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An electorate is a geographical constituency used for electing members to the New Zealand Parliament. In informal discussion, electorates are often called seats. The most formal description, electoral district, is used in legislation. The size of electorates is determined on a population basis such that all electorates have approximately the same population.
Before 1996, all members of Parliament were directly chosen for office by the voters of an electorate. Starting from 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 M?ori electorates.
Originally, electorates were drawn up[by whom?] based on political and social links, with little consideration for differences in population. Elections for the New Zealand House of Representatives in the 1850s modelled the electoral procedures used for the British House of Commons, which at that time featured both single-member electorates (electorates returning just one MP) and multi-member electorates (electorates returning more than one MP). Each electorate was allocated a different number of MPs (up to three) in order to balance population differences. All electorates used a plurality voting system. From 1881, a special country quota meant that rural seats could contain fewer people than urban seats, preserving improportionality by over-representing farmers.[need quotation to verify] For the 1905 election the multi-member electorates were abolished. The quota system persisted until 1945.
As of 2018 The Commission consists of:the Representation Commission determines electorate boundaries.
The Representation Commission reviews electorate boundaries after each New Zealand census, which normally 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 help calculate the number of M?ori electorates and to determine the number of North Island electorates. The number of M?ori electorates is influenced by the M?ori Electoral Option where M?ori voters can opt to be in either a M?ori electorate or a general electorate. The percentage of M?ori voters opting for the M?ori roll determines the percentage of the whole M?ori population (of persons claiming M?ori ancestry at the previous census) which is then divided by the South Island Quota to calculate the number of M?ori seats. South Island M?ori opting for the general roll are included in the population on which the South Island Quota is established. The North Island population (including M?ori opting for the general roll) is divided into electorates, each of approximately the same population as the South Island ones. 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 both to internal migration and to immigration.
Because of the increasing North Island population, the Representation Commission awarded the North Island an additional electoral seat beginning in the 2008 general election. Another new North Island seat was added for the 2014 general election. Each time, the need for an extra seat was determined from the results of the most recent New Zealand census, with the seat coming out of the total number of list seats. The total number of list seats has thus declined from 55 to 49 since the introduction of Mixed Member Proportional voting in 1996.
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 been awarded[by whom?]. In 2005 and 2011, 121 members were elected; 122 members were elected in 2008.
The Representation Commission determines the names of each electorate following the most recent census. An electorate may be named after a geographic region, landmark (e.g. a mountain) or main population centre. The Commission adopts compass point names when there is not a more suitable name. The compass point reference usually follows the name of the main population centre, e.g. Hamilton East.
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 M?ori electorates, created in 1868 to give separate representation to M?ori citizens. Although originally intended to be temporary, they came to function as reserved positions for M?ori, ensuring that there would always be a M?ori voice in Parliament. Until 1996 the number of M?ori electorates was fixed at four, significantly under-representing M?ori in Parliament. In 1975 the definition of who could opt to register on either the general or the m?ori roll was expanded to include all persons of M?ori descent. Previously all persons of more than 50% M?ori ancestry were on the M?ori roll while persons of less than 50% M?ori ancestry were required to enrol on the then European roll. Only persons presumed to have equal M?ori and European ancestry (so-called half-castes) had a choice of roll. Since the introduction of MMP, the number of seats can change with the number of M?ori voters who choose to go on the M?ori roll rather than the general roll.
