New Zealand general election, 2008

New Zealand general election, 2008
New Zealand
8 November 2008 (2008-11-08)

All 120 seats (plus 2 overhang seats) in the New Zealand House of Representatives
61 seats were needed for a majority
Opinion polls
Turnout 2,376,480 (79.46%) Decrease1.46%
  First party Second party Third party
Leader John Key Helen Clark Russel Norman / Jeanette Fitzsimons
Party National Labour Green
Leader since 27 November 2006 1 December 1993 2006 / 1995
Leader's seat Helensville Mount Albert (List) / (List)
Last election 48 seats, 39.10% 50 seats, 41.10% 6 seats, 5.30%
Seats before 48 49 6
Seats won 58 43 9
Seat change Increase 10 Decrease 6 Increase 3
Popular vote 1,053,398 796,880 157,613
Percentage 44.93% 33.99% 6.72%
Swing Increase 5.83% Decrease 7.11% Increase 1.42%

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
Leader Rodney Hide Tariana Turia / Pita Sharples Jim Anderton
Party ACT Māori Progressive
Leader since 2004 2004 2002 (party foundation)
Leader's seat Epsom Te Tai Hauāuru / Tāmaki Makaurau Wigram
Last election 2 seats, 1.51% 4 seats, 2.12% 1 seat, 1.16%
Seats before 2 4 1
Seats won 5 5 1
Seat change Increase 3 Increase 1 Steady 0
Popular vote 85,496 55,980 21,241
Percentage 3.65% 2.39% 0.91%
Swing Increase 2.14% Increase 0.27% Decrease 0.25%

  Seventh party Eighth party
Leader Peter Dunne Winston Peters
Party United Future NZ First
Leader since 2002 1993
Leader's seat Ōhariu (List)
Last election 3 seats, 2.67% 7 seats, 5.72%
Seats before 2 7
Seats won 1 0
Seat change Decrease 1 Decrease 7
Popular vote 20,497 95,356
Percentage 0.87% 4.07%
Swing Decrease 1.80% Decrease 1.65%

Prime Minister before election

Helen Clark

Subsequent Prime Minister

John Key

The 2008 New Zealand general election was held on 8 November 2008 to determine the composition of the 49th New Zealand parliament. The conservative National Party, headed by its Parliamentary leader John Key, won the largest share of votes and seats, ending nine years of government by the social democratic Labour Party, led by Helen Clark. Key announced a week later that he would lead a National minority government with confidence-and-supply support from the ACT, United Future and Māori parties. The Governor-General swore Key in as New Zealand's 38th Prime Minister on 19 November 2008.

The Green Party became the third-largest party in Parliament, with nine seats. The ACT Party came joint-fourth (in terms of seats), increasing their number of seats from two to five, and reversing some of their losses from the 2005 election. The Māori Party also won five seats – out of the seven Māori seats – creating an overhang of two seats. The New Zealand First party, which had seven MPs in the previous parliament, failed to win any electorates or pass the 5 per cent MMP threshold, and therefore won no seats in the new parliament.

In his victory speech, John Key announced the readiness of the ACT and United Future parties to co-operate with the National Party to form the next government, the Fifth National Government of New Zealand. In her concession speech, Helen Clark announced her resignation as the parliamentary leader of the Labour Party. She had led the party since 1993, and had served as prime minister since the 1999 election.


The Labour government failed to secure a fourth consecutive term, after the National Party entered into support agreements with the ACT, United Future and Māori parties, resulting in a National minority government.[1]

The Chief Electoral Officer released the official results on 22 November 2008.[2]

Parliamentary parties

  Summary of the 8 November 2008 New Zealand House of Representatives official election results
party votes % of votes seats
% change electorate list total change
National 1,053,398 44.93 +5.83 41 17 58 +10
Labour 796,880 33.99 -7.11 21 22 43 -7
Green 157,613 6.72 +1.42 0 9 9 +3
ACT 85,496 3.65 +2.14 1 4 5 +3
Māori 55,980 2.39 +0.27 5 0 5 +1
Progressive 21,241 0.91 -0.25 1 0 1 0
United Future 20,497 0.87 -1.80 1 0 1 -2
other parties 153,461 6.55 +5.23 0 0 0 -7a
total 2,344,566 100.00 70 52 122 +1b
party informal votes 11,970c
disallowed special votes 19,517c
disallowed ordinary votes 427c
total votes cast 2,376,480
turnout 79.46d -1.46

a The loss of seven seats by 'other parties' shown here compared to the 2005 election result was mostly due to NZ First failing to clear the MMP threshold while two independents, Gordon Copeland and Taito Phillip Field, who had split from their parties since the 2005 election lost their seats.
b The Māori Party gained two overhang seats (increasing parliament's size from 120 to 122 seats) by virtue of gaining more electorate seats than their party vote would have otherwise given them. This was one more overhang seat than in 2005.
c"Party Votes and Turnout by Electorate". Chief Electoral Office, New Zealand Ministry of Justice. Retrieved 2008-11-29. 
dThe turnout is given as a percentage of those enrolled to vote. In New Zealand, enrolment is compulsory, though voting is not. "New Zealand General Election 2008 - Official Results". Elections New Zealand. Retrieved 2008-11-23. 

