1946 New Zealand general election

The 1946 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the New Zealand Parliament's 28th term. It saw the governing Labour Party re-elected, but by a substantially narrower margin than in the three previous elections. The National Party continued its gradual rise.

1946 New Zealand general election

← 1943 26 November 1946 (Māori)
27 November 1946 (general)
1949 →

All 80 seats in the New Zealand Parliament
41 seats were needed for a majority
Turnout1,047,205 (93.5%)
  First party Second party
  Peter Fraser.jpg Sidney George Holland (1951).jpg
Leader Peter Fraser Sidney Holland
Party Labour National
Leader since 4 April 1940 26 November 1940
Leader's seat Brooklyn Christchurch North
Last election 45 seats, 47.6% 34 seats, 42.8%
Seats won 42 38
Seat change Decrease 3 Increase 4
Popular vote 536,994 507,139
Percentage 51.3% 48.4%
Swing Increase 3.7% Increase 5.6%

1946 New Zealand general election - Results.svg
Results of the election.

Prime Minister before election

Peter Fraser

Subsequent Prime Minister

Peter Fraser


The Labour Party had been in government since winning the 1935 elections, and had been re-elected twice. However, the National Party had managed to overcome the internal problems which had once troubled it, and now presented a credible threat to Labour. National's leader, Sidney Holland, was proving more effective than his predecessor, while the Prime Minister, Peter Fraser, was weary and in poor health. The after-effects of World War II, including ongoing shortages, were affecting the government's popularity.

The next New Zealand census was scheduled for 1946, but having had to postpone the 1941 census due to WWII, the government brought it forward. The 1945 census was held on Tuesday, 25 September, so that the results could be used for the 1946 electoral redistribution prior to the planned 1946 election.[1] In August 1945, there was a first hint that the government considered abolishing the country quota through the Electoral Amendment Act, 1945.[2] The amendment bill was introduced on 18 October 1945 and proposed the complete abolition of the country quota and that electorates be based on adult, as opposed to total, population.[3] The Electoral Amendment Act, 1945 was given royal assent on 12 November[4] and it reduced the number and increased the size of rural electorates. None of the existing electorates remained unchanged, 26 electorates were abolished, 19 electorates were created for the first time, and six former electorates were re-established.[5] The 1946 electoral redistribution had to take ten years of population growth and movements into account. The North Island gained a further two electorates from the South Island due to faster population growth.

MPs retiring in 1946Edit

Five Labour MPs and one National MP intended to retire at the end of the Parliament.

Party Name Electorate
Labour Joe Hodgens Palmerston North
Leonard Lowry Otaki
Peter Neilson Dunedin Central
Ben Roberts Wairarapa
Paddy Webb Buller
National Adam Hamilton Wallace

Date of electionEdit

The election should have been held earlier. The 27th parliament "forgot to mark the calendar, forgot the previous election had been earlier than usual and accidentally ran for two extra months".[6]

The electionEdit

The date for the main 1946 elections was 27 November, a Wednesday. Elections to the four Māori electorates were held the day before. 1,081,898 people were registered to vote, and there was a turnout of 93.5%. This turnout was the highest ever recorded at this point. The number of seats being contested was 80, a number which had been fixed since 1902.[7]

Election resultsEdit

Party standingsEdit

The 1946 election saw the governing Labour Party retain office by a four-seat margin, winning forty-two seats to the National Party's thirty-eight. In the popular vote — Labour won 51.3% and National won 48.4%. The election was a straight fight between the two main parties (unlike the 1943 election), and only 8 of the 76 European electorates had more than two candidates. The Democratic Labour Party did not take part, and National absorbed many of the miscellaneous candidates and splinter movements. The European electorates divided equally and the Maori seats decided the issue. [8]

No other parties won any significant share of the vote, and no independents were elected — only 0.3% of voters did not support one of the two major parties. After Harry Atmore of Nelson died, no candidate who was not from the two main parties managed to enter Parliament until the 1966 elections, when the Social Credit Party won its first seat.

