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What does Hansard mean to you?

Published date: 13 Jun 2017

13 June 2017

At the start of May, we asked the public a few questions about Hansard, including “Do you know what Hansard is?” About a third of them did know, but after 150 years of Hansard’s existence, is that enough?

Magnifying glass on keyboard Enlarge image

Source: iStock

Even more revealing was that of the people who said they knew about Hansard, the majority (66%) were over the age of 60, a demographic either in or approaching retirement. Just 16% of people under the age of 45 said they knew what Hansard was and there was only a 1% difference in awareness levels between 18-29 year-olds and 30-45 year-olds.

Should Hansard matter to Kiwis then? We put this question to the respondents. Having told them that Hansard is a record of Parliamentary debates that goes back 150 years, we gave some reasons why it might be important and asked them to vote for as many as they agreed with.

Whilst two-thirds of people (64%) thought Hansard helped keep MPs accountable, a clear majority (74%) valued it most as an important record of New Zealand history, thereby demonstrating Hansard’s huge contribution to the story of New Zealand beyond just the political arena.

To mark the 150th anniversary of Hansard we are inviting staff and the public to see for themselves the role Hansard has had in keeping track of history and how it works today.

What’s on:

  • Throughout July there will be a public exhibition of Hansard cartoons, memorabilia and examples of debate transcript from iconic legislation at Parliament’s Exhibition Space on the Mezzanine of Bowen House.

  • On Wednesday 26th July there will be a public debate, 'Hansard in an Era of Alternative Facts', where members of the House and members of the media will discuss the modern challenges of keeping an unbiased written record. The event is ticketed but free of charge. Find out more about the debate or, to attend, send an email (including your name, email and telephone number) to hansard@parliament.govt.nz

  • In the meantime, look out for articles about Hansard – from its history to its uses and the work that goes into producing it – on our website.


The research was undertaken online by UMR, it was nationally representative and included 1000 New Zealanders over the age of 18.