Non-parliamentary parties

Party vote percentage

  National (44.93%)
  Labour (33.99%)
  Green (6.72%)
  NZ First (4.07%)
  ACT (3.65%)
  Māori (2.39%)
  Other (2.47%)
  Summary of party vote for minor
unrepresented registered parties.
Party Votes % Change
New Zealand First 95,356 4.07 -1.65
Bill and Ben 13,016 0.56
Kiwi Party 12,755 0.54
Legalise Cannabis 9,515 0.41 +0.16
New Zealand Pacific 8,640 0.37
Family Party 8,176 0.35
Alliance 1,909 0.08 +0.01
Democrats for Social Credit 1,208 0.05 ±0.00
Libertarianz 1,176 0.05 +0.01
Workers Party of New Zealand 932 0.04
Residents Action Movement 465 0.02
Republic of NZ 313 0.01 -0.01
Minor parties, total 153,461 6.51 +5.32

Votes summary

Popular Vote
NZ First
United Future
Parliament seats
United Future

Electorate results

Party affiliation of the winning electorate candidates.

While the National Party has dominated rural seats since 1938, it achieved a clean sweep this year. The 19 general electorates which Labour retained all have a predominantly urban character, excluding Waimakariri, a predominantly urban area but with a significant rural population, resulting in a Labour MP narrowly elected but National winning the party vote commandingly. Palmerston North remains the only provincial city with a Labour MP. The two seats of Hamilton (considered "bellwether" seats as their demographic profile closely resembles that of the country as a whole[3]) both went to National.

Electorate results of the New Zealand general election, 2008[4]
Electorate Incumbent Winner Majority Runner up
Auckland Central Judith Tizard Nikki Kaye 1,497 Judith Tizard
Bay of Plenty Tony Ryall 17,604 Carol Devoy-Heena
Botany New electorate Pansy Wong 10,872 Koro Tawa
Christchurch Central Tim Barnett Brendon Burns 935 Nicky Wagner
Christchurch East Lianne Dalziel 5,765 Aaron Gilmore
Clutha-Southland Bill English 15,475 Don Pryde
Coromandel Sandra Goudie 14,560 Hugh Kininmonth
Dunedin North Pete Hodgson 7,155 Michael Woodhouse
Dunedin South David Benson-Pope Clare Curran 6,449 Conway Powell
East Coast Anne Tolley 6,413 Moana Mackey
East Coast Bays Murray McCully 13,974 Vivienne Goldsmith
Epsom Rodney Hide 12,882 Richard Worth
Hamilton East David Bennett 8,820 Sue Moroney
Hamilton West Martin Gallagher Tim Macindoe 1,618 Martin Gallagher
Helensville John Key 20,547 Darien Fenton
Hunua Paul Hutchison 15,858 Jordan Carter
Hutt South Trevor Mallard 4,086 Paul Quinn
Ilam Gerry Brownlee 11,893 Sam Yau
Invercargill Eric Roy 6,664 Lesley Soper
Kaikoura Colin King 11,077 Brian McNamara
Mana Winnie Laban 6,155 Hekia Parata
Mangere Taito Phillip Field William Sio 7,126 Taito Phillip Field (Pacific)
Manukau East Ross Robertson 12,445 Kanwal Singh Bakshi
Manurewa George Hawkins 6,726 Cam Calder
Maungakiekie Mark Gosche Sam Lotu-Iiga 1,942 Carol Beaumont
Mount Albert Helen Clark 10,351 Ravi Masuku
Mount Roskill Phil Goff 6,418 Jackie Blue
Napier Chris Tremain 9,018 Russell Fairbrother
Nelson Nick Smith 8,471 Maryan Street
New Lynn David Cunliffe 4,025 Tim Groser
New Plymouth Harry Duynhoven Jonathan Young 105 Harry Duynhoven
North Shore Wayne Mapp 14,574 Phil Twyford
Northcote Jonathan Coleman 9,360 Hamish McCracken
Northland John Carter 10,054 Shane Jones
Ōhariu Peter Dunne 1,006 Charles Chauvel
Ōtaki Darren Hughes Nathan Guy 1,354 Darren Hughes
Pakuranga Maurice Williamson 13,906 Brian Kelly
Palmerston North Steve Maharey Iain Lees-Galloway 1,117 Malcolm Plimmer
Papakura (New electorate) Judith Collins 10,277 Dave Hereora
Port Hills (New electorate) Ruth Dyson 3,452 Terry Heffernan
Rangitata (New electorate) Jo Goodhew 8,112 Julian Blanchard
Rangitīkei Simon Power 12,042 Jills Burney
Rimutaka Paul Swain Chris Hipkins 753 Richard Whiteside
Rodney Lockwood Smith 15,635 Conor Roberts
Rongotai Annette King 9,020 Chris Finlayson
Rotorua Stephanie Chadwick Todd McClay 5,065 Stephanie Chadwick
Selwyn (New electorate) Amy Adams 11,075 David Coates
Tamaki Allan Peachey 17,020 Josephine Bartley
Taranaki-King Country Shane Ardern 15,618 Renée van de Weert
Taupō Mark Burton Louise Upston 6,445 Mark Burton
Tauranga Bob Clarkson Simon Bridges 11,742 Winston Peters
Te Atatu Chris Carter 5,298 Tau Henare
Tukituki Craig Foss 7,811 Rick Barker
Waikato Lindsay Tisch 12,850 Jacinda Ardern
Waimakariri Clayton Cosgrove 390 Kate Wilkinson
Wairarapa John Hayes 6,758 Denise MacKenzie
Waitakere Lynne Pillay Paula Bennett 632 Lynne Pillay
Waitaki (New electorate) Jacqui Dean 11,039 David Parker
Wellington Central Marian Hobbs Grant Robertson 1,904 Stephen Franks
West Coast-Tasman Damien O'Connor Chris Auchinvole 971 Damien O'Connor
Whanganui Chester Borrows 6,333 Hamish McDouall
Whangarei Phil Heatley 14,663 Paul Chalmers
Wigram Jim Anderton 4,767 Marc Alexander
Māori Electorates
Hauraki-Waikato (New electorate) Nanaia Mahuta 888 Angeline Greensill
Ikaroa-Rāwhiti Parekura Horomia 1,645 Derek Fox
Tāmaki Makaurau Pita Sharples 7,540 Louisa Wall
Te Tai Hauāuru Tariana Turia 7,817 Errol Mason
Te Tai Tokerau Hone Harawira 6,308 Kelvin Davis
Te Tai Tonga Mahara Okeroa Rahui Katene 1,049 Mahara Okeroa
Waiariki Te Ururoa Flavell 6,812 Mita Ririnui

