New Zealand Parliament

New Zealand Parliament
Pāremata Aotearoa
51st New Zealand Parliament
Coat of arms or logo
Type
Type
Houses House of Representatives
History
Founded 24 May 1854
Leadership
Elizabeth II
Since 6 February 1952
Dame Patsy Reddy
Since 28 September 2016
David Carter, National Party
Since 1 February 2013
Leader of the House
Simon Bridges, National Party
Since 2 May 2017
Structure
Seats 119
New Zealand-01.svg
Political groups

Government

Supported by (4)

Opposition (57)

Meeting place
Parliament House, Wellington, New Zealand (79).JPG
Parliament House, New Zealand Parliament Buildings, Wellington
Website
www.parliament.nz/en-NZ

The New Zealand Parliament ( Māori: Pāremata Aotearoa) is the legislature of New Zealand, consisting of the Queen of New Zealand ( Queen-in-Parliament) and the New Zealand House of Representatives. The Queen is usually represented by a governor-general. [1] Before 1951, there was an upper chamber, the New Zealand Legislative Council. The Parliament was established in 1854 and is one of the oldest continuously functioning legislatures in the world. [2]

The House of Representatives has met in the Parliament Buildings located in Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, since 1865. It normally consists of 120 Members of Parliament (MPs), though sometimes more due to overhang seats. 71 MPs are elected directly in electorate seats and the remainder are filled by list MPs based on each party's share of the party vote. Māori were represented in Parliament from 1867, and in 1893 women gained the vote. [2] New Zealand does not allow sentenced prisoners to vote. [3] Although elections can be called early, each three years the House is dissolved and goes up for reelection.

The Parliament is closely linked to the executive. The New Zealand Government comprises a prime minister (head of government) and other ministers. In accordance with the principle of responsible government, these individuals are always drawn from the House of Representatives, and are held accountable to it.

Neither the Queen nor her governor-general participates in the legislative process, save for signifying the Queen's approval to a bill passed by the House, known as the granting of Royal Assent, which is necessary for a bill to be enacted as law.

History

The New Zealand Parliament was created by the British New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 which established a bicameral legislature officially called the "General Assembly", but usually referred to as Parliament. It was based on the Westminster model (that is, the model of the British Parliament) and had a lower house, called the House of Representatives, and an upper house, called the Legislative Council. The members of the House of Representatives were elected under the first-past-the-post (FPP) voting system, while those of the Council were appointed by the Governor. Originally Councillors were appointed for life, but later their terms were fixed at seven years. This change, coupled with responsible government (whereby the Premier advised the Governor on Council appointments) and party politics, meant that by the 20th century, the government usually controlled the Council as well as the House, and the passage of bills through the Council became a formality. In 1951, the Council was abolished altogether, making the New Zealand legislature unicameral.

Under the Constitution Act, legislative power was also conferred on New Zealand's provinces (originally six in number), each of which had its own elected Legislative Council. These provincial legislatures were able to legislate for their provinces on most subjects. However, New Zealand was never a federal dominion like Canada or Australia; Parliament could legislate concurrently with the provinces on any matter, and in the event of a conflict, the law passed by Parliament would prevail. Over a twenty-year period, political power was progressively centralised, and the provinces were abolished altogether in 1876.

Four Māori electorates were created in 1867 during the term of the 4th Parliament. [4] The Māori electorates have lasted far longer than the intended five years. In 2002, the seats increased in number to seven. [4]

Chamber of the House of Representatives c. 1900-1902.

Originally the New Zealand Parliament remained subordinate to the British Parliament, the supreme legislative authority for the entire British Empire. The New Zealand Parliament received progressively more control over New Zealand affairs through the passage of Imperial (British) laws such as the Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865, constitutional amendments, and an increasingly hands-off approach by the British government. Finally, in 1947, the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act gave Parliament full power over New Zealand law, and the British New Zealand Constitution Amendment Act 1947 allowed Parliament to regulate its own composition. In 1986 a new Constitution Act was passed, restating the few remaining provisions of the 1852 Act, consolidating the legislation establishing Parliament and officially replacing the name "General Assembly" with "Parliament".

Country quota

One historical speciality of the New Zealand Parliament was the country quota, which gave greater representation to rural politics. From 1889 on (and even earlier in more informal forms), districts were weighted according to their urban/rural split (with any locality of less than 2,000 people considered rural). Those districts which had large rural proportions received a greater number of nominal votes than they actually contained voters – as an example, in 1927, Waipawa, a district without any urban population at all, received an additional 4,153 nominal votes to its actual 14,838 – having the maximum factor of 28% extra representation. The country quota was in effect until it was abolished in 1945 by a mostly urban-elected Labour government, which went back to a one person, one vote system. [5]

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