Family history

Lady voters going up to polling booth, election day, Auckland - 1893 (Neg. A12353). New Zealand voting rights timeline

The New Zealand voting rights timeline, 1853 - present.

Voting for members of the House of Representatives was instituted in 1853, and we hold all electoral rolls from then until the present day.


1853

Male British subjects of 21 years or more who either:

  • Had owned property  of the value of £50 or more for at least 6 months before the date set for the registration of electors, or,
  • Possessed leasehold land to the value of £10, for at least ten years before the date set for the registration of electors or
  • owned a lease that had three years still to run, or,
  • Occupied property as a householder, where the annual rent was at least £10 in an urban area, or £5 in a rural area, for at least 6 months before the date of registration.

Notes: Prisoners and aliens (persons born outside the British Commonwealth who had not been naturalised) were not entitled to enrol. Men could enrol for each property that met the above qualifications so there could be multiple entries for one person in one or more electorates.

It was not compulsory to enrol.  The name of every person entitled to enrol was not necessarily recorded.


1860

Miners Franchise Act 1860 (abolished 1879) entitled men who had held a miner's right continously for three months to register as an elector.  Miners who were not registered but met the criteria on Election Day were entitled to vote.


1867

Four Māori seats, created in 1867 were reaffirmed in 1876.  Adult males over the age of 21 years with half or more Māori blood were eligible to vote for one of the four Māori seats.  They were not required to enrol so rolls were not printed.  From 1867-1893 Māori males who met the age, residential and property franchise provisions were entitled to enrol in the electorate where their property was located and have their names included on European rolls.


1875

The Lodgers Franchise Act 1875 (abolished 1879) enabled some tenants to enrol.


1879

Qualifications of Electors Act 1879.  Entitlement to enrol was extended to all men over the age of 21, providing they were British subjects who either owned property or had lived in New Zealand at least one year and in an electorate for six months before registering as an elector.  These changes which came into effect in 1880-1881 rolls did not apply to Māori.  See the Index to the 1881 New Zealand electoral roll.  For North Auckland, Metropolitan Auckland, South Auckland and Waikato electors see the database 1881 Electoral Rolls.


1889

Multiple voting was abolished and the law entitling 'one man, one vote' passed.


1893

  • Residential qualification reduced from six months to three months.
  • Women were granted the right to vote. More women are listed on the 1894 rolls than 1893.
  • Men or women with half or more Māori blood could only vote in a Māori electorate.  Those with exactly half-Māori blood could vote in either a Māori or the General Electorate while people with less than half-Māori blood could only vote in the General Electorate.  Persons voting in Māori electorates were not required to enrol so published rolls do not exist.

1896

The qualification for registration of an elector changed with the repeal of the non-residential provision.  Registration determined solely on residential grounds.  All persons of more than half-Māori descent were only allowed to vote in one of the Māori electorates.


1905-1906, 1908, 1911, 1914 and 1922

Separate rolls for 'Absent Voters' and 'Seamen' exist for some electorates.


1908

New Zealand Māori Voters' Rolls 1908 on microfiche contains full name, tribe, hapū, address and sex of those who voted in Northern, Eastern and Western Māori electorates.  A roll for Southern Māori was not found.


1919

The first published Māori rolls titled NZ Māori Electoral Rolls 1919 for Northern, Westen, Eastern and Southern Māori electorates are available on microfiche.  Content is similar to 1908.


1924

Enrolment for Europeans, 21 years and over, became complusory.


1949

Māori rolls published under the same procedure as General Rolls from 1949.


1956

Enrolment for Māori, 21 years and over, became complusory.


1969

Age of enrolment reduced from 21 to 20 years of age.


1974

Legal definition of Māori was changed to enable Māori descent to register on either Māori or General Roll according to their cultural identification.


1975

Age of enrolment was reduced to 18 years.  Voting rights granted to New Zealand citizens and permanent residents who had resided in an electorate for one month.


1976

Residential period was extended to 3 months.


1985

Residential period reverted to one month.


Sources

© Auckland Council