List results

Highest polling party in each electorate.
National Labour Green ACT
David Carter (09)
Chris Finlayson (14)
Tim Groser (15)
Steven Joyce (16)
Georgina Te Heuheu (17)
Richard Worth (25)1
Tau Henare (26)
Kate Wilkinson (30)
Hekia Parata (36)
Melissa Lee (37)
Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (38)
Nicky Wagner (43)
Jackie Blue (45)
Katrina Shanks (46)
Paul Quinn (48)
Michael Woodhouse (49)
Aaron Gilmore (56)
Michael Cullen (02)1
Maryan Street (09)
Rajen Prasad (12)
Shane Jones (16)
David Parker (17)
Darren Hughes (19)1
Jacinda Ardern (20)
Raymond Huo (21)
Sue Moroney (22)
Mita Ririnui (23)
Moana Mackey (25)
Phil Twyford (26)
Charles Chauvel (27)
Carol Beaumont (28)
Kelvin Davis (29)
Steve Chadwick (30)
Ashraf Choudhary (31)
Lynne Pillay (32)
Darien Fenton (33)
Rick Barker (34)
Carmel Sepuloni (35)
Stuart Nash (36)
Jeanette Fitzsimons (01)1
Russel Norman (02)
Sue Bradford (03)1
Metiria Turei (04)
Sue Kedgley (05)
Keith Locke (06)
Kevin Hague (07)
Catherine Delahunty (08)
Kennedy Graham (09)
Heather Roy (02)
Roger Douglas (03)
John Boscawen (04)
David Garrett (05)1

Unsuccessful list candidates

National Cam Calder2, Conway Powell, Stephen Franks, Marc Alexander, Mita Harris, Terry Heffernan, Ravi Musuku, Richard Whiteside, Paul O'Brien, Youngshin Watkins, Hamuera Mitchell, Viv Gurrey, Dugald McLean, Simon O'Connor
Labour Damien O'Connor2, Judith Tizard, Mark Burton, Mahara Okeroa, Martin Gallagher, Dave Hereora, Louisa Wall2, Lesley Soper, Hamish McCracken, Erin Ebborn-Gillespie, Errol Mason, Chris Yoo, Josephine Bartley, Don Pryde, Michael Wood, Farida Sultana, Denise MacKenzie, Julian Blanchard, Hamish McDouall, Anjum Rahmen, Susan Zhu, Kate Sutton, Conor Roberts, Koro Tawa, Jills Angus-Burney Rangitikei, Vivienne Goldsmith, Eamon Daly, Brian Kelly, Jordan Carter, Tracey Dorreen, Renee van de Weert, Anne Pankhurst, David Coates, Hugh Kinnimonth, Carol Devoy-Heena, Raj Thandi
Green David Clendon2, Gareth Hughes2, Steffan Browning, Mojo Mathers, Mike Ward, Quentin Duthie, Mikaere Curtis, Richard Leckinger, Jeanette Elley, Virginia Horrocks, Donna Wynd, David Hay, Dianne Mellor, James Redwood, Lisa Er, Jan McLauchlan, Lizzie Gillett, Rayna Fahey, Craig Carson, Richard Tindall, Paul Doherty, Michael Woodcok, Pieter Watson, Bevan Tipene, Peter Taylor, Karen Summerhays, Mua Strickson-Pua, Gary Stewart, Dale Stevens, Brett Stansfield, James Shaw, Raewyn Saville, Denise Roche, Rebecca Redwood, Linda Persson, Rawiri Paratene, Lawrence O'Halloran, John Milnes, Alan Liefting, Martin Leiding, Dora Langsbury, Fiona Kenworthy, Jim Kebbell, Alan Johnson, Wendy Harper, Rob Hamill, Rachel Grimwood, Tim Gow, Xavier Goldie, Michael Gilchrist, Ryan Garland, Shane Gallagher, Zachary Dorner, Kath Dewar, Peter Cooper, Joseph Burston, Oliver Briggs
NZ First Winston Peters, Peter Brown, Ron Mark, Doug Woolerton, Barbara Stewart, Pita Paraone, Le-Aufa'amulia Asenati Lole-Taylor, Edwin Perry, Steven Campbell, Brendan Horan, Melanie Mark-Shadbolt David Scott, Tracey Martin, Dail Jones, Brent Catchpole, Helen Mulford-Tyler, Craig McNair, Joseph Gregory, Douglas Nabbs, John Hall, Graham Odering, Linda King
ACT Hilary Calvert2, Peter Tashkoff, John Ormond, Colin du Plessis, Shawn Tan, Ron Scott, Aaron Keown, Nick Kearney, Lyn Murphy, David Olsen, Frances Denz, Dave Moore, Mike Bridge, Lech Beltowski, Beryl Good, Ashok Kumar, Dave Tattersfield, William Wong, John Thompson, Kevin Campbell, Mark Davies, Michael Bailey, Carl Freimann, Chris Albers, Vince Ashworth, Shane Atkinson, Ray Bassett, Hardev Brar, Mike Collins, Alan Davidson, Andrew Falloon, John Fraser
Māori Angeline Greensill, Derek Fox, Naida Glavish, Iritana Tawhiwhirangi, Hector Matthews, Te Orohi Paul, Amokura Panoho, Grant Hawke, Bronwyn Yates, Josie Peita, Richard Orzecki, Mereana Pitman, Te Awanuiarangi Black, Georgina Haremate-Crawford
Progressive Matt Robson, Josie Pagani, Paula Gillon, Philip Clearwater, Vivienne Shepherd, Trevor Barnard, Brenda Hill, Craig Hutchinson, Justin Robson, Ngov Ly, Sukerna Amirapu, Somnath Sarkar Bagchi, Sukhdev Singh Bains, Sokunthea Cheam, Seyed Kazemi Yazdi, Debbie Lucas, Claire Main, Philippa Main, John Maurice, Jacqueline McAlpine, Elizabeth Patchett, Talatala Po'e, Pavitra Roy, Elspeth Sandys, David Somerset, Ralph Taylor
United Future Judy Turner, Denise Krum, Graeme Reeves, Aaron Solomon, Murray Smith, Neville Wilson, Francis Owen, Janet Tuck, Karuna Muthu, Robin Loomes, Gregory Graydon, Damian Light, Vanessa Roberts, Aaron Galey-Young, Ian McInnes, Kelleigh Sheffield-Cranstoun, Brian Ward, Vaughan Smith, James Stowers, Bryan Mockridge, Arthur Solomon, Jennifer Hurn, Manogi Head, Diane Brown, Quentin Todd, Rochelle White, John Langford, Philip Johnson, Kenneth Smith
Bill and Ben Jamie Linehan (Bill), Benjamin Boyce (Ben)
Kiwi Larry Baldock, Gordon Copeland, Simon Kan, Frank Naea, Simonne Dyer, Bernie Ogilvy, Anthony Christiansen, Antony Buntin, Vapnierka Kupenga, Leighton Baker, Camilia Chin, Kevin Stitt, Robyn Jackson, Josephine van Kempen, Marjorie Mulholland, Joel Sison, Grace Haden, Joseph Rebello, Robin Westley, Rebekah Clement, Alistair Belcher, Amjad Khan, Lindsay Cameron, Philip Wescombe, Christian Dawson
Legalise Cannabis Michael Appleby, Michael Britnell, Paula Lambert, Kevin O'Connell, Julian Crawford, Irinka Britnell, Steven Wilkinson, Judy Daniels, Vincent McLeod, Daniel Bruce, Paul McMullan, Jeffrey Lye, Philip Pophristoff, Jason Baker-Sherman, Judith Matangi, Neville Yates, Elanor Stedman, Peter Green, Mark Bradford, Frederick MacDonald
Pacific Taito Phillip Field, Milo Siilata, Matapakia Ngaroi, Aiolupotea Roache, Darren Jones, Galumalemana Hunkin, Fia Turner-Tupou, Tevaga Leavasa, Vui Muliagatele Vitale, Maifea Tiumalumatua Fetu, Lupe Tofilau Eti-Vaofanua, Craig Jones, Fiasili Ah Tong, Timothy Manu
Family Party Richard Lewis, Paul Adams, Li Tao Xu, George Ngatai, Poutoa Papali'i, Samuel Dennis, Michael Kidd, Melanie Taylor, Karl Adams, Louise Cleary, Paul Tankard, Yih Woh Chong, Elias Kanaris, Jerry Filipaina
Alliance Kay Murray, Andrew McKenzie, Victor Billot, Paul Piesse, Richard Wallis, Sarah Campbell, Robert van Ruyssevelt, Jim Flynn, Sarita Divis, Amy Tubman, Richard Mitchell, Jack Yan, Thomas Dowie, Thomas O'Neill, Kelly Buchanan, Jennifer Olsen, Greg Kleis, Matthew Stephen, Marvin Hubbard, Norman MacRitchie, Sandra Ethell, Justin Wilson, Quentin Findlay, Valerie Quinn, Sarah Martin, Peta Knibb, Warren Brewer, Denis O'Connor, Eric Gamble, Samuel Murray
Democrats Stephnie de Ruyter, John Pemberton, David Wilson, Katherine Ransom, Carolyn McKenzie, David Tranter, Heather Smith, Hessel Van Wieren, Barry Pulford, Dawn McIntosh, Iain Parker, Nicholas McIlraith, Edgar Goodhue, John McCaskey, John Ring, Leslie Port, Bruce Stirling, Ross Weddell, Kelly Pemberton, David Espin, Ross Hayward, John Steemson, Karl Hewlett, Edward Fox, Malcolm Keoghan, John Kilbride, Harry Alchin-Smith, Alida Steemson, Roger White, Gary Gribben, Olive McRae
Libertarianz Bernard Darnton, Richard McGrath, Susan Ryder, Mitchell Lees, Colin Cross, Peter Cresswell, Peter Linton, Philip Howison, Nikolas Haden, Timothy Wikiriwhi, Michael Webber, Elahrairah Zamora, Helen Hughes, Michael Murphy, Peter Osborne, Sean Fitzpatrick, Scott Wilson, Luke Howison, Benjamin Morgan, Shane Pleasance, Robert Palmer, Shirley Riddle, Bruce Whitehead, Terence Verhoeven, Kenneth Riddle, Alfred Stevens, Euan McPetrie, Christopher Robertson, Peter Kermode, Lawrence Couper, Donald Rowberry, Willem Verhoeven, Mark Hubbard, Sean Kimpton, Julian Darby, Richard Goode
Workers Party Donald Franks, Daphna Whitmore, Nicholas Kelly, Paul Hopkinson, Byron Clark, Jasmine Freemantle, Rebecca Broad, Timothy Bowron, Jennifer Isle, Heleyni Pratley, Joel Cosgrove, Marika Pratley, Joshua Glue, Nicolas Scullin
RAM Oliver Woods, Grant Brookes, Roger Fowler, Elliott Blade, Michelle Ducat, Martin Kaipo, Cordelia Black, Stephen Cooper, Daphne Lawless, Grant Rogers, Donald Archer, Patrick O'Dea, Bronwen Beechey, Robyn Hughes, Benjamin Doherty, Rafe Copeland, Michael Lai, Curwen Rolinson, Peter Hughes, David Colyer, Kyle Webster, Samuel Richardson, Thomas Pearce, Leonard Parker, Jonathan Williams, Peter de Wall
RONZ Kerry Bevin, Jack Gielen, David Llewell, Brett Docherty, Justin Harnish, David Macartney
  1. Party list members resigned during the parliamentary term.
  2. Originally unsuccessful party list members declared elected to parliament when elected list MPs resigned.


