1938 New Zealand general election

The 1938 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the New Zealand Parliament's 26th term. It resulted in the governing Labour Party being re-elected, although the newly founded National Party gained a certain amount of ground.

1938 New Zealand general election

← 1935 14 (Māori) & 15 October (general) 1938 1943 →

All 80 seats in the New Zealand Parliament
41 seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party
  Michael Joseph Savage Portrait.jpg Adam Hamilton (1926).jpg
Leader Michael Joseph Savage Adam Hamilton
Party Labour National
Leader since 12 October 1933 31 October 1936
Leader's seat Auckland West Wallace
Last election 53 seats, 45.7% 19 seats, 32.9% (as United–Reform Coalition)
Seats won 53 25
Seat change Steady 0 Increase 6
Popular vote 528,290 381,081
Percentage 55.8% 40.3%
Swing Increase 10.1% Increase 7.4%

1938 New Zealand general election - Results.svg
Results of the election.

Prime Minister before election

Michael Joseph Savage
Labour

Subsequent Prime Minister

Michael Joseph Savage
Labour

This was the first election in which the Māori were given a secret ballot which had been available to white voters since 1870.

BackgroundEdit

The Labour Party had won a resounding victory in the 1935 elections, winning fifty-three seats. Shortly after the elections, the two Ratana-aligned MPs also merged into the Labour Party, giving Labour a total of fifty-five seats. The government, a coalition of the United Party and the Reform Party, had won only nineteen seats. Shortly after their defeat, United and Reform agreed to merge into the National Party, which positioned itself as the only alternative to the "socialist" Labour Party. However, Labour remained popular with the public, and the Prime Minister, Michael Joseph Savage, was widely praised for his welfare reform. The leadership of the National Party, by contrast, was closely associated by the public with the Great Depression, and struggled to gain traction.

The electionEdit

The date for the main 1938 elections was 15 October, a Saturday. Elections to the four Maori electorates were held the day before. 995,173 people were registered to vote, and there was a turnout of 92.9%. This turnout was the highest ever recorded at that point, although it was later exceeded in the two elections after World War II and in the 1984 elections. The number of seats being contested was 80, a number which had been fixed since 1902.[1]

ResultsEdit

The 1938 election saw a decisive win for the governing Labour Party, which won fifty-three seats. This was a drop of two from what it held prior to the election. While Labour gained the seats of Bay of Islands, Motueka (previously held by Keith Holyoake), New Plymouth, Wellington Suburbs, and Northern Maori, it lost Tauranga and the rural seats of Manawatu, Rangitikei, Waikato, Mid-Canterbury, and Waipawa.

The National Party won twenty-five seats, an increase of six from that the United–Reform Coalition had previously won. Both Labour and National increased their share of the popular vote, with Labour winning 55.8% (up from 46.1%) and National winning 40.3% (up from 32.9%). This increase was at the expense of the Democrat Party (who had merged into National in 1936)[2] and the agrarian monetary reformist Country Party, which saw its votes collapse completely. The Country Party lost the two seats it held (Bay of Islands and Franklin) as, unlike 1935, Labour stood candidates in the seats held by the two Country Party members. Hence Harold Rushworth did not stand in the Bay of Islands seat, and Arthur Sexton came third in Franklin.

Independent candidates also lost ground, with only two being elected, Harry Atmore (Nelson) and Charles Wilkinson (Egmont). As in 1935, the independents were tactically supported by one of the major parties who did not stand a candidate against them, and they generally voted with that party; Wilkinson and Wright had supported National while Atmore had supported Labour. But Robert Wright was defeated for the new electorate of Wellington West by Labour despite National not running a candidate against him.[3]

An analysis of men and women on the rolls against the votes recorded showed that in the 1938 election 92.85% of those on the European rolls voted; men 93.43% and women 92.27%. In the 1935 election the figures were 90.75% with men 92.02% and women 89.46%. As the Māori electorates did not have electoral rolls they could not be included.[4][5]

