New Zealand general election, 1984

New Zealand general election, 1984
1984 general election
New Zealand
1981 ←
14 July 1984
→ 1987

All 95 seats in the New Zealand House of Representatives
48 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party
  DavidLange.jpg Robert Muldoon 1977.jpg
Leader David Lange Sir Robert Muldoon
Party Labour National
Leader since 1983 1974
Leader's seat Mangere Tamaki
Seats won 56 37
Seat change increase13 decrease10
Popular vote 829,154 692,494
Percentage 43.0% 35.9%
Swing increase4.0% decrease2.9%

Prime Minister before election

Robert Muldoon

Elected Prime Minister

David Lange

The 1984 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the 41st New Zealand Parliament. It marked the beginning of the Fourth Labour Government, with David Lange's Labour Party defeating long-serving Prime Minister Robert Muldoon of the National Party. It was also the last election in which the Social Credit Party won seats as an independent entity. The election was also the only one in which the New Zealand Party, a protest party, played any substantial role.



Before the election, the National Party governed with 47 seats, a small majority. The opposition Labour Party held 43 seats, and the Social Credit Party held two. Although National theoretically commanded a two-seat lead over the other parties, dissent within the National caucus (particularly by Marilyn Waring and Mike Minogue) resulted in serious problems for National leader Robert Muldoon.

The 1984 election was called when Marilyn Waring told Muldoon that she would not support his government in the vote over an opposition-sponsored anti-nuclear bill. Muldoon, visibly drunk,[1][2][3] announced a snap election on national television. There is debate over whether the election was necessary — Waring had not threatened to block confidence and supply, meaning that the government could still have continued on even if it had lost the anti-nuclear vote. Nevertheless, Muldoon appears to have wanted an election to reinforce his mandate (just as Sidney Holland sought and won a mandate to oppose striking dock-workers with the 1951 snap election).

Muldoon's government, which had been growing increasingly unpopular in its third term, was seen as rigid, inflexible, and increasingly unresponsive to public concerns. The Labour Party had actually gained a plurality of the vote in the previous two elections, but had narrowly missed out on getting a majority of the seats. Labour's primary campaign message was one of change — Muldoon's government, which employed wage and price controls in an attempt to "guide" the economy, was widely blamed for poor economic performance. Labour also campaigned to reduce government borrowing.

The New Zealand Party, founded by property tycoon Bob Jones, was launched primarily to oppose the Muldoon government (although it did not support Labour). A right-wing liberal party, it promoted less government control over markets, in contrast to the paternalist and somewhat authoritarian policies of National, the other significant right-wing party.

The election

The election was held on 14 July. There were 2,111,651 registered voters. Turnout was 93.7%, the highest turnout ever recorded in a New Zealand election. Most political scientists attribute the high turnout to a desire by voters for change.

Immediately after the election there was a constitutional crisis when Muldoon initially refused to follow the advice of the incoming Labour government and devalue the New Zealand Dollar.

Summary of results

The 1984 election saw the Labour Party win 56 of the 95 seats in parliament, a gain of 13. This was enough for it to hold an outright majority and become the fourth Labour government. The National Party won only 37 seats, a loss of ten. The New Zealand Party, despite winning 12.2% of the vote, failed to gain any seats at all. Social Credit managed to win two seats, the same number as it had held previously. The Values Party, an environmentalist group, gained fifth place, but no seats.

Detailed results

Party Candidates Total votes Percentage Seats won
Labour Party 95 829,154 43.0% 56
National Party 95 692,494 35.9% 37
New Zealand Party 95 236,385 12.2% -
Social Credit Party 95 147,162 7.6% 2
Values Party 29 3,826 0.2% -
(incl. Mel Courtney, Brian MacDonell and Jack Ridley)
3 10,750 0.56% -
Others 54 9,430 0.49% -
Total 466 1,929,201 95


There were 95 seats being contested in the 1984 election, three more than in the previous parliament. All but two of these seats were won by one of the two major parties.