New Zealand elections traditionally occur after September in the third year following the last election, and snap elections occur rarely; the only three elections out of sync in the period of 1948 to 2008 took place in 1951, 1984 and 2002—and the last two came only a few months early. Convention in New Zealand expects Parliaments to run for a full three years unless the government loses the confidence of the House, although this has not happened since 1911.

The Constitution Act 1986 defines the term of Parliament as "three years from the day fixed for the return of the writs issued for the last preceding general election of members of the House of Representatives, and no longer". Since the writs for the 2005 election were returned on 6 October 2005,[5] the ensuing 48th New Zealand Parliament expired on 6 October 2008, making 15 November the final possible date for the 2008 general election.

On Friday 12 September 2008, Prime Minister Helen Clark announced that the general election would take place on 8 November 2008. This set the full election timetable as:

Political parties

Contesting parties

Nineteen registered political parties contested the party vote:[7]

party leader(s) elections contested by party seats won in 2005 seats won in 2008
parties that won seats at the 2005 general election
ACT Rodney Hide 1996 2 5
Green Party Jeanette Fitzsimons & Russel Norman 1990; 1999 6 9
Labour Party Helen Clark 1919 50 43
Māori Party Tariana Turia & Pita Sharples 2005 4 5
National Party John Key 1938 48 58
New Zealand First Winston Peters 1993 7 0
Progressive Party Jim Anderton 2002 1 1
United Future Peter Dunne 1996 3 1
parties that did not win seats at the 2005 election
Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party Michael Appleby 1996 0 0
Alliance Andrew McKenzie & Kay Murray 1993 0 0
Democrats for Social Credit Stephnie de Ruyter 19541990 (As Social Credit until 1985); 2005 0 0
Libertarianz Bernard Darnton 1996 0 0
The Republic of New Zealand Party Kerry Bevin 2005 0 0
parties that have not previously contested a general election in New Zealand
Bill and BenJamie Linehan & Ben Boyce 2008 0
The Family Party Richard Lewis 2008 0
Kiwi Party Larry Baldock 2008 0
New Zealand Pacific Party Taito Phillip Field 2008 0
Residents Action Movement Oliver Woods 2008 0
Workers Party Daphna Whitmore 2008 0

Non-contesting parties

The following parties either disappeared during the previous parliament's term (2005 to 2008), or did not contest the 2008 elections for other reasons.

party leader(s) elections contested by party
registered political parties that did not submit a list
Direct Democracy Kelvyn Alp 2005
New World Order Party Nathan Couper
parties dissolved or deregistered since 2005 election
99 MP Party Margaret Robertson 2005
Christian Heritage Ewen McQueen 19902005
Destiny New Zealand Richard Lewis 2005
New Zealand Family Rights Protection Party Susi Pa'o Williams 2005
OneNZ Alan McCulloch 19992005

Retiring MPs

In the months preceding the election 13 Members of Parliament announced that they would not seek re-election to the House of Representatives in 2008, namely:

Several list MPs elected in 2005 resigned before the end of the term; for a full list, see 48th New Zealand Parliament#Changes during term.

MPs who lost their seats

New Zealand First Party

New Zealand First received 4.07% of the party vote – below the threshold of 5% – and failed to win an electorate seat. The party's seven MPs lost their seats:

United Future Party

Labour Party


Voter enrolment and turnout

The rolls listed almost 3 million people registered to vote in the election, a record number representing 95.3% of the estimated eligible voting population.[9] In contrast, voter turnout of 79.5% of enrolled voters came in lower than in most previous elections, the second-lowest since 1978 (when a large number of outdated and duplicate enrolments deflated the figure) and third-lowest since 1902.[10][11] Political scientist Stephen Levine from Victoria University speculated that the low turnout may have resulted from the National Party's large lead over Labour in opinion polls running up to the election.[12] Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples expressed concern that only 55% of those on the Maori roll had voted.[13]


Electoral Finance Act

The Electoral Finance Act 2007 passed by the Labour government had a "chilling effect" on political activity in 2008, according to the Electoral Commission.[14] Some parties attempted to make this an election issue.

