humanitarian focus to many of New Zealand's relationships in Sub-Saharan Africa. New Zealand has a long-standing involvement in development in Africa through its official development assistance programme, which focuses 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, including Volunteer Service Abroad. During 2006, $20 million was spent in the region on development assistance, including scholarships.

Security As part of peace-building operations in Africa, New Zealand has three defence force personnel at the United Nations mission in Sudan.

Trade Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for only a small proportion of New Zealand's global trade. Exports to the region were valued at around $516 million in the year ending 30 June 2007. Among major exports to the region were dairy, fish, and other food products, casein, and electrical equipment. South Africa and Mauritius were New Zealand's most important markets in the region. Imports in the year ending 30 June 2007 totalled $314 million, with petroleum products, iron and steel, vehicles and parts, tobacco, coffee, and wine the major items.

Red Cross nurse Wendy Hetrick at the Juba Teaching Hospital in southern Sudan, where the International Red Cross is phasing out support as the region transitions to peace. Resources will then be concentrated in Darfur and other areas of Sudan where communities remain under threat from violence and armed conflict.

Assistance to developing countries


New Zealand's Agency for International Development (NZAID) Nga Hoe Tuputupu-mai-tawhiti is the agency responsible for delivering New Zealand's official development assistance. It also advises ministers on development assistance policy and operations.

Reflecting the government's commitment to being a good international citizen and neighbour, NZAID aims to help eliminate poverty through development partnerships. NZAID's geographical focus is the Pacific region where New Zealand has close historic and cultural links. The agency also works in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Established in 2002, NZAID places a high priority on building strong partnerships. It concentrates its development assistance on activities that contribute to eliminating poverty by creating safe, just and inclusive societies; fulfilling basic needs; and achieving environmental sustainability and sustainable livelihoods.

NZAID is a semi-autonomous body within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Its management is tailored to its core business and it has separate government funding.

NZAID's total budget allocation in the 2007/08 financial year takes New Zealand's expected overseas development aid to 0.3 percent of gross national income, with a commitment to move this to 0.35 percent by 2010/11. Table 4.01 (overleaf) shows NZAID's spending on programmes for 2006/07.

Pacific programme

While poverty is a global problem, development indicators show significant challenges in the Pacific region. Just over half of primary-school aged children go to school in the Solomon Islands; 20 percent of the population in Vanuatu have no access to health care services; and Papua New Guinea has the lowest living standards of any country in the Pacific, with many basic needs not met.

New Zealand is a Pacific nation and links with its neighbours are long standing and far reaching. As a small island nation, New Zealand understands many of the issues faced by its neighbours and by spending over half its aid in the Pacific, New Zealand is in a position to play a significant role in assisting Pacific countries address their development challenges.

NZAID's Pacific programme is focused where the need is greatest, with prioritised programmes in Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, where poverty is more severe and pervasive. NZAID also has major development partnerships with Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, and Kiribati, and provides assistance to Niue and Tokelau that reflects New Zealand's constitutional commitments and close social ties.

Table 4.01. Spending on NZAID programmes
Year ending 30 June 2007

ProgrammeSpending $(million)Percent of total

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

Source: NZAID

International agencies64.1719
New Zealand agencies23.217

NZAID supports the work of key regional agencies in the Pacific, including the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the University of the South Pacific, the Secretariat for the Pacific Community, the Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission, the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, the Forum Fisheries Agency, and the South Pacific Board for Educational Assessment.

Asia programme

Asia is home to two-thirds of the world's poorest people. New Zealand's programmes in the region are targeted where they can make the greatest difference. South-East Asia is NZAID's major geographic focus outside the Pacific. The agency focuses on sustainable rural livelihoods in the region, including a strong emphasis on trade and development, and human resources development. Programmes in South-East Asia are closely aligned to partner government priorities and are delivered through direct support to government agencies and multilateral organisations. In 2006/07 close to $50 million was targeted to six bilateral partners – Indonesia, Viet Nam, Timor-Leste, Philippines, Cambodia, Laos – and linked regional programmes.

Latin America programme

NZAID's engagement in Latin America focuses on rural livelihoods and indigenous peoples in the central Andean Highlands and rural development in Central America. The main development partners are United Nations agencies, local and New Zealand non-government organisations (NGOs). NZAID also supports small local governance initiatives in Argentina, Chile and Brazil.

Africa programme

As well as providing support through international agencies and NGOs, to address development and humanitarian needs throughout Africa in 2006/07, NZAID managed a targeted development programme in southern Africa, covering South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland. The priority focus was youth oriented HIV/Aids healthcare, basic education and governance initiatives, working mainly through UN agencies and local NGOs on the ground.

Humanitarian assistance

Crises can arise for many reasons including natural disasters, conflict, or collapse of governmental systems. NZAID's first priority in humanitarian crises is to save lives, reduce suffering, and maintain human dignity, during and in the aftermath of the emergency.

The principals that NZAID follows when taking humanitarian action involve:

  • following international humanitarian law and international human rights conventions

  • ensuring that it assists longer-term development opportunities

  • ensuring that assistance is fair and equitable

  • working together with the local government and partners to make sure that decisions are reached in a participatory way

  • strengthening local capacity and ownership

  • monitoring how effective the action is, in order to improve future actions.

New Zealand agencies

NGOs play a crucial role in sustainable development and addressing humanitarian needs worldwide. NZAID provides support to the work carried out by New Zealand NGOs and their partners overseas through two major programmes – the Humanitarian Action Fund and Kaihono-hei-Oranga-Hapori o te Ao Partnerships for International Community Development (KOHA-PICD). NZAID also provides core funding for the Council for International Development (the umbrella body for New Zealand development NGOs), Volunteer Service Abroad, the Development Resource Centre and Trade Aid.

