Politics of New Zealand
Benedict (Viktor) Gombocz
New Zealand: Geography
Location: Oceania, group of islands in the
southwestern Pacific Ocean, southeast of
Total: 267,710 sq km
Country comparison to the world: 76
Land: 267,710 sq km
Water: N/A (note: includes Antipodes Islands,
Auckland Islands, Bounty Islands, Campbell
Island, Chatham Islands, and Kermadec
Area – comparative: about the size of
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 15,134 km
Politics of New Zealand: Background
The political system of New Zealand functions in a structure of a parliamentary
representative democratic monarchy.
While the fundamental structure is strictly modeled on that of the Westminster System,
numerous important changes have taken effect.
Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented by the Governor-General, is the head of state; the
PM, who leads the Cabinet drawn from an elected Parliament, is the head of government.
Politics of New Zealand: Government of New Zealand
Largest city: Auckland
Official languages: 95.9% English, 4.2%
Māori, 0.6% NZ Sign Language
Government: Unitary parliamentary
Monarch: Elizabeth II (see Politics of the
United Kingdom slide 13 for information)
Governor-General: Sir Jerry Mateparae
Prime Minister: John Key
Legislature: Parliament (House of
Politics of New Zealand: Constitution
New Zealand does not have an official codified constitution; the constitutional structure
comprises a blend of assorted documents (among these are specific acts of the United
Kingdom and New Zealand parliaments), the Treaty of Waitangi, and constitutional
The Constitution Act in 1852 set up the system of government; these were later merged in
Constitutional freedoms are defended under common law and are strengthened by the Bill
of Rights Act 1990 and Human Rights Act 1993, even though they are not established and
can be overturned by Parliament through a simple majority.
The Constitution Act describes New Zealand’s three branches of Government: the executive
(the sovereign and cabinet), the legislature (parliament), and the judiciary (courts).
Politics of New Zealand: Parties currently
represented in the House of Representatives
New Zealand First
Sir Jerry Mateparae
Born 14 November 1954 in Whanganui; was born to the
20th and current Governor-General of New Zealand.
Was Chief of the New Zealand Defense Force between
2006-2011 (the second Māori person, after Sir Paul
Reeves, to occupy the post) and the Director of the New
Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau
from 7 February 2011-1 July 2011.
His nomination as Governor-General was declared on 8
March 2011; he assumed office on 31 August 2011.
Was given to his mother’s brother, a Mateparae, to be
raised in the Māori traditional adoption called whāngai.
Both his birth father and his adoptive father were
ministers in the Rātana Church.
Is descended from the Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Ngāti
Kahungunu tribes; also has links to Tūhoe and tribes in
the upper Whanganui.
Was raised in the Whanganui suburb of Castlecliff;
attended Castlecliff Primary School, Rutherford
Intermediate School, and Whanganui High School.
Has three children with his first wife, Raewynne (who
passed away in 1990), and two children with his second
Born 9 August 1961 in Auckland.
38th and current PM of New Zealand; assumed office 19 November 2008.
Has been the 12th and current leader of the National Party since 27 November
Moved to Christchurch as a kid; attended the University of Canterbury,
graduating in 1981 with a bachelor of commerce.
Started a career in the foreign exchange market in New Zealand prior to
moving abroad to work for Merrill Lynch, becoming the head of global foreign
exchange in 1995, a post he occupied for six years.
Was nominated a member of the Foreign Exchange Committee of the Federal
Reserve Bank of New York in 1999; left in 2001.
Entered the New Zealand Parliament representing the Auckland electorate of
Helensville as one of the only new National members of parliament in the 2002
election after that party’s major defeat that year; has occupied the seat ever
Was nominated Finance Spokesman for National in 2004; eventually replaced
Don Brash as National Party’s leader in 2006.
Led his party to victory in both the November 2008 and November 2011
general elections, following two years as Leader of the Opposition.
As PM, he leads the Fifth National Government of New Zealand which entered
government at the onset of the late-2000s recession in 2008; in his first term,
his government executed a GST rise and personal tax cuts.
In February 2011, a major earthquake in Christchurch, the country’s second
biggest city, considerably affected the national economy; the government
responded by creating the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.
During its second term, Key’s administration declared a policy of fractional
privatisation of state-run benefits.
In foreign policy, Key declared the removal of New Zealand Defense Force
personnel from their exploitation in the War in Afghanistan, signed the
Wellington Declaration with the U.S., and called for more countries to join the
Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership.
Right of centre New Zealand political party, and one
of the two biggest parties in New Zealand politics,
the other being the Labour Party.
Founded in 1936 upon the merger of the United and
Reform parties; is thus New Zealand’s second-oldest
Has the biggest split of seats in the New Zealand
House of Representatives as of April 2012, with 59
out of a 121 total.
Has been the current ruling party since November
2008, and governs as a minority government with
support from three minor parties.
Member of International Democrat Union
Left of centre New Zealand political party, and one of the
two biggest parties in New Zealand politics; the other
major party is the rival National Party.
Founded in 1916; it is consequently the oldest political
party in New Zealand.
Was last the governing party from 1999-2008; Helen
Clark was the party’s leader and PM of New Zealand.
Has formed the second-biggest (with relation to
parliamentary seats) political party represented in the
Parliament of New Zealand since it was defeated in the
2008 general election; functions as the Official
Parliamentary Opposition’s core.
Phil Goff and Annette King resigned as leader and deputy
leader, correspondingly, after the 2011 general election;
the parliamentary assembly subsequently voted David
Shearer and Grant Robertson to replace them.
Shearer declared his resignation from his post on 22
Observer member of Socialist International (international