Economic conditions

On 5 August 2008, the Treasury announced that the New Zealand economy had entered a recession.[15] Economic downturn has led to high-profile job losses, such as the closure of factories in Foxton,[16] in west Dunedin[17] and in southern Hawke's Bay.[18] At the same time, inflation hit an eighteen-year high,[19] with an upwards tug on the prices of basics such as food and petrol, the latter crossing the two-dollar-per-litre mark in late May.[20]

At the Labour Party's campaign launch on 12 October 2008, Helen Clark became the latest world leader to guarantee bank deposits, unveiling a plan worth $150 billion whereby all retail deposits would be unconditionally covered.[21] The plan would be voluntary to join; within two days, reports appeared stating that all of New Zealand's major trading banks had signed up.[22] Also signed up to the plan was the National Party, with deputy leader and finance spokesperson Bill English saying that there was "still time to change the...scheme if banks find it hard to borrow overseas".[23]


On 6 October, two days before the National Party's scheduled release of details of the tax-cut plan it had over and above the governing coalition's three-stage series of tax cuts revealed in the 2008 Budget,[24] the Government disclosed its full fiscal situation; it showed that it expected to take $3.1 billion less tax in 2009, forcing the government to borrow $5.9 billion in 2009, rising to $7.3 billion by 2013. This implied higher costs for KiwiSaver, Working For Families and the 20 hours subsidised early-childhood plan; and higher numbers of people forced onto benefits by any prospective economic downturn. Over the next fiscal year, Dr Cullen expected GDP to rise by just 0.1%, with median house prices dropping by an estimated 10–15%.[25][26]

John Key responded to the news by describing the numbers as "a bit worse than we had anticipated", and stated "I'm confident we can deliver a programme of tax cuts."[27] The same day Helen Clark reiterated her opinion on tax cuts beyond the government's proposal, saying "now is not the time to go out and recklessly borrow to offer tax cuts",[28] an opinion she had first voiced in early August[29] when the National Party used its annual conference to promise to speed up the implementation of the tax cuts, and to borrow several billion dollars to fund infrastructure projects such as a $1.5 billion broadband plan and a new prison in its first term.[30] On 9 October, National released its policy, promising people on the average wage or higher around $47 a week extra in the hand, funded through a combination of cutting contributions to KiwiSaver, eliminating a tax credit for science and development, and changing Working For Families entitlements.[31]


On calling the 2008 election, Prime Minister Helen Clark declared that it would be "about trust", labelling the National Party's recent commitments to preserve Labour Party programmes such as KiwiSaver and Kiwibank as "insincere".[32]

Members of the Labour Party accused John Key of lying about his shareholding in Tranz Rail, by not disclosing nearly half of the shares he and his family trusts owned in the company, even though this presented a clear conflict of interest with Key's role as his party's spokesperson on transport, at a time when he asked several questions in the House about the government's plans regarding rail infrastructure.[33]

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters faced an attack on his party's credibility, first over allegations that his party did not declare a $100,000 donation from millionaire ex-patriate property developer Owen Glenn to cover Winston Peters' legal costs in a challenge to the result in the seat of Tauranga. This was referred to a House of Representatives Privileges Committee. On 22 September, the committee determined that Peters had "provided misleading information" and recommended he be censured;[34] this was done by the House of Representatives in a 62–56 vote two days later.[35] The second allegation revolved around the party's failure to declare the use of a secret trust to funnel large donations into New Zealand First's bank account, even though no donations over $10,000 to New Zealand First has been declared, as the law requires. This case was referred to the Serious Fraud Office for further investigation; on 11 October, New Zealand First was cleared of charges that Peters called a "waste of time"[36] and on 24 October, the New Zealand First party was cleared of wrongdoing by the Electoral Commission, which was investigating donations that the party failed to declare.[37]


Boundary changes

The Representation Commission altered many of the boundaries of New Zealand's parliamentary electorates following the 2006 Census; the large growth in population between censuses lead to significant boundary changes, particularly in Auckland, the area around Christchurch and the central North Island. In May 2007, the Representation Commission announced the boundary changes[38] to take effect for the next general election, with the boundaries finalised in September 2007.

The Commission announced the formation of a new electorate in Greater Auckland, bringing the number of geographical constituencies to 70. The new seat, originally dubbed "Howick" (after the Auckland suburb), would have included parts of the existing Pakuranga, Manukau East and Clevedon electorates. After Pakuranga electors made strong objections to the proposed changes (which would have seen the inclusion of the population centres Panmure, Point England and Glen Innes into the electorate) the Commission largely reverted proposed changes to the boundaries of the Pakuranga electorate. The Commission opted to alleviate population pressures by moving the Auckland City suburb of Otahuhu into Manukau East. The revised new seat received the name "Botany" to reflect its focus on the growing population-centres of Botany DownsDannemora. On paper, Botany counts as a safe National seat.

Even though the number of South Island electorates remains fixed, the decline in the population of electorates south of Christchurch has resulted in the boundaries of electorates from Invercargill north to Rakaia shifting northwards. The seats of Aoraki, Otago, Rakaia and Banks Peninsula all gravitated towards Christchurch. In the process:

Other seats in the lower South Island increased dramatically in size.

Situation after 2005

In 2005 four MPs won seats with majorities of under a thousand: Labour's Darren Hughes beat National candidate Nathan Guy in Ōtaki by 382 votes (1.00%), and in Hamilton West, Martin Gallagher of the Labour Party won an 825-vote majority (2.46%) over National's Tim Macindoe. Both these seats saw a rematch in 2008, with the National Party candidates emerging victorious in each.

The swing to National in the central North Island saw two Bay of Plenty seats produce close results: in Rotorua, the sitting Labour MP Steve Chadwick prevailed by just 662 votes (2.17%) over National's Gil Stehbens, and in Tauranga, property developer Bob Clarkson defeated New Zealand First's leader and seven-term MP for Tauranga Winston Peters by 730 votes (2.02%). Rotorua fell to National's Todd McClay in 2008, while Simon Bridges held Tauranga for National by a wide margin, preventing Peters from returning to Parliament.

