The following lists events that happened during 1961 in New Zealand.
- Estimated population as of 31 December: 2,461,300
- Increase since 31 December 1960: 57,700 (2.40%)
- Males per 100 females: 101.2
Regal and viceregalEdit
- Speaker of the House – Ronald Algie.
- Prime Minister – Keith Holyoake
- Deputy Prime Minister – Jack Marshall.
- Minister of Finance – Harry Lake.
- Minister of Foreign Affairs – Keith Holyoake.
- Attorney-General – Ralph Hanan.
- Chief Justice — Sir Harold Barrowclough
Main centre leadersEdit
- The Ohakuri hydroelectric power plant starts operation.
- 12 October Ten National MPs voted with the Opposition to remove capital punishment for murder from the Crimes Bill that the Second National Government had introduced, by a vote of 41 to 30.
Arts and literatureEdit
See: 1961 in music
Radio and televisionEdit
- Auckland television is extended to seven nights a week, two and a half hours a night. On 4 April, Auckland television went commercial. 
- Television transmission began in Christchurch (a year later than Auckland) on 1 June. Wellington followed four weeks later, on 1 July. 
- Barry Magee wins his first national title in the men's marathon, clocking 2:18:54.2 on 4 March in Christchurch.
- The 68th National Chess Championship was held in Auckland, and was won by Ortvin Sarapu of Auckland (his 6th title).
- New Zealand tours South Africa (spanning December 1961 – February 1962) and drew the 5-Test series 2-2:
- 8–12 December 1961, Durban: 1st Test. SA won by 30 runs (SA 292 + 149, NZ 245 and 166)
- 26–29 December 1961, Johannesburg: 2nd Test Drawn (SA 322 + 178/6 decl, NZ 223 + 165/4)
- 1–4 January 1962, Cape Town: 3rd Test. NZ won by 72 runs (NZ 385 + 212/9 decl., SA 190 + 335)
- 2–5 February 1962, Johannesburg: 4th test. SA won by innings & 51 runs (NZ 164 + 249, SA 464)
- 16–20 February 1962, Port Elizabeth: 5th Test: NZ won by 40 runs (NZ 275 + 228, SA 190 + 273)
The national outdoor lawn bowls championships are held in Auckland.
- Men's singles champion – J.H. Rabone (Auckland Bowling Club)
- Men's pair champions – N. Posa, M. Vulinovich (skip) (Oratia Bowling Club)
- Men's fours champions – J. Hammersley, L.N. Harris, R.S. Eves, M.J. Squire (skip) (West End Bowling Club, New Plymouth)
- France tour New Zealand, losing all three Test matches:
- An English FA XI tours New Zealand, handing out two heavy defeats to the national men's team.
- 5 June, Wellington: NZ 0 – 8 English FA XI
- 10 June, Auckland: NZ 1 – 6 English FA XI
- The Chatham Cup was won by Dunedin team Northern who beat North Shore United 2 – 0 in the final.
- Provincial league champions:
- Auckland: North Shore United
- Bay of Plenty: Kawerau Town
- Buller: Waimangaroa United
- Canterbury: Technical OB
- Franklin: Manurewa AFC
- Hawke's Bay: Napier Rovers
- Manawatu: Ohakea
- Marlborough: Spartans
- Nelson: Rangers
- Northland: Kamo Swifts
- Otago: Northern AFC
- Poverty Bay: Eastern Union
- South Canterbury: Thistle
- Southland: Invercargill Thistle
- Taranaki: Moturoa
- Waikato: Hamilton Technical OB
- Wairarapa: YMCA
- Wanganui: New Settlers
- Wellington: Northern
- West Coast: Grey United
- 10 May: Blyth Tait, equestrian.
- 26 June: David White, cricketer.
- 9 August: John Key, politician, 38th Prime Minister of New Zealand (2008–2016)
- 12 August: Mark Priest, cricketer.
- 5 October: David Kirk, rugby player and business executive.
- 5 October: Derek Stirling, cricketer.
- 10 October: Gary Hurring, swimmer.
- 31 October: Peter Jackson, filmmaker.
- 15 November: Hugh McGahan, rugby league footballer.
- 28 November: Bruce Derlin, tennis player.
- 9 December: Ian Wright, rower.
- 30 December: Bill English, politician, 39th Prime Minister of New Zealand (2016–2017)
- Michael Hight, painter.
- Willie Jackson, politician and broadcaster.
- Grant Lingard, artist.
- Anthony McCarten, playwright and novelist.
- 25 June: Jack Lamason, cricketer.
- 19 July: Mary Dreaver, politician.
- 5 August: Sidney Holland, 25th Prime Minister of New Zealand.
- 8 November: Frederick Vincent Ellis, artist.
- 14 December: William Duncan, rugby union player.
- "Historical population estimates tables". Statistics New Zealand.
- Statistics New Zealand: New Zealand Official Yearbook, 1990. ISSN 0078-0170 page 52
- Lambert & Palenski: The New Zealand Almanac, 1982. ISBN 0-908570-55-4
- "Elections NZ – Leaders of the Opposition". Archived from the original on 17 October 2008. Retrieved 6 April 2008.
- List of New Zealand Chess Champions Archived 14 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Cricinfo Archive
- "List of NZ Trotting cup winners". Archived from the original on 22 February 2012. Retrieved 6 May 2009.
- Auckland Trotting cup at hrnz.co.nz Archived 17 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- McLintock, A.H., ed. (1966). "Bowls, men's outdoor—tournament winners". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
- Pick and Go rugby results database
- List of New Zealand national soccer matches
- Chatham Cup: nzsoccer.com Archived 14 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- "New Zealand: List of champions". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. 1999.