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Democracy In New Zealand

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Presentation on theme: "Democracy In New Zealand"— Presentation transcript:

1 Democracy In New Zealand
What is Democracy? How does our government work? What is a General Election? Created by Jacqui Southey, Unicef Education for Development, June 2011

2 The New Zealand Government
The New Zealand Government consists of 3 main components: The Head of State – Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of England. The Governor General – Lieutenant-General Sir Jeremiah (Jerry) Mateparae GNZM, QSO (as of 31st August 2011) Parliament – The Prime Minister, elected parties in power and the parties in opposition. Our form of government is known as a democracy or parliamentary democracy.

3 Head of State Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, is our head of state.
The Queen is also the Head of State in 15 other countries around the world. Can you name any other countries? The Queen has very little direct participation in modern New Zealand government. Due to the Queen living so far away in England, her royal duties are often carried out on her behalf by her representative, the Governor General.

4 The Governor General Lieutenant-General Sir Jeremiah (Jerry) Mateparae GNZM, QSO is our Governor General, appointed to this role in August 2011. The Governor General usually holds this role for 5 years, and is appointed by the Queen on the Prime Minister’s advice. The Governor General acts as the Queen’s personal representative in New Zealand, and carries out his official duties in the name of the Queen. These include; ceremonial duties such as bestowing honours; parliamentary duties - dissolving parliament before an election, appointing ministers and judges, approving new legislation, and issuing writs for election. The Governor General also has community duties. This means he/she is seen to be a leader in the community and is often called upon to be a patron to sports and charities, and to officially open some new buildings and events.

5 Parliament Parliament, also known as the House of Representatives:
Is democratically elected every 3 years. Consists of 120 seats. Seats are allocated using the MMP (mixed member proportional representation) election system. A party must receive 5% of the total votes to be eligible to hold a seat.

6 Parliamentary Seats There are 120 seats in Parliament.
70 seats are held by elected members of Parliament known as MPs. The MPs are elected in their electorates on election day. The electorates are geographical locations around New Zealand. There are 47 in the North Island, 16 in the South Island and 7 Maori seats (or electorates). The remaining 50 seats are allocated to party list members depending on the amount of votes that party gets in the general election. In other words, if a party wins 10% of the Party Votes, it gets 10% of the seats in Parliament - that's 12 seats. They will also receive any seats they win in the electorate vote, ie if they also win Epsom, that is added to their 12 seats, giving them a total of 13 seats. This election system is known as MMP. For more information on party lists and party list seats go to,

7 What is a Democracy? Democracy comes from the Greek word, dēmokratía which translates as, ‘the rule of the people’. It is a form of government that enables the people of the country to elect the leaders of their choice. The elected government is then accountable to the people. Meaning it must represent the people and do so fairly. In a democratic country, all citizens are equal, all citizens have the right to free speech, all citizens have the right to practice the religion of their choice – as long as it does not hurt others, and all citizens have the right to be protected, through either the police force, courts of law or government systems, such as health care, welfare and justice support for those who need it.

8 How is the New Zealand Government selected?
People who wish to be in Parliament, either form a political party or join an existing political party, such as the Green party or the National party. These people become known as politicians. Political parties decide on issues that are important to the well being and development of the country. These become the party’s policies. Parties promote their policies through a campaign to inform, and to encourage people in the country to vote for their party during general elections. People use this information to decide which party or politician will be best for the country, or best aligns with their personal beliefs.

9 General Elections In New Zealand general elections are held every 3 years. The election is held so the people of New Zealand can vote for the government they want to govern the country. People will vote for the registered parties of their choice, at a polling booth (a designated voting place), using an official ballot paper, that will be collected and counted. The votes cast are secret, this is to stop any possibility of corruption, or influencing the way will people will vote.

10 Who is entitled to vote? All New Zealand citizens and permanent residents over the age of 18 years old. However this has not always been the case. Initially only male landowners were eligible to vote. This denied all women, any men that were not landowners, and most Maori men as Maori land was traditionally owned in communal titles by iwi, hapu or whanau groups. Interestingly Maori men were granted suffrage in 1867, 12 years earlier than Pakeha men (1879), and 26 years earlier than women (1893). When the first elections were held in New Zealand in 1853 the voting age was set at 21 years old. This age limit was to stay until 1969 when the voting age was lowered to 20 years old, and then further lowered to 18 years old in 1974.

11 Casting Your Vote In order to vote you must be enrolled to vote no later than the Friday before the Election day. You can vote at a designated polling booth in your electorate any time between 9am and 7pm on the day of the election. You can only cast your votes once, meaning you can’t revote because you have changed your mind, or vote more than once to give your party more votes. Your vote will be collected and counted by election officials. The results are then communicated via the media.

12 Review Questions What is an electorate? And what electorate do you live in? What is MMP? What is the minimum number of votes needed to gain a parliamentary seat? Describe what democracy means. Where and how does a person cast a vote? Who is the Queen’s personal representative? Who is entitled to vote? How does voting bring about change in New Zealand? Why is it important for people to vote, rather than ignore the election and their right to vote?

13 Bibliography

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