Besides the three Labour-held narrow-margin seats mentioned above (Otaki, Hamilton West and Rotorua), National had prospects of gaining Taupō, where boundary changes have added the National-leaning town of Cambridge and with it nearly 20,000 different voters – putting sitting MP Mark Burton's 2005 majority of just 1,285 votes (4.43%) at risk. Similarly, the seat of West Coast-Tasman gave Labour's Damien O'Connor a majority of 2,154 (6.77%). National reversed all of these majorities in 2008 and captured all three seats.

Part of National's core vote comes from provincial centres. In 1990, when Labour lost power, it lost every seat between the southern fringe of the Auckland urban area and Porirua except Palmerston North; in 2005, National again won several provincial seats off Labour:

  1. East Coast
  2. Tukituki
  3. Napier
  4. Whanganui
  5. Hamilton East
  6. Otago
  7. Aoraki

National also won Tauranga off New Zealand First leader Winston Peters in 2005 and the lion's share of the ACT and United parties' core votes (and in the process gained Northcote off Labour).

The newly-drawn seat of Botany on Auckland's eastern fringe presented an electoral problem for the Labour Party – on 4 July 2008 a crowd of mostly Asian marchers numbered in the thousands[39] protested against Labour's record on crime and sentencing and a perceived upswing in anti-Asian crime. Because of the large Asian population in the new seat, such trends may have given National candidate and victor Pansy Wong a possible advantage. Boundary changes have also shaken up the electoral landscape of the South Island.[38] Three new seats – Selwyn, Waitaki and Rangitata, drawn respectively out of Aoraki, Otago and Rakaia, three National-held seats in 2005, damaged Labour's chances outside of Christchurch and Dunedin.

On Labour's other flank, the three Māori seats that it held last time against a strong Māori Party challenge were in danger of falling as they did in 1996 when New Zealand First broke Labour's sixty-year stranglehold. Nanaia Mahuta again faced Angeline Greensill for the new Hauraki-Waikato seat, and narrowly held it. Māori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia also held on by a small margin against veteran broadcaster Derek Fox in Ikaroa-Rāwhiti. Incumbent Mahara Okeroa, however, was defeated by Rahui Katene in Te Tai Tonga, giving the Māori Party an additional seat.

The seats of Tauranga and Epsom provided particular resonances: Winston Peters failed to retake the marginal Tauranga (and Ron Mark failed to win the Rimutaka seat), meaning New Zealand First's chances of returning to the House depended on winning 5% of the party vote, which they did not accomplish. Similarly, the electoral fortunes of the ACT Party depended very largely on Rodney Hide retaining Epsom, which he did.

Amongst other parties very aware of the 5% barrier, United Future appeared more secure in the light of Peter Dunne's grip on Ōhariu, which he maintained, though by a narrower margin than previously; and the Progressive Party retained a very strong hold via Jim Anderton's "safe seat" of Wigram.

The Greens never appeared in danger of slipping below the 5% threshold, although lacking an obvious winnable electorate seat (co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons had won Coromandel in 1999, but the electorate returned to National in 2002).

Seats that changed hands

National won nine electorate seats from Labour:

The Maori Party also won a seat from Labour.

Renamed seats retained

New MPs in vacated seats

A number of seats elected new MPs following the retirement of their sitting Members:

Opinion polling

Poll results for all political parties that exceeded the 5% mixed-member proportional (MMP) representation threshold between the 2005 and 2008 elections.

Having come first in the party vote at the 2005 election by just two percentage points, Labour held a slender lead in aggregate polling through the first half of 2006; a two-point lead in the first half of the year turned into a two-point deficit by May. Polling for a preferred Prime Minister showed Helen Clark nearly twice as popular as then National Party leader Don Brash.

Things changed in early 2007, with new National leader John Key improving on Brash's preferred Prime Minister rating by ten points, and overtaking Clark as preferred Prime Minister in May; at the same time National jumped out to a sizeable lead over Labour ranging from between eight and eighteen points, spending most of 2007 and 2008 with support from around fifty percent of the electorate. Labour's popularity slumped, hitting its lowest point in the winter of 2008, before beginning a slow climb into the high thirties in August and September.

Leading up to the election, polls indicated a range of possible outcomes on election day; some suggested Labour could form a coalition government, while others predicted National in control. Of the "minor" parties, only the Green Party consistently polled over the five-percent threshold, and United Future and the Progressive Party frequently failed to register a mention. Both ACT's and the Māori Party's popularity since 2005 remained steady at around two percent, while New Zealand First failed to poll over the threshold after December 2006. The polls gave varied results for preferred Prime Minister, with some giving Clark a slight lead, and others giving Key a sturdy margin.