The Labour Party, previously in opposition, won 56 seats, an outright majority. Most of the seats won by Labour were in urban areas, following the party's typical pattern. Exceptions to this general trend include the eastern tip of the North Island and the western coast of the South Island. Labour's strongest regions were the Wellington area (where the party won every seat), as well as Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin (cities in which it won most seats). Smaller cities such as Hamilton, Nelson, Napier, Hastings and Palmerston North were also won by Labour. As expected, Labour also won all four Māori seats, maintaining its traditional strength there.

The National Party, the incumbent government, was (as expected) strongest in rural areas. Most of the rural North Island was won by National, as were a most of the rural areas on the South Island's eastern coast. In the larger cities, the party fared poorly, with Auckland and Christchurch being the only places that the party won seats. It was more successful in smaller cities, however, winning Rotorua, Tauranga, Invercargill, New Plymouth and Whangarei. It was placed second in two Māori electorates, and third in the other two.

The only minor party to win electorates was the Social Credit Party, which won East Coast Bays and Pakuranga (both in Auckland). It had held East Coast Bays before the election, but won Pakuranga for the first time. It did not manage to retain Rangitikei, which it had also held before the election. Social Credit candidates were placed second in six electorates, including Rangitikei.

The New Zealand Party, despite gaining more votes than Social Credit, did not win any seats. Some commentators have suggested that the party was not seeking to do so, and instead was merely acting as a spoiler for National. This impression has been backed up by comments by Bob Jones himself. The party was, however, placed second in the electorates of Remuera (an affluent part of Auckland), Kaimai (a region in the Bay of Plenty), and Tauranga.

The Values Party, an environmentalist group, managed to win 0.2% of the vote, substantially below previous efforts. The party, which was in slow decline, would eventually vanish, but its ideals and goals would be reborn in the Green Party.

In two of the Māori electorates, the Mana Motuhake party gained second place, but the party did not gain a substantial number of votes elsewhere.

No independent candidates won seats, but one independent candidate, Mel Courtney, was placed second in the electorate of Nelson.