International agencies

NZAID engages with the multilateral system in collective action aimed at eliminating poverty and realising human rights for all. New Zealand support for international development bodies, including UN agencies and financial organisations such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, is delivered under NZAID's multilateral programmes.

New Zealand contributes funding to UN agencies to enable development and humanitarian assistance for poor people in countries outside of the Asia/Pacific region. The assistance focuses on reproductive and sexual health, women's and children's issues, supporting refugees, and helping countries to meet basic needs.

NZAID's support prioritises engagement with 10 key agency partners that share New Zealand's priorities and policy settings. NZAID also prioritises certain issues for discussion in international meetings. These issues include gender, human rights, HIV/Aids, and aid effectiveness.

Involvement in international organisations

United Nations

New Zealand was a founding member of the United Nations (UN) in 1945 and successive New Zealand governments have continued to strongly support it. The UN is the major global forum for maintaining peace and security, strengthening relations among countries, encouraging international cooperation aimed at solving economic and social problems, establishing and strengthening an international legal framework, and 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. New Zealand concentrates on areas where it can play a useful role in matters directly affecting New Zealand 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, decolonisation, and reform of the UN organisation itself.

Contributions to the UN Each member's contribution is based on its capacity to pay. In 2006/07, New Zealand contributed $7.6 million in annual dues to the UN plus $16.9 million for the peacekeeping budget and $ 1 million for international tribunals. New Zealand's contribution for 2007 was 0.256 percent of the UN budget. Contributions to the UN's specialised agencies vary, according to scales agreed to by members of each agency.

Human rights During the 62nd session of the General Assembly in 2007, New Zealand played a pivotal role as a co-author of a resolution on the death penalty. It worked with other strongly abolitionist countries from all regions of the world to produce a resolution that calls on countries to implement a global moratorium on executions as a concrete step towards the total abolition of the death penalty. New Zealand also co-sponsored country-specific resolutions at the 2007 assembly relating to human rights situations of particular concern. These included Iran, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and Myanmar.

During 2007, New Zealand submitted its fifth periodic report under the Convention Against Torture, and its fifth report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. New Zealand also presented its seventeenth report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and its sixth report to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in August 2007 (these two reports were first submitted in 2006).

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted at the 61st session of the General Assembly in December 2006. New Zealand played a lead role in negotiating this convention and signed it on 30 March 2007.

In 2006, New Zealand announced that it was standing for the UN Human Rights Council for the period 2009–12.

The International Court of Justice This is the principal judicial organ of the UN. Its function is to decide, in accordance with international law, cases that are submitted to it by states. A New Zealand judge, Sir Kenneth Keith, was the first New Zealander to be elected to it as one of its 15 members, in November 2005.

Specialised agencies and related intergovernmental organisations Many subsidiaries, specialised agencies, and related agencies, work with the UN and each other to achieve shared goals. New Zealand is a member of the major specialised agencies, including:

  • the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) – aims to raise nutrition levels and improve food production and distribution, thereby contributing towards an expanding world economy and humanity's freedom from hunger

  • the International Labour Organization (ILO) – seeks to achieve important advances in working and living conditions

  • the World Health Organization (WHO) – aims to advance international health

  • UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) – seeks to develop the interconnected fields of education, science and culture.

In October 2007, New Zealand completed a term on the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which is responsible for implementing the World Heritage Convention for the protection of natural and cultural heritage. New Zealand is a member of the WHO Executive Board, for the 2007–10 term.

New Zealand fully participates in the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which promotes the development and transfer of peaceful nuclear technologies, builds and maintains a global nuclear safety regime, and assists in global efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It is similarly active in the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only international organisation that deals with rules of trade among nations. It acts as a single institutional framework over the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (which has been in force since 1948), and over the multilateral agreements that resulted from the Uruguay round of trade negotiations between 1986 and 1994.

The WTO provides a code of rules and a forum in which its 152 member countries can discuss trade problems, and negotiate and enlarge world trading opportunities. It is based on principles that the trading system should be:

  • Without discrimination – WTO members must treat all members as favourably as 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). Imported products must not be treated less favourably than domestic products with respect to internal taxes, regulations and other requirements.

  • Freer – barriers such as tariffs should come down progressively 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 – the WTO discourages less transparent instruments, such as quotas and import licensing, in favour of protection in the form of tariffs.

  • More competitive – the WTO discourages unfair practices, such as export subsidies, and dumping products below cost to gain market share.

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

The highest decision-making level in the WTO is the ministerial conference, which meets every two years. The 2002 ministerial conference 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 declaration included agreement 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 referred to the work of the International Labour Organization, and to avoiding mandates that could weaken critical WTO disciplines, such as the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement.

Real progress on the Doha Round was not evident until the first half of 2004, when a political process produced breakthroughs in agriculture that led to a ‘framework’ agreement being adopted in Geneva in July 2004. This included advances on export subsidy elimination in agriculture. and progress across a range of other issues. The declaration did not meet the 2005 deadline for completion but intensive negotiations continued.

Talks among the so-called G6, the United States, EU, Brazil, India, Japan and Australia, broke down in mid 2006 and the WTO Director General suspended Doha negotiations. Negotiations were restarted following an informal meeting among trade ministers in the margins of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2007, and have continued since then. In July 2007, enough progress had been made to allow the chairs of the key negotiating groups on agriculture and non-agricultural market access to issue draft negotiating texts.


The 53 member countries of the Commonwealth represent close to two billion people (about 30 percent of the world's population), from a broad range of cultures, faiths and traditions. The capacity of this diverse association to speak with a single voice on shared Commonwealth values – including a strong commitment to democracy, good governance and the rule of law – makes it a unique voice in world affairs.

Meetings of the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM), every two years, set the direction of the Commonwealth, with routine activities performed by the Commonwealth secretariat in London. The secretary-general and the secretariat, based in London, pursue the Commonwealth's twin goals of democracy and development.

