1990 New Zealand general election

The 1990 New Zealand general election was held on 27 October to determine the composition of the 43rd New Zealand parliament. The governing Labour Party was defeated, ending its two terms in office. The National Party, led by Jim Bolger, won a landslide victory and formed the new government.

1990 New Zealand general election

← 1987 27 October 1990 1993 →

All 97 seats in the New Zealand House of Representatives
49 seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
Jim Bolger at press conference retouched.jpg
Mike Moore.jpg
Jim Anderton, 2010.jpg
Leader Jim Bolger Mike Moore Jim Anderton
Party National Labour NewLabour
Leader since 26 March 1986 4 September 1990 1 April 1989
Leader's seat King Country Christchurch North Sydenham
Last election 40 seats, 44.02% 57 seats, 47.96% New party
Seats won 67 29 1
Seat change Increase 27 Decrease 28 Increase 1
Popular vote 872,358 640,915 94,171
Percentage 47.82 35.14 5.16
Swing Increase 3.80% Decrease 12.82% Increase 5.16%

1990 New Zealand general election - Results.svg
Results of the election

Prime Minister before election

Mike Moore

Subsequent Prime Minister

Jim Bolger


The Labour Party had taken office after defeating the National Party under Robert Muldoon in the 1984 election. David Lange became Prime Minister and Roger Douglas became Minister of Finance. The economic program outlined by Douglas was deeply unpopular with Labour's traditional supporters, however — deregulation, privatisation, and free trade, all opposed by the party's more left-wing members, were a key part of the so-called "Rogernomics" platform. This internal dissent was off-set somewhat by new social legislation and a strong stance against nuclear weapons.

Labour was re-elected in the 1987 election with its parliamentary majority untouched, but the internal disputes continued. Eventually Lange forced Douglas to resign in December 1988, but the crisis had weakened Lange's position such that he resigned eight months later. He was replaced as Prime Minister by Geoffrey Palmer, but Palmer failed to revive Labour's falling popularity. Several months before the election, Palmer was replaced by Mike Moore. The National Party was performing strongly — its leader, Jim Bolger, spoke repeatedly of "the Decent Society", saying that the reforms were doing significant damage to the social fabric of the country. The government was also being challenged by the NewLabour Party, founded by renegade MP Jim Anderton.

The electionEdit

The date for the 1990 election was 27 October. 2,202,157 people were registered to vote, and 85.2% of these people turned out. The number of seats being contested was 97 — this was the same as in the previous election, which had the largest number of seats for any Parliament until that point.

Summary of resultsEdit

The 1990 election eventually saw a victory for the National Party, then in opposition. National won nearly half (48%) of the vote and 67 (69%) of the seats, becoming the fourth National government. This was the highest number of seats the party had ever won, either in absolute terms or as a percentage. Four new (and young) National MPs: (Bill English, Tony Ryall, Roger Sowry and Nick Smith) were called the "brat pack" by Sir Robert Muldoon (himself one of the "Young Turks" of 1960).[1]

The new Green Party gained the third-highest number of votes, but won no seats. The NewLabour Party won a single seat, due to Jim Anderton retaining the Sydenham seat he originally won as a Labour candidate.

The governing Labour Party, by contrast, suffered its worst-ever electoral defeat since it first won power in the 1935 election, winning only 29 (30%) of the seats and 35% of the vote (its lowest percentage since 1931), and losing 27 seats. Initially it appeared that twelve ministers and the Speaker had lost their seats, but Fran Wilde scraped in on special votes. Many of Labour's talented "class of 84" were sent away, though five of them, Annette King, Jim Sutton, Trevor Mallard, Richard Northey and Judy Keall, returned in 1993.[2]

The result was primarily due to intense anger at Labour and its policies (shown by it losing 12% of its vote) rather than love of National (which only increased its vote by 4%).

Detailed resultsEdit

Party totalsEdit

Election results[3]
Party Candidates Total votes Percentage Seats won
National 97 872,358 47.82 67
Labour 97 640,915 35.14 29
Greens 71 124,915 6.85 -
NewLabour 93 94,171 5.16 1
Democrats 91 30,455 1.67 -
Social Credit 68 17,897 0.98 -
Mana Motuhake 4 10,869 0.60 -
McGillicuddy Serious 59 10,058 0.55 -
Christian Heritage 18 9,591 0.53 -
Minor parties and Independents 76 12,863 0.71 -
Total 674 1,824,092 97

Votes summaryEdit

Popular Vote
Parliament seats

Electorate resultsEdit


The tables below shows the results of the 1990 general election:


