What is Hansard?

In New Zealand’s democracy, it is important you can access what is said by the people you’ve voted for and who represent you. Hansard’s work to report what politicians say helps make them accountable to you. It also makes sure that New Zealand’s democracy is accessible and transparent to everyone. Hansard reports are published for free on this website and are often available in public libraries, so anyone can read them.

The official record of what MPs say

Hansard is the official report of debate in the House of Representatives. It’s produced by editors, who go into the debating chamber and report what members of Parliament (MPs) say. The report is then published on this website and in book form, as a bound volume. Commonly known as Hansard, its actual name is Parliamentary Debates (Hansard).  

Editors follow strict rules on what changes they can make to what MPs said in the chamber. This makes sure that Hansard is as close to verbatim (word for word) as possible.

Can MPs ‘improve’ what they said in the House?

No. MPs are provided draft copies of their speeches, at the same time that the speeches are first published on the Parliament website. There are strict rules about what changes they can request. They can ask for things like corrections to a wrong fact or figure.

Strict rules also decide what changes Hansard editors can make to what is said in the House.

Where does Hansard's name come from?

Thomas Hansard. Enlarge image

Source: UK Parliament

Hansard takes its name from Thomas Curson Hansard, an early publisher of parliamentary debates in the UK. Over time, the reports published by his firm came to be known as ‘Hansard’. Since then, other Parliaments around the world have used the same name for this service.























Portraits of New Zealand's first Hansard staff in 1867. Enlarge image

Hansard staff 1867

Source: Parliamentary Service collection

In New Zealand, Hansard reports go all the way back to the first volume in 1867. Stretching back more than 150 years, staff photographs line the corridors of the Hansard office, capturing the people who have continued this tradition of free and independent reporting of Parliament.