Directions by the Speaker of the House of Representatives 2011
The amended Speaker’s Directions come into force on 27 November, the day after the 2011 General Election.
The Speaker’s Directions frame the members’ entitlements to funding and services as well as outlining how the Parliamentary Service must administer the entitlements to members.
The 2011 Directions incorporate specific changes affecting:
funding for Wellington accommodation for members whose home base is outside the Wellington commuting area
members’ information communications technology entitlements
support staff entitlements
support funding for staff of large electorates and new members (candidates for initial election).
The 2011 Directions are available in full via the related link on this page.
Parliamentary shield for the 49th Parliament
The parliamentary shield for the 49th Parliament has just been hung in a corridor of Parliament House. Each shield is a framed set of photographs of all the members who served during a Parliament, as well as the Clerk of the House and the Serjeant-at-Arms, and, more recently, the Clerk Assistant or Deputy Clerk. The shields are a valuable visual record of the many members who have served in the New Zealand Parliament. They are a testament to the continuity and durability of the democratic institution of the New Zealand Parliament over more than 150 years.
Shields have been produced since the second Parliament of 1855-60. There is one gap remaining - the shield for the Parliament of 1893-96. It was probably destroyed in the fire of 1907. Dr John Martin, the Parliamentary Historian, is working on a replacement. In 2009 he compiled a shield for the Parliament of 1866-70. This was the only other missing shield. The reason for its absence is unknown.
The very first parliamentary shield, produced by J. N. Crombie late in 1860, was put on display in a shop window. It was described as “an admirable idea of the personal beauties and graces of the late Representatives of the people … [which, with one or two exceptions,] compose an extremely intelligent and good looking group of men.”
The shields proved popular in providing photographs for the cartes de visite (visiting cards) of individual members and were commented upon in the press. The 1874 shield was considered “admirable” and an “excellent specimen” of the skill of the photographers, Wrigglesworth and Binns. Their shield of 1884-87 likewise was described as a “really splendid picture” and a “triumph of photographic art”.
Over the past few years, production of the shields has been coordinated by the Office of the Clerk. Members are given the option of providing their own photographs. However, most of the photographs have been taken at sittings in Parliament House by the Wellington firm Photography by Woolf. The firm has also undertaken the design work and framing.
The shields can be seen by those taking a tour of Parliament Buildings. Please see the link on this page for more information on public tours.
Business of the 49th Parliament
The 49th Parliament was dissolved at a ceremony at 11 a.m. on 20 October 2011. All business still before the House at that time has now lapsed. A list of this business can be accessed via the link on this webpage.
After the general election the 50th Parliament will be formed. The House can decide to reinstate business from the previous Parliament. If it chooses to do this, the items of unfinished business will be reinstated at the stage they had reached at the dissolution of the 49th Parliament.
Disclosure of expenses claimed by members of Parliament
Expenses claimed by members of Parliament for the 3 months from 1 July 2011 to 30 September 2011 have been released.
Information released covers:
Expenses paid under the Speaker’s Directions by the Parliamentary Service to individual members of Parliament for Wellington accommodation, out-of-Wellington accommodation, air travel and surface travel costs
Payments for travel under the inter-parliamentary relations programme administered by the Office of the Clerk
Payments for ministerial travel and accommodation administered by Ministerial Support
A full schedule of expenses claimed by members of Parliament is available at http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/MPP/MPs/Expenses and by Ministers at http://www.dia.govt.nz/ministers_expenses.
49th Parliament has been dissolved
The 49th Parliament was brought to an end at 11 a.m. on Thursday, 20 October 2011, when a proclamation was read on the steps of Parliament House. This was the first step towards the holding of the general election on Saturday, 26 November 2011.
The proclamation was read out by Mr Phillip O’Shea CNZM, LVO, New Zealand Herald of Arms Extraordinary to The Queen, as the authorised representative of the Governor-General, His Excellency Lieutenant-General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Matepārae. The Clerk of the House of Representatives, Mary Harris, the Deputy Clerk of the House, Debra Angus, and the Clerk-Assistant (House), Fay Paterson, attended as official witnesses. A number of members of the public and parliamentary staff were also present for the ceremony.
