New Zealand electorates

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An electorate is a voting district for elections to the New Zealand Parliament. In informal discussion, electorates are often called seats. The most formal description, electoral district, is rarely seen outside of electoral legislation. Before 1996, all Members of Parliament were directly chosen for office by the voters of an electorate. In 2014 under the MMP electoral system, 71 of the usually 120 seats in Parliament were filled by electorate members, with the remainder being filled from party lists in order to achieve proportional representation (there were 69 electorates in 2005, and 70 electorates in the 2008 and 2011 elections). The 71 electorates are made up from 64 general and seven Māori electorates.


Originally, electorates were drawn up based on political and social links, with little consideration for differences in population. Each electorate was allocated a different number of MPs (up to three) in order to balance population differences, but this was only partly successful. Eventually, a new system was introduced each electorate would elect one MP, and boundaries would be drawn based on population. However, a special country quota meant that rural seats were allowed to contain fewer people than urban seats, preserving the inequality and over-representing farmers. The quota persisted until 1945.

Today, electorate boundaries are determined by the Representation Commission. The Commission consists of:

Boundaries are reviewed after each New Zealand Census, which occurs every five years. The South Island is guaranteed to have 16 general seats, and dividing the number of persons in the South Island's general electoral population by 16 determines the South Island Quota which is then used to calculate the number of Māori electorates and North Island electorates. The number of māori electorates are determined by the Māori Electoral Option where Māori voters can opt to be in either a māori electorate or a general electorate. The percentage of Māori voters opting for the māori roll determines the percentage of the whole Māori population (of persons claiming Māori ancestry at the previous census) which is then divided by the South Island Quota to calculate the number of māori seats. South Island Māori opting for the general roll are included in the population on which the South Island Quota is established. The North Island population (including Māori opting for the general roll) being divided into electorates of approximately the same population as the South Island ones.[1] Electorates may vary by no more than 5% of the average population size. This has caused the number of list seats in Parliament to decline as the population is experiencing "northern drift" (i.e. the population of the North Island, especially around Auckland, is growing faster than that of the South Island) due to both internal migration and immigration.

Because of the increasing North Island population, the North Island was awarded an additional electoral seat beginning in the 2008 general election.[2] Another North Island seat was created for the 2014 general election.[3] Each time, the need for an extra seat was determined from the results of the most recent census, with the seat coming out of the total number of list seats. The total number of list seats has thus declined from 51 to 49 since 2007.

Although the New Zealand Parliament is intended to have 120 members, recent iterations have exceeded this quantity. Due to some parties winning more electorate seats than their proportion of the party vote suggests, overhang seats have awarded. In 2005 and 2011, 121 members were elected; 122 members were elected in 2008.

Special electorates

For more details on the qualifications required to vote, which were gradually extended, see History of voting in New Zealand.

Over the years, there have been two types of "special" electorates created for particular communities. The first were special goldminers' electorates, created for participants in the Otago Goldrush goldminers did not usually meet the residency and property requirements in the electorate they were prospecting in, but were numerous enough to warrant political representation. Two goldminers' electorates existed, the first began in 1863 and both ended in 1870.

Much more durable have been the Māori electorates, created in 1868 to give separate representation to Māori citizens. Although originally intended to be temporary, they came to function as reserved positions for Māori, ensuring that there would always be a Māori voice in Parliament. Until 1996 the number of Māori electorates was fixed at four, significantly under-representing Māori in Parliament. In 1975 the definition of who could opt to register on either the general or the māori roll was expanded to include all persons of Māori descent.[4] Previously all persons of more than 50% Māori ancestry were on the māori roll while persons of less than 50% Māori ancestry were required to enrol on the then European roll. Only persons presumed to have equal Māori and European ancestry (so-called half-castes) had a choice of roll.[5] Since the introduction of MMP, the number of seats can change with the number of Māori voters who choose to go on the Māori roll rather than the general roll.

Electorates in the 51st New Zealand Parliament

New Zealand electorates used since 2014, showing 2014 election results

This table shows the electorates as they are represented, as of 28 March 2015, during the 51st New Zealand Parliament.

