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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Development of Parliamentary Sovereignty

The convention that the advice of Ministers responsible to Parliament be accepted was established by the demands and protests of successive Ministries. An indication that the convention had achieved some strength by 1867 was an amendment to the Instructions of the Governor requiring him to use his “own deliberative judgment” in the exercise of the prerogative of pardon. This instruction, evidently, had not previously been considered necessary. By 1892 the convention was yet more firmly established and such gubernatorial discretion was unacceptable to New Zealand governments. The Instructions were, therefore, further amended to bring the prerogative of pardon under Ministerial control, except when Imperial interests were affected. Since 1892 no instance of the rejection of Ministerial advice has become public.

In practice, there remained two relatively important survivals of dependent status in the relations between Governor and Parliament. First, the Governor, designated Governor-General after 1917, was in the position, anomalous under a British parliamentary system, of having from time to time to tender advice to his New Zealand Ministers at the request of another government, the Imperial Government. Secondly, he was appointed by the Imperial Government. Both of these matters were dealt with by Imperial Conference. At the Conference of 1926 it was decided to appoint representatives of the Imperial Government in the Dominions. New Zealand did not take advantage of this till 1939, but its effect, once adopted, was to leave the Governor-General as representative of the Crown alone. Then, at the Imperial Conference of 1930, it was decided that a Governor-General should be appointed on the advice of the Dominion government concerned. Today the conventions governing the relations between the Governor-General and Parliament in New Zealand are, in all important respects, the conventions which obtain in Great Britain between Monarch and Parliament.