The Governor-General has also issued a proclamation summoning Parliament. This practice recognises the Crown’s intention to preserve the continuity of Parliament. The new Parliament must be called within 6 weeks of the return of the writ (final election results).
The next step will be for the Governor-General to issue a writ to the Chief Electoral Officer directing him to conduct a general election of members of the House of Representatives. The writ will specify the latest day for the nomination of candidates, polling day, and the latest day for the return of the writ with the names of elected constituency candidates. Further information is available from
Dissolution of 49th Parliament
A proclamation dissolving Parliament will be read at 11 a.m. on Thursday, 20 October 2011. This will take place on the steps of Parliament House. Everyone is welcome to attend. If it is wet, the proclamation will be read in the main foyer of Parliament House.
The proclamation will be read out by Mr Phillip O’Shea CNZM, LVO, New Zealand Herald of Arms Extraordinary to The Queen, as the authorised representative of the Governor-General, His Excellency Lieutenant-General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Matepārae. The reading will take place in the presence of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, Mary Harris, the Deputy Clerk of the House, Debra Angus, and the Clerk-Assistant (House), Fay Paterson, as official witnesses.
The effect of the Proclamation will be to bring the 49th Parliament to an end. It is the first step towards the holding of the general election on Saturday, 26 November 2011.
The Governor-General will also issue a proclamation summoning Parliament. This practice recognises the Crown’s intention to preserve the continuity of Parliament. The new Parliament must be called within 6 weeks of the return of the writ (final election results).
The next step will be for the Governor-General to issue a writ to the Chief Electoral Officer directing him to conduct a general election of members of the House of Representatives. The writ will specify the latest day for the nomination of candidates, polling day, and the latest day for the return of the writ with the name of elected constituency candidates.
House sits for last time before election
Thursday’s sitting of the House was the last of the 49th Parliament. The final item of business was the adjournment debate. The Speaker of the House, Dr The Rt Hon Lockwood Smith, gave the last speech, and in it he mentioned some statistics relating to the 49th Parliament.
The House sat for approximately 1,650 hours - 150 more than the 48th Parliament - with a quarter of those hours being under urgency. Despite sitting for 17 fewer days, more oral questions were asked than in the previous Parliament. There were 73,181 questions for written answer, an increase of 49 percent. Two Members’ bills received the Royal assent. The busiest select committee was the Finance and Expenditure Committee, closely followed by the Commerce Committee, in terms of the number of reports presented to the House.
The 49th Parliament will formally come to an end next week with the reading of a proclamation on the steps of Parliament House.
You can access archived video footage of the adjournment debate on the inthehouse website. The printed version (Hansard) is available on this website. See the related links panel on this page.
Commonwealth youth parliamentarians meet at Westminster
Members of the United Kingdom’s House of Commons and House of Lords sat together on the red benches of the House of Lords to listen to speeches made by delegates to the Fourth Commonwealth Youth Parliament, held in London on 6-10 September. Michael Bendall, a final-year law and commerce student at the University of Canterbury, represented New Zealand at the youth parliament. He joined more than a hundred young people from throughout the Commonwealth at the event, which was organised by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
Delegates were divided into parties of a mock country, “Commonwealthland”. Michael was elected Deputy Leader of the Opposition. His personal highlight was the debate in the House of Lords, presided over by the new Lord Speaker, Baroness D’Souza. Delegates debated the motion “That Commonwealthland will cut greenhouse emissions by 100% by the year 2050”. Michael told the House that global warming was one of the greatest challenges facing his generation, and that if Commonwealthland did not set significant but realistic targets for reducing greenhouse emissions, it would be future generations who would be put at most risk. After 90 minutes of intense discussion, the motion was carried comfortably.
Delegates also participated in question time and select committees, a debate on the Speech from the Throne, and a committee of the whole House, ensuring they had a wide range of experience of how parliament works and, in particular, the process of passing legislation. The Rt Hon John Bercow MP, the Speaker of the House of Commons, presided over question time.