Election results
Party Candidates Total votes Percentage Seats won Change
Labour 80 536,994 51.28 42 -3
National 80 507,149 48.43 38 +4
Communist 3 1,181 0.11 0 ±0
Independent 9 2,886 0.18 0 -1
Total 172 1,047,210 80

Votes summaryEdit

Popular Vote
Parliament seats

Initial MPsEdit

The table below shows the results of the 1946 general election:


  Labour     National     Independent  

Electorate results for the 1946 New Zealand general election[9][10]
Electorate Incumbent Winner Majority Runner up
General electorates
Arch Hill New electorate Bill Parry[11] 6,585 Edward James Clark
Ashburton New electorate Geoff Gerard 1,453 Mabel Newlands
Auckland Central Bill Parry[11] Bill Anderton[12] 3,478 Leon Götz[13]
Avon Dan Sullivan 5,180 Robert Alexander McDowell
Awarua George Richard Herron 2,588 Gilbert Gregory Mitchell
Bay of Plenty Bill Sullivan[14] 1,634 Ray Boord[15][9]
Brooklyn New electorate Peter Fraser[16] 3,935 Stewart Hardy
Buller Paddy Webb Jerry Skinner 2,912 Phil McDonald
Central Otago William Bodkin 2,909 Claude Charles Capell
Christchurch Central New electorate Robert Macfarlane 4,420 Alan J. Wills
Clutha James Roy 2,140 John Patrick Thompson
Dunedin Central Peter Neilson Phil Connolly 2,000 Stuart Sidey[17][9]
Dunedin North Robert Walls 1,630 Norman Jones[18]
Eden Bill Anderton[12] Wilfred Fortune[19] 1,281 Warren Freer[20][9]
Egmont Ernest Corbett[21] 3,398 Clarence Robert Parker
Fendalton New electorate Sidney Holland 3,004 Alan Williams
Franklin Jack Massey 4,023 Alex Gunn
Gisborne David Coleman 2,015 Harry Barker[22]
Grey Lynn Fred Hackett 5,910 Harold Stapleton Barry
Hamilton Hilda Ross 327 Jack Granville
Hastings New electorate Ted Cullen 483 Eric Pryor[23]
Hauraki General Andy Sutherland 2,891 John William Neate
Hawke's Bay Ted Cullen Cyril Harker 2,014 Henry Edward Beattie
Hobson New electorate Sidney Walter Smith 3,580 Hubert Knox Hatrick
Hurunui William Gillespie 1,440 John Mathison
Hutt Walter Nash 2,587 Jim Vogel
Invercargill William Denham Ralph Hanan 224 William Denham
Island Bay New electorate Robert McKeen 3,958 Herbert Edward Childs
Karori New electorate Charles Bowden 2,042 Patrick Connolly McGavin
Lyttelton Terry McCombs 1,543 Ted Taylor[24]
Manawatu Matthew Oram 2,467 Phil Holloway
Marlborough Ted Meachen Tom Shand 179 Ted Meachen
Marsden Alfred Murdoch 2,149 John Stewart
Miramar New electorate Bob Semple 2,482 Leonard Theodor Jacobsen[25]
Mornington New electorate Wally Hudson 4,681 Lewis Donald McIver
Mount Albert New electorate Arthur Shapton Richards 1,857 Frederick Ashley Hosking
Mount Victoria New electorate Jack Marshall 911 Eugene Casey
Napier Tommy Armstrong 1,845 Alan John Price
Nelson vacant[nb 1] Edgar Neale 585 Cyril Harold Goodman
New Plymouth Ernest Aderman 405 George Nimmo
North Shore New electorate Martyn Finlay 249 Henry Thorne Morton[26]
Oamaru Arnold Nordmeyer 232 Thomas Ross Beatty
Onehunga Arthur Osborne 3,424 William Kenneth King
Onslow New electorate Harry Combs 1,578 Philip Patrick Lynch
Otahuhu Charles Robert Petrie 220 Albert Murdoch
Otaki Leonard Lowry Jimmy Maher 44 Jim Thorn
Pahiatua Keith Holyoake 3,697 Otto Ernest Niederer
Palmerston North Joe Hodgens Ormond Wilson 928 Gus Mansford
Parnell New electorate Duncan Rae 206 Bill Schramm
Patea William Sheat 870 Richard John O'Dea
Petone New electorate Mick Moohan 4,019 George London
Piako New electorate Stan Goosman 5,101 Ben Waters
Ponsonby New electorate Ritchie Macdonald 3,431 Peter E Dempsey[27]
Raglan Hallyburton Johnstone Alan Baxter 13 Hallyburton Johnstone
Rangitikei Edward Gordon 2,307 John Capstick
Remuera Ronald Algie 4,410 James Freeman
Riccarton Jack Watts Angus McLagan 3,875 Vic Wilson
Rodney New electorate Clifton Webb 2,850 Alex Dixon
Roskill Arthur Shapton Richards Frank Langstone 155 Roy McElroy[28]
St Albans New electorate Jack Watts 86 Morgan Williams[29]
St Kilda New electorate Fred Jones 1,248 Leonard James Ireland
Selwyn New electorate John McAlpine 472 Alan Sharp
Sydenham New electorate Mabel Howard 6,746 Ruric Hunter
Tamaki New electorate Tom Skinner 231 John George Concanon Wales
Tauranga Frederick Doidge 2,704 Dudley A. Hill
Timaru Clyde Carr 520 Jack Acland[30]
Waikato Stan Goosman Geoffrey Sim 4,385 John Dwyer
Waimarino Frank Langstone Paddy Kearins 681 Norman Robert Hill
Waimate New electorate David Campbell Kidd 789 William Roy Davison
Wairarapa Ben Roberts Garnet Mackley 235 George Anders Hansen
Waitakere New electorate Rex Mason 2,797 Archibald Morrison Laing
Waitomo Walter Broadfoot 3,951 Alan George Goldsmith
Wallace Adam Hamilton Tom Macdonald 3,716 David Munro
Wanganui Joe Cotterill 1,934 Eric Merewether
Wellington Central Peter Fraser Charles Chapman 1,680 Agnes Weston[nb 2]
Westland James O'Brien 4,716 E Frank Chivers[33][34]
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Tiaki Omana 1,517 Āpirana Ngata
Northern Maori Tapihana Paraire Paikea 2,555 James Henare[35]
Southern Maori Eruera Tirikatene 581 Vernon Ohaia Mason Thomas
Western Maori Matiu Ratana 6,491 Hoeroa Marumaru[36]