MPs Elected in 1984
Key: Labour Party National Party New Zealand Party
Social Credit Party Mana Motuhake Independent
Electorate Incumbent Winner Second Place
Ashburton Rob Talbot G Stone
Auckland Central Richard Prebble M Eardley-Wilmot
Avon Mary Batchelor A P Cowie
Awarua Rex Austin B G Raitt
Bay of Islands Neill Austin L W Hunter
Birkenhead Jim McLay J E T Course
Christchurch Central Geoffrey Palmer A A P Willy
Christchurch North New Electorate Mike Moore D J L Dumergue
Clutha Robin Gray M J Sheppard
Dunedin North Stan Rodger B Henderson
Dunedin West New Electorate Clive Matthewson D G P Russell
East Cape Duncan MacIntyre Anne Fraser R J Leeming
East Coast Bays Gary Knapp Murray McCully
Eastern Hutt Trevor Young M J McLauchlan
Eden Aussie Malcolm Richard Northey Aussie Malcolm
Fendalton Philip Burdon M J Dobson
Franklin New Electorate Bill Birch R Haywood
Gisborne Bob Bell Allan Wallbank Bob Bell
Glenfield New Electorate Judy Keall D L Schnauer
Hamilton East Ian Shearer Bill Dillon Ian Shearer
Hamilton West Mike Minogue Trevor Mallard Mike Minogue
Hastings David Butcher P D Brown
Hauraki Graeme Lee A D T Thompson
Hawkes Bay Richard Harrison Bill Sutton Richard Harrison
Heretaunga Bill Jeffries A J MacFarlane
Horowhenua Geoff Thompson Annette King Geoff Thompson
Invercargill Norman Jones D E H Soper
Island Bay Frank O'Flynn J Kananghinis
Kaimai Bruce Townshend L J B Dickson
Kaipara Peter Ian Wilkinson Lockwood Smith W J Campbell
Kapiti Margaret Shields I J Oakley
King Country Jim Bolger J E Simons
Lyttelton Ann Hercus D G Graham
Manawatu Michael Cox D C Alton
Mangere David Lange P L Saunders
Manurewa Roger Douglas S Leenstra
Marlborough Doug Kidd G MacDonald
Matamata John Luxton R I Clow
Miramar Peter Neilson D Crosbie
Mount Albert Helen Clark R O Cavanagh
Napier Geoff Braybrooke M P Liddell
Nelson Philip Woollaston Mel Courtney
New Lynn Jonathan Hunt R A Hanson
New Plymouth Tony Friedlander Ida Gaskin
North Shore George Gair P J Harris
Ohariu Hugh Templeton Peter Dunne Hugh Templeton
Onehunga Fred Gerbic C A Freeman
Otago Warren Cooper J D Polson
Otara New Electorate Colin Moyle M M M Tahia
Pahiatua John Falloon M Brazendale
Pakuranga Pat Hunt Neil Morrison Pat Hunt
Palmerston North Trevor De Cleene C G Singleton
Panmure New Electorate Bob Tizard C Tedesco
Papakura Merv Wellington D L John
Papatoetoe Eddie Isbey P F O'Brien
Pencarrow Fraser Colman K J B Cranston
Porirua Gerard Wall A L Gadsby
Raglan New Electorate Simon Upton L Holmes
Rangiora Derek Quigley Jim Gerard B C Tomlinson
Rangitikei Bruce Beetham Dennis Marshall Bruce Beetham
Remuera Doug Graham K L Sandford
Rodney New Electorate Don McKinnon B R Dent
Roskill Phil Goff C N Knowles
Rotorua Paul East B D Arps
St Albans David Caygill I G B Wilson
St Kilda Michael Cullen J S Clark
Selwyn Ruth Richardson C E Manning
Sydenham John Kirk Jim Anderton E L Bonisch
Tamaki Robert Muldoon R Tulloch
Taranaki David Thomson Roger Maxwell G N Waters
Tarawera Ian McLean M R Moore
Tasman Bill Rowling Ken Shirley G H Hunt
Tauranga Keith Allen Winston Peters D J Parlour
Te Atatu Michael Bassett F W G Diment
Timaru Basil Arthur Maurice McTigue
Tongariro New Electorate Noel Scott N F Rangi
Waikaremoana New Electorate Roger McClay J N Harré
Waikato Simon Upton Rob Storey P J Cleave
Waipa Marilyn Waring Katherine O'Regan A H Allen
Wairarapa Ben Couch Reg Boorman Ben Couch
Waitakere Ralph Maxwell J C McIntosh
Waitaki Jonathan Elworthy Jim Sutton Jonathan Elworthy
Waitotara Venn Young S C Perry
Wallace Derek Angus C J Fisher
Wanganui Russell Marshall Terry Heffernan
Wellington Central Fran Wilde R A Young Rouse
West Auckland New Electorate Jack Elder Dail Jones
West Coast Thomas (Kerry) Burke J W Bateman
Western Hutt John Terris J W Tanner
Whangarei John Banks B C Magner
Yaldhurst Mick Connelly Margaret Austin H Joseph
Eastern Maori Peter Tapsell B R Kiwara
Northern Maori Bruce Gregory Matiu Rata
Southern Maori Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan N A Reedy
Western Maori Koro Wetere W S Katene

Summary of changes

  • Eleven new seats were created, of which seven (Christchurch North, Dunedin West, Glenfield, Otara, Panmure, Tongariro and West Auckland) were won by Labour, and four (Franklin, Raglan, Rodney and Waikaremoana) by National.
  • A further eleven seats were won by Labour from National: East Cape, Eden, Hamilton East, Hamilton West, Hawkes Bay, Horowhenua, Ohariu, Pakuranga, Rangitikei, Wairarapa and Waitaki.
  • Nine electorates had incumbent MPs retire and replaced them with MPs from the same party, six National and three Labour. Kaipara, Rangiora, Taranaki, Tauranga, Waikato and Waipa remained National, while Sydenham, Tasman and Yaldhurst remained Labour. In Rangiora, National MP Derek Quigley's decision not to stand for re-election followed serious clashes with Muldoon over economic policy, while in Sydenham, John Kirk had resigned from the Labour Party.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.