Michael says his experience at the youth parliament assisted greatly in his understanding of parliamentary processes.
Committee reports on the review of Standing Orders
Extended sitting hours for the House, mechanisms for promoting proposed Members’ bills, and a proposal that a select committee inquire into how Parliament can best make law in response to national emergencies are amongst the recommendations in the 2011 Review of Standing Orders.
One of the functions of the Standing Orders Committee is to review the House’s Standing Orders (rules), procedures, and practices. The committee’s report on the latest review covers matters raised by members of Parliament and the public, and recommends changes to the Standing Orders that would come into force when the new Parliament meets following the general election.
The report will be debated before the House rises for the election, to allow members to decide whether to adopt the changes to the Standing Orders proposed in the report.
The report can be accessed through a related link on this page, as can the submissions received by the committee.
Valedictory (farewell) statements
In the two remaining sitting weeks of the current Parliament, 15 retiring members of Parliament will be making valedictory (farewell) statements. While traditionally these speeches would have been made during the last debate before the House rose for the election, the number of members wishing to make such statements has led the Business Committee to allocate specific times for them. Starting 27 September, these valedictories will be delivered during the hour before the 6 p.m. dinner break.
There is no restriction on the subject matter covered in a valedictory statement. Members tend to traverse their political careers, to mention policy and issues they have been involved in, and to give anecdotes from their time as a member. Valedictories tend to be 15 minutes in length, although that is subject to the discretion of the Speaker, who takes into account the length of service of the member speaking.
You can watch the statements being delivered live on Parliament TV or access the archived video footage on the inthehouse website. The printed version (Hansard) will be available within 2-4 days. All of these sources, plus the timetable for the valedictory statements, are available via the related links panel on this page.
Tour artworks at Parliament
Join a guided tour of some of Parliament’s many and varied artworks as part of Wellington’s Spring Festival.
These free tours will run on Mondays and Tuesdays during the festival, on 19, 20, 26 and 27 September at 10.30 a.m. and 2.30 p.m. Each tour will be an hour and a half in duration. In keeping with the Spring Festival they will focus on a floral and landscape theme, but other artworks can be seen along the way. Bookings are required and can be made by contacting the Tours Desk.
Also available for public viewing is Wai Art – An exhibition of art from the Wairarapa. Thirty-nine artists from the Wai Art group in the Wairarapa have contributed to this exhibition. The Wai Art group is a non-profit incorporated society which provides an exhibition platform for Wairarapa artists to promote and showcase their artwork. The exhibition is in Parliament’s Bowen House Exhibition Space, on the corner of Lambton Quay and Bowen Street, on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. until 30 September.
Earthquake resilience of Parliament Buildings
Parliament House and the Parliamentary Library are strengthened by a special engineering system of base isolation to make sure the buildings can withstand an earthquake of up to 7.5 on the Richter scale. The process of separating the two buildings from their original foundation and installing lead-rubber bearings was carried out between 1992 and 1995, during what was at that time the biggest strengthening and modernising project ever undertaken in New Zealand.
Base isolator bearings were invented by a New Zealander, the late Dr Bill Robinson. They consist of layers of rubber and steel with a lead central core. Lead softens under pressure, absorbing energy which would otherwise be transferred to movement of the buildings. Installing these shock absorbers and strengthening the internal structure of the buildings with new shear walls reduced the risk of damage and injury to those who work in them in the event of a major earthquake.
Further information on the installation of base isolators can be found in the paper under the related links heading on this page. It is possible to see a strengthened foundation with its base isolator under Parliament House when you take a tour of the Parliament Buildings.
Parliament’s reminder of 9/11
September 11 is the tenth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. Parliament has its own reminder of the events of that day—a New Zealand flag that was pulled from the rubble during recovery efforts at ground zero.
When New York City police officers Greg Matthius and James Moran first saw the deep blue they feared they might have found the body of a colleague in police uniform, but it turned out to be a dirty and torn New Zealand flag. It had been kept in storage in the basement of the World Trade Center for use on ceremonial occasions. The flag was cleaned and given to the New Zealand consulate in New York, and early in 2002 it was presented to the then Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Helen Clark, during a ceremony in New York.