 National    Labour    Democrats    NewLabour    Mana Motuhake  

Electorate results for the 1990 New Zealand general election
Electorate Incumbent Winner Majority Runner up
General electorates
Albany Don McKinnon 7,455 June Allen
Ashburton Jenny Shipley 7,922 Basil Moskovis
Auckland Central Richard Prebble 3,277 Kathryn Hill
Avon Larry Sutherland 4,250 Wendy Rush
Awarua Jeff Grant 4,964 Heather Russell
Bay of Islands John Carter 5,285 Bruce Raitt
Birkenhead Jenny Kirk Ian Revell 2,813 Jenny Kirk
Christchurch Central Geoffrey Palmer Lianne Dalziel 3,769 Ross Gluer
Christchurch North Mike Moore 2,148 Peter Yarrell
Clevedon Warren Kyd 4,732 Ann Batten
Clutha Robin Gray 6,527 Jeff Buchanan
Coromandel Graeme Lee 6,342 Margaret Hawkeswood
Dunedin North Stan Rodger Pete Hodgson 2,336 Gael Donoghue
Dunedin West Clive Matthewson 1,779 Ian McMeeking
East Cape Anne Collins Tony Ryall 1,968 Dianne Collins
East Coast Bays Murray McCully 5,216 Gary Knapp
Eastern Hutt Trevor Young Paul Swain 801 Rosemary Thomas
Eden Richard Northey Christine Fletcher 1,524 Richard Northey
Fendalton Philip Burdon 4,993 Tony Day
Gisborne Allan Wallbank Wayne Kimber 449 Allan Wallbank
Glenfield Judy Keall Peter Hilt 2,958 Judy Keall
Hamilton East Bill Dillon Tony Steel 2,121 Bill Dillon
Hamilton West Trevor Mallard Grant Thomas 1,563 Trevor Mallard
Hastings David Butcher Jeff Whittaker 728 David Butcher
Hawkes Bay Bill Sutton Michael Laws 2,895 Bill Sutton
Heretaunga Bill Jeffries Peter McCardle 1,122 Bill Jeffries
Hobson Ross Meurant 6,641 Howard Henry
Horowhenua Annette King Hamish Hancock 624 Annette King
Invercargill Rob Munro 4,137 B G Rait
Island Bay Elizabeth Tennet 3,635 Ann Nolan
Kaimai Robert Anderson 8,147 Gordon Dickson
Kaipara Lockwood Smith 8,610 Wayne Sellwood
Kapiti Margaret Shields Roger Sowry 1,599 Margaret Shields
King Country Jim Bolger 7,274 Cameron Gordon
Lyttelton Peter Simpson Gail McIntosh 68 Peter Simpson
Manawatu David Robinson Hamish MacIntyre 3,089 David Robinson
Mangere David Lange 4,039 Bryan Archer
Manurewa Roger Douglas George Hawkins 1,143 Pat Baker
Maramarua Bill Birch 7,670 Charles Chauvel
Marlborough Doug Kidd 7,187 Barbara Hutchinson
Matamata John Luxton 8,501 Bill Pepperell
Miramar Peter Neilson Graeme Reeves 552 Peter Neilson
Mt Albert Helen Clark 1,230 Larry Bellshaw
Napier Geoff Braybrooke 1,265 Colleen Pritchard
Nelson Philip Woollaston John Blincoe 636 L Baigent
New Lynn Jonathan Hunt 1,099 Martyn Athol Bishop
New Plymouth Harry Duynhoven John Armstrong 1,701 Harry Duynhoven
North Shore George Gair Bruce Cliffe 6,183 Graeme Ransom
Ohariu Peter Dunne 783 George Mathew
Onehunga Fred Gerbic Grahame Thorne 612 Fred Gerbic
Otago Warren Cooper 3,927 Tony Cooke
Otara Colin Moyle Trevor Rogers 1,226 Taito Phillip Field
Pahiatua John Falloon 7,689 Margo Martindale
Pakuranga Maurice Williamson 9,086 Paul Charles Grant
Palmerston North Trevor de Cleene Steve Maharey 349 P L Sherriff
Panmure Bob Tizard Judith Tizard 1,098 Gray Bartlett
Papakura Merv Wellington John Robertson 5,665 James Stubbs
Papatoetoe Ross Robertson 510 Allan Brewster
Pencarrow Sonja Davies 384 Ray Wallace
Porirua Graham Kelly 3,453 P Faulkner
Raglan Simon Upton 5,442 Olivia Scaletti-Longley
Rangiora Jim Gerard 5,273 Judith Alison McLachlan
Rangitikei Denis Marshall 6,127 Patricia Barton
Remuera Doug Graham 7,368 Carl Harding
Roskill Phil Goff Gilbert Myles 644 Phil Goff
Rotorua Paul East 5,270 Bruce Raitt
St Albans David Caygill 1,560 David Dumergue
St Kilda Michael Cullen 1,886 Bruce Alexander
Selwyn Ruth Richardson 5,441 Val Elley
Sydenham Jim Anderton 1,443 Linda Constable
Tamaki Robert Muldoon 7,592 Malcolm Johnston
Taranaki Roger Maxwell 7,867 Scott Dalziel
Tarawera Ian McLean Max Bradford 5,152 Malcolm Moore
Tasman Ken Shirley Nick Smith 2,246 Ken Shirley
Tauranga Winston Peters 9,314 Bill Delaney
Te Atatu Michael Bassett Brian Neeson 1,370 Dan McCaffrey
Timaru Maurice McTigue 3,192 Gary Clarke
Titirangi Ralph Maxwell Marie Hasler 64 Ralph Maxwell
Tongariro Noel Scott Ian Peters 886 Noel Scott
Waikaremoana Roger McClay 5,865 David Davies
Waikato Rob Storey 6,172 George Middleton
Waipa Katherine O'Regan 8,477 Mark Apiata-Wade
Wairarapa Wyatt Creech 4,141 Pauline Moran
Waitaki Jim Sutton Alec Neill 2,905 Jim Sutton
Waitotara Venn Young Peter Gresham 7,192 Dominic O'Sullivan
Wallace Derek Angus Bill English 8,886 David Soper
Wanganui Russell Marshall Cam Campion 409 Jill Pettis
Wellington Central Fran Wilde 246 Pauline Gardiner[nb 1]
West Auckland Jack Elder 252 Laurie Wicks
West Coast Kerry Burke Margaret Moir 2,611 Kerry Burke
Western Hutt John Terris Joy Quigley 700 John Terris
Whangarei John Banks 6,839 Edna Tait
Yaldhurst Margaret Austin 42 John Connelly
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Peter Tapsell 6,844 Wi Kuki Kaa
Northern Maori Bruce Gregory 956 Matiu Rata
Southern Maori Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan 7,614 Tikirau Stevens
Western Maori Koro Wētere 5,466 Eva Rickard