General electorates

Electorate MP Party Description Land area
Auckland Central Kaye, NikkiNikki Kaye National inner-city Auckland and Hauraki Gulf islands 486 km2 (188 sq mi)
Bay of Plenty Muller, ToddTodd Muller National central Bay of Plenty coast 776 km2 (300 sq mi)
Botany Ross, Jami-LeeJami-Lee Ross National east Auckland 35 km2 (14 sq mi)
Christchurch Central Wagner, NickyNicky Wagner National inner city Christchurch 32 km2 (12 sq mi)
Christchurch East Williams, PotoPoto Williams Labour eastern Christchurch 91 km2 (35 sq mi)
Clutha-Southland Barclay, ToddTodd Barclay National Southland region (excluding Invercargill) and south Otago and parts of Central Otago 37,499 km2 (14,478 sq mi)
Coromandel Simpson, ScottScott Simpson National Coromandel Peninsula and Hauraki Plains 4,838 km2 (1,868 sq mi)
Dunedin North Clark, DavidDavid Clark Labour central and north Dunedin 2,157 km2 (833 sq mi)
Dunedin South Curran, ClareClare Curran Labour south Dunedin and east Dunedin 2,678 km2 (1,034 sq mi)
East Coast Tolley, AnneAnne Tolley National Wairoa, Gisborne, eastern Bay of Plenty 13,814 km2 (5,334 sq mi)
East Coast Bays McCully, MurrayMurray McCully National northeastern North Shore City 47 km2 (18 sq mi)
Epsom Seymour, DavidDavid Seymour ACT east-central Auckland 20 km2 (7.7 sq mi)
Hamilton East Bennett, DavidDavid Bennett National east Hamilton 40 km2 (15 sq mi)
Hamilton West Tim Macindoe National west Hamilton 82 km2 (32 sq mi)
Helensville Key, JohnJohn Key National northwest Auckland urban fringe 1,408 km2 (544 sq mi)
Hunua Bayly, AndrewAndrew Bayly National Franklin, rural districts south of Auckland. 1,028 km2 (397 sq mi)
Hutt South Mallard, TrevorTrevor Mallard Labour southern Hutt Valley 338 km2 (131 sq mi)
Ilam Brownlee, GerryGerry Brownlee National western Christchurch 27 km2 (10 sq mi)
Invercargill Dowie, SarahSarah Dowie National Invercargill, peripheral towns and Stewart Island/Rakiura 5,495 km2 (2,122 sq mi)
Kaikōura Smith, StuartStuart Smith National Marlborough, Kaikoura and north Canterbury 21,677 km2 (8,370 sq mi)
Kelston Sepuloni, CarmelCarmel Sepuloni Labour Glen Eden, Sunnyvale, Glendene, Kelston, New Lynn, and Avondale 26 km2 (10 sq mi)
Mana Faafoi, KrisKris Faafoi Labour Porirua city and southern Kapiti Coast 314 km2 (121 sq mi)
Mangere Sio, WilliamWilliam Sio Labour Mangere, south Auckland 56 km2 (22 sq mi)
Manukau East Salesa, JennyJenny Salesa Labour Otara and eastern Manukau city 23 km2 (8.9 sq mi)
Manurewa Wall, LouisaLouisa Wall Labour central and southern Manukau city 34 km2 (13 sq mi)
Maungakiekie Lotu-Iiga, SamSam Lotu-Iiga National south east suburbs of Auckland city 35 km2 (14 sq mi)
Mt Albert Shearer, DavidDavid Shearer Labour west-central Auckland 20 km2 (7.7 sq mi)
Mt Roskill Wood, MichaelMichael Wood Labour south-western Auckland city 21 km2 (8.1 sq mi)
Napier Nash, StuartStuart Nash Labour city of Napier 9,536 km2 (3,682 sq mi)
Nelson Smith, NickNick Smith National city of Nelson 536 km2 (207 sq mi)
New Lynn Cunliffe, DavidDavid Cunliffe Labour West Auckland 24 km2 (9.3 sq mi)
New Plymouth Young, JonathanJonathan Young National city of New Plymouth and Waitara 1,017 km2 (393 sq mi)
North Shore Barry, MaggieMaggie Barry National south east North Shore 25 km2 (9.7 sq mi)
Northcote Jonathan Coleman National south west North Shore 27 km2 (10 sq mi)
Northland Peters, WinstonWinston Peters New Zealand First Northland outside of Whangarei 11,552 km2 (4,460 sq mi)
Ōhariu Dunne, PeterPeter Dunne United Future north Wellington 116 km2 (45 sq mi)
Ōtaki Guy, NathanNathan Guy National Horowhenua and northern Kapiti Coast 1,429 km2 (552 sq mi)
Pakuranga Williamson, MauriceMaurice Williamson National east Auckland 23 km2 (8.9 sq mi)
Palmerston North Lees-Galloway, IainIain Lees-Galloway Labour city of Palmerston North 46 km2 (18 sq mi)
Papakura Judith Collins National Papakura and parts of Franklin district, Auckland. 238 km2 (92 sq mi)
Port Hills Dyson, RuthRuth Dyson Labour south east Christchurch and port of Lyttelton 92 km2 (36 sq mi)
Rangitata Goodhew, JoJo Goodhew National South Canterbury 6,087 km2 (2,350 sq mi)
Rangitīkei McKelvie, IanIan McKelvie National northern Manawatu and inland Whanganui region. 12,499 km2 (4,826 sq mi)
Rimutaka Hipkins, ChrisChris Hipkins Labour northern Hutt Valley 509 km2 (197 sq mi)
Rodney Mitchell, MarkMark Mitchell National Hibiscus Coast, Wellsford and Warkworth 721 km2 (278 sq mi)
Rongotai King, AnnetteAnnette King Labour southern and eastern suburbs of Wellington; Chatham Islands 836 km2 (323 sq mi)
Rotorua McClay, ToddTodd McClay National Rotorua District and Kawerau 3,075 km2 (1,187 sq mi)
Selwyn Adams, AmyAmy Adams National western Christchurch urban fringe and Ashburton 8,450 km2 (3,260 sq mi)
Tāmaki O'Connor, SimonSimon O'Connor National eastern suburbs of Auckland city 25 km2 (9.7 sq mi)
Taranaki-King Country Kuriger, BarbaraBarbara Kuriger National northern Taranaki towns, King Country and Te Awamutu 13,053 km2 (5,040 sq mi)
Taupō Upston, LouiseLouise Upston National Taupo, Turangi, South Waikato and Ruapehu districts 9,107 km2 (3,516 sq mi)
Tauranga Bridges, SimonSimon Bridges National central Tauranga and Mount Maunganui 59 km2 (23 sq mi)
Te Atatu Twyford, PhilPhil Twyford Labour Te Atatu peninsula and Henderson, west Auckland 30 km2 (12 sq mi)
Tukituki Foss, CraigCraig Foss National Hastings and southern Hawkes Bay 4,285 km2 (1,654 sq mi)
Upper Harbour Bennett, PaulaPaula Bennett National Massey to Glenfield 35 km2 (14 sq mi)
Waikato Tisch, LindsayLindsay Tisch National north Waikato 4,231 km2 (1,634 sq mi)
Waimakariri Doocey, MattMatt Doocey National northwest Christchurch, Rangiora and Kaiapoi 1,751 km2 (676 sq mi)
Wairarapa Scott, AlastairAlastair Scott National Wairarapa, Tararua District 11,931 km2 (4,607 sq mi)
Waitaki Dean, JacquiJacqui Dean National north and parts of central Otago 33,350 km2 (12,880 sq mi)
Wellington Central Robertson, GrantGrant Robertson Labour inner-city Wellington 144 km2 (56 sq mi)
West Coast-Tasman O'Connor, DamienDamien O'Connor Labour West Coast, Murchison and north Nelson regional coast 32,857 km2 (12,686 sq mi)
Whanganui Borrows, ChesterChester Borrows National city of Wanganui and south Taranaki coast 5,766 km2 (2,226 sq mi)
Whangarei Reti, ShaneShane Reti National city of Whangarei 1,512 km2 (584 sq mi)
Wigram Woods, MeganMegan Woods Labour south west Christchurch 37 km2 (14 sq mi)

