New Zealand Parliament Pāremata Aotearoa

What are electorates?

Published date: 17 Apr 2020

An electorate is like a suburb, except there’s only 72 of them in New Zealand and they are used for just one thing.

Read on to find out more about electorates and the role they play in elections.

Electoral profiles Enlarge image

There are 72 electorates in New Zealand, including Māori and general electorates.

Source: Parliamentary Service

An electorate is a geographic area that is only used for one thing: voting in elections.

One of the votes you cast in the 2020 general election will be for a candidate to represent your electorate in Parliament. The candidate who wins the most votes becomes your local member of Parliament.

All of New Zealand is covered by a general electorate and a Māori electorate. Electorates can be very different sizes as their boundaries are decided by the population living within the electorate, rather than covering a certain geographic area. For example, each of Auckland’s 20 electorates will have the same number of people living within them as the West-Coast Tasman electorate, which covers almost the entire length of the South Island’s west coast.

In the 2020 general election, there will be seven Māori electorates and 65 general electorates—including one new electorate in Auckland.

You can read more about each of New Zealand’s electorates here.

How do I find my electorate?

Use the maps on the Elections New Zealand website to find out which electorate you live in.

What is an electorate MP?

The job of an electorate MP is to keep up with local issues, represent their voting district, and argue on behalf of local causes within Parliament.

MPs have offices in their electorates where constituents can go to speak with their MP about local issues, concerns, or to learn more about legislation, and government policies.

List MPs also work to represent local communities, especially in areas where their party has no electorate MP.

Find out how to contact your electorate or list MP here.

Are there different types of electorates? 

General Electorates

Voters have to be on the general roll to vote in their general electorate. Any candidate can contest a general electorate, and to be elected they must gain a plurality of the votes cast.

Māori Electorates

If you’re of Māori descent, you can choose to vote in either your Māori electorate or your general electorate by enrolling on either the general or Māori roll.

Māori electorates which can be contested by candidates of any ethnicity, and who are enrolled on either the general or Māori roll.

Find out more about the difference between the general and Māori rolls here.

Why is my electorate changing in 2020?

Every five years, the number of electorates and their boundaries are reviewed to make sure each electorate has the same population. 

The 2019-20 review showed the population of every electorate in New Zealand had grown, so the boundaries of 35 electorates (including five Māori electorates) will be adjusted to balance the number of people in each.

The biggest areas of change are in the Auckland region, Waikato, Christchurch, Otago, and Southland. There will be one new general electorate in south Auckland — Takanini — due to population growth. There are name changes for 11 electorates. 

To find out more, read about the boundary review here.