This was the first election in which the Māori were given a secret ballot. Secret ballots had been available to white voters since 1870, but it was not extended to Māori voters until the 1937 Electoral Amendment Act was passed. The number of votes cast in the Māori seats in the 1938 election rose 18.3% from the 1935 election. Opponents of the secret ballot for the Māori claimed that the Māori suffered from illiteracy, but only 2.28% of the ballots were ruled invalid. Member of Parliament Eruera Tirikatene praised the secret ballot for the Māori as he regarded it as one of the rights promised in the Treaty of Waitangi.[6][7]

Party standingsEdit

 
Map of electorates.
Election results
Party Candidates Votes Percentage Seats won change
Labour 78 528,290 55.80 53 -2*
National 77 381,081 40.30 25 +9
Country Party 5 2,199 0.23 0 -2
Independents 16 34,823 3.65 2 -3
Total 176 946,393 80

*includes two Ratana MPs (Toko Ratana, Eruera Tirikatene) who joined the Labour caucus after the 1935 election

Votes summaryEdit

Popular Vote
Labour
55.80%
National
40.30%
Country Party
0.23%
Independent
3.65%
Parliament seats
Labour
66.25%
National
31.25%
Independent
2.50%

Electorate resultsEdit

The following table shows the detailed results:

Key

  Labour     National     Country Party     Independent     Independent Liberal  

Electorate results for the 1938 New Zealand general election[8][9]
Electorate Incumbent Winner Majority Runner up
General electorates
Auckland Central Bill Parry 6,181 Clifford Reid Dodd[10]
Auckland East Bill Schramm 2,626 Harry Tom Merritt[11][12]
Auckland Suburbs Rex Mason 4,862 Maxwell Stuart Walker[13]
Auckland West Michael Joseph Savage 8,007 John W. Kealy[14]
Avon Dan Sullivan 6,179 Hiram Hunter
Awarua James Hargest 660 Joseph Albert Beck[15]
Bay of Islands Harold Rushworth Charles Boswell 163 Harold Fisher Guy[16]
Bay of Plenty Gordon Hultquist 169 Bill Sullivan
Buller Paddy Webb 6,144 Terrence Maddison
Central Otago William Bodkin 1,231 James McIndoe Mackay[17]
Christchurch East Tim Armstrong 7,179 Ken Armour
Christchurch North Sidney Holland 492 Robert Macfarlane
Christchurch South Ted Howard 5,995 Gladstone Ward[18]
Clutha James Roy 714 Herbert Kerr Edie
Dunedin Central Peter Neilson 3,814 William John Meade
Dunedin North Jim Munro 3,557 Alexander Smith Falconer[19][20][21][22]
Dunedin South Fred Jones 4,314 Rev. Ernest Aderman
Dunedin West Dr Gervan McMillan 2,639 Stuart Sidey[23]
Eden Bill Anderton 2,333 Donald Pool[24]
Egmont Charles Wilkinson 1,402 Thomas Trask
Franklin Arthur Sexton Jack Massey 2,057 Ernest Piggott[16]
Gisborne David Coleman 3,640 Kenneth Jones
Grey Lynn John A. Lee 8,607 Joseph Alexander Govan[11]
Hamilton Charles Barrell 1,860 Albert William Grant[25][16]
Hauraki General Charles Robert Petrie John Manchester Allen 1,188 Robert Coulter
Hawkes Bay Ted Cullen 2,658 George Maddison[26][27]
Hurunui George Forbes 535 Harold Denton
Hutt Walter Nash 6,814 John Andrews[28]
Invercargill William Denham 2,156 Fred Hall-Jones[23]
Kaiapoi Morgan Williams 1,535 George Warren
Kaipara Gordon Coates 1,689 Percy MacGregor Stewart[16]
Lyttelton Terry McCombs 2,984 Isaac Wilson[29]
Manawatu Lorrie Hunter John Cobbe 1,644 Lorrie Hunter
Marlborough New electorate Ted Meachen 1,525 Edward Healy
Marsden Jim Barclay 557 Alfred Murdoch
Masterton John Robertson 190 Jack Irving
Mataura David McDougall Tom Macdonald 1,515 David McDougall
Mid-Canterbury Horace Herring Arthur Grigg 74 Horace Herring
Motueka Keith Holyoake Jerry Skinner 870 Keith Holyoake