New Zealand was a founding member of the Commonwealth in 1931, and in the 2007/08 year was the sixth-largest contributor to the Commonwealth Secretariat budget. New Zealand actively promotes the Commonwealth's core beliefs and principles.

The Commonwealth Games have been held in New Zealand three times, and New Zealand hosted the 1995 CHOGM in Auckland. A key achievement of the Auckland CHOGM was the establishment of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which acts as the Commonwealth's watchdog on democracy and governance. New Zealand served on CMAG from 1995–99, and was again appointed as one of the nine members of CMAG at Kampala CHOGM in November 2007.

Former New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Rt Hon Don McKinnon, was appointed Commonwealth Secretary-General in 1999 and was re-elected for a second term in 2003. When his term concluded in March 2008, he was succeeded by H E Kamalesh Sharma of India.

Since 1992, New Zealanders have participated in numerous missions to observe elections in member countries, including Zimbabwe in 2000 and 2002, Pakistan in 2002, Nigeria in 2003, Sri Lanka in 2004, the Solomon Islands in 2004, Bougainville in 2005 and Lesotho in 2006.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

New Zealand joined the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1973. The OECD 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, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. In May 2007, the OECD invited Chile, Estonia, Israel, Russia and Slovenia to begin negotiations towards becoming members of the OECD. The OECD has extensive cooperation programmes with key non-member countries, including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and South Africa, and regionally focused programmes, including the Middle East and Africa.

Also of central importance is its programme of outreach with non-government organisations, 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.

New Zealand is a member of the International Energy Agency, an autonomous body within the OECD framework. The primary focus of the agency is 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, an independent body housed in the OECD, dedicated to combating money laundering and terrorist financing.

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 1,466 (2006 Census). The central atoll, Nukunonu, is 92 kilometres from Atafu and 64 kilometres from Fakaofo. It is 480 kilometres north of Samoa.

The British Government transferred administrative control of Tokelau (then known as the Union Islands) to New Zealand in 1926. 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 consent.

Governance Tokelau is listed as a non-self-governing territory and is on the schedule of territories under supervision of the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonisation. The Administrator of Tokelau is appointed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is responsible for the administration of the executive government of Tokelau. Under a programme of constitutional change agreed in 1992, the role of Tokelau's political institutions has been re-defined and expanded. In 1994, the administrator's powers were formally delegated 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. The Tokelau Amendment Act 1996, by the New Zealand Parliament, allowed the General Fono 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. The Tokelau Village Incorporation Regulations 1986 gave legal recognition to each village and granted it independent law-making power.

The ballot box arrives on the atoll of Atafu. Tokelau, for the 2006 referendum on self-governance.

In 2004, as part of the Modern House of Tokelau project, the administrator's powers were transferred from the General Fono to the three village councils (taupulega). The aim was to put in place a governance system that was functional in the local setting, blending the modem with the traditional. The challenge was to devise a structure which properly established the village as the focus of social and economic activities, that delivered services within the village, and that integrated traditional decision-making processes with modern advice and support.

In October 2003, the General Fono instituted a number of constitutional and law changes, which included renaming the Council of Faipule to Tokelau Council for Ongoing Government. The new council has six members, the three faipule and the three pulenuku (village mayors). The position of Ulu 0 Tokelau (leader of Tokelau) will continue to rotate on a yearly basis among the three faipule.

Public services A review of Tokelau public services carried out in 2003/04 shifted responsibility for public services away from the national office in Apia, Samoa, back to the three atolls. The office in Apia has been restructured to enhance its capability to deliver services on a national basis, and to provide a liaison point for international issues.

Finance Tokelau runs its own budget, and although it is currently heavily dependent on New Zealand for economic support, Tokelau has its own trust fund (now standing at just over $28.3 million). It is looking at ways of increasing its own revenue-earning capacity in areas such as fisheries licensing, handicrafts, tourism, and stamps and coins.

Self-determination Tokelau has in recent years been moving steadily towards an act of self-determination based on the Niue and Cook Islands form of self-government in free association with New Zealand. With the administrative powers formerly exercised by New Zealand having been transferred progressively to Tokelau, it is, in most practical respects, self-governing.

In 2005, New Zealand and Tokelau completed a draft Constitution for Tokelau and a draft Treaty of Free Association that could form the basis for a formal act of self-determination. In February 2006, Tokelau, under United Nations (UN) supervision, voted on whether to become self-governing in free association with New Zealand or retain its current status. Sixty percent of registered voters were in favour of self-government, but the vote did not produce the required two-thirds majority – the benchmark set by the General Fono. In October 2007, Tokelau held a second referendum, under UN supervision, and again the vote failed to produce the two-thirds majority required for a change in Tokelau's status.

Ross Dependency

The Ross Dependency consists of the land, permanent ice-shelf, and islands of Antarctica below 60 degrees south and between 160 degrees east and 150 degrees west. New Zealand's Antarctic territory includes the Ross Ice Shelf, the Balleny Islands, Scott Island, and the landmass and islands within these longitudes to the point where they meet at the South Pole.

The land is almost entirely covered by ice and is uninhabited except for the people who are 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, made by the King in Executive Council in London, granted executive and legislative power to the New Zealand Governor-General in respect of the dependency.

New Zealand actively participates in the Antarctic Treaty System, which consists of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty and associated agreements. The treaty system serves to coordinate relations between states with respect to Antarctica, and its primary purpose is to ensure Antarctica is used for peaceful purposes only 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, nuclear testing and the dumping of nuclear waste, and the deployment of military personnel (except in support of peaceful purposes) in Antarctica.