The framed flag was unveiled in Parliament on 30 April 2002 by Helen Clark and the United States Ambassador, His Excellency Charles Swindells. It symbolises the close ties between the United States and New Zealand. Miss Clark said it would serve as “a permanent reminder of the heroic actions of those who died trying to save others”. The flag has since been displayed in various positions around Parliament Buildings. It currently hangs in the Executive Wing (Beehive) foyer, where it can be viewed by people waiting to go on a tour of Parliament.
Parliament and rugby
Parliament has a long and enduring association with the game of rugby. Charles Monro, who introduced the game into the country in 1870, was the son of the second Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Sir David Monro. Charles Monro organised the first game of rugby ever in this country, held on 14 May 1870 at the Nelson Botanical Reserve.
A number of MPs have distinguished themselves in rugby over the years, from Billy Glenn, a member of the ‘Original’ 1905 All Blacks, to Louisa Wall, who played for the Black Ferns 1994-2002. A total of seven MPs have been All Blacks: Billy Glenn (1904-06), Jack Ormond (Tiaki Ōmana) (1923), Hon Ben Couch (1947-49), Tony Steele (1966-68), Chris Laidlaw (1963-70), Grahame Thorne (1967-70) and Tu Wyllie (1980). Hon Ben Couch was also a Māori All Black (1948-50), as were Hon Sir Peter Tapsell (1954) and Paul Quinn (1977-82).
A parliamentary rugby team has existed for many years. In 1995, in association with the Rugby World Cup in South Africa, a Parliamentary Rugby World Cup was established as a 4 yearly event. The New Zealand team won it in 1995. Seven MPs from that team are still in Parliament – Hon Bill English, Hon Murray McCully, Hon Damien O’Connor, Ross Robertson, Hon Rick Barker, Eric Roy and Hon Trevor Mallard. New Zealand also won in 1999 and 2007, with Australia winning in 2003. The fifth Parliamentary Rugby World Tournament is being held in New Zealand from 1-8 September with teams from the United Kingdom/Ireland, France, South Africa, Japan, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. Further information, including a schedule of the games, can be found via the related links panel on this page.
The origins of the Māori seats
The seven Māori seats are a distinctive feature of the New Zealand Parliament. They date back to the Maori Representation Act 1867, which created four Māori seats.
Prior to the passing of this Act property ownership was a prerequisite for being able to vote. However, because Māori land was owned communally rather than under individual title, Māori did not qualify to vote.
The Act gave all male Māori aged 21 years and over the right to vote. A non-Māori man could vote only if he owned, leased, or rented property of a certain value. A residential qualification to vote was introduced in 1879, and women gained the vote in 1893.
Since the passage of the Electoral Act 1993, the number of Māori seats has been determined on the same basis as the general seats—that is, by the level of the electoral population. Today there are seven Māori seats.
Only voters who have registered on the Māori roll are eligible to vote in the Māori seats. To be on the Māori roll, a voter must be of Māori descent. Since 1975, voters of Māori descent have been able to choose whether to go on the general roll or the Māori roll.
The research paper “The Origins of the Māori seats” provides a detailed history of Māori representation as well as a complete list of Māori MPs up to the 2008 election. A link to the paper is available via the Related documents panel on this page.
Swearing in of Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae as Governor-General
On Wednesday, 31 August 2011, Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae will be sworn in as Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Realm of New Zealand. The ceremony will take place (weather permitting) on the steps of Parliament House from 11.30 a.m. Members of the public are invited to view this special State occasion from the lawn in front of Parliament House.
Sir Jerry Mateparae will be New Zealand’s 20th Governor-General. The Governor-General is the representative of the Sovereign in the Realm of New Zealand, and is appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister.
The office of Governor-General is constituted by the “Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor-General of New Zealand 1983”. The ceremony on Wednesday will follow the requirements of the Letters Patent, and has three main parts:
The Clerk of the Executive Council will read the Commission appointing Sir Jerry as Governor-General.
Then the Chief Justice will administer the Oath of Allegiance and the Oath of Office to Sir Jerry.