Coalition preferences during the campaign

The coalition preferences of various parties played a role during the campaign, due to the likelihood that no party would get an absolute majority of seats in the House. ACT emerged as the first "minor" party to announce that it would support a prospective National-led government.[40] United Future also announced that it would side with National in late October, after supporting the Labour government for six years.[41]

The Progressive Party, led by Jim Anderton, had served as a steady coalition partner to Labour and the electorate probably expected it to remain so. The Green Party, which abstained from opposing the Labour-led government in supply and confidence votes through the life of the 48th Parliament (2005 to 2008), said on 20 October that the only party of the two main parties it could form a coalition with was Labour.[42] In the light of New Zealand First's run-in with the Serious Fraud Office, John Key ruled out that party as a government support partner on 31 August 2008, saying "the sheer weight of allegations and the actions of Mr Peters in the last few months means that I have lost that confidence in him".[43] At that time, Peters' future seemed under a cloud; after his party being cleared of charges of serious fraud, National restated its position, saying that the result of the case has not altered it.[44]

Based on polls commissioned by the Māori news show Marae,[45] the Māori Party appeared likely to win most of the Māori seats and stood a chance of holding the balance of power. The party's MP for Te Tai Tokerau, Hone Harawira, stated at the end of September that the party could work with both Labour and National.[46] On 28 September, National announced a commitment to abolish the Māori seats in time for the 2014 election.[47] The Māori Party has benefited greatly from the Māori seats, and its co-leader Tariana Turia was unimpressed: "They think again that they can deny us the right to participate. If they want a relationship with the Maori Party then very clearly they're starting off on the wrong foot".[47] Marae polls released on 12 October showed 62 percent of voters polled in the two northernmost Māori electorates were resistant to the idea of a National–Māori government; co-leader Pita Sharples responded to the poll results by saying his party would be "stupid" to ignore the poll figures.[48]



See also


  1. "Key announces shape of new National-led government". National Business Review. NZPA. 16 November 2008. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  2. "Results of the 2008 General Election". Electoral Commission. 29 January 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  3. Colin James (political commentator) on TV 1 election coverage.
  5. New Zealand Electoral Commission: Post-election deadlines – Election '05 Source
  6. "Key promises 'issues' election". 12 September 2008. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  7. Dominion Post 30 May 2008 page A4
  8. Enrolment records set for 2008 General Election, press release, Electoral Enrolment Centre, 12 November 2008.
  9. Turnout statistics reflect the percentage of those enrolled to vote. "New Zealand general election, 2008 – Official Results". Elections New Zealand. Retrieved 23 November 2008.
  10. General elections 1853–2005 – dates & turnout, Electoral Compendium 2005. Electoral Commission, Wellington, 2005.
  11. "Low voter turnout for 2008 election". Radio New Zealand. Radio NZ. 12 November 2008. Archived from the original on 25 July 2009. Retrieved 12 November 2008.
  12. "Low Maori voter turnout shows lack of trust - Sharples". The New Zealand Herald. 12 November 2008. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  13. "Electoral Commission blasts EFA – again". The New Zealand Herald. NZPA. 2 October 2008. Retrieved 2 November 2008.
  14. "NZ in recession – Treasury". Stuff. New Zealand. 5 August 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2008.
  15. "Tears flow at Feltex Foxton". 1 August 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2008.
  16. "138 jobs axed in latest meatworks closure". The New Zealand Herald. 29 May 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2008.
  17. "Oringi meatworks closure". 13 May 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2008.
  18. "Inflation Hits 18 year high". 13 May 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2008.
  19. "Petrol price up again – 95 passes $2 mark". Stuff. New Zealand. 30 May 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2008.
  20. "Govt deposit liability 'huge but risk low'". Stuff. New Zealand. 12 October 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2008.
  21. "Banks sign up for Govt's $150b guarantee". Stuff. New Zealand. 13 October 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2008.
  22. "Change deposit guarantee scheme if banks can't borrow – National". Radio New Zealand. 14 October 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2008.
  23. "Budget 2008 Minister's Statement". 22 May 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
  24. "Cullen: Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update 0". 6 October 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
  25. Oliver, Paula (6 October 2008). "No More Safety In Numbers For Cullen". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
  26. Oliver, Paula (6 October 2008). "Cullen rains on Key's parade". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
  27. "is there still money for tax cuts?". TVNZ. 6 October 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
  28. "PM describes Nats' plan as 'Nuts'". 3 News. 3 August 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2008.
  29. Rushworth, Anna (3 August 2008). "Faster tax cuts, vows National". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 5 August 2008.
  30. Gay, Edward (9 October 2008). "Key gives tax cuts, reduces KiwiSaver". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 14 October 2008.
  31. Young, Audrey (13 September 2008). "Poll all about trust, says Clark". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 25 September 2008.
  32. "John Key accused of lying about Transrail shares". TV3. 23 September 2008. Retrieved 25 September 2008.
  33. "Committee recommends censuring Peters". Stuff. New Zealand. 22 September 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
  34. "Parliament votes to censure Peters". Newstalk ZB. 22 September 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
  35. "Peters cleared but PM keeps his portfolio". Stuff. New Zealand. 11 October 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2008.
  36. "Peters buoyed by donations ruling".
  37. 1 2 New Zealand Herald (3 May 2007). "Auckland to get an extra seat in Parliament". The New Zealand Herald.
  38. "Clean, green but not safe". Eastern Courier. 5 July 2008.
  39. "Be The Difference – Party Vote ACT". ACT New Zealand. 12 October 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2008.
  40. Oliver, Paula (27 October 2008). "Dunne cites Greens as reason for backing Key". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2 November 2008.
  41. "Greens rule out coalition with National". Radio New Zealand. 20 October 2008. Archived from the original on 21 October 2008. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  42. "Nats won't shift position on Peters – Key". National Business Review. 31 August 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2008.
  43. "Peters won't get portfolios back, despite SFO finding". Radio New Zealand. 12 October 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2008.
  44. "Marae – election 08". TVNZ. 12 October 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2008.
  45. "Maori Party could work with Nats or Labour – Harawira". TVNZ. 21 September 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2008.
  46. 1 2 Tahana, Yvonne (29 September 2008). "National to dump Maori seats in 2014". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 14 October 2008.
  47. "Maori voters push for deal with Labour". Stuff. New Zealand. 13 October 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2008.

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