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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.



The Elective Principle

On the plane of national government the main legislative organ — the House of Representatives — is elective, whilst the executive, the judiciary, and the second, but purely formal, legislative organ — the Governor-General – are appointed. In local government the basic agencies of a general functional nature — borough council, county council, town district, road board — are required by statute to be elective, as are also most agencies of a more specialised functional nature (such as electric power boards, harbour boards, licensing committees), and agencies of a specialised local application (such as Hawke's Bay Crematorium Board, Selwyn Plantation Board, and Greytown Trust Lands Board). In addition, Parliament has required that certain other bodies, although not organs of the national or local government, are to be elected; e.g., governing bodies of educational institutions, and of some occupations and professions. With bodies of a more private nature, such as companies, societies, clubs, and the like, although Parliament has not specifically required that they be elective, in fact they have normally by their rules adopted election as the appropriate method of selection for office. In respect of all the foregoing bodies, however, election is normally confined to the offices controlling the policy of the body concerned: the secretariat, administrative, and executive staff are normally appointed by the body itself, with the main exception of the office of secretary in private associations which, by reason of its influence on policy in such a body, is normally required by the rules to be elective.

Before proceeding to consider elections proper, it should be noted that the selection for some offices, although nominally by way of appointment, does savour to some extent of the substance of election. This is particularly so in respect of appointments which are required by Parliament to be made on the nomination of, or to be representative of, certain persons, as for instance the six members of the New Zealand Meat Producers Board whom the Governor-General is authorised to appoint, but on the nomination of the producers of meat for export. It also applies to a lesser extent even where the appointment is not specifically required to be representative: thus the selection of Judges, nominally by appointment of the Governor-General, is in fact the result of a joint decision of the law societies and Judges. It would be a mistake to consider that such offices are filled by formal election, but on the other hand it would be an oversimplification to believe that the decision was solely that of the nominal appointor, and that they were thus solely in fact, as in law, appointive.