Membership of the treaty system has grown from the 12 original signatories of the Antarctic Treaty (of which New Zealand was one) to 46 parties, 28 of which have consultative or decision-making status. Treaty parties meet regularly to consider issues within its framework, such as scientific and logistical cooperation and environmental protection measures, as well as the regulation of human activities in Antarctica, such as tourism.

People or groups going to the Ross Dependency, or who are departing for Antarctica from New Zealand (whatever their nationality), are required to submit an Environmental Impact Assessment under the Antarctica (Environmental Protection) Act 1994 to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Permits must also be obtained for certain Antarctic activities. Official expeditions of governments that are parties to the Antarctic Treaty are exempt from these requirements.

Fishing in the Ross Sea must be consistent with conservation measures adopted by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, based in Hobart, Australia. New Zealand has conducted exploratory fishing for toothfish in the Ross Sea since 1997.


The Governor-General of New Zealand is commander-in-chief in and over New Zealand. Authority over New Zealand's armed forces, however, is vested in the government – responsibility for defence matters within the government is held by the Minister of Defence.

The defence portfolio encompasses both the Ministry of Defence Manatū Kaupapa Waonga and the New Zealand Defence Force Te Ope Kaatua o Aotearoa. The chief of the defence force and the secretary of defence (the chief executive of the Ministry of Defence) are both accountable to the Minister of Defence.

The Ministry of Defence is responsible for policy, and advice on funding for defence activities, major capability procurement and repair. The secretary of defence is the government's principal civilian adviser on defence policy matters. The ministry also conducts evaluations of the performance of the New Zealand Defence Force.

New Zealand's armed forces consist of the Royal New Zealand Navy, the New Zealand Army, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. These regular forces, together with territorial, reserve and civilian personnel, constitute the New Zealand Defence Force.

The chief of the defence force is both the commander and chief executive of the New Zealand Defence Force and is the government's principal military adviser on defence matters. The chief of defence force is responsible for the New Zealand Defence Force's management of resources, the general conduct of the New Zealand Defence Force, and chairs the meetings of the executive leadership team and chiefs of service committee.

The role of the chiefs of the navy, army, and air force, is to raise, train and maintain their respective services.

The commander of the joint forces in New Zealand exercises operational control of forces assigned to the headquarters of the joint forces, and commands all New Zealand Defence Force operations and exercises, as directed by the chief of the defence force.

The military and civilian advisory roles are complementary, with considerable overlap on defence, security, and capability issues. Close cooperation and consultation is required between the Ministry of Defence and the New Zealand Defence Force. The office of chief executives brings the secretary of defence and the chief of defence force together to discuss policy issues of mutual interest. The executive governance boards oversee major New Zealand Defence Force capital equipment and infrastructure projects.

The government funds defence through the Ministry of Defence and the New Zealand Defence Force. The two organisations' expenditure is consolidated in table 4.02 (overleaf).

Table 4.03 compares New Zealand's defence expenditure with international expenditure for 2000–06. Table 4.04 shows defence force personnel numbers 1998–2007.

Table 4.02. Defence expenditure
Year ending 30 June


(1) Non-cash technical adjustments.

(2) Non-departmental expenditure for social development activities (not included in the table) was: in 2004, $12,311; in 2005, $9,850; in 2006, $10,153; in 2007, $10,283.

(3) Funds recovered by New Zealand Defence Force for long-term working capital.

Sources: New Zealand Defence Force, Ministry of Defence

Personnel costs561,887576,119616,823649,744
Operating costs461,666443,561492,849532,538
Capital charge289,139281,894316,264346,845
Total output expenses1,542,3701,534,2431,661,7371,819,735
Other expenses(1)72,000-3,26601,665
Remeasurement expenses(1)00090,484
Total expenses(2)1,614,3701,530,9771,661,7371,911,884
   Other revenue(17,202)(17,037)(16,552)(17,339)
   Profit on sale of assets(3)(25,483)(40,762)0(1,765)
   Net operating surplus/(deficit)(46,296)63,46861(85,968)
Revenue Crown-provided1,525,3891,536,6461,645,2461,806,812

Table 4.03. International comparison of defence expenditure
As proportion of gross domestic product


(1) Year ending 30 September; US budget definition differs from NATO definition.

(2) Year ending 31 March.

(3) Year ending 30 June.

(4) Using NATO definition, excluding GST, capital charge and war pensions.

Source: New Zealand Defence Force

United States(1)
United Kingdom(2)
New Zealand(4)

Table 4.04. Defence personnel
At 30 June

YearRegular forceCivilians (NZDF and Ministry of Defence)
NavyArmyAir ForceTotal
Sources: New Zealand Defence Force, Ministry of Defence

Defence policy

The Government's defence policy is to have a modern, professional, and well-equipped defence force with the military capabilities to meet New Zealand's objectives. 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

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

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

  • 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

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

While New Zealand may not face a direct military threat from another country in the foreseeable future, the security of the country and its citizens is threatened by non-military groups, such as terrorists, international criminals, and resource poachers.

Deployment of New Zealand Defence Force personnel to trouble spots around the world demonstrates New Zealand's commitment to international peace and security. Since 2002/03, defence force personnel have been deployed to Afghanistan, and the Arabian Gulf region, in the international fight against terrorism. Hundreds of other defence force personnel are deployed to Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands.

New Zealand Defence Force personnel were also deployed to longer-standing commitments in the Middle East, the Balkans, North-East and South-East Asia, and Africa.


New Zealand's voice on disarmament and arms control is listened to with respect, due to its role in creating the United Nations (UN), its opposition to nuclear testing, the establishment of a nuclear-free New Zealand, and practical contributions to UN peacekeeping and de-mining operations.

New Zealand also cooperates with other like-minded countries to exert influence. An example is 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. New Zealand is also deeply involved with international efforts to stop the illicit arms trade, and to regulate conventional weapons.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's international security and disarmament division is responsible for policy and treaty implementation. It prepares advice for the Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, represents New Zealand at international meetings, and ensures that New Zealand's international legal obligations are implemented at the national level. The division is also responsible for issuing export permits for items on New Zealand's list of strategic goods.