Finally, in his first act as Governor-General, Sir Jerry will sign a Proclamation declaring that he has assumed office, which will be read by the New Zealand Herald of Arms Extraordinary.
The ceremony will also include a traditional Māori ceremony of welcome, and a Tri-Service Royal Guard of Honour. An artillery salute of 21 guns will be fired from Point Jerningham. Music will be provided by the New Zealand Army Band, Scots College Pipers, and the combined choirs of Wellington College and Wellington Girls’ College.
Further information on the role of the Governor-General is available from the related link on this page.
The concept of parliamentary privilege is often misunderstood to mean that politicians acquire personal privileges simply by being elected to Parliament. In fact, parliamentary privilege applies to Parliament as a whole rather than the individual members. It enables the House of Representatives, as the democratically elected House of the people, to go about its business, such as lawmaking, without interference from outside.
Developed over centuries of Westminster-style democracy in Britain, parliamentary privilege provides certain exemptions from general law which are considered essential for parliamentary supremacy over the Crown. These include freedom of speech, the power to obtain evidence, and the right for the House to control its own proceedings free from outside interference.
These privileges were hard won in times past, when elected representatives could suffer severe consequences for what they said in the House or be prevented from attending the House. For instance, in 1642 King Charles I entered the House of Commons in an attempt to arrest five members on treason charges for their part in opposing him.
The removal of those privileges, even today, could result in Parliament being prevented from carrying out its functions on behalf of those it represents.
This complex and often misunderstood subject is explained in the Parliament Brief: Parliamentary privilege, which can be accessed via the related link on this page.
Do you want to find out about new parliamentary information?
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You can choose one of the pre-configured Alerts for our most popular documents or create your own Alert.
Some examples of pre-configured Alerts are those which tell you when select committees are accepting submissions or when the Order Paper is published .
Some examples of what you can customise your Alert to notify you about:
Hansard speeches by a specific member of Parliament.
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Specific topics of interest to you.
The RSS icon on a page shows that you can view or subscribe to a feed from that page. Feeds include the Hansard record of debates, library research papers, bills, etc. The link for setting up Alerts is always on the home page of this website.
State farewell for the Governor-General
The Governor-General, The Right Honourable Sir Anand Satyanand, and Lady Susan Satyanand, were farewelled at Parliament on Wednesday 17 August 2011.
The Prime Minister hosted a State Luncheon for the Governor-General, Lady Susan, and invited guests. After the luncheon, as Sir Anand and Lady Susan departed, there was a brief ceremony with members of the Indian community, mirroring the ceremony at Sir Anand’s swearing in.
Sir Anand was appointed as Governor-General on 23 August 2006, at a swearing in ceremony at Parliament. A notable feature of Sir Anand’s swearing in was the Indian ceremony at the gates of Parliament. Members of the Indian community placed a tilak (sandalwood paste mark) on Sir Anand’s and Lady Susan’s foreheads, and garlands round their necks.
The Governor-General is the representative of the Queen of New Zealand, our Head of State.
New Zealand’s Parliament consists of the Sovereign (represented by the Governor-General) and the House of Representatives. The Governor-General plays no part in the proceedings of the House, but he does carry out a number of very important parliamentary functions, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister or other Ministers.
For example, a bill can become an Act of Parliament only if the House passes the bill and the Governor-General gives his assent. Sir Anand has signed more than 400 bills during his term of office. Further information on the role of the Governor-General is available from the related link on this page.
Condolence book for former Governor-General Sir Paul Reeves
A condolence book has been set up in the main foyer of Parliament House, in memory of The Rt Reverend and The Honourable Sir Paul Reeves, GCMG, GCVO, QSO, KStJ.
Sir Paul was Governor-General of New Zealand from 1985 to 1990.
Members of the public can take the opportunity to sign the condolence book between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. Monday to Friday, with the exception of Wednesday 17 August when it will not be available between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
It will also be available between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
People wishing to sign the book should use the public entry to the Executive Wing (Beehive).
For directions on how to get to Parliament please view the Find Us page.