List of New Zealand ministries

This article lists New Zealand ministries, which are ruling groups of Ministers in New Zealand. There are three distinctly different periods; firstly the period during the 1st New Zealand Government without responsible government, then from 1856 to 1890 the period of responsible Government, and the third period started with the formation of political parties in 1891.

Ministries are in modern usage cabinets or governments; although this definition excludes Ministers outside Cabinet (up to the introduction of MMP in 1996, most ministers were in the Cabinet).

Period without responsible Government 1854–1856

The New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and was the second enactment to grant the colony of New Zealand self-government. The first elections for a New Zealand House of Representatives were held during 1853, and this lower house met for the first time in 1854 in Auckland. In practice, the country was initially governed by the Governor, George Grey, with the advice of the Civil Secretary and some officials that were appointed back in 1840/41, namely Andrew Sinclair (Colonial Secretary), William Swainson (Attorney-General), and Alexander Shepherd (Colonial Treasurer).[1]

In the first session of the 1st New Zealand Parliament, three elected member took office under the leadership of James FitzGerald, to be later joined by two members of the Legislative Council. Whilst they were the first official Executive Government under the Constitution, the practical administration remained with the Government officials. The second Ministry led by Thomas Forsaith, which briefly formed during the second session of the 1st Parliament, also had no real power.[1]

Cabinet Government 1856–1890

Responsible government commenced with the third ministry, led by Henry Sewell during the term of the 2nd New Zealand Parliament:[1]

Note that Wilson says: "Ministry was defeated on 15 August 1866 and resigned, but carried on in a caretaker capacity. However 3 Ministers resigned and were replaced. Though this was regarded as a new ministry, it was in fact a reconstruction, and is so regarded here."
Note that the Continuous Ministry is a term for the government of New Zealand from 1876 to 1890 (or 1887), except for 1877–79 and 1884–87. Sir Harry Atkinson was Premier, also Sir John Hall and Sir Frederick Whitaker. The Scarecrow Ministry of 1889–90 is sometimes included in the term.

Liberal Government of New Zealand (1891–1912)

Reform Government of New Zealand (1912–28)

United Government of New Zealand (1928–31)

United–Reform coalition Government of New Zealand (1931–35)

First Labour Government of New Zealand (1935–49)

Note: The War Cabinet was responsible for all decisions related to war matters. The War Administration was charged with the responsibility for all matters connected with the war and with New Zealand's war effort. The War Cabinet acted as its executive body. Both included opposition members.
Note: Wood has three Fraser Ministries: 1 April 1940 to 29 October 1943; 29 October 1943 to 19 December 1946; 19 December 1946 to 13 December 1949.

First National Government of New Zealand (1949–57)

Second Labour Government of New Zealand (1957–60)

Second National Government of New Zealand (1960–72)

Third Labour Government of New Zealand (1972–75)

Note: while Rowling was sworn in on 6 September, his ministers were not sworn in until 10 September

Third National Government of New Zealand (1975–84)

Note: Wood has three Muldoon Ministries: 12 December 1975 to 13 December 1978; 13 December 1978 to 11 December 1981; 11 December 1981 to 26 July 1984

Fourth Labour Government of New Zealand (1984–90)

Note: On 4 September 1990 Mike Moore succeeded Geoffrey Palmer as Prime Minister. Wood has a gap between the Lange Ministry and the Palmer/Moore Ministry from 4 to 14 August 1989.

Fourth National Government of New Zealand (1990–99)

Fifth Labour Government of New Zealand (1999–2008)

Fifth National Government of New Zealand (2008 – present)


  1. 1 2 3 Scholefield 1950, p. 27.
  2. Dominion (Wellington) 17 December page 2
  3. Evening Post (Wellington) 8 December page 1 & 10 December page 1


See also

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