Overseas-based ministry officers, 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.

New Zealand Defence Force personnel discuss how to disarm a smoke projectile near the village of Bint Jubayl on the Israeli/Lebanese border in February 2008.

A statutory body, the Public Advisory Committee on Disarmament and Arms Control, 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 disarmament and arms control

  • advise the prime minister on implementation of the Act

  • publish reports on disarmament and arms control matters and on implementation of the Act

  • make recommendations for grants from the Peace and Disarmament Education Trust, established from Rainbow Warrior compensation funds, and grant funding from the UN Disarmament and Education Implementation Fund.

The committee has 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.

Royal New Zealand Navy

The chief of the Royal New Zealand Navy Te Taua Moana o Aotearoa exercises full command of the navy. The operational elements of the fleet are commanded by the commander of joint forces in New Zealand through the maritime-component commander, based at the headquarters of the joint forces, at Trentham. The deputy chief of navy, based in Wellington, is responsible to the chief of the navy for the navy's ‘raise, train and maintain’ functions.

The naval base at Devonport, Auckland, (known as HMNZS Philomel), consists of the navy's main naval barracks, wharf facilities, and administrative units; the naval hospital; and the naval supply and armament depots. The base also contains the naval dockyard, an engineering and support facility managed by a private company under contract. HMNZS Wakefield is the administrative unit 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 (attached to HMNZS Ngapona).

Table 4.05 lists the navy's ships and helicopters, while table 4.06 shows navy personnel.

Figure 4.02.

Royal New Zealand Navy sailors perform a haka as the project protector vessel, HMNZS Otago, is launched at a Melbourne shipyard in November 2006. The ship will be involved in patrolling, surveillance, search and rescue, humanitarian and peacekeeping assistance, and training.

Table 4.05. Navy vessels

Ship/helicopter typeNameForce
Source: New Zealand Defence Force
ANZAC-class frigatesTe KahaNaval combat
 Te Mana 
Multi-role vesselCanterburyNaval support
Logistics (fleet replenishment)EndeavourNaval support
Offshore patrol vesselsOtagoNaval patrol
Inshore patrol vesselsRotoitiNaval patrol
Survey shipResolutionHydrographic support
Diving support shipManawanuiDiving support
Training tenderKahuSea training
Mine counter measures support vesselKiwiTraining, mine countermeasures
Kaman Super Seasprite SH-2G (NZ) helicopter (x5)SeaspriteNaval aviation

Table 4.06. Navy personnel
At 30 June

Source: New Zealand Defence Force
Regular force (all ranks)1,8931,9181,9781,9531,9101,9982,034
Volunteer reserve (all ranks)385357354317327291287
Total uniformed2,2782,2752,3322,2702,2372,2892,321
Civilian employees43444444143640387378
Total navy2,7122,7192,7732,7062,2772,6762,699

New Zealand Army

The New Zealand Army Ngati Tumatauenga is organised, equipped, and trained to respond to lower-level contingencies in the Asia-Pacific region, or contribute to a collective force, including a United Nations force. It can provide a flexible range of units and sub-units for deployments of up to a battalion group in size.

The chief of the army, under the chief of the defence force, has full command of the army. The chief of army is assisted in discharging his statutory command requirements by the army general staff. The army general staff has both a policy formulation and a policy implementation role.

The land-component commander, under the commander of the joint forces in New Zealand, commands the operational elements of the army. The land-component commander is assigned operational command of the second land force group, primarily based at Linton, and the third land force group, primarily based at Burnham. This position also commands all regular and territorial force units, except for those elements assigned to the land training and doctrine group. The land training and doctrine group, primarily based in Waiouru, reports directly to the army general staff and is responsible for most of the individual training conducted within the army.

Army specialist units, based at Auckland and Trentham, include a special air service group and a military police company, and are commanded by the land-component commander.

Table 4.07 lists army headquarters and units and table 4.08 shows army personnel.

Table 4.07. Army headquarters and units

Source: New Zealand Defence Force
Auckland and Northland battalion groupAucklandTerritorial force
New Zealand special air service groupAucklandSpecial forces
Hauraki battalion groupTaurangaTerritorial force
Army depotWaiouruTraining
Headquarters – Army training groupWaiouruCommand
Land operations training centreWaiouruTraining
Officer cadet schoolWaiouruTraining
Wellington and Hawke's Bay battalion groupNapierTerritorial force
Wellington, West Coast and Taranaki battalion groupWanganuiTerritorial force
Battalion Royal New Zealand infantry regimentLintonCombat
Engineer regimentLintonCombat support
Field regimentLintonCombat support
Headquarters – Land force groupLintonCommand
Health services battalionLintonCombat service support
Logistics battalionLintonCombat service support
Signals squadronLintonCombat support
Force intelligence groupTrenthamCombat support
Force military police companyTrenthamCombat service support
Trentham regional support centreTrenthamStatic support
Army general staffWellingtonCommand
Battalion Royal New Zealand infantry regimentBurnhamCombat
Canterbury, Nelson, Marlborough and West Coast battalion groupBurnhamTerritorial force
Field troopBurnhamCombat support
Headquarters – Land force groupBurnhamCommand
Logistics battalionBurnhamCombat service support
Queen Alexandra's mounted riflesBurnhamCombat
Signals squadronBurnhamCombat support
Otago and Southland battalion groupDunedinTerritorial force

Table 4.08. Army personnel
At 30 June

Source: New Zealand Defence Force
Other ranks3,8383,7573,6563,7503,6923,7883,712
Total regular force4,5804,4924,3884,4794,4384,5634,516
Territorial force (all ranks)2,1592,1582,0311,8561,8881,9121,826
Total uniformed6,7396,6506,4196,3356,3266,4756,342
Total army7,3827,4297,1067,0197,0327,2207,035

Royal New Zealand Air Force

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) provides a maritime patrol force, a fixed wing transport force, and a rotary wing transport force. The chief of the air force, supported by the air staff, commands the air force.

