Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives

In New Zealand, the speaker of the House of Representatives, commonly known as the speaker of the House (Māori: Te mana whakawā o te Whare), is the presiding officer and highest authority of the New Zealand House of Representatives. The individual who holds the position is elected by members of the House from among their number in the first session after each general election. They hold one of the highest-ranking offices in New Zealand. The current Speaker is Adrian Rurawhe who was elected on 24 August 2022.

Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives
Te Mana Whakawā o te Whare (Māori)
House of Representatives crest.png
Adrian Rurawhe.jpg
Adrian Rurawhe
since 24 August 2022
StyleThe Right Honourable
ResidenceSpeaker's Apartments, Parliament House, Wellington
NominatorNew Zealand House of Representatives
AppointerGovernor-General of New Zealand at the behest of the House of Representatives
Term lengthAt His Majesty's pleasure
elected by the House at the start of each Parliament, and upon a vacancy
Inaugural holderSir Charles Clifford
WebsiteOffice of the Speaker

The speaker's role in presiding over New Zealand's House of Representatives is similar to that of speakers elsewhere in other countries that use the Westminster system. The speaker presides over the House's debates, determining which members may speak; the speaker is also responsible for maintaining order during debate, and may discipline members who break the rules of the House. Aside from duties relating to presiding over the House, the speaker also performs administrative and procedural functions, and remains a Member of Parliament (MP).


In the debating chamberEdit

The Speaker, Ronald Algie (wearing a wig and robes), seated in the Chair in the debating chamber, 1966

The speaker's most visible role is that of presiding over the House of Representatives when it is in session.[1] The speaker presides from an elevated chair behind the Table in the debating chamber.[2] This involves overseeing the order in which business is conducted, and determining who should speak at what time. The speaker is also responsible for granting or declining requests for certain events, such as a snap debate on a particular issue.[3]

An important part of the speaker's role is enforcing discipline in the House.[1] They are expected to conduct the business of the House in an impartial manner.[4] The speaker defers to 'Standing Orders', which are the written rules of conduct governing the business of the House. Included in these rules are certain powers available to the speaker to ensure reasonable behaviour by MPs, including the ability to order disruptive MPs to leave the debating chamber.[5] MPs who feel one of these rules has been breached by another member can interrupt a debate by using a procedure known as a 'point of order'.[5] The speaker must then determine whether the complaint is just. Earlier Speaker's rulings on similar points of order are referred to in considering the point raised. The clerk of the House, who sits directly in front of the speaker, assists the speaker in making such rulings.[5]

By convention, speakers have traditionally been addressed inside the debating chamber as "Mr Speaker" or "Madam Speaker".[6]

Outside the debating chamberEdit

The speaker is also responsible for directing and overseeing the administration and security of the buildings and grounds of Parliament (including the Beehive, Parliament House, Bowen House and the Parliamentary Library building), and the general provision of services to members.[7] In doing so, the speaker consults and receives advice from the Parliamentary Service Commission, which comprises MPs from across the House.[8]

As the most senior office of Parliament, the speaker has other statutory responsibilities, for example under the Electoral Act 1993.[9] In this role a portion of the Parliament Buildings are given over to the speaker. Known as the Speaker's Apartments these include his personal office, sitting rooms for visiting dignitaries and a small residential flat which the speaker may or may not use as living quarters.[10]

The speaker chairs three select committees:

  • the Standing Orders Committee
  • the Business Committee
  • the Officers of Parliament Committee.[7]

The Business Committee chaired by the speaker controls the organisation of the business of the House. Also on the committee, established after the first mixed member proportional (MMP) election in 1996, is the leader of the House, the Opposition shadow leader and the whips of each party.


The speaker is expected to conduct the functions of the office in a neutral manner, even though the speaker is generally a member of the governing party.[1] Only three people have held the office despite not being from the governing party. In 1923, Charles Statham (an independent, but formerly a member of the Reform Party) was backed by Reform so as not to endanger the party's slim majority, and later retained his position under the United Party. In 1993, Peter Tapsell (a member of the Labour Party) was backed by the National Party for the same reason. Bill Barnard, who had been elected Speaker in 1936, resigned from the Labour Party in 1940 but retained his position.

