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New Zealand general election, 1972

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Title: New Zealand general election, 1972  
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Subject: List of New Zealand Labour Party MPs, Whangarei (New Zealand electorate), Elections in New Zealand, Murray Robert Smith, Hamilton West (New Zealand electorate)
Collection: New Zealand General Election, 1972
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New Zealand general election, 1972

New Zealand general election, 1972

25 November 1972 (1972-11-25)

All 87 seats in the New Zealand House of Representatives
44 seats were needed for a majority
Turnout 1,340,168 (88.94%)
  First party Second party
Leader Norman Kirk Jack Marshall
Party Labour National
Leader since 1965 1972
Leader's seat Sydenham Karori
Last election 39 seats, 44.2% 45 seats, 45.2%
Seats won 55 32
Seat change Increase 16 {{Navbox with collapsible sections name = Religion topics state = autocollapse bodyclass = hlist title = Religion selected = sect1 = Major groups abbr1 = major child group1 = Abrahamic list1 = group2 = Indo-European child |groupstyle=font-weight:normal; group1 = Indo-Iranian list1 = group2 = European list2 = group1 = Abrahamic child |groupstyle=font-weight:normal; | group1 = Judaism list1 = group2 = Christianity list2 =
Popular vote 677,669 581,422
Percentage 48.4% 41.5%
Swing Increase 4.2% {{Navbox with collapsible sections name = Religion topics state = autocollapse bodyclass = hlist title = Religion selected = sect1 = Major groups abbr1 = major child group1 = Abrahamic list1 = group2 = Indo-European child |groupstyle=font-weight:normal; group1 = Indo-Iranian list1 = group2 = European list2 = group1 = Abrahamic child |groupstyle=font-weight:normal; | group1 = Judaism list1 = group2 = Christianity list2 =

Prime Minister before election

Jack Marshall

Elected Prime Minister

Norman Kirk

The New Zealand general election of 1972 was held on 25 November to elect MPs to the 37th session of the New Zealand Parliament. The Labour Party, led by Norman Kirk, defeated the governing National Party.


  • Background 1
    • 1972 electoral redistribution 1.1
  • The election 2
  • Results 3


The National Party had been in office since the 1960 elections, when it had defeated the ruling Labour Party, led by Walter Nash. The Second Labour Government was the shortest-lasting of all New Zealand governments to that day; in contrast, the Second National Government, led for the majority of its tenure by Keith Holyoake, would be re-elected three times. National's policies were focused around stability and a "steady as she goes" approach, but Holyoake's Government was increasingly perceived as tired and worn-out. In February 1972, Holyoake stood aside and was replaced by his deputy, Jack Marshall, who took steps to reinvigorate the party.

Meanwhile, Norman Kirk had been at the helm of Labour since 1965. In this time, he had been modernising and updating the Labour Party, but narrowly lost the 1969 election. Kirk slimmed and dressed to improve his image, and visited several overseas Labour parties to broaden his knowledge. He activated a "spokesman" or shadow cabinet system to spread the responsibility, though it was difficult to avoid one composed largely of Auckland and Christchurch members. Despite these improvements, commentators speculated whether National would pull off another cliff-hanger victory. Economic recession and voter fatigue hurt National at the polls. Labour's solgan was 'Time For A Change-Vote Labour', which expertly captured the national mood.

1972 electoral redistribution

Since the 1969 election, the number of electorates in the South Island was fixed at 25, with continued faster population growth in the North Island leading to an increase in the number of general electorates. Including the four Māori electorates, there had been 80 electorates since the 1902 election.[1] This increased to 84 electorates through the 1969 election.[2] The 1972 electoral redistribution saw three additional general seats created for the North Island, bringing the total number of electorates to 87.[3] Together with increased urbanisation in Christchurch and Nelson, the changes proved very disruptive to existing electorates. Only two South Island electorates were not altered by the redistribution (Clutha and Lyttelton).[4] Only eight of the North Island electorates were not altered (Franklin, Gisborne, Hobson, Island Bay, Miramar, North Shore, Tamaki, and Wairarapa).[3]

In the South Island, three electorates were abolished (Buller, Westland, and Selwyn), and three electorates were newly created (Rakaia, Tasman, and West Coast).[5] In the North Island, five electorates were abolished (Hauraki, Marsden, Otaki, Waimarino, and Waitomo), two electorates were recreated (Coromandel and Otahuhu), and six electorates were newly created (East Coast Bays, Hamilton East, Kapiti, King Country, Ruahine, and Whangarei).[6]

The election

The date for the 1972 elections was 25 November, a Saturday. 1,583,256 people were registered to vote, and there was a turnout of 89.1%. This turnout was slightly higher than the previous election, and considerably higher than the following one. The number of electorates being contested was 87.[3]


The 1972 election saw the

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