The air-component commander within the headquarters of the joint forces commands the RNZAF's deployable operational units. The broad range of activities carried out to raise, train and maintain the operational units of the air force is provided under the direction of the air staff. Operational flying units are based at the Auckland and Ohakea RNZAF bases. The Ohakea base also hosts primary and advanced flying training, while most ground training is done at the Woodbourne base, near Blenheim.

RNZAF logistics services are coordinated by the air staff, with specific aircraft maintenance and supply support performed by operational squadrons and base logistics units. Much of the depot level repair and overhaul work is contracted to private companies in New Zealand and overseas. Air force training aircraft are maintained and supported by private contractors.

Table 4.09 lists air force aircraft, and table 4.10 shows air force personnel for 2001–07.

Table 4.09. Air force aircraft

AircraftRNZAF baseForce
Source: New Zealand Defence Force
P-3K Orions (x6)AucklandMaritime patrol force
Boeing 757–2005 (x2)AucklandFixed wing transport force
C-130H Hercules (x5)AucklandFixed wing transport force
SH-2G (NZ) Super Seasprites (x5)AucklandNaval helicopter force
Bell UH-1H Iroquois (x14)OhakeaRotary wing transport force
Bell 47G Sioux (x5)OhakeaFlying training
CT-4E Air Trainers (x13)OhakeaFlying training
Beechcraft King Air B2005 (x5)OhakeaFlying training

Table 4.1. Air force personnel
At 30 June

Source: New Zealand Defence Force
Other ranks2,0531,7141,7181,7261,7251,8111,837
Total regular force2,6242,2232,2262,2492,2662,3882,437
Territorial force (all ranks)176157155322825191
Total uniformed2,8002,3802,3812,2812,2942,4132,628
Total air force3,2112,7702,7932,6832,6702,8213,007

International defence relationships

The Five Power Defence Arrangements Concern about security arrangements in South-East Asia led to the establishment, in 1971, of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), involving New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. The arrangements are consultative and aim to contribute to the security of Malaysia and Singapore and to the long-term stability of the region. Members take part in exercise programmes that increase the ability of the five countries' 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 FPDA partners are an important part of the New Zealand Defence Force's training programme and has expanded significantly in recent years. The FPDA continues to evolve to meet the challenges of the changing security environment, with attention now being given to combating non-traditional threats such as maritime terrorism, piracy, and people smuggling. Scenarios based around these threats are being introduced into exercises.

Mutual assistance programme Most South Pacific countries, some members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and Timor-Leste participate in the New Zealand Defence Force's mutual assistance programme. Through training cooperation and advisory assistance, the programme contributes to the effectiveness of defence forces and law enforcement agencies in the South Pacific region. From time to time, 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 in the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Malaysia, for up to two years.

Australia A close defence relationship with Australia in support of common interests for a secure and peaceful region is a key policy objective for the government. Both countries share a strong commitment to the security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region, as reflected in combined efforts in recent years in Bougainville, Timor-Leste, and the Solomon Islands. The security relationship between Australia and New Zealand is embodied by the policy of closer defence relations, adopted in 1991 and realised through a programme of cooperative activities designed to give the relationship practical effect.

Air Loadmaster Sergeants McQueen and Hodges launch a package over the drop zone during Exercise Skytrain. New Zealand and New Caledonian aircraft were involved in this RNZAF tactical low-level flying exercise, based out of Napier airport in January 2007.

ANZUS The ANZUS security treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States came into force in 1952. The United States, however, is unwilling to accept restrictions on access to New Zealand ports for nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships of the United States Navy and the ANZUS Council has not met since 1984.

Other military liaisons To facilitate exchanges on military matters, defence representatives are posted to many of New Zealand's overseas diplomatic missions, with some accredited to more than one country. New Zealand has defence representatives in Australia; Canada; China; Fiji/Samoa/Tonga; Indonesia/Timor-Leste; Malaysia/Brunei; Cook Islands/Niue; Papua New Guinea/Vanuatu/Solomon Islands; Philippines; Japan; Korea; Saudi Arabia/Qatar/Bahrain/United Arab Emirates/Oman/Kuwait/Afghanistan; Singapore; Thailand/Laos/Cambodia/Viet Nam; United Kingdom/Germany/France/Belgium/Italy/Ireland; and the United States.

Military representatives are also accredited to multilateral bodies, including New Zealand's United Nations New York mission, and the headquarters of the Integrated Area Defence System in Malaysia. A representative in the United Kingdom is accredited to the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. In addition, a number of countries have military representatives attached to their diplomatic missions in Wellington, or accredited to, but not resident in, New Zealand.

Armed forces overseas at 31 August 2007

United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization (UNTSO) New Zealanders have been serving as UN military observers with UNTSO since 1948. UNTSO was formed to supervise the various truces stemming from the first Arab-Israeli War. These days the main purpose of the organisation is to monitor the various armistices and peace agreements, and use its positive influence to mediate between the disputing parties.

Groups of UNTSO observers are also attached to the UN Disengagement Force on the Golan Heights and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon. NZDF personnel are mainly based in Damascus, Tiberias, Nahariya, and at UNTSO headquarters in Jerusalem. They usually work at observation posts between frontline regular forces on both sides of international borders. They are not normally involved with the continuing clashes between Israeli and Palestinian forces in the occupied territories of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

New Zealand observers are drawn from all three services and may include female and territorial force officers. The Cabinet reviews New Zealand's contribution to this mission periodically.