Historically, a speaker lost the right to cast a vote, except when both sides were equally balanced. The speaker's lack of a vote created problems for a governing party – when the party's majority was small, the loss of the speaker's vote could be problematic. Since the shift to MMP in 1996, however, the speaker has been counted for the purposes of casting party votes, to reflect the proportionality of the party's vote in the general election. The practice has also been for the speaker to participate in personal votes, usually by proxy.[11] In the event of a tied vote the motion in question lapses.


The speaker is always a member of Parliament (MP), and is elected to the position by other MPs at the beginning of a parliamentary term, or when a speaker dies, resigns or is removed from the position (via a vote of no confidence[12]) intra-term.[7] The election of a speaker is presided over by the clerk of the House. It is unusual for an election to be contested, with only six votes since 1854 having more than one candidate. The first such contested vote did not occur for 69 years until 1923.[13] It took 73 years for the second contested vote for Speaker in 1996.[14] If there are two candidates, members vote in the lobbies for their preferred candidate. In the case of three or more candidates, a roll-call vote is conducted and the candidate with the fewest votes eliminated, with the process continuing (or reverting to a two-way run-off) until one candidate has a majority. Members may vote only if they are present in person: no proxy votes are permitted.[5]

It is traditional for the newly-elected speaker to pretend he or she did not want to accept the position; the speaker feigns resistance as they are 'dragged' to their chair,[15] in a practice dating from the days when British speakers risked execution if the news they reported to the king was displeasing.[16]

After being elected by the House, the speaker-elect is formally confirmed in office by the governor-general.[17] At the start of a term of Parliament, the newly confirmed speaker follows the tradition of claiming the privileges of the House.[clarification needed]

Precedence, salary and privilegesEdit

Speaker Sir Arthur Guinness, wearing the speaker's wig, 1911. The formal wig fell into disuse some decades later.

Each day, prior to the sitting of the House of Representatives, the speaker and other officials travel in procession from the speaker's personal apartments to the debating chamber. The procession includes the doorkeeper, the serjeant-at-arms, the speaker and the speaker's assistant. When the speaker reaches the chamber, the serjeant-at-arms announces the Speaker's arrival and places the Mace on the Table of the House.[7]

As of 2013, the annual salary is NZ$268,500.[18][needs update]

The office is third most important constitutionally, after the governor-general and the prime minister.[19] (See New Zealand order of precedence.)

Official dressEdit

Originally, speakers wore a gown and formal wig in the chamber. This practice has fallen into disuse since the 1990s.[1] Speakers now generally wear what they feel appropriate, usually an academic gown of their highest held degree or a Māori cloak.[20]

Holders of the officeEdit

The current Speaker is Adrian Rurawhe, a member of the Labour Party.

Since the creation of Parliament, 31 people have held the office of speaker. Two people have held the office on more than one occasion. A full list of speakers is below.


† indicates Speaker died in office.

