It is vital to have a proper record of what goes on Parliament. Find out how Parliament’s activities have been recorded over the years — in newspapers and Hansard and on radio and television.
At first, New Zealand’s Parliament relied on newspapers to report its debates, but the reports were usually biased. In the 1850s, newspapers openly supported particular politicians, who sometimes supplied their own notes for the news reports. Other politicians accused them of distorting the record.
In 1867, Parliament solved this problem by setting up an independent service for recording debates — Hansard.
The Hansard reporters were a special breed. They had to pen accurate shorthand at great speed. They had to understand political matters, parliamentary procedures, and the obscure references sprinkled throughout speeches.
For nearly 100 years, Hansard was a male domain. Women weren’t considered suitable for this demanding job. The first female reporters entered in 1962 — and soon women outnumbered men.
Today, Hansard is published on the Internet.
In 1936, New Zealand became the first country to broadcast Parliament’s debates regularly on the radio. Despite initial problems, like microphones picking up embarrassing conversations, the broadcasts were popular with the public. Some listeners even sent ‘fan mail’ to speakers they enjoyed hearing.
In 1962, the State Opening of Parliament was first televised. Since the early 1990s, Parliament has encouraged televising of its proceedings, but most coverage has focused on question time and the Budget. The issue of extended television coverage of Parliament is still under consideration.