East Timor/Timor-Leste In 1999, the Indonesian Government agreed to hold a vote in East Timor to decide its future. New Zealand military personnel and civilian police have participated in various UN missions in East Timor since then to halt violence and to support stability in the region. Most troops were withdrawn in 2002.

A mutual assistance programme with Timor-Leste was established in 2005, to provide a framework for training assistance in the longer term. Following unrest in 2006, New Zealand recommitted a large number of personnel, together with Australia, to a combined joint task force. Currently, 180 NZDF personnel are deployed to Timor-Leste.

Afghanistan In the Afghanistan summer, 122 New Zealand Defence Force personnel are deployed as the New Zealand provincial reconstruction team in the province of Bamyan in central Afghanistan; approximately 80 are deployed during the winter. Three other personnel are attached to the International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul. Another defence force officer works as a military liaison officer to the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan. Two personnel serve at the headquarters of the Combined Forces Command Afghanistan and Coalition Joint Task Force 76. Two more New Zealand Defence Force personnel assist in training the Afghan National Army as part of the Kabul-based United Kingdom Afghan National Army training team. Three staff officers are based at central command headquarters in Florida to provide planning advice and support for the New Zealand personnel contributing to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Contingents drawn from the New Zealand special air service group were deployed to Afghanistan, but the last returned in 2005.

Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) The mission was deployed following a request from Solomon Islands' Prime Minister Kanaleeza in July 2003 for assistance in restoring security, particularly on the islands of Guadalcanal and Malaita. RAMSI is an Australian led mission comprising Australian, Papua New Guinean, Fijian, New Zealand and Tongan officials, elements of the Australian and New Zealand defence forces and police officers from Australia, New Zealand and Pacific countries. New Zealand initially contributed 230 personnel to RAMSI, although the mission was later scaled down. The New Zealand Defence Force deployed a 30-strong platoon and a three-person National Support Element between November 2004 and February 2005, and another infantry platoon in 2006. Currently, there are 44 defence force personnel in the Solomon Islands.

Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) This force, in Sinai, was established in 1981 to verify compliance with the terms of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. Eleven countries contribute to the MFO, including New Zealand, whose 26-strong contingent provides a training and advisory team, a heavy transport section, engineers, and staff officers.

Arabian Gulf Six New Zealand Defence Force personnel are based in the Arabian Gulf to provide logistical support to defence force operations in the region.

The Republic of Korea Three New Zealand officers serve with the UN Command Military Armistice Commission in the Republic of Korea.

Sudan Two New Zealand military observers and one staff officer are serving with the UN Mission in Sudan.

Iraq After the return to New Zealand in September 2004 of the 61 New Zealand Defence Force personnel attached to a British Engineer Regiment in Basra, only one officer remains in Iraq, as a military liaison adviser with the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq.

Former Yugoslavia The New Zealand Defence Force deployed personnel to different parts of the former Yugoslavia for peacekeeping for many years. One officer remains in Kosovo (at the Headquarters of the UN Mission in Kosovo), but all other missions have finished.

Casualties There have been five fatalities among New Zealand Defence Force personnel serving in UN observer and peacekeeping missions since the defence force began participating in such missions.

Community assistance

New Zealand Cadet Forces Community-based youth groups, the cadet forces include the Sea Cadet Corps, the New Zealand Cadet Corps and the Air Training Corps. In 2006/07, the New Zealand Defence Force supported 103 cadet units with a total strength of 3,671 cadets and 330 officers. These groups receive assistance from the New Zealand Defence Force and support from the Sea Cadet Association of New Zealand, the Cadet Corps Association of New Zealand, the Air Training Corps Association of New Zealand, community organisations, and the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association.

Limited Service These volunteer training courses have been run by the army since 1995; additional staffing support has been provided by the navy and air force since 1998. The programme offers 144 positions on five courses each year, and provides unemployed volunteers, between the ages of 17 and 25, with six weeks of residential motivational training in a military cultural environment, teaching outdoor activities and general life skills.

Disaster relief The New Zealand Defence Force provides assistance to civil authorities following natural disasters in New Zealand, the Pacific and South-East Asia. Assistance can include surveying damage; transporting relief, food and medical supplies; and providing medical, engineering and communications services.

Assistance was provided during the civil defence emergency declared during the floods in Northland in July 2007 (and also during the 2004 and 2005 floods in Eastern Bay of Plenty, Manawatu/Rangitikei, and Tauranga).

The defence force can also be called on for post-cyclone damage assessment, and delivery of supplies in the Pacific and in Asia (for example, following the Boxing Day 2004 tsunami). Army engineers, usually working through New Zealand's Agency for International Development, may be used for limited reinstatement of some infrastructure.

Ship navigator Lieutenant Rendall plots coordinates on HMNZS Te Kaha. Te Kaha is one of two ANZAC class frigates, which patrol New Zealand waters and the South Pacific region and participate in naval exercises with New Zealand's military partners.

Fisheries protection New Zealand's 200-mile exclusive economic zone is patrolled by the air force's P-3K Orions and navy vessels. Information from surveillance patrols is passed to the Ministry of Fisheries, and fisheries officers are sometimes carried on board aircraft or ships when patrols are conducted. The air force conducted numerous patrols in the New Zealand and South Pacific exclusive economic zones during 2006/07 and also patrolled the Southern Ocean. Navy fisheries protection and border surveillance patrols are expected to increase as two new offshore and four new inshore patrol vessels are introduced into/service.

Search and rescue All three New Zealand defence force services maintain a search and rescue capability. Naval and air units are on 24-hour standby, and provide personnel and advice to Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand when needed. The navy and air force assist in sea searches, while the army and the air force assist the New Zealand Police in land searches and rescues. The air force also carries out emergency medical evacuations throughout New Zealand, the South Pacific and Antarctica. In 2006/07, the air force recorded 176 Orion and Iroquois search and rescue flight hours, which was less than half the 373 hours flown in 2005/06.

