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Title Date
Parliament Brief : What is Parliament?

This Parliament Brief explains the difference between and the distinct functions of the institutions of Parliament, Government, and the House of Representatives. It also explains the ‘separation of powers’ – the relationship between Parliament, executive government, and the judiciary (courts) within New Zealand’s constitutional framework.

21 Poutū-te-rangi 2014
Parliament Brief: Government Accountability to the House

An important function of the House of Representatives is holding the Government to account for its actions. The term ‘responsible government’ means that the Government has the confidence of the elected House from which its members are drawn. As a consequence, the Government is required to be accountable to the House.

21 Poutū-te-rangi 2014
Parliament Brief: The legislative process

The law is the framework within which citizens consent to be governed. Democratic theory is that having elected their lawmakers (legislators), citizens recognise the legitimacy of the laws made on their behalf by the lawmakers and consent to abide by those laws.

21 Poutū-te-rangi 2014
Parliament Brief: Parliamentary privilege

The concept of parliamentary privilege is often misunderstood to mean that politicians acquire personal privileges simply by being elected to Parliament. In fact parliamentary privilege applies to Parliament as a whole rather than the individual members. It enables the House of Representatives, as the democratically elected House of the people, to go about its business, such as law making, without interference from outside.

30 Pipiri 2010
Parliament Brief: Select committees

New Zealand’s select committee system enables members of Parliament to examine issues in more detail than is possible in the House of Representatives. Select committees can also provide the public with an opportunity to comment on and suggest changes to impending legislation and to participate in other parliamentary functions such as inquiries. Select committees carry out public scrutiny of Government spending plans and of the performance of New Zealand’s Government departments, Crown entities and State enterprises.

24 Haratua 2014
From legislative machine to representative forum? Procedural change in the New Zealand Parliament in the twentieth century

This article analyses procedural developments in the New Zealand parliament in the twentieth century. Political party organisation strengthened while the role of private members diminished. Closure of debate was eventually introduced in 1931. The two-party system transformed the House. Fewer government bills were introduced but legislation was virtually guaranteed success. Sitting hours declined and closure and urgency became an accepted part of procedure. From the 1960s parliament’s role was strengthened with a daily question time and increased select committee powers. This shift was enhanced by the reforms of the 1980s and 1990s in which select committees were reorganised, private members’ bills made a reappearance and parliament acquired stronger scrutiny powers over finance.

19 Poutū-te-rangi 2012
Parliament Brief: Officers of the House

Some members of Parliament and officials have specific formal duties in the House of Representatives. They are known as officers of the House.

26 Poutū-te-rangi 2014
Parliament Brief: Parliament and the general election

A term of Parliament in New Zealand may not last more than three years. Several parliamentary processes, laws, and conventions (established practices) ensure a smooth transition and provide safeguards for democratic process when an election has been called.

13 Here-turi-kōkā 2014
Parliament’s move to Wellington in 1865

The New Zealand Parliament permanently moved to Wellington in 1865, after spending the first ten years of its existence, from 1854, in Auckland. The story of the move of the seat of government and Parliament to Wellington in 1865 was full of political intrigue and drama, not to mention shipwrecks and the threat of earthquakes. It tells us much about the political constraints on representative government and how Parliament operated in those times. The move is the story of not only of where Parliament should be located but also of the housing of Parliament – never straightforward and always subject to the politics of the day.

15 Paenga-whāwhā 2015
The Speaker in history

Historically, Speakers played a more partisan role in the House than today. They shaped Parliament by introducing ceremonial elements from Westminster, developing appropriate procedures for the House, and administering Parliament. The reforms of the mid 1980s gave the Speaker enhanced powers over parliamentary expenditure and control over Parliament Buildings and grounds.

31 Poutū-te-rangi 2014
From talking shop to party government: procedural change in the New Zealand Parliament, 1854-1894

This article looks at parliamentary business in the nineteenth-century New Zealand Parliament, making comparisons with the British and Australian state Parliaments.

04 Haratua 2012
History of Parliament's buildings and grounds

Parliament has been housed in a variety of buildings over more than 150 years since it first met in Auckland in 1854. Following Parliament’s move to Wellington in 1865, parliament’s buildings and grounds have been located on Molesworth Street. The original buildings, greatly extended from the 1870s to the 1890s, were largely burnt down in a fire in 1907. Only the Library building survived. Following the fire the site was extended and redeveloped into its modern form and a new Parliament House was built, 1912-1922. In the 1970s a new Executive Wing (the Beehive) was built. Today the refurbished Parliament House, Library building and the Beehive represent key national heritage buildings set in spacious and attractive grounds.

28 Poutū-te-rangi 2012
Refusal of assent – a hidden element of constitutional history in New Zealand

This article explores Britain’s influence historically over legislation passed in the New Zealand Parliament through its power of giving or refusing assent. It suggests that Britain’s role was substantial, particularly in the 19th century, and continued until New Zealand adopted the Statute of Westminster in 1947. Britain refused to allow thirteen pieces of legislation to go onto the statute book. In two instances Britain disallowed Acts already assented to by the Governor and on the statute book. On five occasions Britain refused assent to bills and on another six occasions it held its decision in abeyance (withheld assent) for two years and the bills became void. Other legislation was amended on Britain’s instructions.

30 Mahuru 2010
A shifting balance: Parliament, the executive and the evolution of politics in New Zealand

The reforms to the New Zealand Parliament of the 1980s and 1990s shifted the balance between executive and legislature away from the former. Through much of the twentieth century the executive had dominated. This article looks at an earlier period when the balance between the executive and legislature was strikingly different. It describes the shift towards greater executive dominance in three respects important to the functioning of Parliament — parliamentary expenditure, the impact of political parties and electoral politics, and increased government control over business in the House of Representatives.

18 Pipiri 2010
Political participation and electoral change in nineteenth-century New Zealand

This article suggests that it is important to look at the early decades of elections in New Zealand’s political history, a time when many believe that politics was undemocratic and political participation was low. In order to evaluate this issue statistics on the numbers voting and electorates contested have been generated by extensive newspaper research for the general elections in the period 1853 to 1876, on which there is little information. In these early elections the issues lay more in the failure to register on the electoral rolls and considerable numbers of uncontested electorates than in exclusion due to the property franchise or failure to vote by those registered. The article concludes that politics was more democratic and participation higher than usually thought. In the latter part of the nineteenth century increases in registration and in voter turnout are examined as a precursor for political parties and high levels of political participation that became characteristic of modern-day electoral politics in New Zealand.

18 Pipiri 2010
The business of Parliament in history

In the past 150 years the way in which Parliament has conducted its business has changed greatly. The length of time Parliament sits, the hours it sits for, and the ways it deals with business are very different now from in the past. This is the result of the changing role of Parliament and its MPs. An MP from the 1850s who stepped into the twenty-first century chamber would find it a very unfamiliar place indeed. (This paper looks at the House of Representatives although much of the discussion applies equally to the upper house of the Legislative Council which existed from 1854 until 1950.)

18 Pipiri 2010
History of the Parliamentary Library

The library has played a vital role over more than 150 years, supporting representative and parliamentary democracy and responding to the needs of MPs. It was established in 1858. By the end of the nineteenth century it was akin to New Zealand’s national library and was a magnificent national treasure house in a splendid building. In the twentieth century it administered New Zealand’s copyright deposit provisions for New Zealand publications and began to provide a reference service for MPs. It was part of the National Library from 1966 until 1985. Today it is a focused research and information service for Parliament in the same historic building.

23 Hakihea 2009
The earth may move, but Parliament stays put

A special engineering system of base isolation has been used in the strengthening of Parliament House and the Parliamentary Library. Base isolator bearings were inserted between the buildings and their original foundations during a 1992-95 strengthening and refurbishment project so that these buildings could withstand an earthquake of 7.5 magnitude on the Richter Scale.

16 Mahuru 2011