Table footnotes:

  1. ^ Harry Atmore, the previous holder of the Nelson electorate, died on 20 August 1946
  2. ^ Claude Weston died suddenly on 10 November 1946 and was replaced by his wife[31][32]


  1. ^ "Politics brought the 1946 Census forward to 1945". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  2. ^ "Country quota". The Press. Vol. LXXXI, no. 24635. 3 August 1945. p. 4. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  3. ^ "Political storm bursts: electoral amendment sprung on House". Evening Star. No. 25618. 19 October 1945. p. 3. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  4. ^ "Stop press". Evening Star. No. 25639. 13 November 1945. p. 8. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  5. ^ McRobie 1989, pp. 91–96.
  6. ^ Maoate-Cox, Daniela; Smith, Phil (12 August 2020). "Dissolving Parliament - what is that?". Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  7. ^ "General elections 1853–2005 – dates & turnout". Elections New Zealand. Archived from the original on 14 November 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
  8. ^ Lipson 2011, p. 220-21.
  9. ^ a b c d "The General Election, 1946". National Library. 1947. pp. 1–11, 14. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  10. ^ "The Lists Close". No. 25951. Evening Star. 16 November 1946. p. 9.
  11. ^ a b Wilson 1985, p. 225.
  12. ^ a b Wilson 1985, p. 180.
  13. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 315.
  14. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 237.
  15. ^ Norton 1988, p. 200.
  16. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 198.
  17. ^ Norton 1988, p. 212.
  18. ^ Gustafson 1986, pp. 323f.
  19. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 197.
  20. ^ Norton 1988, p. 220.
  21. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 190.
  22. ^ Milton-Tee, Ann. "Harry Heaton Barker". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  23. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 382.
  24. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 387.
  25. ^ "Public Notices". The Evening Post. Vol. CXXXVI, no. 136. 6 December 1943. p. 4. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  26. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 334.
  27. ^ Gustafson 1986, pp. 360f.
  28. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 375.
  29. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 245.
  30. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 179.
  31. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 389.
  32. ^ "Claude Horace Weston". Auckland War Memorial Museum. Archived from the original on 29 March 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  33. ^ "General Election". Auckland Star. Vol. LXXIV, no. 203. 27 August 1943. p. 4. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  34. ^ "Chivers, E Frank, DSM, MID". Torpedo Bay Navy Museum. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  35. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 367.
  36. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 377.


  • 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.
  • McRobie, Alan (1989). Electoral Atlas of New Zealand. Wellington: GP Books. ISBN 0-477-01384-8.
  • Norton, Clifford (1988). New Zealand Parliamentary Election Results 1946–1987. Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington. ISBN 0-475-11200-8.
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.