  Independent   Liberal   Reform   United   Labour   Democratic Labour   National

No. Name Portrait Term of Office Prime Minister
1 Sir Charles Clifford   31 May 1854 12 December 1860 Sewell
2 David Monro   3 June 1861 13 September 1870 Fox
3 Dillon Bell   14 August 1871 21 October 1875
4 William Fitzherbert   15 June 1876 11 August 1879 Vogel
5 Maurice O'Rorke   24 September 1879 17 September 1890 Hall
6 William Steward   23 January 1891 8 November 1893 Ballance
(5) Maurice O'Rorke   21 June 1894 3 October 1902
7 Arthur Guinness   29 June 1903 10 June 1913†
8 Frederic Lang   26 June 1913 31 October 1922
9 Charles Statham   7 February 1923 1 November 1935
10 Bill Barnard   25 March 1936 25 September 1943 Savage
11 Bill Schramm   22 February 1944 12 October 1946
12 Robert McKeen   24 June 1947 21 October 1949
13 Matthew Oram   27 June 1950 25 October 1957 Holland
14 Robert Macfarlane   21 January 1958 28 October 1960 Nash
15 Ronald Algie   20 June 1961 26 November 1966 Holyoake
16 Roy Jack   26 April 1967 9 February 1972
17 Alfred E. Allen   7 June 1972 26 October 1972
18 Stan Whitehead   14 February 1973 10 October 1975 Kirk
(16) Roy Jack   22 June 1976 24 December 1977† Muldoon
19 Richard Harrison   10 May 1978 14 July 1984
20 Basil Arthur   15 August 1984 1 May 1985† Lange
21 Gerry Wall   28 May 1985 16 September 1987
22 Kerry Burke   16 September 1987 28 November 1990
23 Robin Gray   28 November 1990 21 December 1993 Bolger
24 Peter Tapsell   21 December 1993 12 December 1996
25 Doug Kidd   12 December 1996 20 December 1999
26 Jonathan Hunt   20 December 1999 3 March 2005 Clark
27 Margaret Wilson   3 March 2005 8 December 2008
28 Lockwood Smith   8 December 2008 31 January 2013 Key
29 David Carter   31 January 2013 7 November 2017
30 Trevor Mallard   7 November 2017 24 August 2022 Ardern
31 Adrian Rurawhe   24 August 2022 Incumbent


There are currently four presiding officers (usually three) appointed to deputise for the Speaker:

Between 1854 and 1992, the Chairman of Committees chaired the House when in Committee of the whole House (i.e., taking a bill's committee stage) and presided in the absence of the Speaker or when the Speaker so requested. These arrangements were based on those of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.[22] Until 1992, the Chairman of Committees was known as the Deputy Speaker only when presiding over the House. That year, the position of Deputy Speaker was made official, and the role of Chairman of Committees was discontinued.[23] The first Deputy Speaker was appointed on 10 November 1992.[24] Additionally, two Assistant Speakers are usually appointed. The first Assistant Speaker was appointed in 1996,[25] replacing the position of Deputy Chairman of Committees, which had been established in 1975.[26] The Deputy Speaker and Assistant Speakers take the chair and may exercise the Speaker's authority in his or her absence. On 1 March 2022, Ian McKelvie was appointed as a third Assistant Speaker, in order to ensure that a presiding officer would be always be available while the House was sitting with some members participating remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.[21] Two further temporary Assistant Speakers were added for the sitting week of 9 to 11 August 2022, to cover absences.[27] On 22 November 2022, when the government accorded urgency to business as a result of the sitting time lost from the passing of Elizabeth II, Barbara Kuriger was appointed as a temporary Assistant Speaker until 26 November 2022.[28][29]


  National   Labour   United NZ

List of Deputy Speakers
No. Name Term of Office Speaker
1 Jim Gerard 10 November 1992 12 October 1996 Gray
2 Ian Revell 13 December 1996 18 February 1999 Kidd
3 Geoff Braybrooke 17 March 1999 27 July 2002
4 Ann Hartley 27 August 2002 19 September 2005
5 Clem Simich 8 November 2005 8 November 2008
6 Lindsay Tisch 9 December 2008 26 November 2011 Smith
7 Eric Roy 21 December 2011 20 September 2014
8 Chester Borrows 21 October 2014 23 September 2017
9 Anne Tolley 8 November 2017 17 October 2020 Mallard
10 Adrian Rurawhe 26 November 2020 24 August 2022
11 Greg O'Connor 25 August 2022 present Rurawhe
List of First Assistant Speakers
No. Name Term of Office Speaker
1 Peter Hilt 21 February 1996 12 October 1996 Tapsell
2 Geoff Braybrooke 18 February 1997 17 March 1999 Kidd
3 Brian Neeson 17 March 1999 27 November 1999
4 Jill Pettis 21 December 1999 27 July 2002 Hunt
5 Ross Robertson 27 August 2002 8 November 2008
6 Eric Roy 9 December 2008 26 November 2011 Smith
7 Lindsay Tisch 21 December 2011 23 September 2017
8 Poto Williams 8 November 2017 3 July 2019 Mallard
9 Ruth Dyson 3 July 2019 17 October 2020
10 Jenny Salesa 26 November 2020 present
List of Second Assistant Speakers
No. Name Term of Office Speaker
1 Marie Hasler 18 February 1997 8 September 1998 Kidd
2 Eric Roy 10 September 1998 27 July 2002
3 Clem Simich 27 August 2002 19 September 2005
4 Ann Hartley 8 November 2005 28 February 2008
5 Marian Hobbs 4 March 2008 8 November 2008
6 Rick Barker 9 December 2008 12 April 2011 Smith
7 Ross Robertson 12 April 2011 20 September 2014
8 Trevor Mallard 21 October 2014 23 September 2017
9 Adrian Rurawhe 8 November 2017 26 November 2020 Mallard
10 Jacqui Dean 26 November 2020 present
List of Third and Temporary Assistant Speakers
No. Name Term of Office Speaker
1 Ian McKelvie 1 March 2022 present Mallard
2 David Bennett 9 August 2022 11 August 2022 Mallard
3 Greg O'Connor 9 August 2022 11 August 2022
4 Barbara Kuriger 22 November 2022 26 November 2022 Rurawhe

