New Zealand Politics and Law


New Zealand is a parliamentary monarchy in the Commonwealth of Nations. There is no codified constitution; the constitutional order is based on a number of legal documents, including the Waitangi Treaty (1840), the Constitution Act (1986), the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act (1990), the Electoral Act (1993), and traditions and precedents. The head of state and formally executive power is the British monarch, represented by a governor-general. In fact, executive power is exercised by the Executive Council, which includes the Prime Minister and all ministers. The governor general is not a member of the council, but chairs it and is politically neutral. He essentially performs representative functions and appoints the prime minister and, on his proposal, the other members of the cabinet. The government is accountable to Parliament, which was founded in 1854 and has its seat in Wellington. The parliament is responsible for legislating.

It consists of the monarch represented by the governor general and the house of representatives.

Until 1994, New Zealand had an electoral system that favored the major popular parties, the National Party and the Labor Party. Smaller parties were often unable to send members to parliament despite not having a small share of the votes. Similar to the German Bundestag, a mixed electoral system has been used since 1996 (Mixed-Member Proportional Representation – MMP), in which all eligible voters are allowed to cast two votes. Of the usually 120 parliamentary seats to be allocated, 71 are directly elected via the constituencies according to the majority principle (direct mandates) and 49 are allocated to the candidates according to the proportions of votes that the parties put on their electoral lists (list mandates). The 5 percent hurdle applies to entry into parliament or at least one direct mandate must be won in an electoral district. The Māori have 7 own constituencies across the country. But the people’s representative elected in them does not necessarily have to be Māori himself. Due to overhang seats, the number of members of parliament can be more than 120. Eligibility to vote is obtained at the age of 18.

In the 2017-2020 legislative period, the government consisted of the Labor Party (46 seats), New Zealand First (9 seats) and the Green Party (8 seats). According to her office, the parliamentary chairwoman was Dame Patsy Reddy (* 1955), since 2016 Governor General on behalf of Queen Elisabeth II. The opposition was formed by the National Party (56 seats) and the right-wing ACT New Zealand (1 seat).

The center-left government under J. Ardern has put the fight against poverty, especially child poverty, social justice and nature conservation on its agenda. A long-planned law to combat domestic violence was passed in 2018. Domestic violence is one of the most prevalent in the world in New Zealand. The minimum wage was raised to NZ $ 16.50. The tuition fees for the 1st year of study have been waived for New Zealanders since 2018.

National symbols

According to Trackaah, the national flag of New Zealand, which has been official since 1902, bears the British Union Jack on a dark blue background in the upper left quarter. On the right-hand part of the flight, four red stars rimmed with white represent the Southern Cross.

The national coat of arms was created in 1911 by the British King George VI. awarded and later changed several times. Today it consists of a blue and red emblem with a silver pole in the middle, which carries three ships from the sea as a symbol for the great importance of sea trade and for the settlement of New Zealand. The upper left coat of arms field shows the Southern Cross with white-edged red stars, underneath a golden fleece as a symbol for the importance of sheep breeding. The right field of the coat of arms contains a golden sheaf of corn and crossed mallets and irons underneath. Shield holders are a white woman with the New Zealand national flag and a Māori chief with the taiaha, a traditional combat weapon. The Saint Edward’s crown hovers above the shield as a symbol of British supremacy.

In a referendum in 2016, more than 56% of those questioned rejected the proposal to replace the national flag introduced in 1902 with a flag with the national silver fern.

National Day: February 6th commemorates the signing of the Waitangi Treaty between the British Crown and the Māori tribes in 1840.


Important parties are the social democratic New Zealand Labor Party (NZLP; founded 1916), the conservative New Zealand National Party (NZNP; founded 1936), the economically liberal ACT New Zealand (founded 1994), the Green Party of Aotearoa – New Zealand (GPA; founded in 1990), the populist party New Zealand First (NZ First; founded in 1993). Other parties are the center-right United Future New Zealand (UNZ; founded 1995) and the Māori Party (MP; founded 2004). In addition, there are many small parties with voting shares mostly below 1%.


The legal system is based on English law, which still has a strong influence on the development of common law. The newer legislation in New Zealand is becoming more and more independent. Ordinary jurisdiction will include exercised by the District Courts, the High Court and the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court, newly created in 2004, is New Zealand’s highest court of law. There are also numerous special dishes, e.g. B. to clarify land claims of the Māori, and tribunals. The Waitangi Tribunal, which generally deals with Māori complaints related to the Waitangi Treaty deals, corresponds to its character according to a standing commission of inquiry and can make recommendations to the government.

New Zealand Politics

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