New Zealand Parliament Pāremata Aotearoa

Government vs Parliament

Published date: 2 Mar 2016

Parliament vs Government - What's the difference?

Parliament House and the Beehive Enlarge image

Parliament House and the Beehive

Source: Office of the Clerk

Ever looked at the Beehive and gone ‘that’s Parliament’? It’s not always clear what the difference between Parliament and Government is, but these terms are not interchangeable. Each has very distinct functions.


Parliament has two parts, the Sovereign (which is the Governor-General who is the Queen’s representative in New Zealand) and the House of Representatives that is made up of your elected and list members of Parliament (MPs).

The role of Parliament is to:

Provide representation for the people (you)
• Make laws by which the country is governed
• Scrutinise (challenge and question) the activities of the Government
• Approve the supply and spending of public money to the Government.

You can find out more about what Parliament does.  All of Parliament’s information is found on this website. Parliament’s work includes:

business conducted by Parliament 
select committees.


The Government is accountable to Parliament. The Government (also known as the Executive) is responsible for day-to-day administration and running of the country. It’s made up of MPs appointed by the Governor-General as Ministers of the Crown.

How New Zealand’s democracy works

To maintain our democracy neither Parliament nor the Government holds all the power. So no one can abuse its power, the functions in relation to the law are shared:

  • Parliament makes the law.
  • The Government administers the law.
  • The judiciary (the Justice system through the courts) interprets the law.

You can find out more about what Government does

Information on Government activities can found on: