New Zealand is one of the youngest nations in the world. Declared a British colony in 1840, it only gained official autonomy from England in 1947.
New Zealand’s political history – in the New Zealand sense – begins with the Treaty of Waitangi (Waitangi Treaty), which was signed on February 6, 1840. This charter made New Zealand a British colony. The writing was signed by over 500 Maori chiefs, who thereby recognized the sovereignty of the British crown. In return, the Maori were guaranteed sufficient land and fishing grounds, as well as equal treatment with all other British subjects. For the Maori, the treaty was to be fatal. In contrast to the indigenous people of other colonies, they were able to give “consent” to the capture, but in the following years they were still deprived of their land and way of life.
This was already evident in the discontent of those settlers who lived in New Zealand. They felt the Waitangi Treaty was too much for the Maori. They also harbored great aversion to what they believed to be the form of government that had been imposed on them: a royal governor was the political ruler in the country. They didn’t want to be satisfied until they had their own government of their own choosing.
Forms of government
The Constitution Act 1852 laid the foundation for this. New Zealand was to have its own government based on the Westminster model common in England: the governor was to be the royal deputy, the House of Representatives (MPs elected by the people) corresponded to the English subordinate, the Legislative Council (MPs appointed by the governor) to the English House of Lords. The New Zealand constitution, which has not been written down to this day, is based on English texts from the 17th century and on parliamentary laws and enactments.
The first elections were held in 1853. Only men, whites and Maori, older than 21 and who owned land or a house “of value” were eligible to vote (in 1879 this property clause was dropped).
According to a2zdirectory, the seat of government was Auckland from 1854 to 1865, then Wellington, which has remained the capital.
The parliament, i.e. the House of Representatives and Legislative Council, had 70 seats, which were expanded in the House of Representatives from 1868 by four for Maori representatives.
In 1893, New Zealand was the first country in the world to introduce women’s suffrage, which enabled not only whites but also Maori women to vote.
In 1907, New Zealand broke its colonial relationship with England and became the Dominion in the Commonwealth of Nations. That means: New Zealand was now an administratively independent country in the British Empire and its association of (former) colonies.
From 1931 it achieved full autonomy as the Dominion, which, however, only became official with the statute of the Westminster Adoption Act 1947. In it New Zealand signed its independence from Great Britain. Even if New Zealand had in fact been governing itself independently since 1931, it was only now that it became a state in its own right and could now also grant New Zealand citizenship.
Since 1951, the New Zealand parliament has only consisted of the House of Representatives. The Legislative Council was abolished. Otherwise the structures have not changed significantly to this day.
The New Zealand Parliament
New Zealand is a parliamentary-democratic monarchy. Head of State, albeit without influence, is the Queen of England, ELIZABETH II. Her permanent representative on site is the Governor General, currently DAME SILVIA CATWRIGHT. Elections are made every three years.
The government consists of a unicameral parliament, the House of Representatives. Today there are 120 MPs, the Members of Parliament. The seating arrangement of the parliament is based on the British model: on the right sits the ruling party, on the left the opposition and on the forehead of the room the President of Parliament, the Speaker.This is elected by parliament. He is the third most important official after the governor general and prime minister. Until 1996, the majority vote was used. This means that only one party could win and come to power at a time. Usually the chairman of the party becomes prime minister and puts together his ministers, the cabinet. Mixed proportional representation with the five percent clause has been in force in New Zealand since 1996.