Operation Antarctica New Zealand Defence Force personnel support Operation Antarctica in terminal and logistic support operations. Up to 70 personnel are based at Harewood in Christchurch, and at McMurdo Station and Scott Base in Antarctica for varying periods during the Antarctic summer season from September to February. In 2006/07, RNZAF aircraft carried 110 passengers and more than 101,000 kilograms of freight to Antarctica.

Border surveillance The navy and air force support the New Zealand Customs Service in maintaining border security and reducing the risks that may arise as a result of the movement of people, goods and craft into and out of New Zealand. On request, the defence force will also patrol the exclusive economic zones of other South Pacific Forum countries.

Patrol flights in the South Pacific are carried out for military surveillance and economic-zone protection purposes. Unclassified results of these flights are shared with Pacific island countries and the Forum Fisheries Agency. Seats on these flights are frequently made available for Pacific island governments to allocate. All patrols are coordinated with Australian and French military authorities.

The New Zealand Defence Force's liaison with the New Zealand Customs Service will increase in importance as the navy's new offshore and inshore patrol vessels are introduced into service.

Other assistance The New Zealand Defence Force provides assistance to other government agencies and to the community. Assistance includes mail drops for Department of Conservation staff on outlying islands, ceremonial support for state occasions, helicopter and logistic support to the New Zealand Police, assistance with fire fighting, and explosive ordnance disposal.

Inspector-general of intelligence and security

The inspector-general of intelligence and security helps the prime minister oversee and review the Security Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Security Bureau. The inspector-general's focus is on the lawfulness of each organisation's activities, and that any complaints 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.

The New Zealand Security Intelligence Service

The New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) provides the government with intelligence and advice on national security issues within the terms of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Act 1969. The service is a civilian organisation governed by statute. The director of security, appointed by the governor-general, is responsible to the Minister in Charge of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service for its efficient and proper working.


  • obtains and evaluates intelligence relevant to security (this includes collecting and assessing domestically focused security intelligence, and the provision of foreign intelligence reports to meet New Zealand's foreign intelligence requirements)

  • communicates the intelligence to those whom the director considers appropriate, in the interests of security

  • advises the government about matters relevant to security

  • cooperates with other organisations in New Zealand and overseas that can assist the service

  • makes security-related recommendations on immigration and citizenship matters

  • conducts enquiries and makes recommendations on security clearances for particular individuals

  • gives advice on protective measures relevant to security.

Security involves protecting New Zealand from acts of espionage, sabotage, and subversion, whether or not the acts are directed from, or intended to be committed in, New Zealand. Security also involves protecting New Zealand from activities of foreign organisations or people that are clandestine, deceptive, threaten the safety of anyone, or have a negative impact on New Zealand's international or economic well-being.

The service aims to identify foreign capabilities, intentions or activities, within or relating to New Zealand, that impact on New Zealand's international or economic well-being; and to prevent any terrorist act or activity.

The NZSIS may not enforce security, or investigate people only because they take part in legal protest activities or disagree with the government of the day, nor can it do anything for the purpose of harming or furthering the interests of any political party.

The inspector-general of intelligence and security may enquire into any matter relating to the service's compliance with the law. The inspector-general may enquire into a complaint by any New Zealand person who considers that they have been adversely affected by any act, omission, practice, policy or procedure of the NZSIS. The service is also overseen by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.

Government Communications Security Bureau

The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) provides information, advice and assistance to the New Zealand Government, government departments and organisations. The GCSB is responsible to the prime minister.

The operations of the GCSB are governed by the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003. The GCSB is subject to oversight and review by the inspector-general of intelligence and security.

The GCSB protects information that is processed, stored, or communicated by electronic or similar means. The GCSB formulates communications security and computer security policy. It promotes standards and provides material, advice, and assistance to government departments and authorities (including the New Zealand armed forces), on matters relating to the security and integrity of official information – the loss or compromise of which could adversely affect national security.

The GCSB provides advice to government departments and authorities about official information that, although unrelated to national security, requires protection for privacy, safety, and commercial reasons, or to protect the functions of government. It also provides technical security services to defend against eavesdropping and other forms of technical attack against New Zealand Government premises worldwide.

The GCSB warns, guides, and coordinates the national response to information-technology-based threats to New Zealand's critical infrastructure (ie power, telecommunications, emergency services, banking and finance, transport, and government).

GCSB collects 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, at Tangimoana, near Palmerston North, and Waihopai, near Blenheim.

External Assessments Bureau

The External Assessments Bureau produces intelligence assessments of events and trends overseas that are likely to influence New Zealand's foreign relations and external interests. Part of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the bureau supports informed decisionmaking by the government.

The bureau employs about 30 staff, who 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 shows annual expenditure on the three intelligence and security agencies.

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

YearExternal Assessments BureauNew Zealand Security Intelligence ServiceGovernment Communications Security Bureau
Sources: External Assessments Bureau, New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, Government Communications Security Bureau

Contributors and related websites

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet –

Government Communications Security Bureau –

Ministry of Defence –

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade –

New Zealand Army –

New Zealand Defence Force –

New Zealand Security Intelligence Service –


Office of the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security

Royal New Zealand Air Force –

Royal New Zealand Navy –

Statistics New Zealand –

Volunteer Service Abroad –

Chapter 5. Population

The ethnic mosaic of New Zealand's population is changing, with the Māori, Asian and Pacific populations making up a growing proportion of the overall population. Some pupils from Aorangi Primary School in Christchurch in 2008 – Samantha Jory-Smart (left), 7, Hassain Raja, 9, Poutiriao McDowell, 6, Fatima Zawari, 10, Chris Choi, 8, and Diana