Table footnotes:

  1. ^ Gardiner was first on election night for Wellington Central, but lost when special votes were included [2]

Summary of seat changesEdit

  • Electoral redistributions:
    • There was no redistribution of electoral boundaries between the 1987 and 1990 elections.
  • Seats captured:
    • By National: Birkenhead, East Cape, Eden, Gisborne, Glenfield, Hamilton East, Hamilton West, Hastings, Hawkes Bay, Heretaunga, Horowhenua, Kapiti, Lyttelton, Manawatu, Miramar, New Plymouth, Onehunga, Otara, Roskill, Tasman, Te Atatu, Titirangi, Tongariro, Waitaki, Wanganui, West Coast and Western Hutt (27 seats) were captured from Labour. Six of these (Gisborne, Hastings, Lyttelton, Miramar, New Plymouth, and the West Coast) were one-term gains, recaptured by Labour in 1993.
  • Seats transferred from departing MPs to new MPs:
    • The seats of North Shore, Papakura, Tarawera, Waitotara and Wallace, all held by departing National MPs, were won by new National candidates.
    • The seats of Christchurch Central, Dunedin North, Eastern Hutt, Manurewa, Nelson, Palmerston North and Panmure, all held by departing Labour MPs, were won by new Labour candidates.


  1. ^ *"The Brat Pack loses a member". Stuff/Fairfax. 25 May 2014.
  2. ^ a b Bassett 2008, p. 538.
  3. ^ "New Zealand Elections 1972–1993". New Zealand Election Study. Retrieved 17 December 2011.


  • Bassett, Michael (2008). Working with David: Inside the Lange Cabinet. Auckland: Hodder Moa. ISBN 978-1-86971-094-1.
  • McLeay, E. M., ed. (1991). The 1990 General Election, Perspectives on Political Change in New Zealand: Occasional Publications No 3, Department of Political Science. Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington. ISBN 0-475-11202-4.
  • Stringer, John (1990). 1990 Parliamentary Candidates for the New Zealand National Party. Wellington: New Zealand National Party.
  • Vowles, Jack; Aimer, Peter (1993). Voters' Vengeance: The 1990 Election in New Zealand and the fate of the Fourth Labour Government. Auckland: University Press. ISBN 1-86940-078-X.