Napier Bill Barnard 3,937 John Ormond[30]
Nelson Harry Atmore 886 John Robert Kerr
New Plymouth Sydney George Smith Fred Frost 869 Sydney George Smith
Oamaru Arnold Nordmeyer 758 Michael Francis Edward Cooney[31]
Onehunga New electorate Arthur Osborne 4,314 John Park[32][33]
Otahuhu New electorate Charles Robert Petrie 2,267 Kenneth Tennent[34]
Otaki Leonard Lowry 1,367 George Alexander Monk[35]
Pahiatua Alfred Ransom 931 George Anders Hansen[36]
Palmerston North Joe Hodgens 2,118 Jimmy Nash[37]
Patea Harold Dickie 809 Charles Joseph Duggan[38][39]
Raglan Lee Martin 604 Andy Sutherland[40]
Rangitikei Ormond Wilson Edward Gordon 311 Ormond Wilson
Remuera New electorate Bill Endean 2,861 Mary Dreaver[41]
Riccarton Bert Kyle 87 Thomas Herbert Langford[42]
Roskill Arthur Shapton Richards 2,141 Arthur Sagar Bailey[13]
Rotorua Alexander Moncur 1,648 Henry William Nixon[43]
Stratford William Polson 1,101 James Watson McMillan
Tauranga Charles Burnett Frederick Doidge 1,138 Charles Burnett
Temuka Thomas Burnett 1,249 James Arnold Kearton
Thames Jim Thorn 2,295 William Alexander Clark
Timaru Clyde Carr 2,196 W H Hall
Waikato Robert Coulter Stan Goosman 2,928 J W Neate
Waimarino Frank Langstone 2,940 Cecil Boles
Waipawa Max Christie Albert Jull 446 Max Christie
Wairarapa Ben Roberts 777 James Frederick Thompson[44]
Waitaki David Barnes David Campbell Kidd 14 David Barnes
Waitemata Jack Lyon 2,261 John Ernest Close[13]
Waitomo Walter Broadfoot 329 Jack Jones[45]
Wallace Adam Hamilton 844 John James Lynch
Wanganui Joe Cotterill 3,920 Henry Charles Veitch
Wellington Central Peter Fraser 3,837 Will Appleton[46]
Wellington East Bob Semple 4,736 William Long Barker[47]
Wellington North Charles Chapman 3,278 Elizabeth Gilmer[48]
Wellington South Robert McKeen 6,415 David Howlett[49]
Wellington Suburbs Robert Wright Harry Combs 3,163 Ossie Mazengarb
Wellington West New electorate Catherine Stewart 956 Robert Wright
Westland James O'Brien 3,729 Ted Taylor
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Āpirana Ngata 1,064 Rēweti Kōhere
Northern Maori Taurekareka Henare Paraire Karaka Paikea 2,011 Taurekareka Henare
Southern Maori Eruera Tirikatene 485 Thomas Kaiporohu Bragg
Western Maori Toko Ratana 4,267 Pei Te Hurinui Jones

ReferencesEdit

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  37. ^ "J. A. Nash". Evening Post. Vol. CXXVI, no. 89. 12 October 1938. p. 18. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
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  40. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 345.
  41. ^ Laracy, Hugh. "Dreaver, Mary Manson". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  42. ^ "Tammany Hall". Evening Post. Vol. CXL, no. 52. 30 August 1945. p. 9. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
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  44. ^ "Wairarapa Electorate". Upper Hutt Weekly Review. Vol. III, no. 43. 14 October 1938. p. 3. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
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Other sourcesEdit

  • Gustafson, Barry (1986). The First 50 Years : A History of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Reed Methuen. ISBN 0-474-00177-6.
  • Lipson, Leslie (2011) [1948]. The Politics of Equality: New Zealand's Adventures in Democracy. Wellington: Victoria University Press. ISBN 978-0-86473-646-8.
  • Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer.
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.