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Appointed to serve as an additional Assistant Speaker while the House sits with members participating remotely, as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.[21]


  1. ^ a b c d "The Speaker". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 15 July 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  2. ^ "Guide to the debating chamber". New Zealand House of Representatives. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  3. ^ Mulgan, R. G.; Aimer, Peter (2004). Politics in New Zealand. Auckland University Press. p. 105. ISBN 9781869403188.
  4. ^ Wilson, John (1 September 2016). "Speaker of the House of Representatives". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 19 March 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d "Standing Orders of the House of Representatives" (PDF). New Zealand Parliament. pp. 39–40. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  6. ^ Parliamentary Debates. New Zealand Parliament.
  7. ^ a b c d "Role & election of the Speaker". New Zealand Parliament.
  8. ^ "Parliamentary Service Commission". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  9. ^ "Electoral Act 1993 No 87 (as at 01 May 2017), Public Act Contents". www.legislation.govt.nz. New Zealand Legislation. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  10. ^ "Lockwood Smith – inside the landlord's retreat". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 13 February 2022.
  11. ^ "Conscience votes". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  12. ^ "Winston Peters calls for vote of no confidence against Speaker". 1 News. 4 May 2022. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  13. ^ Parliamentary Debates. Vol. 199. Wellington. 1923. pp. 10–11.
  14. ^ Parliamentary Debates. Vol. 558. Wellington. 1996. pp. 6–7.
  15. ^ "Carter elected Speaker of the House". Stuff.co.nz. 31 January 2013. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  16. ^ "Rules and traditions of Parliament". parliament.co.uk. UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
  17. ^ "Speaker confirmation ceremony". gg.govt.nz. The Governor-General of New Zealand. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  18. ^ "Parliamentary Salaries and Allowances Determination 2013 (SR 2013/462) (as at 26 February 2015) Schedule 1 Salaries payable under section 16 of Civil List Act 1979". www.legislation.govt.nz. New Zealand Legislation. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  19. ^ "Office of the Speaker". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  20. ^ "NZ Prime Minister Gets Thrown Out of Parliament". Lowering the Bar. 12 May 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  21. ^ a b "Appointments — Assistant Speaker". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 1 March 2022.
  22. ^ McLintock 1966.
  23. ^ "Members' Conditions Of Service". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  24. ^ "Speaker of the House of Representatives". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  25. ^ Hansard. Vol. 552. New Zealand Parliament. 1996. p. 75.
  26. ^ Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.
  27. ^ "Appointments — Assistant Speakers - New Zealand Parliament". www.parliament.nz. Retrieved 10 August 2022.
  28. ^ Malpass, Luke (23 November 2022). "Cheat sheet: What's the rush? Parliament goes into urgency to pass massive wodge of new laws". Stuff. Retrieved 24 November 2022.
  29. ^ "Appointments — Assistant Speaker - New Zealand Parliament". www.parliament.nz. Retrieved 24 November 2022.


  • McLintock, A. H., ed. (1966). "Meeting of Parliament". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand (updated 22 April 2009 ed.). Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  • Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer.

External linksEdit