Māori electorates

Electorate MP Party Description Land area
Hauraki-Waikato Mahuta, NanaiaNanaia Mahuta Labour Waikato, including Coromandel 12,299 km2 (4,749 sq mi)
Ikaroa-Rawhiti Whaitiri, MekaMeka Whaitiri Labour East Cape, Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa and the Hutt Valley 30,834 km2 (11,905 sq mi)
Tamaki Makaurau Henare, PeeniPeeni Henare Labour central and southern Auckland 575 km2 (222 sq mi)
Te Tai Hauauru Rurawhe, AdrianAdrian Rurawhe Labour South Waikato, Taranaki, Manawatu-Wanganui and the Kapiti Coast 35,760 km2 (13,810 sq mi)
Te Tai Tokerau Davis, KelvinKelvin Davis Labour Northland, north and west Auckland 15,493 km2 (5,982 sq mi)
Te Tai Tonga Tirikatene, RinoRino Tirikatene Labour Wellington, the South Island, Stewart Island/Rakiura and the Chatham Islands 153,928 km2 (59,432 sq mi)
Waiariki Flavell, Te UruroaTe Ururoa Flavell Māori Bay of Plenty and Taupo 19,217 km2 (7,420 sq mi)

Abolished electorates

General electorates

Māori electorates

Goldminers' electorates


  1. "Calculating future Māori and General Electorates". Electoral Commission (New Zealand). 1 October 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
  2. "Report of the Representation Commission, 2007" (PDF). Representation Commission. 2007. p. 4. Retrieved 3 September 2014.
  3. "2014 Electorate Boundaries - Key Changes". Electoral Commission New Zealand. 17 April 2014. Retrieved 3 September 2014.
  4. "Electoral Amendment Act 1975". Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  5. "Electoral Act, 1956". Retrieved 10 March 2014.
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