This table shows the electorates as they are represented, as of 24 September 2017, during the 52nd New Zealand Parliament.
|Auckland Central||Auckland (Central)||Nikki Kaye||National|
|Bay of Plenty||Bay of Plenty||Todd Muller||National|
|Botany||Auckland (East)||Jami-Lee Ross||Independent|
|Christchurch Central||Canterbury||Duncan Webb||Labour|
|Christchurch East||Canterbury||Poto Williams||Labour|
|Clutha-Southland||Southland; Otago||Hamish Walker||National|
|Dunedin North||Otago||David Clark||Labour|
|Dunedin South||Otago||Clare Curran||Labour|
|East Coast||Gisborne; Bay of Plenty||Anne Tolley||National|
|East Coast Bays||Auckland (North)||Erica Stanford||National|
|Epsom||Auckland (Central)||David Seymour||ACT|
|Hamilton East||Waikato||David Bennett||National|
|Hamilton West||Waikato||Tim Macindoe||National|
|Helensville||Auckland (West)||Chris Penk||National|
|Hunua||Auckland (South)||Andrew Bayly||National|
|Hutt South||Wellington||Chris Bishop||National|
|Kaik?ura||Marlborough; Canterbury||Stuart Smith||National|
|Kelston||Auckland (West)||Carmel Sepuloni||Labour|
|M?ngere||Auckland (South)||William Sio||Labour|
|Manukau East||Auckland (South)||Jenny Salesa||Labour|
|Manurewa||Auckland (South)||Louisa Wall||Labour|
|Maungakiekie||Auckland (Central)||Denise Lee||National|
|Mt Albert||Auckland (Central)||Jacinda Ardern||Labour|
|Mt Roskill||Auckland (Central)||Michael Wood||Labour|
|Napier||Hawke's Bay||Stuart Nash||Labour|
|Nelson||Nelson; Tasman||Nick Smith||National|
|New Lynn||Auckland (West)||Deborah Russell||Labour|
|New Plymouth||Taranaki||Jonathan Young||National|
|North Shore||Auckland (North)||Maggie Barry||National|
|Northcote||Auckland (North)||Dan Bidois||National|
|?taki||Wellington; Manawatu-Wanganui||Nathan Guy||National|
|Pakuranga||Auckland (East)||Simeon Brown||National|
|Palmerston North||Manawatu-Wanganui||Iain Lees-Galloway||Labour|
|Papakura||Auckland (South)||Judith Collins||National|
|Port Hills||Canterbury||Ruth Dyson||Labour|
|Rodney||Auckland (North)||Mark Mitchell||National|
|Rotorua||Bay of Plenty||Todd McClay||National|
|T?maki||Auckland (Central)||Simon O'Connor||National|
|Taranaki-King Country||Taranaki; Waikato||Barbara Kuriger||National|
|Tauranga||Bay of Plenty||Simon Bridges||National|
|Te Atatu||Auckland (West)||Phil Twyford||Labour|
|Tukituki||Hawke's Bay||Lawrence Yule||National|
|Upper Harbour||Auckland (North)||Paula Bennett||National|
|Waikato||Waikato||Tim van de Molen||National|
|Wairarapa||Wellington; Manawatu-Wanganui||Alastair Scott||National|
|Waitaki||Otago; Canterbury||Jacqui Dean||National|
|Wellington Central||Wellington||Grant Robertson||Labour|
|West Coast-Tasman||West Coast; Tasman||Damien O'Connor||Labour|
|Whanganui||Manawatu-Wanganui; Taranaki||Harete Hipango||National|
|Hauraki-Waikato||Waikato; Auckland||Nanaia Mahuta||Labour|
|Ikaroa-R?whiti||Hawke's Bay; Gisborne; Manawatu-Wanganui; Wellington||Meka Whaitiri||Labour|
|T?maki Makaurau||Auckland||Peeni Henare||Labour|
|Te Tai Hau?uru||Taranaki; Waikato; Manawatu-Wanganui; Wellington||Adrian Rurawhe||Labour|
|Te Tai Tokerau||Northland; Auckland||Kelvin Davis||Labour|
|Te Tai Tonga||South Island; Wellington||Rino Tirikatene||Labour|
|Waiariki||Bay of Plenty; Waikato||Tamati Coffey||Labour|
Both the single-member and the multi-member districts were instances of plurality voting systems, because candidates did not need a majority of the votes (more than half) to be elected. They required only a plurality - more votes than any of the other candidates - to win.